I hope you guys are safe and are taking care of your mental health, especially in a time like this.
I’m not sure if you guys saw my thread on Twitter about how to save money on food. If not, I’ll break it down in a nice listicle for you!
1. Cook– Cooking your own food is usually cheaper than buying take out everyday. Cooking your own food does not mean you go crazy at the supermarket. I’m trying to say that it depends on what you buy sometimes and where you buy it. In order to be cost effective you need to strategize what you buy. We will get into that soon. Anyway, one way to save money by cooking is to cook a little extra for dinner and carry it for lunch. My general rule is that I don’t buy breakfast AND lunch, I buy breakfast OR lunch. That saved me money on one meal a day. If you’re not a great cook that’s okay, none of us were born cooking. Just ask friends and family to help or use YouTube. YouTube has become my go to for recipes.
2. Buy in bulk……sometimes– Buying in bulk doesn’t automatically save you money contrary to popular belief. Just because you get a deal on 3 items or 12 items don’t mean you’re saving money if you’re not using them. Let’s look at a scenario. Let’s say the supermarket says you can get a case of Vienna sausages for x amount but your family doesn’t consume that much Vienna sausages and it expires in a month. The sale sticker says you’re saving $500 but you’re not. If you buy all 12 instead of the 3 you know you’re going to use then congratulations you’ve just wasted money. If you can eat the sausages within the time frame then by all means, go ahead. I will honestly buy one or two of a snack because that’s what I know I want. The discount you get with three is just tricking you to spend more money. Buying the one or two is actually LESS money. Save bulk buying for things you use regularly to avoid waste and make sure it’s worth it. Don’t forget you can buy bulk in the wholesales Downtown if you want to save some coins.
3. Get the supermarket card– Sign up for the rewards card of the supermarket you frequent the most. Remember to swipe it whenever you make a purchase. Those points may come in handy one shopping trip when money is tight.
4. Be on the lookout for supermarket deals- This is a great tool if you’re not a particularly picky eater or have dietary restrictions. I’ve gotten 2 for 1 cereal and snacks at the supermarket before. Now make sure this is something that you’re going to eat or else you’re back to wasting money. One thing you can do is plan your meals around what’s discounted. For example if I see 2 for 1 cereal, then that means for breakfast I’ll be eating cereal. I make a plan for all the food I buy so I don’t waste money.
5. Buy your produce from the market- Yes, you need fruits and vegetables in your diet. However, it doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. Fresh seasoning, ground provision, fruits and vegetables are almost always cheaper in the market. You can still waste money in the market too though. Depending on certain factors such as drought or something being scarce, the price for these things can go through the roof. That’s where your self discipline kicks in, if avocados are expensive this week but you really wanted to make guac or just eat it with some bread, too bad, buy something else.
6. Stop wasting food- Wasted food is wasted money. If you know you have foods you buy that go bad before you can eat them consider freezing them. Some foods like bread or pak choi freeze really well. Bread can survive for quite some time in the fridge too. Sometimes you forget that you even had something and only remember about it when it goes bad. Take regular stock of your fridge.
7. Meal Plan– Meal plan gets a bad rep. When people hear meal plan they hear eating the same food over and over again for days. It doesn’t have to be that way though. Meal planning can be as simple as making a almost of things you want to make in a month (if you go to the supermarket monthly) and writing down the list of ingredients you’ll need to make it. Note some substitutes too in case you can’t something. Google is your best friend for substitutes. You can include various foods in your meal plan for the week too. It doesn’t have to be too time consuming either, just get creative.
8. Buy from the source– Remember when I said where you buy your food is important? Well it’s true, you can get a good discount if you go to the national outlet for bread and snacks or the rainforest seafood outlet for seafood. You still have to be careful. If you’re going to have to go out of your way and burn a lot of gas to get to the location you’re not saving money you’re wasting money. You might have saved $50 on bread but you used $250 has to do so. It doesn’t make any sense.
9. Research low budget recipes- As much as I love shrimp and using heavy cream in my Alfredo, it’s not realistic for me to make these dishes too often or at least not in the traditional sense. I have absolutely substituted heavy cream for a cheaper option as well as learn to make white sauce to eat with my pasta. The only reason why I knew how was because of research. Use YouTube, Google and your friends about recipes they use. Try to opt for food that are relatively affordable, filling and nutritious. You can stretch your pots by adding ingredient. For example if I’m making stew chicken I might add some broad beans, green peas or potatoes so that the food can stretch. You just have to be creative.
10. Plant some food– Tomatoes and peppers along with a couple others are relatively easy to plant especially in smaller spaces. Don’t worry Kingstonians with the lack of yard space, you can plant some herbs in flowers pot and rest them on the windowsill. If you have more space, great get some seedlings from the forestry department cheap cheap and get to planting. Of course, this won’t cause you to spend less money on food immediately. It’s more of a long term investment but it’s so worth it.
Of course, these are all bandaid solutions to the bigger problem of poor wages. That’s where real change needs to happen. We can cut costs only to a certain extent.