1. Watch your beverages (aka drink water). Some studies report that the regular coffee-drinking American spends almost as much on coffee as they do commuting costs. (And you thought it was pricey to gas up!) The average American household spends $850/year on soft drinks. (That’s two days at Disneyland for a family of 4!)
2. Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without. The average American loses $529 per person per year on wasted food. Take stock of what you have and build your menu and shopping list accordingly. The puddle in your produce drawer that used to be a cucumber is money down the drain.
3. Eat out less. This past spring, for the first time ever, restaurant spending surpassed grocery store spending. Wow. On average, half of our food dollars are spent eating out – some research indicates that on average, 1 out of every 4 meals and snacks is eaten out. Time and money motivate us so take a minute and crunch your own numbers. Keeping track for 1-2 weeks of your eating-out lunches, drive-thru stops, coffee-shop snack times etc. will no doubt be more illuminating and motivating than anything else.
4. Skip the snack-food. Some protest that they can’t afford to eat lots of produce. Give me a few minutes in your kitchen and pantry and I’ll show you how to afford it. First, dump the junk food. Chips, soft drinks, candies, prepackaged breakfast pastries, fruit snacks etc. all add significantly to your grocery bill. Instead, fill your cart and your belly with healthier alternatives to trim the fat from your budget and your waistline. (Example: 20 cents per fruit snack vs. 20 cents per apple – which is more filling and tides you over until lunch or dinner)
5. Cut the convenience costs: fruit and veggie trays from store vs. homemade. You pay 2-3 times more for a pre-made tray. Take 10-15 minutes and put together your own.
Homemade is cheaper than store bought. (Single servings especially!)
Popcorn: Microwave costs 4-5 times more than air popped
Make and freeze extra single servings for homemade convenience lunches or dinners. Spaghetti, lasagna, casseroles, enchiladas, chili, stews, breakfast burritos, French toast, etc. If it was delicious the first time around and freezes well, you’ll love the leftovers.
A few exceptions - some things are more expensive homemade:
- Bread (especially from a bakery outlet is cheaper than homemade)
- Cake from scratch is almost 4 times the price of a cake mix.
- Granola is about equal.
Sometimes the cheapest foods are the healthiest. Here are some great foods for less than 25 cents/serving:
- Whole Grains
- Brown Rice
- Whole Wheat Bread
- Frozen Vegetables
- 2 Clementines