Interested in trimming your budget? Your food habits determine food costs, which can be one of your biggest expenses and it can really sneak up on you.
Eating out at lunch with coworkers, morning coffee on the go, restaurant date night with your partner or friends, etc.
It can all add up.
Even your grocery runs throughout the month can be a huge budget buster. Here are 32 food habits that save me money every month. Enjoy!
Eating out means any time you aren’t eating at home. Yes, this includes coffee runs and stops at the convenience store. Eating out doesn’t have to be scrapped from your budget entirely. You can still enjoy the occasional time to eat out by yourself, with friends or family, with these easy tips. Check these out:
1. Use Dosh App
Dosh is a cashback app that saves you money on your online and in-person purchases. Here’s how it works:
Step 1.) Download the Dosh app on your cell phone
Step 2.) Add your credit/debit card
Step 3.) Browse the list of participating establishments and earn cashback automatically when you buy using your linked credit/debit card
That’s all there is to it. You earn cash back and it’s applied to your Dosh app balance automatically.
You can redeem your balance once you reach the threshold of $25 and you can get the money deposited into your bank account, sent via PayPal, exchanged for gift cards and more.
2. Save on Drinks by Ordering Water
Your beverage cost at restaurants can add up fast, especially if the restaurant doesn’t offer free refills. For a table with a family of 4, with drinks averaging $2.50, that’s an added $10 to top off your restaurant bill. Save big by ordering water instead.
3. Use Grocery Apps
Free grocery apps are a huge time saver and help you avoid busting your budget. There are a ton of free apps to help you with everything from scouting out the best sales, sending you coupons, and helping you earn cash back on your purchases. Here are some favorites:
- Ibotta: A favorite for saving on groceries! You can search for sales and deals, scan your receipts for cash back and more. Here are 13 tips and tricks to get the most out of Ibotta.
- BerryCart: Scan your receipts for cashback!
- Trunow: Save on convenience store purchases, gas, and more.
- Shopkick: Earn cash linking your credit card and taking pictures of receipts
Get even more savings with these top 10 free apps that pay you money for scanning grocery receipts.
4. Use coupons
You can get restaurant coupons in your local newspaper, in mail flyers and more. Here are some places to stock up on coupons, to get you started:
- Coupons.com: Join this site and find coupons on everyday items like paper towels or breakfast cereal.
- RedPlum: Famous for their Sunday coupon inserts, did you know that you can get RedPlum coupons online? Visit their site to find some great coupons.
- The Krazy Coupon Lady: A hub for online savings, you will love The Krazy Coupon Lady. Not only will this site teach you how to coupon but you can also score some awesome printable coupons.
5. Go to “Kids Eat Free” Nights
Kids Nights are very popular in family-friendly restaurants. You can save up to 50% or more when your kids eat free. Enjoy a family outing at a restaurant without breaking the bank Check out these 33 restaurants where kids eat free!
6. Skip Dessert
You can satisfy your wallet while satisfying your sweet tooth at home, by skipping dessert at the restaurant you dine in. Dessert prices can be outrageously high, paying the cost of an entire cake at your grocery store for just one slice at a restaurant! Your wallet will thank you if you eat dessert at home.
7. Skip the Cocktails
Skipping cocktails is a nice way to lower your restaurant bill. Follow suit as with desserts and have your drinks at home.
8. Follow your Favorite Restaurants on Social Media
If you follow your favorite restaurants on Twitter of Facebook, you can be alerted of special events, deals and get special coupon offers.
Thanks to following my favorite cookie delivery company on Facebook, I was made aware of a new store opening in my area and got a dozen freshly baked cookies for just $5, along with a free gift card! It pays (literally) to follow your favorite eateries.
9. Use Discounted Gift Cards
You can buy restaurant gift cards at a discount online at places like Giftcard Granny or Raise. It’s very common to find deals like getting a $25 gift card for $20 or getting a $50 gift card for $40. Check it out.
Grocery Shopping Hacks
These grocery shopping hacks will help you trim down one of your biggest monthly expenses. Check these out.
10. Use a list
This is critical to shopping within your budget. Be prepared and use a list. This means organizing and writing a list in advance so you stay on budget and avoid extra trips to the grocery store.
11. Never shop on an empty stomach
Have you ever shopped while you’re hungry? It’s a bad idea. You will be shopping with your eyes instead of with your head, throwing everything into your grocery cart, including unwanted, extra goods that will throw your budget off.
12. Shop for Groceries Monthly
Doing your shopping once a month will be a huge money saver. This avoids extra trips to the grocery store and really forces you to stick to your list and grocery budget. Be disciplined and give this a try.
13. Buy in Bulk
Stocking up on staples is a great idea which will help you make less trips to the grocery store and save money. Ideas for bulk shopping:
Changing How You Shop
Making these lifestyle food changes will whittle your budget down and help you get the most bang for your buck with food shopping. You might even be doing some of these tricks!
14. Use Canned Meat
Canned goods, especially canned meat is a huge budget saver. It’s a premium to buy fresh meat. You don’t have to give it up completely but switching to canned meat more often than not, can help you keep your grocery budget down. A good example is canned salmon or canned tuna. You’ll hardly notice the difference.
15. Go Frozen instead of Fresh
You can save a lot of money if you transition to frozen foods like frozen veggies and frozen fruit, compared to the fresh version. Not only will they keep fresh longer but you’ll get a lot more for your money, especially for produce that you want, that’s not in season.
16. Go for Cheaper Meat Cuts
Go for cheaper meat cuts. Think ground beef instead of steak. You can get it lean and there are an endless number of recipes you can use to transform what might be considered “boring” ground beef into delicious and exciting meals.
You can also opt out of convenient meats like skinless, boneless chicken, getting skin-on, bone-in chicken instead and saving a ton, in the process.
17. Stretch Meals with Beans
You might have experienced this as a kid. Back in the day when supplies were low, families would “stretch” their meals with beans. This means the beans were used as a filler to make meals larger, more filling, and more substantial. Beans are a staple that can be used for so many meals like soups, stir fries, pastas and more. They’re also great eaten alone.
18. Go Crazy with Potatoes
Potatoes are another great staple that can be super versatile. You can dress up potatoes in a number of ways. They are nutritious and can be used for every meal of the day, from breakfast hash browns to dinner baked potatoes. This is a cheap pantry item that should always be on stock.
Money Saving Food Habits
These money saving food habits are great to practice all year round. They will change the way you think about food, for the better.
19. Freezer Meals
What happens to leftovers now? A lot of households will eat leftovers until they’re sick of them, then it’s tossed. Save that food by freezing it! Not only will you save money and avoid food waste, but you’ll save a ton of time on those days when you don’t feel like cooking.
Develop a freezer meal strategy. It’s easy. Plan ahead, cook meals in bulk, label and date your meals, then freeze!
20. Batch Cooking
Batch cooking goes along with freezer meals. Make a bunch of meals in big batches. Here’s how you do it:
Step 1.) Plan your meals
Step 2.) Go grocery shopping with your list
Step 3.) Make all your deals in one sitting (like over the course of 1-2 days)
Once you’re done cooking, freeze the extras and consider meal planning for the week.
21. Meal Planning
You can buy individual meal containers and plan all your meals out for the week! It’s easy, fun and helps you save money too!
Think about it, you’ll cook once and prep all your meals for the week for you and family. This works for work and school lunches, and snacks too.
22. Buy What’s In Season
Pretty simple. Just buy and eat what’s in season. If you’ve ever wondered why blackberries are $0.89 one time during the year and $4 at another time, that’s why. When produce is in season, it’s fresh and abundant, and the price will reflect that.
23. Cook at Home
Cooking at home is far less expensive than eating out. Cook food at home for your family and enjoy leftovers for lunch, freezer meals, an more.
24. Stick to Generic Brands
There is no brand loyalty in the quest to save money. Stick to generic brands and steer away from name brands. The quality is comparable and you can save as much as half, or more by going generic.
25. Go with Whole Foods
Whole foods are the way to go and far cheaper than their processed counterpart. For example, bags of dry beans may be cheaper than canned beans, or a block of cheese, cheaper than a bag of shredded cheese. There are a ton of convenience foods that can be purchased in their whole forms:
- Peanuts (peanut butter)
- Instant rice
- Pre-cut produce (potatoes, onions, etc.)
- Whole chicken
Extreme Ways to Save on Food Costs
For fun, we’re sharing these extreme ways to save on food costs. These ideas might seem outrageous but believe it or not, people do them! Take a look at these extreme money saving strategies to lower your food expenses.
26. Cut out Junk Food
This means no more chips, cookies, ice cream, or baked goods from the grocery store. Taking these off your grocery list doesn’t mean you have to banish them from your lifestyle, though. You can make junk food at home! Cookies, baked goods, and even ice cream can be made from scratch and taste better than store bought.
27. Try Mono dieting
A mono diet means you will be eating one kind of food, like only potatoes, for example. This isn’t a long term way of eating but it can help you save money in a short period of time and can even lead to weight loss.
28. Go OMAD (One Meal a Day)
There is a cult following around the One Meal a Day (OMAD) lifestyle, mostly from men and women who have adopted intermittent fasting as a way to lose weight. OMAD is exactly what it sounds like, eating one meal a day.
You pick one time of day, like 12pm lunch or 7pm dinner and eat your meal at that time, everyday. How can you save money? Well, you’d be eating once a day, instead of three times a day (with snacks) so the savings potential can be huge. This may not be a long term lifestyle you can embrace but it’s an extreme way to lower your food costs for the short term.
29. Pack Your Lunch
Ok, is this one really extreme? Yes, it can be, especially for those who have been used to eating out for lunch for years. Pack a lunch for work, school, or time away from home. This might be a difficult challenge in the beginning but stick to it and it will soon develop into habit.
30. Go on a Cash Envelope Budget
Dave Ramsey’s Cash Envelope Method is an interesting way to keep you on your budget. How it works? You have envelopes for various categories of your budget, like food, entertainment, gas, etc.
Each envelope contains cash for that budget category. You only spend what’s in your envelope. If you have money left over after the period ends, that’s great. If you run out early, tough luck. Try this out with your food expenses.
31. Cut out Meat
Try going vegetarian. Meatless meals are delicious, nutrient-filled and can save your food budget! You don’t have to cut out meat completely but use it more like a condiment, rather than the main course. Start by substituting out meat for filler proteins like beans, in meals like meatloaf or tacos.
32. Embrace Eggs
Replace meat with eggs. Eggs are cheap and a great source of protein. Eat breakfast for dinner, try omelet lunches, or egg fried rice. They are great for bulking up meals too.
Though I haven’t tried many of the extreme food lifestyle tips, most of these food habits have helped me save money every month.
To recap, here are 32 food habits that save me money every month:
- Use Dosh app
- Order water at restaurants
- Use coupons
- Go to Kids Nights
- Skip Dessert
- Skip Cocktails
- Follow restaurants on social media
- Try discounted gift cards
- Use a grocery list
- Never shop on an empty stomach
- Shop for groceries once a month
- Use grocery apps
- Buy in bulk
- Used canned meat
- Go frozen
- Use cheaper meat cuts
- Stretch your meals
- Go crazy for potatoes
- Freezer meals
- Batch cooking
- Meal planning
- Shop in-season
- Cook at home
- Generic brands
- Whole foods
- No store bought junk food
- Mono dieting
- Pack your lunch
- The cash envelope method
- Cut out meat
- Embrace eggs
There you have it! Do you have food habits that save you money, not on the list? Comment down below to share your food tips!