Avocado toast and almond milk lattes aren’t really holding you back from living your best money life. But you’re probably still forking over a LOT for food.
But food is my love language.
Join the club. The USDA says Americans spend about 10% of their annual income on food. And more than half that is on restaurants and takeout. The good news is that there are some easy ways to cut back. No cooking skills required.
Pay with a discounted gift card. Before hitting up your fav chain, look for discounted gift cards online. You might find one up to 35% off. (Psst…some sites will also buy back the unused gift cards that have been sitting at the bottom of your bag since last Christmas.)
Eat early...in the day (hi, $5 happy hour drinks). And in the week. Mondays and Tuesdays tend to be slower for bars and restaurants, so you may be able to find more specials.
Make a reservation. Companies like OpenTable and Seated reward you with points when you make a reservation on their platform...so long as you actually show up. And you might get a bonus for eating during off-peak hours. You can redeem points for things like restaurant discounts and Amazon gift cards.
Use the right credit card. If you’re paying with plastic, go for rewards cards that give you extra points or cash back for spending at restaurants.
These tips can help you keep the ‘wants’ category of your budget in check. But if you’re serious about saving on food, you’ve got to get in the kitchen.
I knew this was coming.
Part of adulting is having the ‘we have food at home’ talk with yourself...at least sometimes. Try these tips to save more at the grocery store, too:
Plan ahead. A little weekend meal prep can make DIY dining during the week a lot less painful. Pro tip: Let your slow cooker do most of the work for you.
Keep it fresh. Fruits and veggies are usually cheaper (and taste better) when they’re in season. Think: watermelon and tomatoes in the summer, grapefruit and Brussels sprouts in the fall and winter. Because when the supply’s up, prices tend to go down.
Look up. And down. Grocery stores are designed to make you spend more. One fun trick: the most expensive, name-brand items are usually stocked at eye-level. Scanning the shelves for better deals and generic brands could potentially save you about 25%. All peanut butter pretty much tastes the same anyway.
Do a little math. An item’s price per unit — usually located right under the sticker — can help you decide between different brands or when it’s smart to buy in bulk. If you like big boxes (and you cannot lie), stick with staples like pasta, canned goods, sugar, and flour that won’t go bad before you can use it.
Food can take a big bite (sorry) out of your budget. But unlike your rent, insurance premiums, and other needs you don’t control the price of, there are a lot of ways to spend less on food. Without packing your lunch every day or deleting your GrubHub account. Eat, save, love...the amount of money left in your bank account again.