Eating is one of life’s greatest pleasures as well as one of life’s greatest expenses. If you are looking to reduce your spending taking a long, hard look at your eating habits can easily enable you to save hundreds of dollars each month.
Whether you can whip up a gourmet meal in an hour flat and love doing so or if your idea of fine cuisine after a long day of work comes in a styrofoam container, these tips will help you save money while eating well.
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1. Minimize Impulse Purchases
When you are wondering the aisles of your local store, it’s easy to pick up an extra item or two. A few dollars here or there may not sound like much, but these purchases can really add up. If you wind up spending ten dollars extra every time you go to the store, that’s 5200 dollars a year!
In order to curb impulse spending, have a meal or snack before you go shopping. If you shop while you are hungry, you are more likely to wind up with junk food because it requires less time and effort and you are famished.
You also want to go armed with a plan or a list. If you plan out specific meals, you are less likely to wind up with unnecessary extra items and less likely to forgot critical ingredients.
My favorite way to keep food spending in check combines all of this advice into one easy step and will save you tons of time. You can utilize Walmart’s grocery pick up service for free. Simply use the app to select the items you want and the tome you want to pick them up. If you sign up with my affiliate link here you can get ten dollars off your first order of 50 dollars or more.
2. Pack A Work Lunch
You may have heard this one before, because it is great advice. If you eat out for lunch every day, averaging 8 dollars a day (this may be a conservative estimate for many cities depending on where you are eating lunch and what you order) you can save 160 dollars a month or 1920 a year by packing a lunch.
Pinterest is full of so many colorful, tasty, and inexpensive lunch ideas you never need to get bored with what you’ve packed. You can even prepare and pack all your meals on Sunday and save yourself the hassle of packing individual lunches, or you can eat leftovers with very little effort.
If you aren’t ready to give up weekday lunches out completely, consider eating out for lunch once a week or once a month and you will still save money nearly every day.
3. Use What You Have and Shop Less Often
Consider only shopping for groceries once a week. This will help you keep impulse purchases to a minimum, help you plan your meals in advance, and save you time (and gas!).
In between trips to the store, eat leftovers and get creative with your recipes. If you run out of something, consider looking up substitutions on Pinterest.
Websites like Supercook.com allow you to search for recipes that use the ingredients that you have on hand. This website is a lifesaver if you are waiting for your next payday or completing a no-spend challenge. Every day you stretch your grocery budget out is one step closer to becoming debt-free or saving up for an awesome vacation or your next car.
4. Make A Meal Plan
Making a meal plan can sound intimidating, but it can be as basic as making a list of all of the meals you want to eat for the week (don’t forget snacks and a few extras!). Next, make a list of the ingredients you need for the recipes you selected that you don’t have in your pantry. It can be as simple as that!
Once you are reaping all of the rewards from meal planning, you can make your system more complicated if you want to. Consider making a list of your favorite meals and rotate them around to prevent getting bored of them or having theme days such as Taco Tuesday, Pasta Night, Vegetarian Night, etc.
When you buy brand name products, you are often paying extra money not because the product is more high quality than the generic versions but because the brand needs to recover the money they spend on advertising.
You can compare the ingredients in the name brand product to the generics, and you will often find there isn’t much of a difference. If you save just 50 cents on every item you can by buying the generic version that can quickly add up to hundreds or thousands of dollars saved.
6. Utilize Circulars and Reward Programs
When you are making your grocery list and meal plan, take a look at your local stores latest circular. You may receive them in the mail or you can look up the ads on their website. This will allow you to save even more money by planning your meals based on what is on sale and what produce is on season.
Check to see if your local grocery store also offers a rewards program as well for additional savings.
Apps like Ibotta can also save you money on select purchases. You can browse various retailers (this is not limited to food-related purchases) and can select an offer that appeals to you. Then, simply make your purchase online or scan your receipt and watch the savings accumulate. You can sign up for free here and receive a 10 dollar welcome bonus.
7. Buy in Bulk
When you find an unbelievable deal, stock up! This will allow you to build up a stockpile of ingredients that you commonly use incredibly cheaply and with minimal effort.
Most meats and cheeses are usually less expensive per ounce if you buy in bulk. You can divide large amounts of meats and cheeses and freeze them to save more money.
On the other hand, if there is a great deal on quinoa and you don’t eat much quinoa, pass on the sale! It’s tempting to buy an Item when we think we are getting a great price whether or not we need it, but a sale on an item you don’t need isn’t much of a deal.
If you try even just a few of these tips, you should see signififant savings. What other tips or tricks do you use to save money on food? Let me know in the comments!