If there’s one way to burn through your budget faster than a forest fire, it’s going shopping when you’re hungry.
Okay, maybe that is a bit of an exaggeration. But it still holds a candle to the fact that if you aren’t careful with what, when and how you buy food you’ll end up overspending almost every time. And this adds up every time. Small changes to your routine can add up to big results almost on autopilot. The secret is in making those things a habit and sticking to them month after month. This is what’s working for me right now, and I’m sure it can work for you too if you modify it to fit your own budget/food needs:
1. Invest Time In Meal Prepping On Sunday
I used to think this was only for people “crazy” enough to plan all their meals ahead of time that needed to find a hobby. Seriously. But after coming across it on Pinterest a few times and quickly reading a few posts on just how much money meal prepping on Sundays could save you, I decided to give it a go.
I mean, I really didn’t have anything to lose, except maybe a few hours of Hulu. Needless to say, I’ve absolutely seen the change in my budget from simply taking 2-3 hours of my Sunday to focus on preparing most of my foods for throughout the week. It’s shaved off about $100 monthly, and that’s all from throwing away less food, buying fewer items, and making the most out of the things I do buy in bulk (while still eating yummy things, if I do say so myself!).
2. Actually Learn Cheaper Meal Alternatives
This one might be painful for most. ‘Cus change is hard. But take some time out of your busy weekend to learn some new recipes that’ll open a whole new world of food possibilities to you. You’ll be surprised to see just how many different ways you can prepare rice or chicken (a pretty cheap meat option if you’re a meat eater). Inevitably, seeking out simple and cheap meal ideas you can recreate in your own kitchen will do amazing things to your budget.
3. Invest In A Meat Subscription Box
Okay, so this hack might not be for everyone. Understandably so. But if you still incorporate meat into your diet, consider signing up for a monthly meat subscription box. I like Butcherbox because they ship to your house for free. Each month, you get a personalized box of assorted meats of your choosing. I mostly do this for health reasons and convenience, as all their meats are free from antibiotics and hormones, grass fed, and free range. Besides that, each meal averages about $6, which isn’t bad at all (for me personally — again, you have to see what works best for you). This way, I don’t even have to look at the meat section when I go shopping. I plan out each meal according to the meat I get in each delivery so it lasts me as long as possible, and I can trust that it isn’t injected with weird nonsense.
4. Keep A Meal Planner
So I’ve outlined how I started doing Sunday meal prep. One good way to organize your meal planning is to keep a planner, and while you’re at it, make it pretty! It’ll keep you motivated to meal prep and it will organize everything you need, down to your budget for the month, in one place.
I personally like to bullet journal every time I get the chance. Here’s a snapshot of one of my bullet journal meal prep sessions:
5. Buy Canned Or Dried Instead of Frozen
Small little tip that can save you a few dollars on groceries: Canned or dried food tends to be cheaper. So aim for those. It’s simply a matter of seeking it out and learning to prepare it properly. Frozen is good, but you’re basically paying for the electricity and extra freezer space to keep it frozen, so why not buy the exact same thing canned/dried ?
6. Completely Eliminate Sugary Drinks
Sugary drinks are so unnecessary once you get through the initial withdrawal of doing without them (give it about a month or two). I used to think, for whatever reason, that I needed OJ for breakfast, some “nice” cranberry juice for lunch, and some apple juice for whenever. And oh, you can’t forget coke for when you make yourself a nice chicken sandwich. Or the sweet tea for when you come in after a hot summer walk.
…see where this is going?
Once you get used to drinking water with most of your meals (for me, that’s now every meal), you won’t even think twice about wanting to buy sugary juices that have little to no nutrition, most of which are made from concentrate and food coloring. I do invest in almond milk (which has replaced dairy in my diet), but that’s as close to “sugary juice” as I’ll get. And my wallet thanks me.
There are MANY other ways to save money on food, especially according to where you live and what’s in season. These are some of the most impactful meal prep hacks I use to keep my food budget from ACTUALLY eating my whole budget. Put them into practice and see your budget change before your eyes (or plate).
Vivian blogs a lot over at her lifestyle site Tealnotes.com. She enjoys reading, creating free planners and printables and challenging herself to keep a morning routine without fault (something she’s not yet very good at). If she isn’t frying her eyes on a laptop, she’s out jogging, or getting sushi with her friends!
Image via Unsplash