I like perusing personal finance advice forums and as of late, I’ve seen a lot of people talking about saving money on food. There are some common tips that you often hear when talking about saving money on food:
- Shop sales and stock up
- Meal plan
- Weekend meal prep
But what if you just aren’t big on cooking? Should you just give up and stick to your carry out habit? Try to save money elsewhere?
There are food options between cooking for yourself and carry out. Start stocking up on frozen meals and salad kits. Check out your grocery store’s prepared foods section. Yes, these items are all more expensive than cooking from scratch, but significantly cheaper than dining out.
I would like to be better about meal prep, but some weeks are absolutely better than others. So I definitely rely on healthy frozen meals, quick cook veggies, and when I’m looking for a splurge, a frozen pizza.
For example, one of my favorite quick meals is to swing by the grocery store and pick up a rotisserie chicken and some microwaveable veggies. I can actually get multiple meals out of the rotisserie chicken, and then I put the bones into a bag the freezer to be made into chicken broth later.
I also really like getting some good bread, high quality lunch meats and cheeses, and some flavorful spicy mustard and making a big sandwich for lunch. I think so often, when we’re trying to save money, we buy lower quality bread and prepackaged meats and cheeses. For just a little bit more money, you can get fresh sliced deli meats and cheeses and some good quality bread and make a very satisfying meal. Remember, if you’re
Take a look at your grocery store’s frozen food section. There are a lot of great options out there. You do want to take a look at the nutritional value and make sure that you know the calorie count. In my opinion, some meals have way too few calories, and some are just calorie bombs. The low calorie meals can, of course, be bulked up if you bring something else (maybe some nuts and veggies), and the high calorie meals may be big enough to be split into two meals. But you can find plenty of meals right in the middle range.
And of course, you should remember that this isn’t all or nothing. If you never cook, consider trying to cook once a week. On Sunday, make up an easy pot of soup or chili. Make a big casserole. There are plenty of super easy recipes out there that don’t require a lot of work. Package up the leftovers to be eaten later in the week. Even if you only manage to get two or three meals out of it, you’re a step ahead.
Do what works for you. It’s so easy to look at personal finance tips regarding food and think “This is too hard, I can’t do this.” It’s not all or nothing. Find what works for you. Saving even a little bit of money is still saving something.
Megan is a 40-something government employee in the Washington, DC area. She got interested in Personal Finance when she got out of college and realized that her paycheck wasn’t going to go as far as she had hoped. Since starting this blog, she has managed to buy a house and make a solid start on her retirement goals, and hopes to help others do the same. Here is her story:
In 2007, I was a gainfully employed 20-something with no debt but not a lot of knowledge about personal finance. It was a co-worker’s comment about Roth IRAs that sent me to the internet, searching for information. It was then that I realized that I really didn’t know a whole lot about personal finance and that my current financial situation was due a lot to inherent frugal tendencies, generous family members, a fear of debt, and good luck. While that was working for me, clearly I needed a better plan.
While I had no debt, I was also pretty much living paycheck to paycheck and not worrying about going over budget (I say this as if I had a real budget) because I had an emergency fund set aside to cover any overages.
Except that’s not what an emergency fund is for.
So I did a lot of research, read a lot of blogs, and decided that I needed a plan. I needed to budget. I needed to know what I was spending my money on. I needed to prepare for the future.
I decided to create a blog not only to make myself accountable to others but also to share the knowledge that I gained along the way. I’ve learned so much from my fellow bloggers, and I hope that my readers can find something useful in what I have to share as well.