Your food costs can have an important part in your monthly budget, especially if you eat a lot in restaurants or buy a lot of junk food. But when your budget is tight, we often start to buy cheap packaged meals that have a negative impact.
Eating poorly means being ill, which then adds a secondary cost in the form of medical care. In the end, you aren’t really saving any extra money at all.
But fear not – there is always a way to eat well with a tight budget. It takes a little bit more time and effort but is totally worth it at the end. You’ll have to give up the habit of eating in a restaurant but may find that you save enough money on food to add an occasional indulgence back into the mix.
7. Plan Your Meals
The secret of any savings goal is planning. Set your budget carefully and then research to make it better. That means visiting over the stores every week and creating a meal plan based on items that are on sale. You might also want to stock up your favorite pantry items when they’re on sale.
And speaking of the pantry, don’t forget to organize it as you make your meal plan, as there are often a lot of items there – things like dried pasta, jars of sauces, and boxes of rice – that can be used as the foundation of a meal. The freezer may also hold some forgotten treasures. try to use everything you have.
6. Employ Shopping Strategies
Once it is time to shop, make sure to use a variety of strategies to assure that you are always sticking to the list and save as much as you can of money. For beginners, don’t do your shopping when you are hungry or it will be impossible to avoid impulse purchases. Go to the store armed with coupons, but you have to know that there may not be many for the kinds of healthy, whole foods you are seeking.
Decide which items you can tolerate buying; for many items, there is little to no difference except for some fancy packaging. Buy whole versions of items rather than convenience one, for example, an entire block of cheese rather than a bag of pre-shredded one.
Foods that you eat a lot are usually cheaper when you bought it in bulk, and products that are in season are also less expensive. All of these strategies can keep more money in your pocket.
5. Buy Cheaper Cuts of Meat
Fresh meat is most pf the time the most expensive item on your list. We will talk in the next point about the way that will help you to reduce your amount of meat that you buy, but assume that you don’t want to go full vegetarian yet. Luckily, there are cheaper cuts of meat that can save you money, and
that still delicious as long as you understand how to prepare them.
One good example is cubed beef, labeled as stew meat. The only trick here is to cook it in low heat and for a long time. Just fire up the old crockpot around midday and let your meal simmer until the dinnertime.
You can save about $1 per pound if you buy a whole chicken rather than choice cuts, and it can be roasted in the oven or done right on the grill. Pork shoulder is also inexpensive and like stew meat, is best cooked long and low
4. Learn More Vegetarian Cooking
Eating less meat is a great way to save your money and it’s also better for your health. Casseroles are a super-easy way for beginners to get into vegetarian styles, like pasta dishes. Eggs are also a great source of protein into which you can add all your favorite fresh veggies.
Quinoa, rice, and beans are inexpensive items and perfect ingredients to stock up on your fridge. And don’t forget the humble potato, which can be baked and topped with some cheese and pretty much any veggie you like.
3. Skip Junk Food
The market of junk foods is insane, but food manufacturers get away with it because they know these kinds of foods are super addictive. Salty snacks like crackers, cookies, and chips, plus sugary drinks like soda, juice, and electrolyte drinks, are super tasty for sure. But they don’t have any nutritional value.
That doesn’t mean you can’t ever have some tasty items. Buying a bag of popcorn kernels and popping them on the stove saves a ton of money over the bagged microwave variety and is healthier.
You can make some chocolate chip cookies at home for a fraction of the price of the store. Even the oven can bake the French fries topped with some olive oil and great seasonings of your choice can be just as satisfying as any fast food version while costing way less per delicious.
2. Cook Large Portions and Use Your Leftovers
We advised you earlier to buy in bulk wherever it makes sense, and this is where you can realize the benefit of that. Whenever you cook your favorite meal, make a double portion. It does not take any extra time and it leaves you with additional meals to freeze, pack in lunches, or eat it later in the week.
If you have bought your meat in bulk, cook it and remove some of it without adding any sauces or seasoning.
Chicken or ground beef can be used in many different ways that won’t make you feel like you are eating leftovers. As a bonus, this strategy saves you considerable time for preparing your meals.
1. Grow Your Own Produce
During the summer months, you can save a great deal of money by growing your own products. The food you grow at home can be picked with the measure of freshness when it has the most flavor and nutrition. And come fall, you will likely have a lot of leftovers that can be stored to last of the winter.
Seeds are not expensive at all, and you can start using them by adding them to your yogurt or something similar. If you don’t have a land to plant your seeds come spring, check if there is any community garden in your area.
Plots are typically inexpensive, plus you’ll get to meet new people, have a little chit chat about plant care, and even share some tips.
You don’t have to eat ramen noodles every day when you have a limited budget. Healthy food can be affordable as long as you are interested to take a little more time in the planning, shopping, and preparation.
Once you get comfortable with the process and start realizing the benefits of saving money, we bet that you’ll want to make your new way of eating a lifestyle. After all, why spend more money than you have to? The savings can be applied to all sorts of other things that make life more enjoyable.