Food can get expensive quickly, as many of us know. Eating out and buying groceries while trying to save money can seem incredibly challenging, so I thought I would share some tips that have helped me out.
- If you want to eat out, go out for lunch instead of dinner; it's usually cheaper
- Share a meal with a friend or take your leftovers home so you get twice as much out of one entrée
- Set a budget for grocery and eating out expenses and stick to it
- Create a grocery list and stick to it; impulse buys add up quickly!
- Make more of your own food; convenience foods are surprisingly easy to replicate, cheaper when you buy the ingredients that can be stretched further or used for other dishes, and are healthier when you can control what goes in them
- Look for coupons & sign up for restaurants' email lists if you go there frequently
- Eat seasonally-- foods taste best and are cheaper when they're in season
- Pack lunch during the week; buying lunch quickly adds up, and can easily become a bad habit. Pack food the night before and you'll be all set!
- Buy groceries with meals in mind; if you haphazardly buy what sounds good without a plan for what to make with what you purchase, you might end up with a whole cart full of mismatched things and no real meals
- Check unit prices-- different sizes can be confusing when you're trying to find the best deal; do the math to compare prices per ounce or gram
- Buy in bulk when it's practical-- if you have room to store a larger package that has a lower unit price and will use it before it goes bad, then go for it! If you won't use that much in a reasonable amount of time or don't have room to store it, opt for the smaller package to reduce waste and save space.
- Compare prices at different stores. It may seem labor-intensive, but it could be really rewarding to save money by shopping for the right items at the right places. This doesn't mean you have to run to four different stores every week; you can create menu plans and grocery lists based on one or two stores, and simply rotate as needed. And remember to stock up on dry goods when you visit your less-frequented stores if you find them on sale and know you are saving yourself a trip you'd have to make later anyway.
What are some of your favorite money-saving tips? I'd love to hear your ideas!