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Eating For (Much) Less

As I mentioned in my living on $10 a day post, how much you spend on food can vary dramatically. Here are some of the ways I save on food without turning to ramen, beans and water, etc.

Use Your Freezer – Just because you can’t finish an entire loaf of bread by yourself before it starts sprouting green fuzz doesn’t mean you have to waste bread every week. Freeze half of each loaf you buy; a couple of slices defrost quickly in the microwave. Try toasting them if they get soggy.

Cook for the Week – Throwing together one course salads or casseroles can provide several dinners and lunches for one person. Investing a few dollars in some plastic containers will save you hundreds over time if you eat all your leftovers before buying more food.

Embrace Cheap Staples – Eggs and beans are good sources of protein that cost substantially less than meat. Build more meals around these staples.

Buy Produce Locally – It is tempting to sacrifice the quality of your diet to save a few bucks. True, processed foods tend to be cheaper than whole grains and vegetables, but the health consequences are scary. Whenever possible, shop for produce at local farmer’s markets or stands. Not only is the produce fresher, but you will save because you are eliminating the grocery store’s mark-ups.

Eat Ethnically – Many recipes from other parts of the world are tasty and filling yet inexpensive. Indian curry dishes, Asian stir fries, and Mexican burritos are great examples of satisfying dishes that won’t break the bank.

Do It Yourself – As a rule, the more you cook yourself, the more you can save. Pancakes, breads, and sauces are all examples of items to whip up and freeze for later consumption.

To take the most advantage of these tips, make sure “Don’t dine out, stupid!” is already your mantra and that you’re taking full advantage of coupons and other savings programs at your grocery store!

Published or updated on May 31, 2006

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About David Weliver

David Weliver is the founding editor of Money Under 30. He's a cited authority on personal finance and the unique money issues we face during our first two decades as adults. He lives in Maine with his wife and two children.


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