There’s no doubt about it — food expenses can eat up a HUGE chunk of a monthly budget if we’re not careful. In our current Alt Money Choices challenge (join here!), it’s one of the biggest challenges people face in their monthly budget.
As we’ve been going through the challenge ourselves to save more money, we made 10 swaps in our food expenses. This saved us $700 per month, on average! And $700 per month adds up to $8,400 per year. This realization is rather horrifying for me to share. But one of the hardest parts of managing money is actually looking at what we’re spending day-to-day, month-to-month. I’m attempting to keep things honest! 🙂
To make things more challenging, we’re not eating bread, gluten, or added sugar, so that means PB&J and Ramen weren’t an option. However, we were still able to save a ton in spite of having dual goals of saving money and eating healthy. Here’s what we did!
1. We swapped smoothies out for smoothies at home.
It had become a twice a week reward after working out, but those smoothies can really add up! A smoothie visit could cost us up to $15, and although we were earning rewards, it didn’t make sense to keep going out for smoothies when we could make them at home for around $3 for two servings.
2. We bought frozen when possible.
I detest food waste! It can be difficult to keep fresh food that doesn’t go bad, although it is typically healthiest to eat fresh when possible. Buying frozen helps with this, such as big bags of frozen vegetables, chicken and frozen fruit from Costco.
3. We used food apps to earn freebies.
Every time I visit Chick-fil-A, I try to remember to scan my app. It really adds up! I got a free drink recently and a free entrée.
4. We shopped at Aldi, Costco, and BJ’s Wholesale.
If you’ve never been to Aldi, it is a different experience, but you’ll save a ton of money over the equivalent at a different store! BJ’s Wholesale and Costco are great for bulk pricing and stocking up. I love the BJ’s Wholesale pickup, and the coupons there are awesome!
5. We mostly ate at home and found recipes we liked even better than going out.
This has been a big one since I don’t enjoy cooking and we are often strapped for time with long commutes. We tried some new recipes and found a few that were even better than going out to eat! We also used our slow cooker quite a bit to save time. (This dish was one of my favs!)
6. When we did go out, we stuck to casual restaurants.
Though I can appreciate finer dining, sometimes I am just as happy going to a place like Panda Express or Chipotle. We can eat low carb at these places too!
7. We found even cheaper Mexican.
Mexican food is a favorite of ours and it’s typically cheap but it can add up, depending on where you go. We started going to a different restaurant, and our $12 fajita taco salad turned into a $6 fajita taco salad. Since we eat Mexican at least once a week, that simple change saves us $624 over a year!
8. We ordered water to drink.
Ordering a beverage with a meal can get expensive. At $2 a pop per meal, going out to eat for a party of two twice a week can cost $416 per year!
9. We bought in bulk.
Bulk shopping at a store like Costco has its benefits. For example, when we get yogurt there, they are 80 cents!
10. We bought on sale.
Not only did we try to buy what we like in bulk, but we stocked up when there was a sale. For example, we stocked up Justin’s breakfast at Costco during a promotion and I bought three months’ worth of Quest bars when they went on sale at Sprouts. I saved $120!
Have you made any alternative choices when it comes to food expenses?