It can be challenging to cut back on spending, but a budget is the best way to control your money and save it for other purposes like investing or saving for retirement. And if you’re not sure how to start, these tips can help you get started.
Create more time for meals with fewer foods
To begin, think about what you like most about eating out. Which of your favorite restaurants do you prefer? Do you eat at fast food restaurants or dine at upscale restaurants? If so, then try to look for ways to get some of that restaurant experience from home through meal planning. For example, you could purchase pre-prepared and frozen meals at retail stores such as Walmart Home Delivery, which costs $2 per item. This will allow you to avoid dining places where you don’t feel like taking in the quality of service and ambiance. You could also visit local farmers markets and buy fruits and vegetables that are priced higher so that you won’t have to spend a lot, but still enjoy fresh flavors.
If you have a hard time deciding how much groceries you should buy, consider shopping around for discounts and coupons. Make sure to find all the available deals and use them during their peak season when grocery prices go up the most. Also consider buying less expensive meats, cheeses and vegetables (such as tomatoes) as well as cheaper dairy products, fruits and spices for better value. For example, canned tuna is usually sold at a discount from wholesale prices, and frozen blueberries are typically sold at a great deal from wholesalers and supermarkets.
Look for deals in areas such as free delivery apps. They often offer deals and promotions online or in person based on items that they provide. Some include Uber Eats, Postmates, Instacart, DoorDash as well as Amazon Prime. There are many ways to save money while enjoying tasty food, including purchasing smaller portions and even using coupon codes instead of cash. But also remember that no one wants to pay extra for goods to arrive late! Instead, you may want to use this same tactic for ordering takeout on nights that are out of season and only need a few ingredients.
Shop smart and make healthy food swaps
If you live close enough to a supermarket that offers delivery, shop there and fill your cart with the products you would normally buy from the store. While there does tend to be a high price for healthy food compared to unhealthy items, the healthier items may come at a lower cost than what you would expect if you were to just buy the regular ones like burgers, cookies and chips at normal retailers. If you want healthy snacks, you can always switch to whole fruit or drink water instead of soda for instance, or choose protein bars over soft drinks instead of juice. When picking out your diet, buy low calorie sweeteners such as honey or stevia instead of those with added sugar. Remember though, moderation is key! Go easy on yourself! The goal here is to get enough calories and nutrients into your body without causing adverse health consequences such as obesity. Be careful to read labels and choose wisely. Check for nutrition information before you buy. Choose items that have been minimally processed and packed. Pay attention to serving size as well. A small package of ice cream might seem like an excessive amount for dessert, but this is not true. Try cutting down on the sweet treats on weekends and focus on lighter alternatives for breakfast or dinner.
Ditch junk foods and replace them with veggies or grains instead
Many Americans are overweight or obese, which has been linked to many illnesses like heart disease, cancer and diabetes. To counter the issue, many people choose to snack on things like potato chips when they’re hungry or put in the microwave when they really shouldn’t. However, by going for a healthy alternative like veggie burgers, smoothies or cereals, you can get a quick dose of vegetables and fiber without sacrificing taste and texture. Not only that, but you won’t be increasing your intake of fat and cholesterol.