By Cain Hernandez
Blog Content Contributor
When I first moved out on my own, I was astounded at how much money I was spending on eating out. Almost half of my paycheck was being spent on restaurants and fast food, but I still didn’t stop. I was just too lazy to make food at home, even though I knew I could save a bunch of money that way. Eventually I decided to go grocery shopping. I spent about a hundred and fifteen dollars on groceries and they actually lasted for about a month. Compare that to the 50-70 bucks each week I was spending eating out and it’s clear to see that you can save quite a bit of money eating at home.
Of course, I still eat out here and there, but not daily, like I used to. Another reason I was eating out so much was because of work. I used to work at the Quarry Market in San Antonio so I was surrounded by a multitude of places to eat. The convenience of eating out is really what kept me from saving. By the time I got off work I was too tired to cook anything at home, so I would usually just pick something up on the way. However, I was paying for that convenience by being broke every week. So, if you want to save more money, buy your groceries and eat at home. Here are a few tips I’ve compiled to get you started.
Make a list
First things first, you should probably make a grocery list. The main reason I suggest making a list, is because every time I go to the grocery store without a list I end up buying stuff I never eat. I basically just browse around and and throw in whatever looks good. Two months later and I still have all the junk that I bought because it said it was “gluten free” or “organic.” Make a list. Stick to it and you should be fine.
Don’t go grocery shopping hungry
Everybody knows this, but going to the store when you are hungry can be a real disaster to the wallet. Everything looks delicious and all of a sudden you turn into Mario Batali, thinking you are going to go home and cook some five-star garlic butter shrimp fettuccine alfredo, when in reality you will probably just make some instant ramen because you’re too tired to cook. Next thing you know, your cart is full and you’ve gone way over budget. Which brings me to my next point, setting a budget.
Set a budget
Having a set budget when you go shopping can actually be pretty useful. Write down a set amount that you are willing to spend and try to stick to it. If you are an impulse buyer, take out cash and leave your cards at home. This way, you never go over budget. Not only that, but setting a budget and sticking to it will probably help you become a more frugal shopper. If you have a budget, you’re more likely to pay attention to prices, or even buy off brand items because you know you only have a certain amount of money to spend.
Buy food that won’t go bad right away
For some reason every time I buy fruits and vegetables, they always go bad before I even get a chance to eat them. So I started buying fruits and vegetables that aren’t completely ripe. Like slightly greener bananas and avocados. You could probably get a few more days out of your produce this way. Of course, storing some fruits and vegetables in the fridge can extend their shelf time as well. Also, I know this isn’t a fruit, but putting bread in the freezer is a great way to keep it from going moldy or stale. So if you buy bread and you know you’re not going to get to it for a while, stick it in the freezer.
Purchase the essentials
By essentials, I mean the stuff that you use all the time. I never realized how much I relied on salt and pepper until I forgot to buy them. Other essentials include bread, milk, cereal, eggs, cheese, butter, nonstick spray, paper towels. I think you get the idea.
To be completely honest, halfway through writing this article I realized that I really just wrote this to remind myself to go grocery shopping once in awhile. But if I helped anyone else in the process, then my job is complete. Who knows, you may even save a bit of money. Then you can spend that extra cash on things that really matter, like a new pair of shoes, or a night out drinking… Just kidding. Don’t do that. Seriously though, you should probably save your money.