These 5 Little Words Will 100% Help You Save on Groceries This Month

updated May 8, 2021
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Credit: Joe Lingeman

As a kid, I remember sitting next to my siblings in the backseat of our forest green Ford Windstar minivan, begging our mom to take us to Pizza Hut pretty much every time we passed the place. Unless we had free pizza slips from those monthly BookIt! reading contests at school (if you know, you know), the answer was gonna be a hard no.

Despite the consistent rejection, our pleas for drive-thru french fries, a 7-Eleven Slurpee, or dollar vanilla soft-serve cones from McDonald’s (when, uh, the machine wasn’t broken) remained a constant. But Mom stood her ground with one saying in particular: “We have food at home.”

Apparently (with much backing from the internet), the phrase is a pretty universal mom thing. According to Know Your Meme, the phrase became a running internet joke as early as 2009. And it couldn’t be more relatable, which is why the gag just wont die. See evidence here …

… here …

here …

And here …

As I’ve grown older, moved out on my own into the world, and swallowed the very large pill of paying for my own expenses (food largely among them), I’ve found myself repeating the phrase to myself, whenever the temptation to order a $16 salad strikes. And guess what? It really does save me money.

While I might not always have a fridge bursting with fresh produce or a vast selection of free-range meats, I definitely always have something that I can make. For example: A can of tuna in the pantry, some form of cheese in the fridge, and a piece of bread tucked away in the freezer ready to magically transform into a makeshift melt. It’s one way to get my creativity flowing, eat down my pantry and freezer, and learn to be more resourceful.

That’s not to say I don’t treat myself when special occasions and meet-ups with friends call for it. But if I’m aiming for a no-spend week, or the dreaded rent deadline is swiftly approaching (always out of nowhere!), I find that there’s no reason to make a frivolous impulse buy. I simply listen for my mom’s voice in the back of my head repeating that not-so-gentle reminder: WE HAVE FOOD AT HOME. As always, that voice is usually right.

Did your mom say this to you when you were growing up?