If you keep a budget, and you should, you’ll probably see this category as one of your biggest money hemorrhages. If you aren’t tracking your spending, start now. You’ll likely be surprised and maybe horrified at how much you spend here.
Maybe you don’t like to cook; some people don’t, so you eat out a lot! You probably also don’t like cleaning, doing laundry, or running errands. But you still do it because it’s part of being a grown up. Think about it; you could outsource those other things like you’ve been outsourcing feeding yourself. So why don’t you? Because that would be a big waste of money. Well, how is eating any different? It isn’t! So stop doing it! Buy lots of Ramen, whatever. But you must start eating at home and taking your lunch to work.
Go to your fridge, freezer, and cupboards and see what you can use up before you buy more groceries. If you have a weird assortment of things, you can use a site like My Fridge Food to turn those ingredients into a meal. Think of it as an episode of Chopped!
Once you’ve eaten your kitchen clean, you’ll need to go food shopping, but you’ll need a meal plan. Planning out your meals for one or two weeks not only keeps you from buying things you don’t need, but makes it possible to batch cook. Batch cooking just means cooking a lot of food at once, so you have leftovers for work lunches and for later in the week.
We’re trying to save money so if you don’t already have one, buy a slow cooker. They make batch cooking easy because once the food goes into the pot, you don’t have to do anything else. You can also save by buying dried legumes (pigeon peas, red /pink/black beans, channa) and slow cooking rather than buying them in the tins. Portion out your batches, so you just have to grab a container in the morning on your way out the door, so you don’t have to buy lunch. You may not even have to purchase container to do this…small butter containers are one portion, large ones – two portions. Reuse, recycle, reduce!
Of course, you are going to eat out sometimes, and that’s great as long as you have budgeted money for it.
Next week…the small stuff – daily habits, shopping, and gym membership