Food is a primary and recurrent need that we all have to satisfy almost daily. It is not uncommon to crave a bite or a drink, even when passing the time idly at home. Let's all agree and blame it on our body metabolisms. We all react differently when it comes to satisfying this need. Some people prefer cooking or whipping up a quick meal, while others love to order.
Regardless of how you choose to treat yourself (and no one is judging), one thing remains common. You have to spend money at that moment, or you have probably spent money. While most people don't realise it, food shopping is one of the biggest bills we pay. Take a moment and estimate how much you have spent on food alone this month. Yeah, we thought so too.
It is, therefore, crucial to learn how to cut on this cost and save a few dollars in the process. By this, we don't mean you should go all out and change your whole spending on food. No, no, no. We suggest learning to adjust your current food spending habits so you can save a little side project. Your wellbeing is paramount, and eating healthy and well is still important even when trying to pinch pennies.
Below we walk you through some easy tips that will help you manage your food spending. Nothing to worry about; these are only minor adjustments that you probably think don't matter when planning how much you need to set aside for groceries or drinks.
Always work with a budget
Having a budget might sound like the most cliché advice, but that is because it works. A budget defines what you need and the corresponding costs you'll incur for each item. Working with one helps you set limits to your spending.
The hardest part of working with a budget is adhering to it and remaining disciplined, but once you master this, you'll see a significant dip in your food spending and other expenses, for that matter. That's not everything, though. You also need to reflect on your eating habits and set your food priorities right because, let's face it, most of us have something we extra could do away with. It could be that extra jagerbomb or even snag you always fancy.
Remember to keep your budget realistic – don't cut off your basic meals. You cannot set it too high because it beats that purpose of having one, and neither can it be too low. Budgets are person-specific, but the total food spending should not exceed 15% of your income as a rule of thumb.
Keep track of what you spend and review it periodically
Being disciplined to your budget is not easy, especially if you're adopting it for the first time.
It is okay; we all sometimes go overboard on the spending for the nice stuff. Every once in a while, say a fortnight, take some time to reflect on how your spending on groceries and other food items has been. Remedy or reward it depending on the outcome – whether overspent or underspent. You can use credit card reports or even spend-tracking apps available on your phone to keep yourself on a leash.
Try a menu plan
A menu plan is not an option but rather a necessity if you really want to keep your food spending in check. It doesn't matter whether you are shopping for yourself or your family, having one is essential.
Menu planning doesn't take much time since most of us have predictable or favourite foods for specific times or occasions. Create your menu plan around this and enforce it as it is necessary to keep off inconveniences such as double purchases. It also goes a long way in helping maximize money-saving opportunities.
Bulk shopping and discounts
Bulk shopping goes well with budgeting, and if you're a frequent customer at a grocery store, you might stumble upon enticing discounts. Further, bulk buying will often save you some cash for items that don't go bad easily and which you know you consistently use. Besides, do you have the time to go out for basic items every time you prepare a meal?
Note that some companies slash the prices for new products in the market or offer combo purchases. However, remember that even at a discount or clearance sale, don't purchase something you'll not need. It will likely become an expense that dents your budget.
Avoid food wastage
Wasted food represents an amount you could have saved unless there was no other option. Foodbank Australia reports that on average, Aussies bin one in five shopping bags of food which translates to each household trashing $3,800 worth of groceries annually. These figures scream one thing – don't waste food when you have the chance to do better.
Buy or order what you need or slightly more than you need. Other strategies you can follow to manage food wastage include repurposing/ reusing food scraps, always planning ahead, cooking just enough food, and storing food as recommended.
Takeaway and home-delivered
We all have those slow days when we do not feel like preparing a meal. The obvious and convenient option at this point is takeaway. It could be a curry, chicken burrito, or even fish and chips. When putting your budget together, remember to factor in these meals. Depending on the kind of person you are, estimate how many meals a week you order. It goes without saying that if your takeaways are many, then your food spending will be high. Be modest and settle on a compromise that doesn't hurt your finances.
Having a shopping list is one thing but sticking to it is a whole other issue. Shopping at a huge store exposes you to so many options. You may spot several things that your hands will be eager to throw into the shopping basket.
Consider keeping and adhering to your shopping list, especially if you're a sucker for impulse buys. No matter how cheap anything outside your budget and shopping list is, it is likely not buying on impulse. If something is worth it, have it on a list instead of buying it out of the blue.
Be moderate on drinks and snacks
Drinks and other quick bites are hardly ever included in our budgets for food even though, more often than not, we overspend on them.
That spells a problem. So, what to do then? First, you need to be aware of your defined limits and then strictly stick to them.
Secondly, remember that just as groceries, drinks also have favourable discounts and sometimes even bulk clearance sales. If you're lucky, this will save you money; otherwise try cutting down on them. You don't need an espresso martini as you wait for your friend who is late.
Here are other important considerations worth noting:
- Have in mind any dietary restrictions or food preferences you or anyone in your family has. This will help you plan appropriately and even avoid food wastage.
- Remember that any planning you make regarding budgeting - be it food, rent, or any other expense - must be consistent with your income.
- If you host your friends, neighbours, or even workmates frequently, count them into your budget plans. It is also a good idea to ask them to contribute, especially if you are close to avoid stretching far beyond your limits.
- Eat a healthy balanced diet and have the nutrition factor in mind when budgeting. Don't overspend on junk and forget about salads or fruits.
- Buy foods or drinks from convenient places. If there's a new cheaper place you have found out about that is inconveniently far, it's best to keep off it unless you need something else from that direction.
Time to try them out
We have shown you the best approaches to manage how much you spend on food with the recommendations above. Some of these tips complement or go along with each other, which will work out great. Don't push yourself too much to stick to all of them because that's near impossible. Choose what works for you with regards to what you can compromise and go with it. Really, choose what works best for you and start implementing that practice today!
If all else Fails
You can always rely on CashnGo for a quick cash boost by applying for a Same Day Loan