Conscientious Cook: How to Start Saving Money This Weekend

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Whether you’d like to cut back your expenses because you’re a student, you’re feeling the economic pinch, or you’d just like to save some pennies, here are some basic ways to start rethinking your spending on food!

1. Talk to your family. Include your kids in the conversation and ask everyone for their suggestions. Find out where your family is willing to compromise and where they’re not. Would you be willing to try homemade snacks instead of store-bought? Can we forgo Domino’s for a home-made pizza night? What one new thing would each person be willing to try?

2. Talk to your friends. Friends are our biggest support group. In talking to each other, we can trade ideas, make suggestions, or just commiserate. Think about getting a few friends together to share a bulk purchase, or having more potluck dinners instead of going out.

3. Set a grocery budget. Start by buying food as you normally would the next time you shop. Then go over the receipt to determine if there are any regular expenses you can trim, and set a weekly or monthly goal for yourself. If you already keep a food budget, it might be a good idea to revisit it.

4. Take a trip to the farmer’s market. Most markets are still open for another few weeks, and now’s the time to stock up on winter vegetables like squash, potatoes, onions, and other root vegetables, which often cost less than store produce these days. Many farmers also have special end-of-season deals on things like tomatoes and corn, which might be a little past their prime but still good to can or freeze.

5. Try the store brand instead of the brand name. Store brands are usually several cents to several dollars cheaper than brand name products. It’s their reputation as lower quality that often keeps us from buying them. For one week, take a chance on the store brand and decide the quality for yourself. You might go back to some of the name brands, but you might also be surprised with a new – and cheaper – favorite.

6. Plan to eat one extra meal at home this week. If you plan it, you’re more likely to actually make it! Pick a recipe, buy all the ingredients, and make it a date!

What ideas – new or old – do you have for saving money when it comes to food?

(Image: Flickr member ralphbijker licensed under Creative Commons)