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We challenge you to save the rest of this year and twice that every year with making some simple, practical and financially sounds alternatives to your food budget!
These are seven simple things you can do to help save in your household – and we want all of our readers to do this to save big and be that much closer to their financial goals…. are you ready??
Make coffee at home (or latte or specialty coffee drink)
Here’s an example of the math that can save you big bucks! A nice bag of coffee costs around $8 a bag. That is on the high end too, but even with the high end see the savings you can reap:
Now every home will be different depending on how strong you like you coffee. But for example the bags are typically 1lb. if we fill our 12 cup coffee maker up to capacity, we can do this 6 times with one bag. 6 x12 = 72 cups of coffee for $8 or .11 per cup. A cup is literally 8 oz., most of us drink 16 – 24oz. so you are looking at .22 per 16 oz. or .33 per 24 oz. These cups of coffee will cost you $1-$3 depending on where you get coffee – so it is typically only 10% off the cost!
Now if you buy a 16 oz. cup of coffee every work day of the year at $2 each cup for the year (261 x2) this is $522 in coffee. At home, this will cost $52!
Even with specialty coffees, the savings are about equivalent!
Invest in the machine and the coffee and still save a bundle!
Savings per person per year = $470 savings per person!
Only Get Water at Restaurants
According to many reports, most people eat out 3.1 times per week. Well, for the sake of this post, we are going to say that most of our readers here on our site only eat out once per week.
If you and your family eat out once per week and the typical size of family that reads our site is 4, we are talking about 4 drinks out per week. Since most restaurants charge around $2 a drink, this adds up to be $8 per week per household (this is very conservative!). Well, skip the drink all together and enjoy a cheaper version at home (or seriously stick with water all of the time) and save that money. Having the same amount of soda or whatever at home will save you a significant amount of money.
Savings per household per year $8×52 = $416 per year
Take a lunch to work
First opt for leftovers as this is the most sensible way to save! I try to make a little extra during my dinner prep so that Alex can have some for work the next day. BUT…. oftentimes we won’t have leftovers (with 2 growing boys, I am surprised how much they eat!!) and so I will make a quick lunch in the morning for him to take. Finally, as a back-up, we have frozen options in our freezer from Costco. Costco has some good healthy lunch options that come out to be about $2 per serving (we like PJ’s organic burritos and similar options). Even at $2 for the pre-made meals, we are saving TONS!!
For example, the typical lunch out is $5-$7. If you were to eat lunch out each weekday, this would cost you $1,305 (216 x$5), which is another conservative estimate. Taking your own lunches whether leftovers, something made from home or pre-made frozen healthy lunch options from a place like Costco at $2 each, you are saving at least 80%!
Savings per working member of your household = $1,044
Have one dinner a week be a meatless dinner
This is quite simple to do; hardly anyone will notice and hardly anyone will care, except your budget. Meats in meals for a family of 4 typically cost around $2.50. Make your spaghetti or whatever a meatless meal!
Savings per household of 4 per year = $130
Expand your proteins with fillers
No..I am not talking about pink slime… 🙂 I am talking about things like rice and beans. For example, our family of 7 uses 1 lb. of ground beef when our meal requires it no matter what! We have taco night usually once a week and use 1lb. of hamburger; I then add a cup or two of brown rice and or a can of beans and “expand” the meat and NO ONE HAS CARED EVER!
This saves me another $2.50 – $5 when I do use ground beef! You can do this method with any ground meats and many other cuts too! I will take a 1 lb. package of beef stew pieces and make a pot of stew, chili, or soup by using more of the other ingredients. Besides, it is healthier too! If you do this 2-3 times per week, you are saving $5-$7.50. Even small families can do this and just use half a pound!
See more details on our Daily Dose of Thrifty tip HERE on using rice as a filler!
Savings per household per year = $260 ($5 x 52)
Find a way to use EVERYTHING you buy
UPDATE: To help you with this part of the challenge, we encourage you to use our Free No Waste Food Menu Planner HERE! Download and use it for free to help you use up all of your food!
This may sound simple, but seriously think about your family’s eating habits. You may or may not realize it, but you are most likely throwing away tons of food. According to a report last August by the National Resources Defense Council, the “average American tosses about 25 percent of food and beverages purchased.”
Let’s figure out how much this is approximately. So sticking with the numbers we are assuming is the average size of our readers – a family of four, the average grocery budget is about $400 for this size. That means that $100 of food is thrown out each month! For 12 months, this is $1,200!
You may be shocked by that number, but the truth is that this is a reality. We are wasteful people – especially in the United States! And one of the biggest things thrown out in households…. produce and fresh foods! Many times, we don’t use them before they go bad!
Find a way to use everything you have.
Do this by:
- Taking inventory
- menu planning
- dinner by 10
- only shopping on occasion (as this naturally causes you to be more creative with what you have on hand).
Finally, 2 more tips to help with this…. write down items you need to use now, find what meats/proteins you have, and what grains/starches/carbs you have and do a google search for a recipe using those ingredients. You will be amazed and surprised what you will come up with! And my last tip… if you can’t use it now, preserve it quickly by freezing it! I cannot tell you how often I do this! You can freeze almost everything!
Savings per household per year = $1,200
(Now this number could be a little high for our smarter than smart savvy saving readers, you may not be throwing this much out… but this is the reality for many American homes and a real eye-opener!)
Buy bulk grains, rices, dried potatoes, oats, pastas and more
This one sounds a little off the wall… maybe…. but it is a hard fast rule in our house. Our #1 go to bulk food is Brown Rice! This is the BIGGEST lifesaver to our family, health wise and especially our budget. Brown rice is pretty cheap as most grains are…. but they are significantly cheaper when you buy in bulk! I am even talking about 50 lb. bags. I buy 50 lb. bags for $20-$30. This is about $.50 per lb. which is a lot of brown rice cooked up and fills our family full! (the prices are about comparable for other grains, starches and carbohydrates). This $.50 replacement can save a bundle over the equivalent in meat and produce. We will eat produce every meal, but we don’t need as much!
Every meal, we include one of these healthy grains or what I call “tummy fillers.” Especially if you chose a healthy option, you and your family can be eating less money in the protein and fruits and veggies, but get full and get the nutrients that you need! These foods are literally pennies to the dollar when purchased in large quantities and used over a long period of time. They are even cheaper than buying them in boxes or small bags with coupons and sales. It is a no-brainer and it will satisfy your family and cost you much less to do so!
Following the previous rule #6 when attempting to use everything, this one is a super handy tip!
UPDATE: We’ve had a few comments or questions about 50 lb. bags of food spoiling if not stored properly. That is the truth, which is why we have shared a few times how to store it and so I thought I would include a link to our previous post showing pictures and ideas on how to keep it from spoiling but very easy to access and use 🙂 Here’s how we store and easily use bulk foods!
Savings per household of 4 per year estimated to be around $1.50 per dinner meal saved in using more of this than more expensive options = $548
NOW… even better is our total for the year for a family of 4….. drumroll please…… $4,068!! This is $339 savings per month!!
Now granted, not many of you are reading this and can make a change in all 7 categories (most of us are probably already figuring and doing 2-4 of these!), but if you can do all 7 from where you are at now, you will save that much more!
So….. with all of this….. I do have some exciting news….
We have shared a bit of insight into how we menu plan. Well, we are in the process of developing a menu planning download that incorporates many of these tips and steps to help you ease into saving loads more in your food budget!
Watch for that soon!