Don’t have enough money to go around? There are only 2 solutions to that problem. Make more money or spend less money. Or a combo of both. In this economy, it’s tough to find one job, much less two. There are options for making money at home- selling on ebay, online surveys, babysitting to name a few. I’ve done all three (and more) of these to make extra money. Let’s face it, they all take lots of time. Time is something that is a premium for me. So I choose the latter of the options. Living on less than what I make is the easiest solution for me. This is an ongoing list of my favorite ways to live on less and save more money. First we will start with food.
- Eat most meals at home- a typical meal out cost us $30 or more for me to feed 3 people. I can make meals at home for less than $10 for 3 people.
- Take your lunch – leftovers is a great choice, cook once eat twice. Reusable containers and lunch bag are a must.
- Eat less meat – have more vegetarian meals, make meat the side dish instead of the main course, make chef salads with chopped meat and boiled eggs. Most Americans get more protein than we need. Too much protein has the possibility to turn into fat.
- Toaster oven – I use a large toaster oven for all of my baking needs. It doesn’t heat up the kitchen, uses less energy and easier to keep clean.
- Don’t buy groceries for one week out of the month – use what you have in your pantry and freezer. Get creative with menus. Take the money you would have spend and put it toward debt or savings.
- Use your freezer – plan leftovers, cook double what you need for a meal and freeze half to for later. Got one or two servings of leftover in the fridge and tired of eating it? Freeze it and take it to lunch next week. Freeze leftover sides like corn, green beans, peas, carrots etc in a freezer bag for vegetable soup. Keep adding leftover veggies until you have a pot of ‘free’ soup.
- Clean out your fridge on a weekly basis – I do mine on Wednesdays. A quick cleaning and inventory before I go to the grocery stores helps with not purchasing duplicate items, I can freeze any leftovers and keep mystery items from growing icky mold.
- Menu plan – a simple menu plan will help create a stress free week of cooking and save money. No running to the store last minute for needed items or worse yet, stopping by the drive-through. Don’t know where to start? Write down your favorite meals, ask the family what they would like to have, keep a list this week of what you cook and have it again two weeks from now.
- Eat simple meals – Meals don’t have to be complicated. Last night we had Chicken Pie Pockets and a salad. The pockets were prepared ahead of time, just needed to bake them and throw together a quick salad. This meal cost less than $5 for all of us, took minutes to make and was full of nutrition.
- Eat the same thing for breakfast everyday for a week – boring? Maybe, but not for me. I can make Amish Baked Oatmeal and eat it every morning no problem. Or make different smoothies each day. Eating the same thing for breakfast everyday is less stressful, cost less and there is less of a chance of food ‘going bad’ because it didn’t get eaten.
- Purchase items in bulk – bulk bins is a great place to get your pantry staples. Example: I purchase almonds for my almond milk from my grocers bulk bins at $4.49 a pound. The same almonds on the shelf from a name brand company sells for $6.99 for half a pound. A bulk purchase of baking yeast from my local health food store is a much cheaper option than the little packets. Be willing to explore different options when purchasing foods.
- Buy the brand on sale, no name brand or store brand – if you are brand loyal its hard to get the best deals. “My family will only eat brand X mayo.” Try different kinds brands. You may be surprised. I love Aldi’s. They offer a no risk guarantee if you purchase their name brand items. If you don’t like it return it. Check your local store and see if they have a no risk guarantee if you purchase their brand.
Notice I don’t include coupons. I’ve used them for years. I am a master of the sales ad and coupon match up. I’m simply burnt out on using them. The time investment of clipping, organizing and match-ups is not something I want to do right now. The more I used coupons and the extreme shopping trips, the more I noticed how much processed foods we ate. Most things I purchase now don’t have coupons available. I would rather put that energy I used for couponing toward making more meals from scratch.
I would love to hear some of your favorite ways to save on food. Leave me a comment, I am always looking for great ideas, recipes and different points of view.