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6 Ways You Can Save on Food Costs

Although junk food is convenient, there are many ways to save on food costs and eat healthier.

Whether you're a college student or an individual keeping busy with a job or other responsibilities, your mind might be preoccupied with many other things above what you're going to eat next. Many of us resort to junk food, fast food, and even ramen noodles.

However, overdoing processed foods will leave you feeling not quite full nor nutritionally sound, either.

It is time to kick those bad habits, but how can you prepare nutritious meals that don’t cost a bundle or take hours of prep time?

Here’s how:

1. Plan, plan...and plan more!

Lack of planning when it comes to your meals can lead to the poorest choices. Take a few minutes at the beginning of each week – or even month – to plan and shop for your menu. There are tons of apps and programs out there to assist planning out recipes and grocery lists like this one. This way, you won’t be found missing key ingredients when you need them most and then opting for expensive, unhealthy takeout food instead.

2. Learn how to shop

If you’re using the kitchen, you’ll need to learn how to grocery shop. Here are some quick tips to help you become a smarter consumer:

  • Always use a list. You’ll spend less time and less money at the store.
  • Look up and down but don’t look straight. Supermarkets tend to put the priciest brands at eye level, with the less-expensive products higher up or lower down on the shelves.
  • Don’t shop on an empty stomach. Everything looks tempting when you’re running low on fuel.
  • Stock up on staples that last a while. Always have some pasta, rice and beans on hand for easy, last-minute meals.
  • Try a grocery pickup service. When you pre-shop for food items and pick them up, you eliminate the opportunity to blow your budget by tempting items in the store.

3. Don't do the cooking alone

Ask a roommate or partner to share cooking responsibilities with you several times a week. Lots of dishes, like pot roasts, casseroles, and soups are perfect for sharing and will cut down on food (and therefore money) waste. Plus, the more you eat at home, the less you're spending on takeout.

If you're a household of one, this tip might be hard to follow for obvious reasons. Instead, try meal prepping so you can get several servings out of one cooking session while cutting down your fast food costs.

4. Invest in a quality lunchbox

Whether you're a college student in class or someone who's working all day, you’ll be out and about and away from the convenience of your kitchen. Avoid the temptation to buy pricey convenience foods on the go by keeping your meals and snacks at the perfect temperature with a good-quality lunchbox.

5. Avoid vending machines

Vending machines are ridiculously overpriced. Plan your snacks and keep some with you at all times so you don’t blow all your cash on $3 chocolate bars. If you need a candy bar to make it through the day, buy them at your local grocery store for a fraction of the cost!

6. For the college students: choose a food plan carefully

If your school requires you to purchase a food plan, select one that best suits your needs instead of signing up for everything. If you love a big breakfast but prefer to go with lighter fare the rest of the day, consider purchasing breakfast only and eating the rest of the meals in the dorm. Paying for meals you won’t eat much of is like throwing money away.

With just a bit of planning and careful budgeting, you can cut your food costs in half.

Looking for more ways to improve your money management skills? Click here!

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