Today’s world has changed dramatically since 2008. While food and fuel have risen, the average American family is struggling to cope with decreasing home prices and job layoffs. Today’s graduates find themselves working behind convenience store counters as they can’t find a job that matches their skills. This kind of living has forced many to evaluate how they spend their money.
Living on a single income today requires a good deal of discipline and imagination if you are to survive through this period of economic uncertainty. Cutting out extravagant expenses is necessary. One of the many ways to save comes from the money spent on food. Creating a food budget is a reality and not an option today. Single income living doesn’t allow much money for ice cream, take-out or daily lunches at the deli.
No matter what your financial picture is, you can save as much as 30% or more on your food budget just by being creative. It all begins with spending within a budget you set for yourself.
Healthy food should be on the top of your food list. Fruits and vegetables should take priority over hamburger, fries, cakes and soda. Snacks should be purchased only if there’s enough money left over in the budget.
Buy in Bulk
Buying bulk makes sense if you have a large family. But you should only stock up on those items you actually need, unless you belong to a neighborhood food exchange. Non-perishable items such as rice, pasta, beans and milk powder can be stored until you need them. Canned and frozen foods can last a long time. A membership in a discount club, such as Costco, will save a great deal on bulk purchases.
Coupons and advertised specials offered through mail fliers or online offer great ways to save. Shopping for bargains from one store to the next is feasible only if you don’t drive across town to take advantage of some deal you spotted in the paper.
Since most fruits, vegetables and meats on store shelves today are contaminated with pesticides or growth hormones, buying at farmer’s markets helps keep your family healthy. Foods in season cost less overall. For the winter, canned and frozen foods are cheaper alternatives than buying produce that needs to be trucked thousands of miles before they get to the grocery shelves.
Cut Out Convenient Foods
Pre-packaged meals, take-out and pizza delivery cost more than it would if you bought the individual ingredients and made your own meals from scratch. Eating out has become the norm for many American families, but the expense in taxes and tips can cost as much as the food budget. Learning to cook meals at home may seem inconvenient, but what you eat will be healthier than the MSG, salt, trans fats and sugars that go into restaurant food.
Beef, chicken veal and pork are expensive, but they can be stretched over several meals with the use of alternate meat sources such as beans. Beans contain a good deal of fiber and protein. It may be worth your while to cook less popular meats and fish you often don’t find in the meat department of your local grocer. Oxtail, beef hearts, fish heads and pork feet can make tasty but cheap meals. They are the cheapest meats you can buy.
You pay more for brand name products but store brands and generic items often come from the same places where brand name products come from.
Saving on the food budget may be all you need to get back on a sound financial footing. A plus is that you develop habits that will benefit you once the economic climate turns around.