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How to Save Money on Food

You can live your best money life without sushi and Starbucks lattes every day. Even so, you’re probably still spending a lot on food.

I love food more than anything else.

Approximately 10% of Americans’ income is spent on food, according to the USDA. The majority of that goes to restaurants and takeout. Fortunately, there are a few simple ways to save. They do not require culinary skills.

  • Take advantage of a discounted gift card. Look online for discounted gift cards before you visit your favorite chain. There may be discounts of up to 35%. If you still have unused gift cards sitting in your bag from last Christmas, some sites will also purchase them. 
  • Early lunch is best (hey, $5 happy hour drinks). Monday through Friday. There are usually more specials on Mondays and Tuesdays because bars and restaurants are slower on these days.
  • Reserve a table. You can get points from companies like OpenTable and Seated when you make a reservation through their platforms…provided you show up. It might also be beneficial to eat off-peak hours. Some points can be redeemed for discounts at restaurants and Amazon gift cards.
  • Ensure that you are using the right credit card. Choosing a rewards card that gives you cashback or extra points when spending at restaurants is a great idea if you’re paying with plastic. 

By keeping your ‘wants’ in check, you can keep your budget on track. You have to get in the kitchen if you’re serious about saving on food.

This was inevitable.

You sometimes need to talk to yourself about ‘we have food at home’ as part of the adulting process. Here are some tips to help you save money at the supermarket:

  • Prepare ahead of time. DIY dining can be made much easier during the week if you prepare your meals on the weekend. One good tip is to use a slow cooker.
  • Be sure to keep it fresh. Seasonal produce is usually cheaper (and tastes better) than non-seasonal produce. In the summer, you’ll find watermelon and tomatoes, and in the fall and winter, you’ll find grapefruit and Brussels sprouts. The price tends to fall when the supply increases.
  • Keep an eye out. Shopping at grocery stores is intended to increase your spending. It’s a clever trick that the most expensive, name-brand items are usually displayed at eye level. You could potentially save about 25% if you search for better deals and generic brands. It’s hard to tell the difference between each brand of peanut butter.
  • Make a few calculations. You can use the price per unit of an item – which is usually located right below the sticker – to decide whether to buy bulk or between different brands. The best way to ensure you won’t run out of staples (like pasta, canned goods, sugar, and flour) is to buy them in big boxes.

Budgeting for food can be challenging. While there are a lot of ways to cut food expenses, unlike rent, insurance, and other needs you aren’t in control of. Without having to pack lunch every day or canceling your GrubHub subscription. Your bank account balance again depends on how much money you eat and save.

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