After talking to my mom yesterday I've decided to write a post about something my husband and I have been doing. We challenged ourselves to each eat for $10 a day. Our decision was based on the hope of focusing our money into projects and fun things like bills. We, like many Americans, ate too many meals out. It's a lot of fun, of course, but way too expensive to do every day. For example, I go to college at KU and today I thought I might pick up a burger or something between classes. Well, I changed my mind after realizing that the price of a 1/3 lb hamburger is more than it cost me to buy two pounds of meat at the supermarket yesterday. Needless to say I hit up the salad bar. Cutting down food costs is an easy way to find extra money in your budget.
Here are my tips for eating well at $10 a day:
1. Fill your pantry with necessities. Instead of buying processed food or pre cut veggies consider purchasing a whole head of lettuce and tearing it up yourself. Buy flour, sugar, baking soda and make things from scratch. It sounds so simple that it's almost stupid. Taking a little extra time and whipping out your cookbook can save a ton of money. Like I said earlier, a pre-made burger in the KU cafeteria would have cost me $4 while I bought two pounds of meat at the same price yesterday.
2. Buy the sunday paper and cut out every coupon you would use. Clipping coupons is an awesome way to save money. Also, check out your supermarket's circular for in store savings. I saved $20 the other day on a weeks worth of groceries. So instead of $80 it was only $60.
3. Buy basic groceries. Peanut butter, dried pasta, cans of beans and rolled oats can all be used in a variety of different dishes. You won't have to run to the store because you forgot something! Saves on gas, time and money.
4. Online coupon websites are the greatest. Couponmom.com, Redplum, Mashupmom.com are all great resources to help save and give money saving tips. I also look at retailmenot.com when I want to purchase something online. Chances are there is a coupon or a free shipping offer that you didn't know about.
5. Buy in season. It is very easy to be cheap and buy ramen, but if you don't want to gain 50 lbs then you might try to eat your fruits and veggies. Buying in season well help you keep a balanced diet and keep your wallet happy.
6. When you find a deal on meat, stock up! My local store recently had a buy one get one on chicken breasts the other day. I bought a few packages and put them in my freezer for a later day! Meat can get expensive and when you find a good deal there is nothing wrong with a little hoarding.
7. Use that rewards card! I have one which will let me get $10 off after so many points acquired. It's kind of nice to get a bit off after buying things that I needed anyway.
8. Portion control. This one might sound simple as well, but really, think about it. The bigger the serving, the more it cost. If a recipe makes 4 servings and you eat 2 it cost double what you thought. If you eat the serving size you can save the others for the next day! This is also a nice way to make sure that the cheap food doesn't effect your pant size.
9. Pack your lunch. Such an easy one, but totally true. A packed lunch is a fraction of the cost of a purchased one. When I am running behind I try to at least grab my water bottle or a can of pop. This way I'm cutting down the cost of my meal just by the beverage choice.
10. Know your local restaurants. If you do want to go out know the local specials. We have a restaurant that does half price burger day. So nice when you do want out of the house but don't want to break the bank. Sometimes our paper will feature weekly specials too. Being cheap doesn't mean deprivation.
11. Think about what you really need. Yeah, you're driving down the street and a frosty sounds really dang good, but do you NEEEEED it? Probably not. Not giving into temptation can save a lot of money and of course your hips. Save that ice cream for a special occasion.
Hope that helped!! What are your tips? I'm always looking for more.