Happy 2018! Now is the time when magazines and websites start talking about New Year's resolutions. We don't necessarily believe in them (so many set you up to fail!), but we do believe in making every year better than the one before it. And so we present you with Feel Good Habits. Every day this week, we'll be running tips to help you with a new promise you might have made yourself.
Aside from your rent or your mortgage, food is probably the next biggest line item on your budget. And that's okay — you do need it to survive, after all. But if you're worried about just how much you're spending and you want to try to rein it in a little, 2018 can be your year to do so!
1. Make a budget.
The "B" word doesn't have to be a terrible one. For a lot of people, it implies spreadsheets and hours spent poring over said spreadsheets. Picking a number is actually pretty simple — the USDA has a chart that'll do it for you — and then you just have to stick to that number. Because it's a lot harder to stay on budget when you don't have a budget to begin with!
More on Setting a Grocery Budget
2. Start meal planning.
Perhaps the best way to spend less money on food is to start meal planning. (It also helps take the stress out of weeknight dinners!) Not sure where to start? We've got you.
Start here: Meal Planning for Beginners
3. And packing lunch.
Instead of dropping $10 a day on a mediocre sandwich from the corner deli, start packing your lunch. You can bring food you actually want to eat without spending a ton of money.
More on Packing Lunch
4. Organize your pantry.
If you can't easily see what's in your pantry (or fridge or freezer), you risk buying ingredients that you already have. This is a waste of money because one of the duplicates is almost always going to spoil before you can use it. Get those spaces organized and check — like, really check — to see what you have before you head to the store.
Steal these tricks: The Most Brilliant Pantry Organization Hacks on the Internet
5. Be a smarter grocery shopper.
Don't use coupons to buy stuff you weren't already planning on buying. Know how to compare prices. Consider the store brand instead of the name brand. You've got this!
6. Embrace leftovers.
You'd be surprised how many people tell us they're just not into leftovers. We always assume that also means they're not into saving money, right? Eating leftovers helps cut back on waste — and it helps stretch a dollar a little further.
7. Cut back on the coffee shop runs.
Yes, there are some who would argue that going out for coffee is totally worth it, but if you're trying to stop spending money on coffee, the best way to do so is to make it at home.
Steal these tricks: 5 Ways to Stop Spending So Much Money on Coffee
8. Cool it with the takeout.
You don't need us to tell you that takeout adds up much faster than groceries do. In one year, a co-founder of The Financial Diet spent $418.01 on takeout alone. Then, she took a look to see what else she could have done with that money and it was ... um, motivational, to say the least.
9. Or at least start using this trick.
If you're set on having takeout for dinner, try taking advantage of lunch specials. Most restaurants offer crazy-good deals to draw in the crowds during the day. Pick up a special during lunch, stash it in your office fridge, and the reheat it when you get home for dinner.
Keep reading: My Smartest Tip for Saving Money on Takeout
Are you trying to spend less money on food in 2018? What are you going to do to make it happen?