We continue our series on ways to save money by focusing on food costs this week.
Eat In More, Eat Out Less
Savings: $10’s to 100’s
It is a simple fact that it costs a lot less to make something yourself rather than eat it out. Even the bulk food purchases that a restaurant may make, does not offset the cost of running a restaurant (employees, building, overhead, etc…). It also doesn’t offset their profit. If you are used to the rich, flavorful and even exotic foods from eating out, it may be hard to make the change and eat in. If the budget still allows, you can make the change gradually vs. cutting yourself off completely. I will admit, this was a hard one for me. I have learned over the years how to make a lot of ethnic foods, but there are some I can not master.
Example 1: A young couple with 2 incomes used to eat out 2 or 3 times a week. They were spending about $100 a week this way (about $400 per month). When one of the their schedules were reduced to ½ time, they cut back to eating out 1 day a week. This way, they were only spending about $25 to $40 a week, cutting the budget by more than half.
Example 2: A couple starting a family reduces down to the husband as the sole provider for the family. They were eating out about 1 time a week (about $120 per month) and they cut back to eating out once per month (about $30 per month).
Compare Store Prices
Savings: $10’s to $100’s
It is pretty surprising how much prices can vary on an item between stores. Even in your favorite discount or bulk store, the price for certain items may not be the best or lowest. Keeping track of the prices of items only takes a couple of minutes after every shop. Then, every time you shop, only purchase the items from the store you are at that has the best price for the item.
Example: Here is a spreadsheet of some items, with prices tracked per store:
|Alfredo Sauce Mix|
|Apples – Fuji||9.29 for 5.5 lb||
|1.28 per lb||
|Apples – Gala||3.22 for 3 lb||
|4.98 for 5 lb||
|Apples – Pink Lady||.98 per lb||
|Baby Wipes||15.49 for 704 wipes||
|7.97 for 288 wipes||
|Baking Powder – No aluminum||2.51 for 10 oz||
|Baking Soda||1.87 for 4 lb||
|Bananas||1.39 per 4 lb||
|.48 per lb||
|.48 per lb||
|Bean Sprouts||.98 for 8 oz, lb||
|Better Than Bouillon||2.88 per jar||
|Bread – Bagels||4.49 for 12 bagels||
|2.00 for 6||
|3.48 for 12 bagels||
|Bread – Buns||1.14 for 8 buns||
|.87 for 8 buns||
|Bread – Loaf – No Corn Syrup||3.89 for 2 loaves||
|2.50 per loaf||
|2.28 per loaf||
|Bread – Puglaese||4.49 for 2 loaves||
|1.68 per loaf||
|Bread – Sandwich Rolls||1.89 for 36 oz, lb||
|Butter||7.69 for 6 lb||
|1.98 for 1 lb||
|1.66 for 1 lb||
So, when you go to Costco, only get baby wipes, bananas, loaf bread and butter. At WinCo, get your apples, bagels, and buns. You don’t have to go to multiple store in one week if you don’t have the time, just stock up on a couple of weeks or a month supply at the one store each week. Many things can be frozen for weeks at a time.
NOTE: I originally wrote this for my old blog 4 years ago. I don’t maintain this list anymore as it is mainly in my head. Note that some of the prices aren’t available much anymore.
What is your best way to save on food costs?