How to Save Money on Food When You Live Paycheck to Paycheck
If you are looking for the best ways to save money on food when there doesn’t seem to be any money left to save this is for you!
Have you ever thought, will I ever have enough money for things that I want over the things I need? Like that vacation, everyone on Facebook seems to be going on or those cute new shoes I have been eying for months.
Living paycheck to paycheck is stressful but it is not permanent. With these simple tips, you will learn how to start saving even when it feels like there is nothing left to save.
Growing up with a single-family income, “we can’t afford that” was a commonly used phrase in our home, a phrase I didn’t fully understand at the time.
However, we could afford to spend $30 going out to eat but not $10 for a new shirt.
Spending money on food is a great place to start when you are trying to save and are living paycheck to paycheck.
How to save money on food?
Understand Your Relationship With Food
Food is often justified. There is a fine line between what you need to live and what you want to enjoy. When life starts to feel out of control, food is a quick comfort to help us feel like everything will be ok.
So many times, on stressful long days of parenting, I desperately turn to a sweet sugary cookie or cinnamon roll to help me get through the day. Which is great for me but not so great for my wallet.
Understanding what food means to you (provides comfort, joy, relief, helps numb), you will then be able to make the shift to find those important things in other less expensive places like watching a movie, playing a game, going for a walk, connecting with a friend.
Cut Out Non-essential Food Items
What I mean by non-essential is what food or drinks have extremely little to no nutritional value or is drowning with refined sugar?
If you are having a hard time coming up with some things here are some ideas: chips, soda, candy, alcohol, tobacco, crackers, cookies, donuts, cinnamon rolls, or almost anything else you see standing in the check-out line.
While these yummy treats can bring temporary relief or even joy to our lives, they come at a cost.
I am not saying to cut everything out, balance is key. However, make a list of every snack or drink purchase you make this month and see how much you would save just by cutting out those simple pleasures.
Tighten Food Budget
When you know you only have so much to spend each month on food, you start looking for cheaper options to make your money go further.
The name brand can of soup you love it $2.50 while the generic is 99¢, which soup do you buy?
Tightening your budget on food will help you to look for coupons, find less expensive brands, and just say no to foods that aren’t necessary for the month.
You can literally save hundreds by budgeting your food and cutting out the fluff that gives you more fluff. If you know what I mean!
Do Not Go Out To Eat
“The only reason you should be inside a restaurant when you are trying to save or get out of debt is if you are working there.” -Dave Ramsey
I get it! Going out to eat is fun. In fact, it’s more than fun, it’s a luxury that we all want.
However, just because we choose not to go out to eat this month or even this year doesn’t mean the restaurant won’t be waiting with its doors wide open to take our money when we are ready. I promise nothing tastes better than being debt-free and financially stable.
Yes, this takes a little planning but it’s not as hard as you think. Just take your family’s top 5 meals and buy groceries based around those. Some things to consider
• Are there any common ingredients I can use. For example, marinara sauce for spaghetti and for homemade pizzas.
• What fresh ingredients need to be used at the beginning of the week? Remember, some veggies only last 3 or 4 days.
• Can I make double and freeze any meals for easier dinners next week?
• Will there be leftovers? How many people are you feeding and how much do they eat?
Are you burnt out and meal planning is the LAST thing you want to tackle?! There are family friendly meal plans and shopping lists you can get weekly for less than $10 a month. They have plans for larger and smaller families so you don’t have to do the math and cut everything down. Trust me the less thinking the better!
When planning your meals, you will get a better understanding of what you actually need for the week and save yourself from buying too much or unnecessary items.
Shopping online helps you stay on track with your newly made budget and meal plan. It will eliminate the face to face temptations of sweet treats and apply coupons when being offered by the stores.
If you are interested in grocery shopping online but are not sure where to start here are 11 sites for online grocery shopping including Walmart, Safeway, Kroger (Smith’s), and more!
Not only can shopping online save you hundreds of dollars on your monthly grocery bills, but it will also save time and stress when it comes to shopping with kids.
If you are looking for more ways to supplement your income check out these top 39 jobs you can do from home as a full-time income or side gig.
Living paycheck to paycheck is a great opportunity to reevaluate finances and cut out areas that aren’t necessary for our overall financial savings goals. Replacing the joy of spending with the joy of having savings is the first step to achieving long term success.
Remember every dollar counts and the cookie can wait till next month (unless you’re going crazy and it is for everyone’s safety), then eat the darn cookie.
What are some other great ways to save money on food? What tricks help snap you out buying all the junk food on-site? I would love to hear your thoughts!
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