Food is one of the highest expenses people have. With eating out now being a norm, the money people spend on food is obviously much higher. While eating out can feel rewarding and convenient, it is certainly something you want to avoid doing as much as you can.
It does your wallet no justice, especially if you are on a budget, trying to live a frugal life, or have a financial goal you are trying to achieve as soon as possible.
But how do you drop the habit of eating out to save money? This is what this article looks at in detail.
These tips will help you save more as you explore your culinary skills. Keep reading.
1. Cook Meals at Home
Of course, if you stop eating out, you are going to have to cook your meals at home.
But how beneficial is it to you and your pocket? An article published on CNET revealed that the cost of ingredients for every meal stands at 50% less than the cost of ordering the same meal for delivery.
The cost of eating out can get even higher if you give 10% or 20% tips.
Ordering meals out or dining out is often for convenience. But if you do it to enjoy specific meals, you can always learn how to prepare them and considerably cut costs.
Cooking meals at home will not only save you money. It allows you to select ingredients and carefully watch what you eat. Therefore, cooking your meals at home is a great way to go if you want to shed some weight or watch what you consume.
It is not just for your wallet. It is also great for your health.
2. Meal Prep for the Week
People get home and order out because thinking and settling for a meal every other day can be exhausting. To solve this, use the weekend to meal prep for the whole week.
With meals already decided and prepared, you will lower the temptation of ordering out throughout the week.
Secondly, meal prepping goes hand in hand with the principle of first-in-first-out. Be sure to use groceries bought first before getting more from the stores. This way, you can quickly reduce the amount of food that ends up expiring and rotting.
Meal prepping is also great for selecting nutritious meals. The last-minute rush pushes you to choose cost-ineffective, non-nutritious options.
Save yourself the effects of last-minute selection and start prepping for your meals and cooking in batches every weekend.
3. Buy Groceries in Bulk
Knowing what foods to buy in bulk can go a long way in helping you save money. Some of the foods that will save you money if you buy in bulk include dried beans, fruits, and lentils; frozen poultry, vegetables, meat, and berries; certain whole grains such as wild rice, quinoa, and amaranth; peanut butter, pasta, greens powders, chia seeds, and apple cider vinegar.
Getting these foods with longer shelf lives and storage capability will help you keep your money in your pocket. These items are often significantly discounted when bought in larger quantities.
Careful, though; some foods should not be bought in bulk. These include flour, eggs, and vegetable oils such as sunflower, soybean, safflower, and spices. They have shorter shelf lives, and buying them in bulk can end up in waste.
4. Use Coupons and Discounts
A post on coupon statistics published by Meetanshi revealed that the typical American family saved an average of $7 on their weekly groceries using coupons. Interestingly, these families spent 10 minutes or less weekly looking for and arranging their coupons.
What if they put in some more time …maybe 10 minutes daily instead of weekly?
With the coupon trends and strategies changing, you have to know where to look. For instance, the same study revealed that emails are now the most popular way manufacturers and retailers distribute coupons. Therefore, signing up for those marketing emails can help you get discounts and coupons that will help you reduce your food costs.
You, however, want to take advantage of the other avenues of finding coupons and discounts, such as in-store and mailbox handouts, and on coupons’, retailers’ and manufacturers’ websites,
5. Limit Impulse Purchases
A study done by Ramsey Solutions revealed that the number 1 impulse purchase people make is food and snacks they randomly pick up when grocery shopping.
They often appear to be small and minor purchases, but they add up to significant amounts and can be why you always break your budget.
To lower your chances of making impulse purchases, avoid shopping when hungry and stressed, and create a shopping list for every time you visit a grocery store and commit to sticking to it. You also want to consider having grocery pick-ups instead of going in-store shopping.
6. Plan a Weekly Menu
Create a weekly menu listing all foods you would eat for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and even snacks. With a list of meals you would have for the week, you can check out what ingredients you have available and what you need from the store.
This is one great way to create a shopping list and ensure you get what you need.
Be sure to examine your fridge, freezer, and pantry while inventorying.
With a menu planned for the week, you can cater to picky eaters if you have any in your household. Additionally, it makes it so much easier to avoid unnecessary purchases.
You want to play around with staples to make diverse meals. For instance, envision vegetables in salads, sandwiches, and pasta dishes over the week. Creating diversity will help you stick better to your planned menu and explore many in-season items.
While creating your menu, you want to go with in-season produce to keep your budget lower. You, however, need to be realistic and create a menu that aligns with your schedule, cooking abilities, and eating preferences.
7. Avoid Convenience Foods
We all love how time-saving convenience foods can be. While it is great that they require little to no preparation, they tend to have lower nutritional value and are expensive.
With a lot on their plates, convenience foods often end up as a last resort for most working-class people in America.
Instead of convenience foods, you want to go for fruits, vegetables, and mixed nuts. They may cost you less but are just as convenient as they require little to no preparation.
Cooking in batches is one of the best solutions if you often use frozen pizza and such foods for your main meals. Have meals ready to enjoy the convenience of not cooking from scratch every day. It will help you save time and money.
Additionally, find replacements for every convenience food you often fall for. For instance, blending your fresh juice to replace soft drinks will go a long way for your health and wallet.
8. Opt for Homemade Snacks
A 2022 study by Mondelez International revealed that 71% of people snack at least twice daily. The study further revealed that 67% of their respondents would rather buy fewer of their favorite brand-name snacks than buy more of their generic options.
While going for generic options will save you money, preparing your favorite snacks at home will save you even more.
The same study revealed that people spend an average of $474 on snacks per person per year. What if it is a family of 4 you are catering for?
You can cut a massive chunk of this money by making your snacks at home. Some of the best you can go for include potato chips, brownies, pancakes, granola bars, popcorn, pretzels, smoothies, milkshakes, etc.
Prepare a selection of your favorite snacks in advance and have them well-stored to be consumed throughout the week. Carry some to work or when you step out to save that $3-$7 you would otherwise have to spend on grocery store snacks.
9. Reduce Food Waste
Planet Forward revealed that food worth $62.20 goes to waste per month per person. This means you could save enough money to pay for some monthly and even yearly subscriptions if you stopped wasting food.
Before buying food, take inventory of your fridge, freezer, and pantry to avoid overbuying what you already have.
Additionally, you must learn to store your food well to reduce food waste. Whether it is the leftovers or the perishable produce you have bought or gotten from your farm, storing them well can help you enhance their shelf life. Find food storage tips online and implement them to make your produce last longer.
10. Embrace Leftovers
Do not toss out your leftovers when they could take you for another meal. You can store them in your fridge and eat them for your next meal.
If you do not plan to eat them the next day, label them well and store them in your freezer. Just be sure to go strong on the first-in-first-out strategy to ensure the leftovers stay in the freezer for a short time.
If you are the one who hates eating the same meal twice in a row, you can always find ways to repurpose your leftovers and make a whole new meal.
For instance, grilled chicken can be turned into chicken salad sandwiches, hamburgers from BBQs, ham fried rice from ham, fried rice from plain white rice, soup from any vegetable, etc.
You may have to use different spices, sauces, and toppings to give your leftover meal a new life.
Ways To Save Money Instead of Eating Out
With today’s busy lives, it is very easy to fall into the habit of dining out or ordering takeouts. While it is highly convenient, it is one sure way to watch your money trickle away, one restaurant bill at a time.
Preparing your meals at home is the secret to regaining control of your food expenses. We get it; getting into the habit of cooking at home can be difficult. You, however, can ease in slowly using these 10 strategies to save money instead of eating out. Embrace them today and watch how much you lower your food costs.
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This article was produced and syndicated by A Dime Saved.