How to Save Money on Food

how to save money on food

As my wife and I have been adjusting to our life with extra income (as many young adults are forced to do), I have been reminded of the importance of saving money on food. It is easy to become either busy or lazy and resort to eating out more often than you should. I fear that this is what many young adults do. It’s just easier to go out and eat, right?

If you looking to save money, whether it is to pay off debt or start saving for retirement, one of the easiest ways to save money is to cut back on food. Did you know that the average family spent nearly $2700 in 2009 at restaurants? That’s nearly $50 per week just in eating out. This may not sound like it is worth the sacrifice to some. Yet, if you were to save this money and invest it in a retirement fund for 40 years, you would have approximately $800,000, assuming an average 8% interest.

How My Wife and I Save Money on Food

My wife and I have a pretty basic system when it comes to saving money on food. Even though it is simple, it is quite effective. We Make Two large dinners on the weekends. We make enough food to have leftovers throughout the week. We make two meals because there are two days on the weekend AND because it offers us a little variety throughout the week. No one likes to eat the same meal 5 days in a row, right? Instead, we use the two to alternate. I told you it was simple…

Here’s how it saves us money:

  • It prevents us from eating out when we are either too tired from the work day or too busy (like when we are taking classes at night since we are both in graduate school). No matter what anyone says, warming up leftovers in the microwave is ten times easier, healthier, cheaper, and faster than going out.
  • It makes grocery shopping really easy. We buy food only that are needed to make the two meals (and any snacks for our brown-bag lunches). This prevents any useless spending or splurging.
  • Because we focus on two meals (that are planned out by how many meals we can eat), there is less food waste.
  • Less time making dinner each night means more time to relax, do homework, and yes, you guessed it – BLOG!

If you find yourself frustrated with failing to meet your food budget, you might consider doing something similar. It takes a little getting used to and it may not be as “exciting” as going out to eat each night, but it is worth it in the long run.

photocredit: karindalziel via flickr

20 Responses to How to Save Money on Food

  1. Michelle says:

    We also try to make enough so that we have leftovers. This prevents us from leaving the house to get a midnight snack.

  2. This is a great tip – we do it with hearty soups like chili or minestrone – make a big batch then freeze the rest for later in the week.

  3. Impressive that you can do it with just two meals — I have to have at least three in a week, and I’m just one person!

    • 20sfinances says:

      Yeah, we usually double the recipes. It all depends. A lasagna is a good 3-4 nights of dinner for two people. :)

  4. We don’t like batch cooking. The leftover is too boring by the end of the week. :(
    We make about enough to have leftover to take for lunch.

  5. This the strategy we use as well. Cook a few meals so that there is variety in dinner every night. The best benefit for me is that it only takes a few minutes to heat up dinner. I have a lot of things to do and by cutting down on the prep time for dinner allows me to spend more time focusing on other aspects of my life.

  6. Chris Gold says:

    I found it difficult to cut back on going out but my wife and I were fed up on how much spending we were doing. Prior to kids coming into the picture it’s easy to get take out from your favorite local spot a few nights a week. Eventually it gets tiresome and you got to take responsibility and eat out as little as possible. How much money I could have saved in my 20′s had I only stopped spending and saved money on food instead still irks me and bit.

  7. Marianne says:

    I usually try to make sure that we have leftovers for my husband’s lunches but my husband is a bit of a human garbage can and eats whatever is in sight. I find that leftovers don’t last too long in our house because of this. The more food there is, the more he eats. :) I do try to batch cook and freeze it though for easy cooking when we are busier.

  8. Modest Money says:

    I try to make enough for leftovers once or twice a week, but I don’t know if I could go with leftovers throughout the week. Like retirebyforty, I’d likely end up getting too bored with the lack of variety. I guess a lot depends on just how good those big weekend meals are.

  9. I do this with my lunches. I’ll make a big batch of rice & beans that I will alternate with peanut butter & jelly sandwiches.

  10. Christa says:

    I like to make dinner at least four times per week and eat leftovers the other nights (and for lunches). I think I’d have a rough time sticking to a two-meal plan, but good for you!

  11. I’d like to do that but I need variety in my meals – I have trouble eating the same thing for more than three meals in a row! I do a variation though – I cook dinner Monday – Thursday night and make enough so we have lunch the next day. By the weekend, I’m pretty burnt out on cooking so we do end up eating out.

  12. We batch cook a lot. Mostly in the crockpot. I do get tired of the meals, but when I get home late from work and am tired and cranky, I’m happy to have that cold left over lasagna.

  13. MommaStar says:

    I just started this grocery shopping thing more vs. going out to eat. Even though I think I’m doing okay I’m sure I can save a lot more by couponing or stocking ads.

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