I never realized exactly how independent I was in college until I was eating ice cream for dinner and pizza for breakfast. There was no one telling me what to eat, when to eat it, and how much I should be spending on food. It was an amazing feeling, until my credit card bill came in that month. I could not believe how much I spent on food alone. Those small fixes, like my daily coffee and biweekly ice cream shakes were filling up my stomach but burning a hole straight through my pocket. I was eating out at least once, sometimes twice day, and could spend over $20 per day simply on food. This multiplied by seven days a week and four weeks in a month came to an amount much, much larger than I could afford. So, I finally decided to make a change and started planning my own meals.
The first step was to see which foods I ate most often and to make sure I always kept them on hand, like peanut butter, dry pasta, flour, spices, canned foods, and frozen vegetables. This way I always had the ingredients to whip up a quick, basic meal. Additionally, most of these foods could be bought in bulk and stored for a long time because they weren’t perishable, which made them even more worth the money. After the non-perishables, I needed to establish a weekly budget for my perishables, like milk, fresh fruits and veggies, and eggs. I normally plan my weekly meals over the weekend after looking at the grocery store ads that come in the mail so I know what to buy, and this way I save even more time and money.
Budgeting for food may seem tedious and boring, but there are a lot of ways to spice things up (no pun intended). Like a lot of you, I get bored eating the same thing over and over again, so by cooking my own food I get a chance to experiment! I often peruse through websites for good recipes and like to adapt them to whatever ingredients I have available. No arugula? Perfectly okay with me! I’ll just use mixed greens instead. Cooking for myself has really helped me save time and money, and my savings account and I are much healthier.
If you’re curious to find out about tips on how to save money on food, check out these sites! And to help you get a kick-start on cooking, here’s a couple sites that have some really delicious, easy recipes.