The saying goes that one cannot think well, love well, or sleep well if one has not dined well. But since the start of the 21st century, the world has witnessed a constant surge in food prices. This makes it seem like there is always a choice to make between savings and good food.
The good news is that this seemingly insoluble dilemma can be very well turned into an opportunity. Since food and beverage expenses claim a big chunk of our monthly budgets, they are also a great way to boost our savings at the same time. In fact, popular financial independence movements like FIRE emphasize on reducing the top three expenses in your budget first and foremost: housing, food, and transportation.
That said, reducing grocery costs can also be pretty challenging when you take into account food prices, nutritional needs, and personal preferences. Not to mention, we can be pretty shallow when it comes to food. Most people are proven to change perception on taste based on its cost. Here is an article on fast food spending.
If your monthly budget is at odds with your desire to eat healthy and drink well, we know exactly how to stretch your dollars. Here are some solid tips on how to save money on food and drinks!
1. Save Money By Planning Ahead
When it comes to bringing down grocery costs in your monthly budget, it all starts with planning. Whether it is about making a grocery list or putting together a meal plan for the week, planning will be the key. Once you have your weekly meal plan, make a grocery list and stick to it. Not only will it save you time and money, but it will also keep impulse buying at bay.
2. Make Healthy Food Choices
We tend to spend a big amount of money on snacks and beverages every month. Like fizzy and sweetened drinks, all of these food choices are largely unhealthy. You can get a bang for your buck if you start considering nutritional value of food against its price. Replace sodas and flavored drinks with sparkling water and fresh juices. Find healthy options for snacks like fruit snacks and granola bars, etc.
3. Find Alternate Sources of Protein
While, protein is the most essential part of diets, meat protein can be significantly hard on your monthly budget. Use inexpensive vegetarian sources of protein like legumes, beans, and eggs every now and then. Even better, go vegetarian at least once a week to include healthy plant foods in your diet. Eggs are also an inexpensive source of protein that can be integrated in any meal, be it breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
4. Make Your Own Coffee
With programmable coffee makers, there is no need to make coffee runs to your corner coffee shop every morning. All you have to do is program your coffee maker the night before and have a freshly brewed coffee early in the morning.
If you cannot stop buying coffee out, you can make it as a reward for controlling your caffeine addiction once in a while as opposed to every day.
5. Stock Up on Frozen Food
Frozen fruits and vegetables are not only great for cooking and making your daily smoothies, but also cheaper and sometimes just as healthy. Another benefit of stocking up frozen food is that it lasts longer than its fresh counterparts. This reduces the chances of your vegetables and fruits going to waste before they are used up.
6. Buy in Bulk
Whether it is buying staples or liquor, buying in bulk is always a good idea. Grain, spices, and nuts are especially great options to buy in bulk as they usually offer the lowest per pound price. And you never have to make an extra grocery run due to running out of them early.
Similarly, wine and liquor are also ideal for buying in bulk mostly because they don’t go bad. And that too for several years. You can buy liquor in bulk from semi-annual sales, buy-one-get-one 50% off sales, or any other that you can find around you. You can keep them in a cellar and have just the perfect wine at your disposal to pair up with any kind of food.
7. Order Specialty Drink on Dine Out Nights
Another great tip on how to save on food is to go for a specialty drink on your dine outs. A fruit-infused water or a specialty drink by the chef is usually a healthy alternative to sodas. By far the best advantage of this hack is that these drinks can be ordered by the gallon and generally cost lower per person than your average soda.
8. Grow Your Own
Fresh herbs are a great alternative to seasoning food with extra salt, butter or cheese. Rather than buying dried herbs, you can have your own herb garden. All you require area few small planters and an empty windowsill. You can grow other fresh produce in your backyard as well. Tomatoes, celery, lettuce, and avocados are a few that you can grow easily in your kitchen garden.
Whoever said eating well and healthy is expensive, couldn’t be more wrong. Did you know that bananas offer an assortment of vitamins and minerals, and soluble and insoluble fibers at under a dollar or a pound? And interestingly enough, there’s no prep work needed to enjoy them. Needless to say, eating and drinking healthy is only expensive if you have not planned ahead for what or how you are going to eat and drink.
While these above tricks can be a real winner, what you require most is discipline. Unless you do not slash daily expenses on eating out, drinking sodas, and getting your coffee fixes from the corner coffee shop, there’s little you can do to reduce your food and beverage expenses. So, plan and review your food choices on a regular basis.
If you need a smart solution to track your expenses and spending, download the Doctor Money app right now. And make good investment into your life with responsible food choices.