Believe it or not, food is one of the top items that millennials spend the most money on each year. For some, this may come as no surprise. It’s easy to go over budget while shopping in a supermarket, particularly since most of us wander aimlessly through aisles filling our carts without looking at price tags. Before you know it, your buggy is piled high, with items that typically end up sitting on your shelves for months. One of the biggest ways to save is by cutting food and shopping expenses. Here are three quick tips on how you can save costs (and reduce food waste)!
- Make your own food. Everyone loves going out to eat, but when you’re dining out for every meal, it can severely affect your wallet. Erin Lowrey, author of Broke Millennial, says “eating out because you don’t know how to cook is a really common mistake millennials make.” There are lots of resources to teach you how to whip things up in the kitchen, from basic staples to more complicated recipes for the adventurous. In addition, there are plenty of websites and mobile apps to guide a new cook in the right direction, and family members or friends are always a good source of information. If you know someone who loves to cook, chances are they’d be more than willing to lend a helping hand if you ask them. By cooking for yourself, not only will you save money, but you will also learn a valuable life skill.
- Brown bag it. Taking your lunch to work instead of going out every day can dramatically decrease your weekly spending. “Bagged lunches are one my biggest frugal tips. For me personally, it saves me between $110 and $150 a month to cook my own lunch,” says Lowry. Even small expenses, like the occasional $5 latte, can add up and take a toll on your wallet without you even noticing. Buy snacks and fruit in bulk so you always have something on hand, and consider doubling your dinner recipe and bringing the leftovers for lunch. If you are short on time, consider picking two days a week to cook all your meals and freeze them. Being prepared is the best way to avoid unplanned costs.
- Know before you go. Planning your weekly meals before you go to the grocery store can be a huge help in managing your stress, finances and health. Food on the Table is an online resource and mobile app that can help you set a weekly meal plan, find grocery store deals and coupons and save you loads of time in the market and in the kitchen. You can tailor the plan to your tastes, such as I want minimum prep and unprocessed foods or I am gluten-free and vegetarian. All you need to do is complete a quick survey that includes your favorite ingredients, cooking styles and dietary requirements. From there, you will receive your dinner plan and grocery list.
Being aware of your eating and shopping habits is a great way to put your best foot forward in 2014. Be prepared, shop smart and eat healthy. If you need help budgeting, Delta Community Credit Union is here to help and offers additional online resources as well.