Lower Your Food Bill Without Changing Your Lifestyle
Saving money on food doesn’t have to mean eating things you hate, slaving in the kitchen, or having to find clever ways to hide a dozen cases of sale peas by turning it into a stylish end table. Food costs a lot, but trying to save money in ways that don’t fit your lifestyle is an effort doomed from the start. Here are a few sane solutions for shaving dollars off any food bill.
5 Sane & Easy Ways to Lower Your Food Bill
Go with the Flow
Not everyone wants to beat the rooster to the breakfast table. Look for saving solutions that fit your lifestyle and avoid an all-or-nothing approach.
If breakfast every day is a donut from the vending machine at work, a switch to cold cereal and milk could save you 90%. Making homemade donuts will save less – perhaps 75%, but is unrealistic for many families. Why not buy a bulk pack of your favorite pastries to save 50% of the cost of buying them from vending machine? It requires no change in your routine, but still keeps half your money in your pocket.
Bulk Up the Right Way
Buying food in bulk is an excellent way to lower food costs, but getting bogged down in saving pennies is a common and time-consuming mistake. Purchasing two cases of sale tuna that saves five dollars in a year doesn’t have the budget impact of buying two cases of coffee that save $100 dollars. Focus on bulk purchases only when the savings are worth the effort.
Save Real Green
A 12-ounce bag of salad greens that costs more than the two-pound bulk pack forces shoppers to choose between two costly options – spending a lot for what they need or buying too much that may go to waste. There is a solution.
If your grocer offers a salad bar – compare the unit price of produce on the shelf with the per pound price at the salad bar for the same item. Surprisingly, it often costs less and allows you to buy only the quantity you need, shelling out less money up front and avoiding expensive food waste.
Follow the Leader
Timing is everything. Retailers offer seasonal “loss leaders,” at low prices to entice customers into the store. For example, low-calorie frozen dinners are rarely marked down in December when buyers want fruitcake and cookies. Look for price reductions in January when people are buying gym memberships and making resolutions to eat healthily. Knowing when popular items go on sale and buying when prices are lower can consistently save money on the most costly items in your grocery basket.
Eat-out Savings Count
Eating out costs more than cooking at home – period. But choosing between making $100 dollars for doing work you love or staying home to save $10 on lunch out is a no-brainer. The do-it-yourself lifestyle is great if you love it. If you don’t – ditch the guilt – but consider these tips for saving money when eating out.
Restaurants are struggling for your dining dollars and loyalty discount programs can mean big savings. If an influx of promotional e-mails is a worry, use a separate, free e-mail address just for promotional offers. You’ll be surprised at how often a discount is available when you are.
Buy discounted gift cards for your favorite restaurants. Small savings may not seem worth the effort, but they add up. A 10 percent savings on your morning coffee adds up to a lot over a 12-month period.
Happy hours specials, late-night freebies, early dine discounts, and other promotions restaurants use to keep their tables full can help you eat what you love for less. Eating an hour earlier or later could save enough to buy dessert for a year.
It All Adds Up
Dining out is no longer the special event it used to be – it’s a way of life – so scrutinizing restaurant costs the same way you do at the grocery store shouldn’t be off the table. If you have choices in your area, you may be able to get your favorite meal for less at a different restaurant or considerably less expensive meals offering similar tastes.
Lowering the price of your total check when dining out not only saves on food costs but also reduces meal taxes and tip amounts. What would ten percent of last year’s restaurant spending buy?
Everyone can use a little more green in their pockets, but if clipping coupons, bagging tuna sandwiches and spending weekends making bulk meals for the freezer aren’t for you, enjoy the savings you can with these simple, sane strategies that fit into any lifestyle.