I still have a week until pay day and I’m wondering; where is all my money going? It’s a question that a lot of us have asked and one that made me take a closer look at my spending. After a quick look at my debit card statement it was obvious: food. I know that I eat out a lot, I have an entire chunk of my budget dedicated to just that (try covering Orlando’s favorite restaurants and bars without spending a little $$). I realize that I’m spending a ton of money on groceries.
The USDA says that an average woman between 19 and 50 spends anywhere from $38.60 to $76.60 a week on food. I wish. The picture got clearer when I read on and saw that “Americans are throwing out the equivalent of $165 billion each year.” That means that about 40% of food in the United States is never eaten. In my apartment that might have been even higher. That’s what led me to make some changes in my habits, starting with tip number one.
Buy exactly what you need.
Have you ever walked into Publix and seen 2 for $5 strawberries? I buy them every time. Do you know how often I’ve finished both containers? Neither do I but it’s not many. That’s one of the ways that grocery stores get you. Retailers know that it’s hard to resist a great deal. I know for a fact that today I bought “buy one get one free” lunch meat. Now I’m the proud owner of a pound of smoked turkey and a pound of smoked ham. Who the hell is going to eat that many sandwiches?
Cook your own dinner.
It’s getting easier and easier to pick up dinner on the go. I can go to the grocery case and get pre-sliced chicken and steak along with onions and bell pepper in one convenient “fajita” package. It even comes with the seasoning. A little oil in a pan and I have everything that I need. The problem is that I can make 19 times as much (slight exaggeration) for the same price. Invest in a sharp kitchen knife and the cutting board. Look at the ingredients on your favorite prepared meals at the store and see if you can duplicate them yourself.
Pair these tips with things like buying fruits and vegetables in season and checking the refrigerator to make sure you don’t already have an item. Small changes add up or should I say “don’t” add up. Finally,
Take the time to know what you are going to prepare for the week. If you have a taste for something special, find a way to use it in several meals so that the extra doesn’t go to waste. Finding out what’s on sale and in season can cut your costs dramatically when you hit the cash register. Do you coupon? Well, that’s another article for another time.