This whole "living as an adult" thing is quite expensive, isn't it? Between the taxes, and the dental bills and the mortgage payments, it all really adds up. And the food! Man, I never really appreciated the fact that the bacon Dad was bringing home cost 5 bucks a package! Now that I'm the one wielding a rickety cart down aisle 7, I try to plan ahead before every grocery trip to make sure my food bill doesn't gobble up my savings. Here are some of my favorite tips for saving money on food.
3. I plan my meals for the week in advance. Once a week I spend a little Q-time with my cookbooks (which you already know i enjoy), and make a list of what to make for the week. Having a clear focus on what will be prepared and eaten for the week helps prevent food from getting stashed in the back of the fridge and quickly forgotten. Sometimes I'll prep vegetables or grains on Sunday, which saves time during busy weeknights.
4. I keep track of what's stashed in the pantry. This prevents unnecessary purchases at the grocery store, plus if certain staples are always there, I know I can throw together a quickie meal on the fly. I'll never go hungry so long as there's pasta, brown rice, quinoa, red lentils or a can of beans in the house.
10. I keep portion sizes reasonable. This falls under the category of "No Duh" but the less food I make, the less I spend and the less I eat.
11. I never order food in restaurants that I could easily make myself. Do you know how cheap and easy it is to make a quesadilla at home? Do you know how much restaurants mark up for stuff like that?
13. I walk to the store. I realize this option likely isn't available to anyone who doesn't live in a city, but the fact is, I only have two arms to carry groceries home with, so that directly impacts how much I'm throwing in my grocery cart. I have no choice but to be selective, which cuts down on impulse purchases.
14. Blogging does not determine what I cook or where I go out to eat. If it did, I'd probably spend way more money and gain tons of weight. I enjoy this little hobby, but not to that extent.
15. I sometimes pretend the grocery store doesn't exist. You know those days at the end of the week when all that's left in the fridge is some sad summer squash, a can of black beans and a half-eaten block of cheddar? On days like that, I saute them all together and serve it over some brown rice, quinoa, or cornbread with some cumin, garlic and dried cilantro. Make do with what you've got. Get creative. Generations before us did a lot more with a lot less.
17. I base meals on what I already have, not necessarily on what I want. Before I make my shopping list for the week, I scour my cabinets and fridge for things I've had for a while and need to use up. Then I'll hop on epicurious.com, type in the ingredient I need to use up, and a minimum of 20 recipes appear telling me how to use that ingredient. Don't waste!
21. I buy ingredients only if I know they can be used for more than one thing. Also, I pass on recipes that call for 1/4 cup or 1/3 tbsp of something I know I'll never use again in my life. Ume plum vinegar--I'm looking at you.
22. I try to remember this:
I hope these tips were helpful! What are some of your tips for saving money on food?