I’ve never been known for my stellar budgeting skills (my husband can confirm this). But during a time when watching our dollars spent feels more critical than ever, I’m slowly learning to be more mindful of how much I’m spending and where. One area that continues to be a work in progress is my food and grocery budget. To help you become more of a frugal foodie, I’ve put together this list of tips.
Make takeout a special occasion. During our state’s safer-at-home order earlier this year, restaurant delivery became a regular occurrence for me. Now I’m focused on making this more of a weekly treat (spending $20 a week on takeout instead of $30 saves over $500 a year … yikes). And when you’re supporting your favorite local restaurant, try to skip the delivery apps and order directly through the restaurant instead. You’ll save on service fees and other charges, and more of the money will go to the restaurant.
Always make a list. While this tip is nothing new, it’s one of the best tools you can use to prevent overspending at the grocery store. I’m embarrassed to admit how many times I’ve walked out of the store having overspent with no clue what I bought. If a paper list isn’t really your thing, keep one in your phone and add to it throughout the week as you think of what you need.
Save the flavor. Whenever there’s a sauce or dressing packet in a frozen entrée or salad kit, I typically save half of it for later. It’s usually too much for one serving anyway, and saving it can be stretched or tweaked a little for other tasty possibilities. Take a packet of enchilada sauce, for example. Use half of it for your enchiladas and save the other half for roasted vegetables. Blend the sauce with a smidge of melted butter or olive oil, plus chili, onion and garlic powders, and drizzle over your favorite vegetables for a sweet and smoky side or mini meal.
Chill out with frozen vegetables. In my opinion, frozen vegetables are the most underrated healthy food. You don’t need to wash them, they’re widely available, they last for months, they’re just as nutritious as their fresh counterparts and they’re usually cheap.
Will these tips help you become wealthy overnight? Not exactly. But just like all other facets of health and wellness, every small change adds up over time.
Cheers to a 2021 filled with good food, laughs with friends and loved ones (even if they’re virtual laughs for now), and hope for a brighter tomorrow.