Food is one monthly expense no one can avoid, but it can often become one of the most neglected when money is tight. If you’re on a budget, trying to pay off debt or not earning enough to support yourself well, then you have to find ways to eat well without overdrawing your account. To help you cut back without opting for the unhealthy junk food so many stores have on offer at a low price, we’ve put together this list of tips for you.
The first thing you should do is clearly define your grocery budget. Most Americans spend roughly 10 percent of their income on food. In order to get the most out of your budget, you have to be clear about what you can afford and what needs to be cut. While you may not be able to get everything you want, having a set figure that you refuse to go over allows you to structure your shopping list and plan much more efficiently.
You shouldn’t enter the grocery store and start putting random things into your cart, making up meals as you go along. This results in a hodgepodge of ingredients that generally don’t make satisfying dishes. Instead, look up recipes each week and decide what your household is going to have for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. You can decide which recipes you’ll double for so there are leftovers, which can lower your overall bill while giving you more food.
The key is to make bigger portions of things that are cheaper. Bulky bases like rice, pasta and beans are good because they’re filling and affordable. Opt for whole wheat when you can because this contains less scratch and carbohydrates. Portions should be eventually balanced and contain more veggies than carbs. This will keep everyone fuller for longer while providing their daily dose of vitamins.
You’ll often find that frozen bagels and breads are cheaper. They taste just as good, and you can stock up when there’s a sale so you always have some in the fridge. To take it a step further, you can start baking your own bread and sandwich rolls at home. It’s not difficult, and you are able to save over $100 a year just by baking and freezing your own loaves.
We all love a tasty snack now and then, but they tend to be overpriced and don’t contribute any nutritional value. This means you will be forking over your hard-earned money on things that ultimately don’t provide any sustenance. If you are a big snacker, look into buying in bulk. You may even want to consider a snack subscription box, which brings a new assortment of tasty treats to your doorstep each month.
You’ll get to try some of the most delicious snacks from around the world and avoid overspending at the supermarket. Another advantage to meal planning is that it reduces your desire to snack, too. You’ll find that more satisfying meals remove the desire to eat every few hours. If you are looking for something to munch on, then you should choose veggies or fruit over crackers or potato chips.
The same as you might use days like Black Friday and Cyber Monday to stock your gift closet, use weekly grocery sales to stock your pantry and freezer. Pay attention to your local store’s sales and make sure you take full advantage of their weekly flyers. Discounts can range from a few cents per item to $50 or more off your bill. When you know what’s going to be on sale when you shop, you’ll also be able to plan more affordable meals. The next time you shop, ask your cashier what day sales start and end. This will give you an inside scoop that you can use to get the most out of your food budget.