Remember when the millionaire said we need to stop buying avocado toast if we want to buy a house? That was too funny. But apparently we are spending more money on food than we are on saving up for retirement, so it seems we could benefit from making some changes. It’s way too easy to waste money on poor food choices. Quite often food purchases are impulse buys so we tend to justify our purchases. But money wasted on food that is not healthy for us or that ends up in the garbage can add up to a lot of money down the drain.I’m not entirely convinced we all will be able to buy a house through better food bucks management, but I’m sure it could help save some extra cash. Here are some practical ways to cut down on your food spending:
Coffee can quickly become a splurge item – especially if you’re purchasing it every day. The average cost of a Tall order (the smallest size) at Starbucks is $3.53. If you grab a cup of joe every day (5 days) on your way to work for 1 year (let’s say 50 weeks of the year) that equals $176.50 spent in coffee. As a coffee lover myself, I get the amazing feeling that comes over you when you finally hold that first cup of the day. But at Nav.it we also love the amazing feeling you get when you see an extra $176.50 in your savings account.
If waking up ten minutes earlier is possible for you, do it. Prep your coffee at home. Not only will you be saving money, but you will be helping to save our environment by using your own reusable coffee cup instead of throwing away your to-go cup every day. If there is no way you can sacrifice ten minutes of sleep, ask your coffee spot if they have any deals for regulars, cut down on your cup size, or check for cheaper menu items from which you can still get your fix. Also, a go-to coffee fix saver is always your office coffee pot–either you can do some office-brewing yourself (save those 10 mins!) or if they’re so kind to offer free coffee, see if you can petition the office manager to buy your favorite roast.
2. Meal prep
Meal prepping sounds like a ton of work but preparing your own meals at home definitely pays off. It’s probably not realistic for everyone to prep all meals at home- because who are we kidding! Plan ahead for your week and consciously decide which meals you can make from scratch and which ones you really want to eat out so that your daily food spending doesn’t become a snap decision that you will regret later. If you usually buy a breakfast sandwich along with your coffee, choose breakfast as your meal prep meal. If you consistently go out to lunch with a coworker, start a meal prep lunch plan. One of the biggest reasons why our food spending is an issue is just because of the lack of prep. We spend, on average, around 3,000 dollars on eating out every year! Meal prepping will allow you to have a plan to rely on and therefore become a better food spending manager. So even if you don’t cook every single meal for the entire year – adding a meal prepping plan to your to do list can help you get under that average yearly eating out spending number!
3. Eat healthier
This one is huge – I know. But it will save you on so many levels! Eating healthier foods has often gotten a bad rap for being more expensive than eating unhealthy foods and while in the short term that may be true, over time, eating healthier will save you long term dollars in health care costs that are accrued from a lifetime of unhealthy eating habits.
Home meal prep can save you time (standing in line at fast food counters) – and time is money! It will also save you all that extra spare change you tend to throw in the deli counter tip jar or that tip you need to leave for your waiter. Eating healthier also increases your productivity, your energy rates, and your mood – and that’s definitely a money power move.
If this is an option for you, consider visiting your local farmer’s market more often or even joining a food co-op. Farmer’s markets – although they may have limited options due to seasonal produce – can offer cheaper prices for organic foods. Supporting your local farmers market will also expose you to a variety of different foods and that may encourage you to cook more :). And because you can purchase organic food at a cheaper price,, you can even buy some produce in bulk and try freezing them until you want to use it. If you want to take this a step further, look into your city’s food co-op options. Food co-ops make healthy and local food accessible and offer discounts! If you become a member of your food co-op you can be eligible for several different discounts. Not only can they help you manage your food spending, farmers markets and food co-ops give you a chance to become a more active community member too – and that’s always a good thing!
Image credit: Mirjana Jesic