1. The best step towards reducing your food bill is to stop eating restaurant prepared food. While your grocery bill will be higher, you’re overall monthly food expenditure will be significantly lower. I have tracked monthly food spending and find that in general it is 2-3 times more expensive to eat food that has been prepared by a restaurant. Avoid quick stops at 7-Eleven and Starbucks as well as sit down lunches and dinners. This one action will save you money and provide your body with healthier food.
2.Commit to two weeks and learn how to prepare all of your own meals at home. At first it will be like learning a new language- frustrating and overwhelming. Once you find your own shortcuts to make it easier, you will be saving money and time. It is much more time efficient to prepare your food for the entire day instead of making frequent stops when hunger strikes. You’ll save time and money. Start with a big trip to the grocery store so that you will have all of the foods that you need for meals throughout the week. Purchase a food cooler, re-usable freeze packs, clear storage containers and Ziploc bags. Most people don’t carry their meals and snacks during the day because they don’t have the proper “gear.” It will be an investment up front, but the long-term savings will make it worth it.
3. In addition to saving money, it is far healthier to prepare your own food at home. Commercial grade foods that restaurants purchase to prepare for you are often lower quality that what you find at your grocery store. By choosing your own foods, fresh from the grocery store, you will be eating food that is higher in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. You will also be avoiding added salt, sugar, and preservatives. Restaurants are smart and sneak extra flavorings and fats into foods so that it will taste good. This one step- cooking all meals at home- can substantially lower your overall caloric intake, provide you with healthier food, and save money.
4. When shopping, plan meals around fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables are filling- more bang for your buying buck- and are the cheapest food in the grocery store. Select good protein sources such as chicken, turkey, eggs and canned tuna instead of expensive red meat. If you take the time to explore cooking at home and get creative, you can come up with many delicious staples for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. It just takes a little time to get used to a new system.
5. No excuses. Don’t fool yourself into believing that fast food is acceptable during tough financial times. Price and convenience are the most common reasons people choose to hit the drive through for meals. The truth is, if you plan ahead and prepare meals in advance, there is no comparison: home cooked meals are far cheaper. And if you plan ahead and carry your food with you, there is no more convenient way to eat. Despite the lack of many large-scale studies, we know that fast food is linked with weight gain, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. You have a choice: deal now with the time, money and effort required to prepare your own meals, or plan to invest a great deal more in your unhealthy future. The absolute best way to avoid high health care costs in the future is to keep your body healthy and clean in the present.
Foods to keep in mind:
Soups and stews– make a big pot at home for a few dollars and you will have several meals
Nuts- buy in large quantities to save more
Meatloaf – find a recipe that is appealing and healthy. Makes several meals.Greek yogurt – is a heartier yogurt with less sugar and more protein than traditional “American” yogurt.