You go to check your bank account and wonder exactly where all your money went. You have nothing to show for it, and you can’t work out what you spent it all on. Well, chances are, a lot of your budget goes on food. Not just your weekly supermarket shop, but all the times you pop out for lunch at work, or buy snacks on the run. Here is how you can stop blowing so much of your budget on food.
Pay in cash
We’ve all joked about how paying on your credit card makes it feel as though it isn’t real money, but it turns out that that is pretty true. If you pay with cash, you are likely to spend around 12 – 18% less than if you are whipping out the credit card. For example, Mcdonald’s reports that when people pay using cash, they spend around $4.50, but with credit cards, the average is $7. This is because cash is more tangible and easy to keep track of. Leave your credit card at home to make yourself less likely to overspend.
Stop food waste
American households throw away around $2,200 worth of food every year – we waste an average of 20% of the food we buy, which is terrible for the environment and our wallets! The biggest culprits are fresh fruits and vegetables. It is important to meal plan so that you buy only what you need and will eat. When you do end up with veggies that have seen better days, instead of throwing them away, make them into soup that you can then freeze and save for another day.
Share more on meals out
On average, an American household spends around $3,008 each year on dining out. Going to restaurants is as much about entertainment and socializing as it is about food, so there are ways to still enjoy time with friends, and not having to cook, without having to spend too much money. Don’t feel obliged to order three courses every time. As much as you say you will eat the leftovers, it will likely end up getting thrown out a few days afterward. Perhaps consider splitting an appetizer, and heading for ice cream on the way home instead of a pricey dessert.
Entertain more at home
Try to think of eating out as more of a treat, so you keep it for special occasions. Most food places charge around a 300% markup on food, so if you spend $3000 on dining out, the same food could cost you $1000 if you were eating it at home. Instead of going out for meals with friends, invite friends over and get them to bring potluck dishes. It will be a lot of fun, but also save enough money that you can do it more often, without the guilt!
Let go of grab-and-go
We are always so busy that we tend to pick up food on the go. For example, a McDonald’s at lunch, an UberEats delivery after a long day at work, or a Domino’s pizza delivery at the weekend really adds up. The average American will eat around 4.2 commercially prepared meals per week, at the cost of approximately $12.75 (not including delivery fees or tips!). Even a $5 Starbucks coffee a day could cost you $150 a month! If you cut down on these deliveries, even just a little, you will save a whole lot of money.
Every time you would have spent money on food, but you followed a tip and made a better decision, why not put the money you saved in a piggy bank. After six months, you will have made some excellent habits, and you’ll see how much money you’ve saved!