Never shop hungry! That seems like sound advice. Shop with a list. Also, good advice. What about cooking at home, or cutting back on Starbucks? Ouch! Surveys show that only about 10 percent of adults in the U.S. actually enjoy cooking anymore. It’s a real dilemma. Food is not only a necessity, but also such an integral part of our social structure. Business lunch, romantic dinner out, stressful day, food trucks, happy hour, morning coffee and a bagel, family get-togethers… there is just no avoiding food. Besides, food is fun!
In fact, the average American household spends over $7,000 a year on food. According to data from the United States Department of Labor, approximately $3,000 of that is spent on dining out and take-out food. That means the typical household is spending nearly half of its food budget in restaurants and fast food establishments.
If you’re looking to save a little money for that vacation get-away, or even just a new pair of shoes, food might be the first place to consider making some changes.
Consider these money saving tips:
- Cut out just two restaurant or fast food meals per week. That equates to a savings of somewhere between $100 and $200 each month and, assuming there are two of you, even more. Not to mention the health benefits. With that kind of savings, you can definitely plan a nice weekend getaway or make a down payment on that new car you’ve been wanting.
- Eat left-overs. According to a 2014 EPA study, Americans throw away more than 100 billion pounds of food every year, 15 percent of which is still unopened and within its expiration date. That is the equivalent of 40 percent of all food production, and more than $500 per household. In 10 years, that’s worth more than $5,000. Just think of all the great things you could do with that money.
- Brew your own coffee. If you made Starbucks a special occasion and made your own java two days out of three, you could afford a two-day cruise to Mexico every year, just on your coffee savings alone.
- Shop smart. The biggest spending category for food eaten at home is for junk. Cut out those unnecessary miscellaneous items like soda, Hot Pockets, and Doritos.
- Plan your meals for the week. This may sound boring and time consuming, but just think of it as your new part-time job. By spending an extra 30 minutes a week getting organized, you can save upwards of $50/week per person. Once again, let’s just say you live in a 2-person household. Thrity minutes per week at a savings of $200/month … your new part-time job now pays $100/hour, and you didn’t even have to interview for it.
- Have fun! Get creative! Find new recipes, experiment with new foods, cook by candlelight, with friends, or even with your favorite music blasting.
Employ these few tips and enjoy your new-found wealth. Remember, you can do this in moderation and still eat your way to a life of luxury!