Saving Money on Food

I saw a page from a university’s web site showing the cost of various meal tickets and noted how expensive some of the meal plans were, which got me to wondering how we could save money on food. Eating, after all, is not an option. However, we have many options on how much we spend for it.

First, we often go for fast food, thinking in terms of convenience instead of healthy, which is easy when pressed for time, and may be inexpensive, but is hard on the cardiovascular system. The majority of us do it because it’s easy and usually more affordable than traditional restaurants. But what about eating at home? It’s often healthier as well as less expensive.

So how do we save money on food at home? Glad you asked.

  1. Plan ahead – check ads to see what items are on sale (but don’t buy something you or your family won’t eat just because it’s on sale).
  2. Use coupons and stock up on staples when coupons reduce their price.
  3. Compare prices of similar items – sometimes generic is less expensive, and sometimes not.
  4. Same with size – buying in bulk is often cheaper. However, don’t buy something so large that half will spoil before it’s used.
  5. Buy produce in season – for example, corn on the cob is cheaper in summer than in winter.
  6. You can always plant a garden and help defray the cost of fresh vegetables.
  7. Don’t go food shopping when hungry or thirsty as it leads to spending more than you planned.

And regarding collegiate meal plans – calculate the price per meal, figure out how many days of the week you’ll be on campus around mealtime, and decide if you would rather have the alternative of restaurant food. Then you have three choices:

  • The convenience of eating on campus, in which case go for the plan with the best price per meal.
  • Choose fast food (on or off campus).
  • Go to a more expensive restaurant.

Or, you can always “brown bag” it.

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