12 months of saving: Tips to save money on your food budget
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Looking for ways to save money can be a serious challenge. So, why not look at your grocery budget to see where you can save money on the food choices you make without sacrificing eating well or enjoying your dinner?
Eat well using these tips to save money on your food bill.
When you think about a food budget, your mind immediately jumps to Top Ramen or coupon clipping. However, you don’t have to eat like a college student to stay on budget. While coupons definitely have a place, that’s not what we’re talking about for our budget. (You do have a food budget, right? If not, let’s get that budget created.)
Create a menu
“What do you want for dinner?” “I don’t know. What do you want for dinner?” This conversation usually ends in getting take-and-bake pizza or some other fast food. The best way to avoid this doomed conversation all together is to make a menu.
Look at your week and any activities you have going on
There might be some late nights or running back and forth to a kid’s sport. Keep it all in mind and try to plan accordingly. On a night you are getting home late, it may not work to whip up a meal from scratch, but maybe a grilled protein and a salad would do the trick.
Don’t forget to plan for snacks
Hanger is real. Have you ever been so hungry, you are irritable and angry? Yep, hanger. Plan for some snacks that are easy to grab on the go. Almonds, cheese, or just a piece of fruit, are all great and healthy options. Having these items on hand can help prevent quick stops at the drive-thru in those, “I need to eat NOW” moments.
In meal planning, the most important thing you can do is be realistic. Life is in constant motion. Don’t stress about dinner time. Look at your menu, if you are planning on tacos one night, cook all the ground beef and use part of it for the tacos and then maybe another night for spaghetti. This means dinner can make it onto the table even quicker on that second night.
Leftovers for lunch
It may not be the immediate next day, but having an extra portion of dinner for lunch is totally acceptable. Plus, having a meal with you is a great deterrent to eating out for lunch. And, while you’re at it, you might as well pop over those savings to your Bonus Saver account. Cha-Ching!
Make a list. Check it twice.
Getting your menu planned is going to make creating a list a snap. Double check your pantry to make sure you have everything you need when it comes to prepping your meal.
Making a list also cuts down on the time you have to spend shopping.
Make it a family affair. Washing, chopping, organizing your produce can be a great chore for helpers. Being able to have dinner on the table in 20 minutes or less is a huge relief at the end of the day. It also is a big deciding factor before splurging to go out and eat because by the time you get seated, order and get your meal, it’s about the same amount of time.
Skip the prepacked items
Packaged food, by nature, is designed to be convenient and easy to grab on the go. You get charged for that convenience. Buying a head of lettuce and chopping it, or a block of cheese and shredding it yourself is an easy way to shave money off your food budget.
Bulk items aren’t just for baking items. Rice, beans, pasta, nuts, even oatmeal are often cheaper in the bulk section versus boxes.
Embrace the season – then freeze for later
Take advantage of our amazing community and the bounty of produce we have. From picking apples in the orchard to corn at the farmer’s market, buy some to enjoy now and freeze for later. It takes a bit of time to properly store and freeze the item, but when you have fresh-frozen peaches for a cobbler in the fall, you will be thankful.
Check the unit price
Buying the largest box on the shelf, or even the store brand, isn’t a surefire method to saving money. Compare the unit price. This is often listed on the price tag. You can figure out the unit price by dividing the price of the item by the number of ounces or other unit of measurement.
Don’t forget your grocery bags
It’s becoming more common for stores to charge you for plastic bags. At an extra $0.05 or $0.10 a bag, this charge can really add up! Plus, you are left with little plastic bags cluttering your kitchen. While reusable bags can be a pain to remember, in the long run they will not only save you time but are better for the environment.
These are just some ways you can save money on your food budget. Don’t miss out on these other great savings ideas!