When I think about shopping, food is not the first thing on my mind. However I have found that I spend most of my ‘free’ money on it more than anything else. In an effort to cut down and increase my ability to buy other things (fun things) I have come up with some ideas to save money on food expenses every month. In no particular order they are:
- Avoid eating out – Eating out is fun but it is a huge money waster. Even if I get the value meals, which are super unhealthy, I still don’t get the same amount of food that I would if I made the meals myself. With that in mind I have decided to avoid eating out as much as I can. When I do eat out I only get an appetizer and water so it is not as expensive. If I am hungry later I can get a snack. No need to stuff myself on expensive food that is bad for me.
- Avoid prepared meals – Another thing I have decided to cut down on is prepared foods. I used to buy those microwave lunches and stuff in the frozen section before I read the back of the box. Do you know how much salt and fat is in that junk? Anyway, now I try to avoid buying prepared meals altogether. If I want something quick there are easy meals I can prepare in minutes and I try to buy things like that and have it on hand in case of emergency.
- Cut down on meat – Meat is often one of the most expensive parts of your meal. When I cook I used to base everything round the biggest piece of meat I could get my hands on. Now I have tried to cut back on the meat and fill up with more healthy fruits and veggies, and cheap things like rice and pasta. It does not take a lot of meat to get the protein you need and still feel like you have eaten your fill.
- Make a meal plan – In order to keep from falling back into bad habits and from grabbing a bunch of junk at the grocery store I have started to make meal plans for the week. By planning y meals I can get only the ingredients I need and not waste food. I also do not have to come up with ideas when I am tired. It is already set up and ready for me to make. I also save money by shopping only once a week, keeping me from buying things I don’t really need (I’m looking at you, candy bars).
- Take leftovers for lunch – I used to think that leftovers were yucky, but when it is the middle of the day and you are starving anything tastes good. Using leftovers for lunch helps me not to waste food, not to waste money on eating out, and also encourages me to eat healthier home cooked meals. Plus leftovers are much more filling than sandwiches.
- Look at ads for sales – When I plan my menu for the week I also take into account the ads I get in my mailbox every Saturday. Those ads allow me to see what is on sale and plan my menu around that. I can take the ads to the store, even ones without the sale, and they will match the price. That makes it easy to shop and save anywhere.
- Use coupons – This old standby is a good way to save lots of money or buy lots of junk, depending on how you use it. I only clip coupons that I would actually use anyway and that way I don’t end up with a bunch of food I won’t really eat. I am also careful to compare prices to make sure the coupon is actually worth it. Sometimes it does not bring down the price enough to compete with the store brand.
- Buy generic – Speaking of the store brand, buying generic can save you lots of money. Most store brands have the same great taste as the real thing but for much cheaper. Try things out and see if you can trade in your name brand food for the store brand alternative without even noticing a difference in flavor.
- Buy in bulk –If you are one of those price club kinds of people then buying in bulk could save you a bunch. I buy things in bulk that I use a lot of and won’t go bad. Like canned tomatoes and toilet paper. However you do not want to buy things like fruit if you can’t eat ten pounds of oranges before they go bad.
- Cut out junk food –Junk food is bad for your waist and bad for your wallet. I have cut out almost all the junk food from my diet and it has saved me a bunch of money. No more expensive sodas and greasy chips. Now I eat fresh fruit and salads and drink water. I feel better and my bank account is fatter.
- Eat smaller servings –There is no need to stuff yourself. You are not a bear. You do not need to store up fat for the winter. Instead of huge portions try to eat the right size. A small salad and a pasta dish is enough. You do not have to have a four course meal and dessert. If you eat several small meals a day it is better for your body anyway.
- Buy and freeze –If they are having a really good sale or if you find something that is expiring soon and is on discount then buy it and freeze it. That is how I buy all my meat now. I find a good deal and stock up. I package it in the right portions before I freeze it and then I have a meal ready whenever I need it. Family size packaging is usually always cheaper than a small pack.
These are just a few of the ways I have cut down on my food expenses. I still have a long way to go but I am doing better. You can save money on your food too if you follow just a few of these tips and cut down on what you buy every month. Good luck!