Have you ever considered how you can redefine your relationship with food to save money? It is possible. You just need to look at a few simple ways that by eating and living more intelligently, you can be a healthier person, and in the process, save some money. Here are a few ways that you might consider.
Control Portions: My dad is well educated but he is far from a philosopher. That said, among the best advice he ever gave me was “Enjoy all things in moderation.” That is sound advice. When it comes to eating, the best way to enjoy your food and drink in moderation is by enforcing portion control. In order to do this, you need to be honest with yourself and know what a portion really is and then take the time to measure it out.
Interestingly enough, while I was at the grocery store this morning, I compared portion sizes for various cereals. Some cereals (usual the really unhealthy cereals) had a serving size of ½ a cup. Other cereals indicated that a serving was ¾ of a cup and still others allowed a full cup per serving. If you take the time to measure out your servings you will find that (i) you can’t deceive yourself about how many calories you are eating, (ii) you eat less food, and (iii) your box of cereal will truly give you 22 servings instead of the 6 or 8 servings that you were probably getting before you started using a measuring cup. That will save you money and it will save you calories!
Look for Minimally Processed Foods: The more a food has to be processed before it gets to your grocery cart, the more expensive it is likely to be. Moreover, foods that are minimally processed tend to be healthier for you. Even minimal processing adds cost and can deplete vitamins, as when lettuce is pre-chopped and bagged. Buying a whole head of lettuce will cost less than chopped and packaged lettuce and the whole head should have more vitamins and nutrients as well.
Cereal also provides a good example for consideration. If you want to eat cereal to start your day, a hot bowl of oat meal (not the instant kind) is probably the healthiest bowl that you can have for breakfast. A canister of your store’s generic oatmeal will last you for at least a few weeks and will cost you less than half the price of most boxes of cereal that are gone in a week.
Do Not Buy Packaged Desserts: You do not have to give up desserts completely but you should not purchase them. Cookies, candies and cakes have their place, but they just add empty calories to your diet and increase your grocery bill. If you want to enjoy a treat, you should force yourself to make it yourself. The ingredients for a cake will cost you less than the cake itself and, unless you spend all of your time in the kitchen, you will have fewer desserts, and thus fewer empty calories. My wife always makes biscotti without butter or oil, which are better for us and cost her very little to prepare.
Do Not Eat Anything but Fruit after Dinner: Tell yourself that you will not eat any snacks after dinner and that if you must, you will eat a piece of fresh fruit. Fresh fruit generally costs less than most packaged products and it will usually fill you up better than packaged products. You will save money and you will need fewer calories to actually feel full.
Drink Water or Decaffeinated Tea: Water is free if you drink water from your tap or from your refrigerator (assuming you have a built in filter). Most tap water in the USA is perfectly fine to drink and some bottled water is nothing more than tap water, so do not fall into the bottled water trap. If you drink water or tea when you are thirsty, each drink will cost you a few pennies, as opposed to 30 to 50 cents per glass if you drink soda or juice of some other bottled beverage. If you substitute water or tea for alcoholic beverages you will save even more. You will also reduce the caffeine, sugar and chemicals that you take into your body each day.
Eat Breakfast Every Day: Regardless of what time you have to get up to do it, eat a balanced breakfast every day. If you eat a good breakfast, you will eat less throughout the day because your body will not run out of energy and that will help you to avoid costly snacks at work.
Bake Your Own Quick Breads: There are few culinary delights as wonderful as freshly baked bread. You can make your own quick breads (which do not require yeast) at home very inexpensively. They take very little time to prepare and they add a great texture and flavor to your table.