4 Ways to Save Money on Food

by Lance Ekum on · 0 comments

Slicing your personal spending budget into sub-categories often highlights unexpected cash flow patterns. Under review, for example, fixed costs like rent and mortgage payments are generally stable, while spending in certain discretionary categories can be surprising. And since people have unique spending priorities, the way money is allocated varies widely across individuals. Despite noted differences in the way money flows through consumers' hands, household spending habits also share many things in common. Among them, the cost of food typically occupies a prominent place in most family budgets.

Food costs represent essential spending, so a budget-conscious approach to your family menu yields ongoing savings. If you are serious about redirecting food spending toward other important financial responsibilities, start with these cost-conscious moves, adding your own creative ideas for frugal food savings.

Eat at Home

If you haven't done the math, you may be surprised how much more expensive it is to eat out, when compared to dining at home. Restaurant meals can be economical, under some circumstances (kids eat free, buy one get one, etc.), but the overall cost of prepared food is far greater than frugal home cooked meals. The analysis also applies to carryout, which is equally as expensive as dining in restaurants.

If your finances are like other busy individuals', life's hectic pace is to blame for many meals bought out of convenience , rather than economy. To reduce food costs, resist the urge to dine out as a default, instead challenging yourself to provide home cooking, as often as possible. By saving restaurant trips for special occasions, you'll appreciate being pampered more and relish being cared for by hospitality staff.

Plan a Menu

Planning a weekly menu can help reduce food costs in two distinct ways. For starters, planning a menu helps at the grocery store, enabling you to target only needed items. And looking ahead also limits food waste, helping you account for leftovers.

As you craft a cost-effective weekly food menu, create a bulk vision, covering the week's meals. A chicken roasted for Sunday dinner, for instance, can be repurposed for Monday's stir-fry, tacos, or chicken salad. And a sturdy batch of pasta stands-in for two weeknight meals, keeping the family fed for pennies per serving.

Pack a Lunch

It is often the hidden costs of everyday living, rather than major spending blunders, which drag down family finances. If you are accustomed to grabbing lunch on the fly, paying for your mid-day meals one at a time, your food budget may be overly inflated, without you being aware. Averaged at ten dollars a day for the cost of eating in restaurants, lunch costs readily exceed $200 a month. Over the course of a year – or career – it is easy to see how lunch spending could interfere with food economy. To reduce your lunch tab and add to household savings, carry a bag lunch as often as possible. Not only does the practice trim spending, but packing your own lunch also enables you to make healthier dining choices than those available at many restaurants.

Brew it Yourself

Incremental savings add-up to substantial sums, so trimming everyday expenditures can be felt in your bottom line. Starting with your morning cup of coffee, making slight changes to your lifestyle may be enough to free-up funds for other priorities. Instead of stopping at your favorite coffee house and paying ala carte coffee prices, for instance, try reinventing your morning routine to allow for home brewed coffee. Even treating yourself to fresh gourmet roasts, you'll save substantial sums when compared to paying the barista.

There is no denying the significance of food spending in most family budgets. For immediate savings on food costs, eliminate your morning coffee stop, carry a bag lunch to work, and plan weekly menus to reduce waste. And for further gains, dine close to home, saving meals-out for special occasions.

Lance writes stories from his heart, aiming to inspire and motivate, as you align more fully with YOUR true peak. When he's not here, you can find him hanging out with his family, riding a bike, or just generally acting goofy.   Sign up for the Thoughts from the Treehouse newsletter and get additional inspiration in your email inbox!
Lance Ekum
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