Eating out at restaurants can become an unhealthy lifestyle alternative that leads to depleted finances and excess weight. Helpguide.org explains that saving money by eating at home takes a little education and planning to make it as easy and stress-free as sitting down at a restaurant.
Make a list before heading to the grocery store and stick to it. Plan meals and snacks, gather coupons to save additional money and refrain from grabbing enticing foods presented so artfully in the aisles of the store. Learn the floor plan of your local grocery store and write your list according to the placement of food in the store; this will prevent you from backtracking and adding extra items to the cart.
Cook larger portions that will leave extras to make additional meals. Consider all the options for a dish in your planning. Prepare meals such as the traditional Thanksgiving turkey and sides that provide extra meals like turkey hash, turkey sandwiches and turkey casseroles. Vegetables such as mashed potatoes can be used for potato pancakes and casseroles. Cook a large pot of chili and use the leftovers to smother baked potatoes or hot dogs in subsequent meals.
Shop at discount clubs and farmers’ markets to buy in bulk and get the best deals. Make an outing out of the experience every couple weeks. Stick to planned meals at the big box discounters and resist the urge to stock up on unplanned items. Look for a food co-op in your community where you can shop while socializing and save additional money while purchasing the freshest food.
Look for cheaper protein alternatives. Piling up a grocery cart with expensive meat can really plump up the final bill. Consider serving beans or lentils once or twice a week. They are cheaper and healthier than most meat. Buy cheaper cuts of meat to make casseroles, soup and sir-fry dishes that are tasty and can serve as delicious leftovers.
Tips and Warnings
- Make more of your own desserts to save money and provide healthy alternatives. Freeze fresh juice for Popsicles; buy large containers of yogurt and add your own fruit and nuts in individual servings; make a project of home baking with family or friends.
- Read labels and compare unit prices that grocery stores are required to post. The Iowa State University Extension Center advises shoppers that large containers do not always represent a savings. Sometimes, buying smaller packages can be less expensive. The unit price represents the cost by the pound or other measurement of quantity often misrepresented on packaging.