Let me start off by apologizing for my lack of writing for almost 2 weeks.  Life has made some demands that needed my attention.  Funny enough, some of those demands pertained to budgeting!  As always, income versus expenses needed to be looked at and I was shocked at all the changes that have occurred in the last few months.  Now, we’re not in any dire position at the moment and maybe I’m a Scrooge when it comes to spending, but I’ve been getting uncomfortable with the way the numbers have been looking.  I’d like to have a little bit more breathing room, especially considering we have a little one that could be popping out of me any day!

My biggest concern has been our food expenses.  To be honest, I’ve let myself get away with slacking on ways to save money on our groceries.  I have thousands of really good excuses as to how that happened, but I won’t feed into them anymore.  I find it really difficult to go from a standstill to a sudden full throttle, so it’s time to get back to the basics, which I intend to share with you.

Whether you’re trying to cut back on your food expenses so that you can provide more groceries for your family or need room in your budget to pay off debt/bills, all of us can benefit from learning how to manage our spending in this area because of how important it is for us to eat.  My next series of posts will include several ways to just that.

Today we’re going to take it easy and go over some stuff that really won’t take much time at all.  In fact, they’re more like suggestions – you just have to make a decision to take the suggestions or keep them in mind when it is time to take action.  Really, you just have to tell yourself that you will abide by these guidelines from here on out.  I call these guidelines…

No Time at All

  • Dine In: Making the decision to cut back on eating at restaurants doesn’t take any time, but it may require a fair amount of willpower and restraint. Just remind yourself that you can make the same foods at home for a lot less money.  And even though fast food is cheap, it can have a negative impact on health versus a home-cooked meal.
  • Pay in Cash: Do NOT use credit cards! When you can’t pay your credit card bill in full, you’re paying interest, which is the exact opposite of cutting expenses.  Even if you think you can pay off your entire credit card, don’t pay for food with it.  Something unexpected may come up that prevents you to pay it off when the time actually comes.  Just erase the idea from your mind completely.
  • Lower Cost Alternatives: When it is time to shop, always look for the store brand. They generally taste the same and to be frank, if you’re in need of cutting expenses but you’re a picky eater – get over it.  Every penny counts towards making your money problems temporary.  Save now, splurge later…a lot later.
  • Avoid Prepared Foods: They’re more expensive than if you were to make the meal yourself. If you tend to buy prepared foods a lot, find recipes for the meals you eat the most of.  My personal issue with prepared foods – their portions.  There’s hardly ever enough food to go around or I have to purchase a ridiculous amount that’s way too costly.  I’m not okay with spending nearly 20 bucks on a family-size lasagna and still be starving or nearly 40 to ensure I don’t starve.
  • Calculator: This is an essential tool you probably already have – you just need to start using it. If you have a cell phone, you have one on you, most likely, all of the time.  You should make the decision to break it out when it comes time to calculate cost-per-unit, tracking your spending while shopping, and to compare prices, sales and coupons.
  • Leftovers: Discipline yourself to start eating those leftovers!  You can even use them to create a different meal.  Make the decision to stop throwing away left over food and be willing to get creative.  Not only will you get extra meals, you will feel better about spoiling less, and you won’t have to shop as often!
  • Eat More Veggies: Did you know that by cutting meat from a diet just 1 day a week can save a family of four $200 a year? Well, now you do!  Get comfortable with the idea of meatless meals before heading off to the store.
  • T’is the Season: When buying produce, go for what’s in season.  You won’t have to do much research figuring out which fruits and veggies are in season in your area because the answer is, whichever ones are least expensive.

If you stick to these basic guidelines, hopefully you’ll notice a few dollars being shaved off each purchase in comparison to past transactions.  You’ll also notice that by eating leftovers, for example, your food supply will last longer which also results in less money being spent.

Soon I’ll be posting more ways to save on food expenses, so be on the look out!  They’ll require a bit more foot work, but will be worth the extra effort as they will help you save a great deal more.

Leave a comment, especially if you have any ideas on “no time at all” savings on food!