One of the first things I noticed about living in my own place is that food expenses can really add up if you let them. At first, I didn’t pay much attention to where I spent my money, instead just watched for my bottom line at the end of each month. However, looking a little deeper into my finances, I realized just how much of my money I was eating…literally!
Eating expenses should be a balanced mix of saving and splurging, as long as your other finances are in line (and you can afford to splurge now and again). My advice to you? Make sure this spending doesn’t get out of control! Here are a few tips.
Ways to SAVE during the work week
- Limit going out to once during the week, then try to eliminate it altogether. I know it’s tough to cook, especially after working all day, but commit to yourself and limit the money you spend going out during the week. Instead, treat going out as a fun, “splurge”, or social outing.
- Grocery shop in advance, and pick food you’re excited to eat. Even if it’s a couple microwave dinners when you get started, choose foods that you’ll look forward to making in the evening. If you’re trying to eat healthier, choose vegetables that you love (and maybe buy a treat or two so you’re not tempted to go out).
- Only buy what you know you’ll eat. This one is tricky because you want to have enough food to prep for the week, but buying too much can leave you with waste. Pay attention to how much you throw away and adjust your purchasing accordingly.
Ways to SAVE on weekend dining
- Try your hand at cooking instead of going out for every meal. If you’re like I was, weekends usually meant going out for breakfast, lunch & dinner. Start by committing to making breakfast or brunch at home instead of spending money at a restaurant. That way, you can still “splurge” by eating out for dinner without spending an extra $30+ on breakfast and lunch.
- If you just love to go out on the weekends, try to choose at least one low-budget option for every 2 times you go out. Don’t treat every weekend as a “treat yourself” occasion. This will help you save money in the future by limiting the number of meals with a big price tag.
Ways to SAVE on meals with friends
- You don’t always have to go out! Consider hosting a dinner party instead of making a reservation at a restaurant nearby. It’s a fun way to show off your place and cooking skills, and your friends will likely be happy to save a few bucks too. To keep these as economical as possible for everyone, plan to provide the main dish and ask your friends to bring side items, drinks, and desserts.
- If you do decide to go out with friends, consider snacking at home before heading out for dinner. That way, you won’t be as hungry and less likely to order an expensive entree. Instead, check out the salad or appetizer menus, which are generally cheaper as they serve smaller portions.