As a post-grad with bills, saving money anywhere I can is a blessing. I don’t want to sacrifice the things that bring me joy, so I’ve started working around the things that don’t.
Here are a few tips that have worked for me to help save money on food (so that I can either save or spend elsewhere)!
Plan out your meals & snacks
When I look at my spending, the times where I’m most spendy are when I haven’t packed lunch.
For example, the meal I get at Chipotle is $8.39 (why yes I do know this off the top of my head). I could definitely make a week’s worth of faux-Chipotle for less than that.
Another example is granola bars (or any other snack you may eat). One granola bar at the store can be almost $2, but a 6 pack of them can be as cheap as $5. I keep a box at my desk for days I forget to pack one!
Instead of buying for convenience, buy things to “make” yourself. Whole carrots cost less than baby carrots, and the ingredients for salad (per salad) cost less than buying a premade one (and you get to control the ingredients more – for example, who needs actual salad dressing when olive oil and lemon juice exist?).
Thinking in advance can majorly save you cash.
Get your friends on board
If you can have your friends or family pitch in, you can lower your spending – especially if you communicate! It’s so easy to suggest going somewhere because you don’t have to do the dishes, but I often find that you can make the same things so much cheaper at home.
- Bars and restaurants greatly overcharge for drinks – find your favorite wines at the grocery store instead
- There are so many trendy dessert places now – if you do want to go out to get dessert, eat dinner at home first.
- Use Pinterest to find fancy meals to make with your friends. It’s satisfying to make your own meal, and you can learn some new skills while you’re at it!
- Have your friends all come over and do dinner “potluck style”
- Throw a movie night at home! Pop a few bags of popcorn, grab some Halloween candy, and pop on Netflix.
Thoughtfully buy in bulk
Don’t buy in bulk to buy in bulk, but think about how it works for you. It can help you avoid going to the store in excess, as well.
I try to buy things all at once – you can often save big money! For example, I pay for Spotify Premium a year at a time and I save about $10. While this isn’t food related, I find the same thing holds true for things like paper towels, tea bags, and any other non-perishables you go through frequently.
Have a friend who has a Costo card? Offer to take them to lunch in exchange for a Costco date and using their discount.
Bring your own container
- Coffee shops (like Starbucks) will give you a discount for bringing in your own to-go cup! It also keeps your drink colder longer.
- If I anticipate leftovers, I will bring some Tupperware to the meal for later. You may look a little crazy, but you’ll be prepared!
- I’ve also heard that if you order to-go, sometimes you’ll receive extra food!
Channel your inner college student
- Any work lunches or training offered that have a free lunch? You may end up getting a sales pitch, but you may also learn a new skill (in addition to your lunch).
- Volunteer at an event.
- Shop your pantry. When I was in college and in denial that I had to go to the grocery store, I would try to be as creative as possible with my meals. This website (SuperCook) allows you to type in what you’ve got in the kitchen and it will help plan recipes for you!
Anything I’ve missed? Let me know in the comments below!