There are times when it seems like I can't get out of the grocery store without spending $50. I do everything wrong: I don't make meal plans in advance, I deviate from my list, I shop hungry, I fall victim to all of the things I know I shouldn't and I leave with more than I need. What if I told you that you could eat well on a budget?
That's right, on a tight budget, too. For only $50 per week, or $200 per month for your family of four? Per month! Yes, not only is it possible but this infographic shows you exactly how you can do it. Following their advice will have you eating healthier and for less in no time, so let's dig in!
Based on the research from Credit Loan, you can save an average of $430 a month with one simple step: don't eat out. The average family spends 40 percent of their food budget when they go out to eat. This habit is not only expensive, but it's unhealthy, too. So how do you avoid it?
1. Meal Planning
Creating a weekly meal plan (and sticking to it) is an easy way to get on track and eat healthy. Meal planning solves problems easily, from grocery shopping to cooking methods to incorporating healthy recipes into your diet. By thinking through your delicious meals, you can then swap in lower price ingredients as needed. Maybe you don't need an expensive cuts of steak for those fajitas when a cheaper skirt steak would work just fine.
Meal planning is the difference between forgetting if you have brown rice on the pantry shelf, and knowing it's there. It's also the difference between remembering if you have black beans that need to cook in the slow cooker all day so they'll be perfect for those Tex-Mex fajitas when you get home. Essentially, your meal plan is your grocery list, your healthy eating guide, and your collection of your current favorite recipes right now. Indispensable!
Looking to save even more money? Save another $400 per month just by reducing your waste. If the average family throws away 25 percent of the food they've already paid for, that's like throwing your money directly into the trash. Think about that impulse buy (mine is always fresh strawberries) that ends up growing mold in the back of the refrigerator. What a waste!
Avoid this type of waste by creating that menu plan and building your shopping list around that plan. When you shop, stick to the list and stay away from impulse buys.
This will help you avoid waste and maximize the money you have already spent.
2. Be Conscious of Food Waste
Speaking of waste, there are some surefire ways to avoid it. Start by only buying what you need. Don't buy things on sale just because it seems like a good idea - have a plan for how to utilize each item in your shopping cart.
Since you're cooking all the time, cook more than enough so you have a little bit left over. Leftovers make great next-day lunches, and they're fun and exciting to repurpose into new meals.
Another great tip is to start a windowsill or backyard garden to save even more by growing your own! There are some plants that don't even require seeds to grow - the waste from onions, potatoes, and celery can be used to grow a new plant. Simply plant the leftovers in water or soil, and with minimal effort, you'll get produce for free.
All of this together adds up to another $625 in monthly savings.
3. Choose Healthier Ingredients
Finally, we can increase our savings even more by making healthy food choices. Choose fresh foods instead of processed food choices for additional savings.
Oatmeal is not only healthier than cereal, but it costs almost a third as much as its sugary counterpart. Reduce your cost on spaghetti and meatballs by making your own instead of using the pre-packed kind in the dry or frozen foods aisle. And if you're really looking to be healthier and save more, skip the sugary beverages and drink the water instead. It'll keep you hydrated and healthy (and your wallet happy, too). Add this all up, and that's another $365 in savings per month.
All of this together adds up to over $1800 in savings per month! That's a few car payments or a mortgage payment. Use that extra money to pay off your student loans or credit card debt. Plus, in addition to all those savings, you'll get the added benefit of eating healthier. Win-win!