RGraf is an accountant who loves to read, study history, and travel. She has researched and written for educational sites and authors.
Food Can Be Expensive
Who doesn't want to save money? We all do. No one wants to be poor or struggle to make ends meet, but some of us live paycheck to paycheck nonetheless. How can you save money when you're on a tight budget?
Consider cutting out eating out.
More money is typically involved in the labor portion of an item than in the item itself. This includes the food you eat. The more that goes into preparing the food you purchase, the more it costs per serving.
The Cost Is in the Work
Labor is more expensive than parts. Don't believe me? Check out the detailed bill of a car mechanic. Parts total $100. Labor could be $400 on top of that. The actual materials cost next to nothing compared to labor. Now let's apply this concept to food.
A head of cauliflower costs $2.30 in the store (or close to that depending on where you live. If you purchase a package of cauliflower already cut up and ready to dip into your favorite dressing, it could cost you around $5, and it might only be a fraction of the quantity found in a full head of the vegetable. The cost is in the labor to cut and package it.
Customize Your Food
When you make your own foods for meals or snacks, you can customize them the way you want. Let me give you an example. My ideal salad is not typically the one you can get in the store. Yes, I like the ones with ham or bacon and some boiled eggs, but I love chickpeas on mine as well as cottage cheese. I will not find any premade salad with all the fixings I want. If I really want the salad I want, I should make it myself. This also will exclude the items I don't like and pick out to only toss away. We are wasteful in that regard. We purchase premade foods and don't eat everything we pay for.
Customize your food and save money in the long run. Make it for you and not for the general public. Isn't that what attracts many people to certain brands of restaurants and such? Make it your way. Make it the way you want instead of overspending on something generic. Be completely happy with your meal instead of getting what everyone else is eating at a higher cost.
Don't buy premade salads or veggies and dip. Make it yourself. Save your money. You won't have to pay for the labor. You are the labor.
What do you buy that is already made up? It can be for breakfast, snacks, lunch, or dinner. A breakfast burrito costs a fraction of what you pay for it if you make it yourself. The P3 items are a great idea, but you can save money by making up the items yourself. Make your own frozen meals that you can heat up during lunch.
Avoid pre-made foods. Do it yourself. Chop up your own lettuce. Cut up your own carrots. Make your own pot roast. Create your own sandwich that is uniquely yours. Save your money. Put in your own labor instead of paying someone else to do it.
Use Your Freezer
One of your best resources is your freezer. Make your customized food ahead of time and freeze it. Know those freezer meals you buy at the store? You can make them yourself for a fraction of the cost.
Make your meals ahead of time and freeze them. These can be frozen for up to a year. Leftover meatloaf? Make up lunch and freeze it. You don't waste food and you don't have to buy lunch later. You save all the way around.
You can take it a step further by looking up freezer recipes or once-a-month cooking recipes. These are recipes designed to be made ahead of time and save you time and money. If chicken is on sale, get it, make a batch up and freeze it. You will have lunch and dinner that you will not have to slave over.
Save yourself change for your pocketbook, time for your family, and stress for yourself by making food on your own.
janeaulden on March 10, 2020:
But I'm with a comment below that should use prepared meal and start to using meal delivery services like Blue Apron and Hello Fresh. Or if you want you can always read a comparison of dinnerly vs everyplate - https://ageekoutside.com/dinnerly-vs-everyplate/ - it helps for me.
Sherry Hewins from Sierra Foothills, CA on September 21, 2019:
Avoiding prepared foods and eating out is the quickest way to save money if you need to cut costs. Usually you will find that you eat better too.