Food and Finance: Here’s Why You’re Almost Definitely Spending Too Much is a collaborative post. Please see the disclosure page for more information.
We all have to eat, but most of us spend far too much money on food. And it’s not a case of eating too much, it’s purchasing the wrong things and a lack of organisation that can really add up. If you have any of the following habits then you’re almost certainly spending too much money on food.
You buy too much and it goes it the bin
One mistake that almost every household makes when it comes to groceries is that they buy too much. Fresh items like fruit and vegetables only last for a few days and then go bad, so if you’re trying to shop for a week, come wednesday or thursday and the majority of fresh items in your fridge will no longer be any good. Not only is wasting food bad for your wallet, it’s also bad for the environment. Resources such as water and space are used to grow crops, and fossil fuels are used in collecting them as well as getting them to where they need to be using transport. There are ways you can make your fresh fruit and veg last longer by carefully wrapping and storing it, but for the most part you need to not be buying more than you’ll use. Check the use by dates and plan accordingly.
You don’t meal plan or shop to a list
Buying too much and it going in the bin- or not buying enough and spending lots of money on top up shops all come down to one thing: a lack of planning. Spend just a little time planning your meals and you really can save you a fortune as well as time and hassle. Each week, write a list of the dinners you plan on making each evening. From there, you can create a grocery list of exactly what you’ll need. No guesswork involved, no getting into the supermarket and feeling clueless and grabbing things off the shelves just because they look good. Do this and you’ll always spend more money and be tempted by offers of things you don’t need- which are designed to make you spend more (rather than save money, which it feels like you’re doing). Money and budgeting advisors like Hunter Perret have more information on saving money in this kind of way, which you can find on lots of different finance blogs.
You never batch cook
If you want to make sure you’re eating plenty of vegetables but don’t want to have to run out to the shops multiple times a week, one way to go about things is to batch cook. Here you can use lots of fresh ingredients and make up a big batch of your favorite meal, and once you’ve enjoyed it for dinner you can portion up the rest. Put it into individual containers and pop them into the freezer. If you’re ever in need of a quick meal you can throw it into the microwave, not only are they better for you but cost much less than typical microwave meals. If you make up a few extra portions whenever you make a suitable meal, your family always has access to healthy, home cooked meals even if you’ve had a busy day and are too tired to cook. It’s a great way to use up fresh ingredients as they’ll last a long time once they’re cooked into meals and frozen.
You don’t have a pantry or storage cupboard
Having a well stocked pantry is the key to success when you want to save money on food. Fill it up with long lasting ingredients, buy them when they’re on offer and build it up over time. Big bags of pasta, rice and other grains are useful. Tins of fish and vegetables, jars of sauces and lots of herbs and spices. That way, when a recipe calls for a certain ingredient you always have it on hand and aren’t buying lots of extra items each week. If you have a week where you’re short on supplies in between food shops, you can whip up a tasty meal from the store cupboard without having to resort to an expensive takeaway.
You buy food when you’re out instead of packing your own
Are you guilty of buying a sandwich from the sandwich shop every day when you’re at work? Perhaps you often call in at the local chip shop or fast food joint nearby? It might make your work day a little more interesting, but have you ever added up how much that’s costing you? The same is true if you go on days out, and purchase things like drinks and food from tourist areas. The prices here are often sky high, and you’re never getting a good deal for the money. Taking your own food is a great way to save money, it really doesn’t have to be boring. Ditch the soggy sandwiches and make vibrant salads and cold pasta dishes. You can make your own pastries like sausage rolls and quiches. There are loads of ideas on Pinterest, and it can be fun putting it all together. Much more interesting than a sad looking burger from a chain restaurant.
You order too many takeaways
Takeaways are so expensive, especially if it becomes a habit. Takeaway food is hard to resist, it tastes great and arrives right to your door with no cooking or fuss, but it’s unhealthy and costs a bomb. It’s not to say you should give up having these treats for good, but come up with a plan. Agree to have one a week, a month or a fortnight. Let family members take it in turns choosing the cuisine so you all get to have what you fancy from time to time. The rest of the time, cook more. It’s that simple, cooking at home saves you significantly and again, if you look at new recipes and switch things up it will never be boring. See cooking as a hobby, and have fun playing around with different ingredients and flavor combinations. Once you know the basics, you can whip up healthy, tasty dishes and save a fortune on ordering in.
It doesn’t have to be hard to save money with groceries. Try out these ideas and let me know any extra ideas you have in the comment below!