6 More Ways to Save Money on Food
The largest expense categories in most people’s budgets are housing, transportation, and food. We’ve tried our best to improve in these areas as much as possible, but they can be difficult.
One of the posts I did last year about this topic, 9 Easy Ways to Lower Food Costs, was very well received. I think food spending is a category that can get out of control fast, especially with millennials, and many people are looking to cut down on these expenses.
The goal of that previous post was to provide simple and practical ways to lower food costs that everyone could achieve. For part one of this mini-series revolving around food, I’d like to add a few more ways that we save on food costs.
1. Avoid shopping as often
The more often we go to the grocery store, the higher our food spending tends to be. We try to limit our trips as much as possible, on average about twice per month for big trips and weekly for perishable items. You’ll have to adjust this based on the size of your family, but the point is still the same. It’s very hard for us to go to the store and spend less than $50, even when we go to pick up “just one or two things.”
2. Make large batches of food and eat leftovers
One of the arguments people have for not cooking often is that it’s a lot of work. The prep, cooking, and cleaning takes its toll sometimes. When you have those hard days at work it’s tempting to just stop by Chipotle rather than cooking for yourself. To cut down on this fatigue, we usually cook 2-3 meals per week in larger batches and then save the leftovers. On our more tiring days, or nights we have other commitments, we can easily microwave up leftovers and not worry about cooking a whole new meal. If cooking is not something you enjoy, why do it more times than necessary? Stick to 2-3 meals per week instead of trying to cook a new dinner every single night. Don’t even think about telling me that you “don’t like leftovers because you don’t like having the same meal multiple times.” I’ll be expanding on my thoughts about cooking in next week’s post.
3. Supplement fresh produce with frozen vegetables and canned fruit
While fresh produce is healthier, we supplement it with frozen vegetables and canned fruit to help bridge the gaps between shopping trips. This is not only convenient when it comes to cooking, it also helps us avoid going to the store less often. An added benefit is it helps us avoid fresh produce spoiling before we get a chance to use it.
4. Have a list of “go-to” meals that can be made from staple items
We have a variety of meals that we make from a few staple items, such as chicken, rice, pasta, eggs, and vegetables. We always have these ingredients on hand, and can easily make multiple meals with them in 10-20 minutes. With this strategy, it becomes MORE convenient to whip up a quick meal at home than it is to go get takeout.
5. Emergency meals
Ever have those days where you have no desire to cook? Us too. When your leftovers have ran out and you’re really feeling lazy, pop a frozen pizza in the oven. We always have a few meals on hand for those nights where cooking just isn’t going to happen.
6. Meal prep Sundays
My wife is amazing at this. Each Sunday she makes her breakfasts and lunches for the week. This helps ensure that she’s not going out to eat and that she has healthy meals throughout the week. We also sometimes cook extra meat on Sunday to use for dinners in the early part of the week. This lets us get some of the cooking out of the way when we have more time, so that we have less to do during our busy weekdays. Then we only have to make the sides (veggies/rice/pasta/etc.), rather than cooking a whole meal from scratch.
Hopefully you find some of these tips helpful! Stay tuned for part 2 of the food mini-series coming next Monday, about why cooking is an essential skill for saving money.
What is your favorite method for cutting down your food expenses?