8 easy tips to a healthy foodie lifestyle without breaking the bank
What does a foodie do if money is in short supply? I had to find it out myself and will give you the 8 easy tips that helped me the most to drastically cut down my food/grocery bill, allowing me to save more money! A lot of you will struggle with the same issues, that’s why I wanted to share these tips with you. No matter if you are broke or just want to put a few more bucks to the side, read below how to cut down on your foodie budget
How to save money while still living a healthy foodie way of life
Well, I’m broke. After traveling 8 times last year, paying all the bills to the city last month, and the bitcoin down the drain – it’s official: I’m broke! Okay, truth the be told, I’m not starving and can easily pay my rent, but I’m scrounging by being not able to build up any savings.
Where to go from here? Should be easy right?: Make more money, spend less money = save more money!
The first one ‘making more money’ is quite difficult to achieve for the most of us, therefore I focused my efforts on the second one ‘ spending less’.
I wanted to save money AND save money. In Germany we have two different words for the two activities I’m referring to. ‘Saving money’ can translate to ‘spending less money’ and but it can also translate to ‘putting more money to the side. In that sense, I really do see ‘saving money’ as two very separate things. Spending less money on a day-to-day basis and feeding the piggy-bank more often.
Underneath you will find 8 easy tips on how to reduce your costs and finally be able to save money again. All of these really do work for me and I used most of them on a regular basis now.
1. Write a grocery list and stick to it
I know for a fact that you have heard this one before. Question still is: Are you actually doing it? Especially after a long day at work you will find yourself exhausted and more easy to be impulsive while shopping. Ooh candy! That candy aisle at the checkout is there for a reason. All those displays, new products and ‘products on sale’ are placed very strategically throughout your supermarket. Ooh a new variety of your favorite peanut butter! FOCUS! You probably still have plenty of PB at home…
Plan beforehand what you need for all the dishes and meals you want to make. Then check your inventory if you have everything you assumed you have in stock. This might be your chance to cross off some of the items you though you needed to buy but already have.
In short, write down what you want to buy beforehand, check what you actually need to buy and stick to your shopping list!
2. Plan and prep your meals
I HATE eating the same thing 2 days in a row and I don’t understand why people are taking the rest of their dinner to eat for lunch AGAIN the next day. Still, I often cook only for myself which means a lot of work(/fun) and usually I cook more than I need. That’s why the freezer is my best friend! Cook more than you need and freeze in individual portions.
Eating lunch outside several times a week can chew up your wallet. For lunch, try to limit yourself to only eating out for lunch max. 1 time a week and stick to lunch you brought from home. If you have a microwave at work, place one of your freezer meals in the fridge at the end of the day, bring it to work and reheat it for lunch. It’s easier on your wallet and your waistline.
3. Cook more often from scratch!
It may be tempting and easier to choose take-away food if you are in a rush or don’t feel in the mood for cooking, but keep in mind that you more often than not pay extra for that convenience. On top of that, portions in restaurants and for take-away food are usually far bigger than the portions you would eat at home. Because you also paid for these you might feel a bigger urge to finish your plate, meaning you’ll probably pile on more pounds that you’d need or want to.
Skip the take-out food, the convenience options and the pre-packaged meals. There is simply nothing better than freshly cooked food! It gives you not only a sense of satisfaction but it’s probably healthier than the stuff you would get elsewhere.You are in charge of what goes into your food! No additives, artificial colorings or preservatives.
Why order pizza when you can make your own at home for a fraction of the costs? Bake your own bread – there is nothing better than the smell of freshly baked bread in your house! Make your own ketchup, salsa and guacamole. Did you know that you can make your own free homemade stock from food scraps that you would usually discard into the bin?
Have a look at tip 2 again: Make the freezer your best friend, by cooking big batches and freezing them in individual portions. If you shop smart and spend a Sunday in the kitchen you will be set for weeks ahead!
Look what produce is in season and plan your meals around that accordingly. This will not only ensure that you are forced to be more creative with your cooking, but the produce in season is usually also cheaper. Let the seasons inspire you!
4. Cut down your coffee spending
Don’t get me wrong: I loooove coffee, but ever since I started my own company and work from cafes and little restaurants my spending is through the roof! I love working in different environments because it helps me to focus more on my work and get less distracted with everyday chores. Even though working in a cafe is also more enjoyable these day’s are always costing me quite some money. Being properly addicted to caffeine I easily drink 5 cups of coffee a day, but then again I won’t drink all of these out of home.
Let’s say that a cup of coffee in your favorite place is €2,50 and you have 2 every time you are there, do that twice a week and you end up with €520 spent on coffee alone in a year. That’s insane! And now the bad part: I used to have more than 2 cups and go more often than 2 times a week…
The main reason for me to work in a cafe was to be less distracted and more focused on work. Turns out that by simply removing distractions at home (phone in airplane mode, sitting at a desk facing a white wall, closing my browser, listening to smooth music with headphones) I was able to be more productive within my own home. As I’m drinking my home-brewed and significantly cheaper coffee at home, this saves me a lot of coffee money each month.
Oh yeah and always skip the to-go coffee. You can wait another 10 minutes, right?
5. Avoid unnecessary ‘bargains’ and gadgets
Ask yourself: Is that item really essential and do you really need this? You had no idea that you ‘needed this so badly’ before you entered the store, why do you think you need it now? Tomorrow you might actually regret the choice of buying it in the first place. Though somewhat unlawful you often find inflated prices on the bargain meaning that the original reference price is a price that never existed in the first place, just to make the bargain sound cheaper. If you buy something that is priced down from $60 to $35, you did not make $25, you still spend $35. This goes as well for priced-off food items. Even if pre-sliced and pre-packaged carpaccio is on sale and 40% cheaper than last week, if you have no intention to use it, why buy it? Again, stick to your shopping list!
Remember the following items/gadgets you bought but only used 3 times max: bread-baking-machine, smoothie-maker, pancake-batter-dispenser, dressing-shaker, food-dehydrator, mini-pizza-oven, veggie-spiralizer, juicer, popcorn-maker, avocado-slicer, electric-wine-opener, electric-pepper-grinder, taco-holder, fondue-set, soda-maker, electric-can-opener, egg-cooker, pizza-scissors, burger-press, salad-spinner, sandwich-maker, etc… (this list was inspired but not limited to my mom’s kitchen cupboards).
Whenever you think about buying an appliance that can do only 1 thing: Don’t – just don’t. Keep your kitchen clutter-free. Stick to the stuff that you wanted to buy in the first place and keep using your existing kitchen tools, till they break apart.
6. Shop around and stick to the cheapest supermarket
In Amsterdam where I live Albert Heijn is by far the biggest supermarket chain and you will find one of their stores pretty much around every corner or at least within 5 minutes walking distance. However, they are also among the most expensive unfortunately. Every week they have countless offers on branded products, meat, veggies and fruit. I have always used these offers ever since I was a student. In my head I was saving money buying all the products that are on sale. It took me years to realize, but even the products at Albert Heijn are on sale, more often than not, the local discounter (Lidl and Dirk for example) offers in particular vegetables and fruit cheaper – every single day of the year. It definitely pays off to do your comparisons online beforehand and ultimately have 2 shopping list for 2 different supermarkets to get the best deals. Even better: Go to your local markets and you might be able to get your favorite fruits and veggies for mere pennies by the end of the day.
7. Switch from A-brands to private label for all staples
For a lot of staple items like rice, flour and sugar the difference in flavor between A-brand product and private label is truly negligible. Try switching your branded product with private label items and see if you can actually spot the difference.
Rule of thumb: the lower the product is on the shelf, the cheaper it is. Premium priced branded products are usually found on eye-level.
Buy canned goods (tomatoes, tuna, beans, …) and staples with long shelf-life you use regularly (rice, pasta, flour, jam, peanut butter, …) in bulk when they are on sale. Do the same for things like kitchen towels, dish washing liquid, cooking oil, etc.
8. After work drinks? Skip the restaurant dinner, and come just for the drinks
I know you want to go out, have food, fun and drinks with your friends and so do I. But eating out in restaurants and bars adds up! The main reasons you are going with your friends or colleagues is to have a good time. Food and drinks are just a facilitator in this. The easiest way to cut down costs for after work drinks? Keep it at drinks!
More often than not, after work drinks mean having food as well. What is the easiest way to cut those $10, $20 or $30 bucks off the bill? Head home after work first, fix your own dinner and then join your friends/colleagues for drinks afterward. Just say you have something important to do at home first before being able to join again. This will cut down your spending quite a lot.
BONUS – Tip yourself and zero your bank-account and wallet
What do you do in a restaurant? You usually round off the amount so you won’t end up with all that change in your pocket. Do the same for yourself and level your bank account to end up with a nice round zero at the end.
For example, if you have €654,37 in your bank account, put €4,32 into your savings account. This way you have a nice even €650. The same goes for your wallet. Check your change and put all those cents and loose coins straight into the piggy bank.
Do both of these every day or couple of days. All these small amounts feel like rather insignificant but will ultimately add up to something big!
By doing all the things mentioned above you should be able drastically cut down your food and grocery bill without compromising too much on your foodie lifestyle. It helped me to not only reduce my grocery bill considerably but also enabled me to actually put money into my savings account again. Even if you only act on a few of these tips in a week or a month, you’ll save a bit of money. Ultimately, all these small little savings will add up over the months. Maybe you can even afford that extra little vacation – that’s the reason why I’m doing it 🙂
When it comes to cheap dining in restaurants, that’s a whole different ball game! I have written a whole guide with another 11 tips for cheap restaurant dining. Do you want to still go to restaurants on a regular basis but still end up with more money in your bank account at the end of the month? Download my free guide on how to slash your bill when eating out
PS: Cover photo by Fabian Blank on unsplash.com