5 Money Saving Strategies for Food

One of the biggest areas people overspend in is on food. Eating is part of life, and you need to allow yourself enough money so you can buy healthy items and take care of yourself and your family. It can be even more difficult to eat healthy and save money when you feeding just yourself or you and your partner. One common strategy is meal planning. Here are some other strategies to help you save on food and especially on eating out every week. With the rising cost of food, it is even more important to implement a solid budgeting strategy.

Meal Group

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Cooking each night can be tiresome. Even if you plan ahead and eat leftovers, the appeal of stopping and getting food prepared by someone else can be very appealing. It is much easier to not prepare all of the food yourself all of the time. One of the solutions to this problem is to form a meal group with your friends or roommates. This group can be as big or as small as you like. Generally if it is bigger than ten people, it may be more difficult on the night you are assigned to make dinner. As group decide how often you want to meet together to eat. Some groups do it three nights a week, others do it Monday through Thursday. It depends on your lifestyle and your work schedule. Then you need to set up a schedule where each person is assigned a night to cook dinner for everyone. Set a time for dinner to be served. This can work with a lunch group with coworkers as well.

  • Set up clear expectations about what needs to be served to be considered a dinner, so things are fair. 
  • Consider having people team up to cook together. This can take the pressure off cooking for a large group.
  • When cooking consider make ahead options that you can heat when you return home.

Meal Exchanges

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Another option is to form a group where you cook a meal and divide the portions up to exchange with a group once or twice a month. The meals should be food that tastes well reheated and does not take long to bake. Although if you all have time and access you can do a freezer meal group instead. It is easier and less expensive to cook in bulk once or twice a month and then divide the portions up between others to use as lunches or dinners in the future. You can buy a set of Tupperware or pans that are used for the group. Or you can each bring your own to put your portions in.

  • Check out freezer cooking options to find recipes that work well.
  • Coordinate recipes so that you do not all bring the same type of dish.

Cook Ahead of Time

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If you can cook ahead of time, you are less likely to eat out. There are several different strategies that you can use to eat at home more often. The dinner boxes that deliver ingredients to your door are nice, but they can be expensive, especially if you have a family. These strategies make meal prep at home easy to complete on a week night.

  • Consider once a month cooking for yourself, where you batch cook one weekend a month and freeze recipes.
  • Divide up ingredients and complete prep on the weekend so you can pull them out 

Take Leftovers to Work

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On the days you do cook, divide what is left into containers to take it to work for lunch. You can make a meal large enough to feed a family and freeze the leftovers so you can spread them out over the month. This will give you the variety you need, while saving you money on fast food or convenience meals. Additionally you can decide what and how to cook, which gives you the opportunity to eat healthy meals, you can control your fat, salt and meat intake when you do this.

  • Invest in a good lunch box and food containers to make this easier to do.
  • Find recipes that reheat well so that you can eat the leftovers. 

Bulk Buying Co-op

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Do not waste your money buying bulk fruits and vegetables if you are not going to eat them before they spoil. Although, bulk vegetables and fruit are much less expensive than buying them from a grocery store. You can form a group where several people buy several different types of fresh vegetables and fruit in bulk from the local farmer's market or co-op. You can schedule a visit once a week or once month to the farmer’s market. Each person in the group can take a turn going to the farmer’s market and then divide the produce equally among the people in the group. Set a time to pick up the week’s produce and drop off the money from the next week. You can do something similar with a warehouse club and divide up the food you buy in bulk to save everyone in the co-op money.

  • Online shops may offer additional savings. 
  • Keep track of times when things go on sale so that you can take advantage of the lowest prices possible. A price book makes this easy to do.