Thrifty Spending Issue 102: Money Saving Tip

Even if you don’t particularly like to cook; you have to appreciate how it helps both your health and finances and you mush make an effort in this budget area. Here are the easiest ways to cut your food budget in half:

Limit alcohol. It can get expensive to have a daily happy hour, so if you are not willing to give it up, you must adjust your budget to cope with the expenses. If you need extra dollars, perhaps cutting back to only have alcohol in the home for friends or a special occasion.

Stop buying ready-made solutions.    If you use a lot of something, try to figure out how you can make it yourself in volume. It’s cheaper for me to buy bulk steel-cut oats and cook a pot of it for the week than to buy instant oats.

Plan menus two weeks out before grocery shopping. Carve out time in your schedule (about 30 minutes) to plan your breakfasts, lunches, dinners and snacks for the next 10 to 14 days. Start by checking your kitchen cabinets for what you already have on hand, and build your menu to use up cans of soup and other staples. Consider keeping a folder of recipes you want to try. Once you have a completed menu, build your grocery list.

Grocery-shop three times a month, and stick to your list. People who eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables really prepare for this tip.  Bring these items home, prep them immediately and keep them in airtight containers, most stuff easily lasts 10 days.

Designate a “meal prep” day.    Every 10 days or so, spend serious time cooking big batches of… rice and beans, morning gruel, root vegetables, a casserole to freeze, etc.  If you precook then it will be easier to make a meal after a full day of work by throwing something into a salad or stir-fry, or just have something to pull from the freezer the day before.

Keep comfort food ready to go.    There are times when you may not want to eat as healthfully as you usually do or should. When you are driving home after a long day, nothing sounds better than takeout. So keep fixings on hand for things that sound better than takeout, like a grilled cheese sandwich or Beecher’s Mac & Cheese.


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