When you’re looking for the big areas where there’s more money to save each month, looking at how and what you spend on food is a great starting point.
Look at last month’s spending. I use a credit card for everything because I earn points and I can pay it off each month without any fees. Tracking my expenses are easy. Figure out what you spent on groceries and what you spent on restaurants. Save your receipts each month to help you track spending.
You can read the earlier post on saving money on work day lunches. The first step toward saving on food is to buy as much at the grocery store as possible, rather than eating out. Prepared foods at the grocery will still be cheaper than a restaurant meal, but cooking your own meals using simple recipes saves even more. Once you get comfortable cooking, you can then start buying basic ingredients like your meats when they are on sale.
Don’t get overwhelmed by doing too much too soon. What are a few basic items you and your family love?
- Chicken is easy. A whole chicken roasted in the oven is cheap, delicious and difficult to ruin.
- Tacos. Easy. Don’t buy a mix, find a recipe and buy a few inexpensive spices such as chili powder, dried onion and cumin.
- Spaghetti. Again, super easy. A jar of sauce with added hamburger, and a loaf of Italian bread is all it takes.
- Meatloaf. Mix, shape and bake. Add a vegetable on the side.
- Casseroles. There are millions of these. Double the batch and freeze the extras for later. I use 8×8 aluminum pans for easy stacking and freezing (cover with heavy duty aluminum foil and write name of recipe and directions for re-heating), then re-use the pan.
- Roast Beef. Whether you roast it in a low oven for three hours on Sunday or use a slow-cooker, this is too easy for words.
Find a few recipes of basic items that are family standards. Then start reading the weekly grocery ads. When hamburger goes down, buy several pounds and freeze in one-pound portions. Some weekends, I have an afternoon cooking session to make four or five recipes with sale protein and then stock the freezer with ready-made meals/lunches.
But think about this: even if you only change your habits for a few meals each week, you will still retain a lot of money that you can save to buy assets. You don’t have to change everything overnight.