I get this question a lot from people in their late teens or twenties that are about to be on their own for the first time and they have no idea about budgeting for expenses. They ask what can I do to manage my food budget? A lot of people in their age range give a lot of very bad advice because they are not use to taking care of themselves, they didn’t grow up in a family that cooked or they just never took interest in how much things cost. Unfortunately this follows them into their later years and they become adults that feel the need to eat out 4 times a week for dinner and every day for lunch and drink $4 cups of coffee. This just takes so much of their income they don’t understand they could be paying off a water bill or putting it towards their car insurance. It doesn’t have to be this way if you think a bit and realize before you get into these bad habits.
Some of the hints I will give are for the first time hardcore I have no clue what to do people and it will allow you to have a very cheap budget and have food in your stomach. This is the most important thing. Not that you enjoy the food and not that making it happen is easy but just the fact that you aren’t going hungry, you don’t have to beg your parents or friends or someone else for money to eat because you are starving.. and you won’t be signing up for welfare or being a burden on the food providers that help the really needy.
Honestly I have had friends in this situation. They have new vehicles beyond their budget but have absolutely nothing to eat. I had someone asking me and I had no solution to give them other than go to a church or call your parents at that point but then said you need to stop spending money on stuff you can’t afford like your car. Not that they had to give up their vehicle but maybe it was time to sell it and buy a beater for a couple hundred until they could put food on the table.
You Can Never Eat Out Again
The first thing you have to understand is you can never go out to eat again.. over 50% of the cost of food in a restaurant whether its a nice sit down one or McD’s is labor costs.. then there is all the overhead like lighting, heat, running the kitchen .. paying off the rent or mortgage..
Whatever you can buy at a restaurant will cost you less than 50% to make it yourself.. so .. NEVER EAT OUT AGAIN until you can really afford it .. meaning you’re making big bucks…
There are a couple exceptions to this … If you have a very very special date.. if you go to an all you can eat buffet place and actually eat your lunch and dinner there and stuff yourself with food you can’t easily make yourself.. There is a Chinese place here all you can eat and National Restaurant with a buffet my parents like but I honestly go out to eat about 3 times a year and then only to a cheap pizza place i like a lot.
Next invest in a club membership for the basic $40 a year.. go to Online Deal Sites find a special Free New Members signup or one with $100 back in coupons. BUT ONLY BUY WHATS CHEAPER THERE.. normally you can get a lot of stuff cheaper at that big box superstore without a membership than you can at the same company’s warehouse club but Cheese there is $11 for 5 pounds sliced.. you split it up in 1 pound blocks put it in your freezer it will last months and you just put it in your refrigerator to thaw overnight and its brand new fresh cheese for $2 a pound vs $4 at a deli… some things are like that at the clubs and they will pay for your membership 5 times over in a year and Gas is always 10 cents cheaper. Don’t join a club without a Gas Pump.
Buy a 20 pound bag of Rice standard medium grain .. I bought a bag about 6 months ago and it is just about time to get a new one.. same for Flour because I make my own pizza and cake.. Cake is really easy to make if you find a basic recipe.. something like 3 cups flour, 1-1/2 cups sugar, 1/2 cup vegetable oil, 3 teaspoons of baking soda, 2 cups of water.. in a 9×12 inch pan 350f for 25 minutes and you got cake.. want chocolate.. add half a cup of chocolate chips melted in the water in a cup in the microwave for 45 seconds.. want lemon .. buy a bottle of lemon juice at the dollar store… If I have oranges about to go bad I make Orange Cake and it rocks… get creative and you have snack cakes you can cut up wrap in plastic and freeze for a month to eat or take with you.
Buy Apples .. wash and dry them when you get them home.. they should last a good month in the refrigerator..
Carrots last a long time but also wash and dry them when you get them home and repackage in a shopping bag.
Always buy things on sale and always make sure the sale is a good sale.. large cans 24-28oz of tomatoes or canned tomato sauce $1 at most supermarkets on sale
My dollar store has namebrand soup and here is a secret they take manufacture coupons so find a 50 cent off coupon and you got a 50cent can of soup that the supermarket will try to sell you for $2.50 .
Don’t buy things pre-made..
Instead of soda get a box of discount teabags normally about $2 for 100.. sometimes you can get a Big Brand sometimes its a off brand. Get a large pickle jar or get a beverage pitcher at the dollar store.. one teabag will make a half gallon so two to a pitcher .. you just need to let the bags sit in there longer to have them make more tea.. add a bit of lemon juice from the bottle you got at the dollar store and maybe some sugar and you’re good to go.. I drink about a quart of tea every other day .. has caffeine in it so theres that and it tastes good.. i normally don’t use sugar because i don’t want my teeth to rot .. soda will rot your teeth and for that reason and no other you got to stop drinking soda.. drink water or tea or maybe coffee..
There are a few hints for you
Rice and beans is a good meal .. add some tomatoes.. a glass of iced tea.. thats a meal.. not a great meal .. but a filling meal.. you expand on that as much as you can with other things..
Grated carrots make a nice side dish or a salad with a few other items .. apples .. olives .. some Italian dressing
And don’t eat out anymore and if you are on the road or out and you can’t get home don’t go into a restaurant.. don’t go into a StopNGo just go to the supermarket there is probably a supermarket within a half mile so Go There and save your self money. Grab a banana or something you can eat without cooking or a 64oz bottle of drink for 99cents and get back on the road.
Life is always more expensive when you can’t do it for yourself. It is important that every adult learn to cook and take care of themselves or you will end up one of those people that doesn’t have a dollar saved for a rainy day or retirement.
The fact is there are many people who never go out to eat and there are many people who live simple lives. You don’t always have to be saving that last penny but when you can it will be in your pocket and not someone elses.
Learn basic traditional meals from countries that don’t spend so much on food. Rice and Beans, Stir fry with vegetables and cheap cuts of meat but using lots of flavoring. Buy things that are on sale because they are in season even if they aren’t your first choice but are comparable.
Do a little research and people are happy to share.
Take that extra hour every week and read the circulars or look online at supermarket websites for their weekly circulars.
Use your coupons and use a cash back credit card for everything. Its like getting a raise without asking if everything you spend results in a few percent back.
Budgeting is normally something that people learn growing up. Unfortunately we all don’t come from families that budget well or maybe we never take interest because you’re that Jock that can’t be bothered to do woman’s work or you’re that daughter that is a princess and into things that are worthless in your future but are real fun right now.
You can’t be that way or you will end up in trouble.. even big stars and sports professionals lose everything because they can’t even budget the millions of dollars they have.. and you expect to live off a regular person’s income while trying to live that lifestyle.. the Starbucks in your hand every time you Instagram.
Life can be really fulfilling and your food can be healthy and taste great if you think about how other people live who aren’t trying to live beyond their abilities.. and then remember even people with money can’t live like that.. its true.