Wallet & Waistline: Why Meal Budgeting Matters

Published April 10, 2018

When it comes to budgeting there are some costs that you’ll always have to deal with. No matter what, you’ll always have bills and you’ll always need to eat. Budgeting on food brings to mind cheap, processed, or filler-packed meals. But that doesn’t need to be the case. It’s possible to keep your grocery costs low while feeding yourself well. You just need to know how to do it.

Money & Meals

First, let’s talk about some quick money saving tips: If you want to stick to a planned budget then make sure you don’t go grocery shopping hungry. When you’re shopping to save money, you’re shopping for ingredients and items that can be used for a few meals. Shopping on an empty stomach can cause you to buy impulsively. That premade meal probably looks great despite its price when you’re hungry but it’ll throw your budget all out of whack.

Being stressed or tired can have the same effect so try to plan for your shopping on a more relaxed day. Of course, this is easier said than done which brings us to our next tip.

Plan Ahead

Make a list and stick to it. Figure out what you need, figure out the cost then follow the plan. Not only will this save you money, it’ll also save you time and frustration. Don’t make up your mind about what you want to eat when you’re shopping. Do it beforehand, get it written down, and stick to the plan.

Now that you’ve gotten your list together, how do you save money on the actual items you need? For produce, it can be tough to get the cost down so you try changing how you eat. Certain things like seasonal fruits are expensive to buy when out of season due to shipping costs. Buying seasonal produce will keep your costs down and help you stick to your budget.

You can also try buying from a farmer’s market or smaller grocery store that has discounts on “ugly produce.” Often times, perfectly good produce is discarded because it doesn’t look as pretty as the others. Some growers will sell these at a discount to grocery stores who sell it at a discount to you.

Go Brandless

Thrifty people already know that brand name anything costs more just because of the name. Almost any store brand item is comparable to the name brand version but significantly cheaper. There’s no reason to spend money on a name and packaging. Buying store brand items can cut your grocery budget down to size. Not to mention that the store brands tend to have better deals and discounts. Stores may also have more coupons for their own items than they do for the more famous brands. If you’re a coupon clipper then this is a win-win for you.

Skip the Snacking

Budgeting also requires thinking ahead. Keep costs down by not buying snacks when you’re out and about. These tend to be more expensive and lacking in nutritional value. Make your own snacks to bring along. At home, make dishes that can be used for two or three separate meals so you’ll have food ready. Having things ready to go reduces the temptation to eat out or grab something premade.

Meal planning and budgeting can take a bit of time but it’s worth it. A lot of people are virtually throwing away money when they shop in a variety of ways. They get more than they need, they spend too much on name brands, they’re not planning meals. However, they’re doing it, they’re wasting money but it’s an easy fix. With a little planning and an eye for discounts, anyone can make a grocery budget and stick to it.

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