Get the most for your food budget! There are many ways to save money on the foods that you eat. The three main steps are planning before you shop, purchasing the items at the best price, and preparing meals that stretch your food dollars. You don’t have to sacrifice your budget for eating healthy.
Back to the basics. We are used to having pre-packaged convenience foods that are pre-cooked, cut and instant. These items might save time but they also cost a lot more money. Take the time to prepare your own food, you can save by chopping your own produce or prepping meat yourself. There seems to be a common misconception that fast food is cheaper than healthy food cooked at home- but that isn’t necessarily the case. You can plan a healthy meal without sacrificing the principle of thrift.
Look for the low cost staples. Certain foods are typically low-cost options all year round and others are not. If you are looking for protein for example, beans are almost always a less expensive option. If you are looking to include more fruits and vegetables, items like carrots and bananas are going to typically cost less on a regular basis than for example mangos or artichokes.
Freeze leftovers! Prepare a large batch of favorite recipes and freeze leftovers in individual
containers. Use them throughout the week and you won’t have to spend money on take-out meals or eating out at lunch.
Save money eating out. Restaurants can be expensive. Save money by getting the early bird special, going out for lunch instead of dinner, or looking for “2 for 1” deals. Stick to water instead of ordering other beverages. Order a salad and entrée and share the meal between two people. Better for the budget and the waist line.
Plan, plan, plan! Before you head to the grocery store, plan your meals for the week. Find items that you can buy on sale and use in multiple recipes. Shop only for the items you need to prepare those meals. Make extra for leftovers in your meal plan, and be realistic about how many nights you might eat out or be too busy to cook. Not only does this strategy cut down on the amount of food you buy at the grocery store, but it also decreases the amount of food you waste.
Get the best price. Check the local newspaper, online, and at the store for sales and coupons. Ask about a loyalty card for extra savings at stores where you shop. Look for specials or sales on meat and seafood—often the most expensive items on your list.
Compare and Contrast. Locate the “Unit Price” on the shelf directly below the product. Use it to compare different brands and different sizes of the same brand to determine which is more economical.
Buy in bulk. It is almost always cheaper to buy foods in bulk. Smart choices are family packs of chicken, steak, or fish and larger bags of potatoes and frozen vegetables. Before you shop, remember to check if you have enough
Buy in season. Buying fruits and vegetables in season can lower the cost and add to the freshness! If you are not going to use them all right away, buy some that still need time to ripen. Buy frozen or canned fruits and veggies, these have the same health benefits as fresh but often cost less.
Eat more meatless meals. Meat tends to be the most expensive item in recipes. Try making one or two vegetarian dinners a week to cut costs. Recipes based on items like rice, whole grains, beans are a great source of protein. These dishes can be filling and inexpensive. Add seasonal produce for crunch, freshness, and color.