I MAY EARN MONEY OR PRODUCTS FROM THE COMPANIES MENTIONED IN THIS POST.
I love food. And you probably do too. But this necessity can eat up a significant portion of your income every month depending on how you manage your meals.
Below I list my top tips to save money on food (and by food, I mean groceries, not counting the occasional night out). You might be able to apply some or all of these, depending on your work situation and where you live.
1) Use offers and vouchers
This is pretty obvious, but I’ll say it anyway: get all the free membership cards of the supermarkets where you shop, including the online shops. You will likely pay less for some essential items. Don’t miss an opportunity to buy bulk/2 for 1 kind of offers. I always buy toothpaste and household items on offer so that I pay less for them on average. You can also do that for food: if you have space in your freezer, buy meat in bulk, separate it in smaller servings and freeze the servings. If you have space, invest in a large freezer. My parents use to have one when I was a teenager and that thing that was always full of leftovers and bulk food.
2) Plan your meals
I shop for groceries only once a week, planning the dinners of the week ahead with my girlfriend. That way, we reduce the temptation to go out or order in when we feel too lazy to cook something. By planning your meals in advance, you reduce temptation but also costs as you could be using some items for several meals in the week and reduce waste. I admit, it takes times to plan the meals and add everything you need to your shopping list, but trust me, it’s worth it. I usually look for meal ideas online on Yummly and Buzzfeed Food; these two websites regularly have a variety of lists to find ideas. You can find different systems to help you organise your meals. We use a board we stuck on the fridge to write down the meals planned. You can also set up a spreadsheet and even put down your costs in there to track how much you are saving.
3) Pack your lunch
This might be the most important tip I have to give you. If you are like me and work in an office in a city, you are surrounded by delicious and expensive options for lunch every day. Resist the temptation! Add you lunch to your weekly shopping list and bring your lunch to work. I can be a hard habit to get into, but it pays off immediately. Make the math yourself and compare what you spend on lunch on a weekly basis and what you would spend on buying groceries and preparing lunch ahead. I guarantee you you will save money. There are a few ways I prepare my meals ahead: I freeze leftovers and take them out of the freezer the night before; I make the whole meal the night before and keep it in the fridge; I bring the ingredients in the office if it’s simple enough to prepare.
4) Buy food, not meals
When planning your meals at home or the office, buy vegetables, fruits, meat, carbs. Do yourself a favour and do not buy prepared meals: they will probably taste worse than the ones you make, they will cost you more than the ingredients required for the meal, and they are in general unhealthy (because of added salt flavour enhancers) and full of preservatives. There are no downsides from this: it will help you save more money, you will eat healthier meals, and you will learn to cook better.
Try out these tips to get a sense of how much you can save on food!