5 Simple Ways to Minimize Food Spend

Splurging on delicious treats is one of life’s many pleasures. And sure, the occasional frozen yogurt here and Chipotle takeout there won’t make much of a dent in your wallet. However, with the average American household spending $7,203 a year on food, it does make you wonder where corners can be cut. 

Delete your delivery apps

GrubHub, Doordash, and Postmates are a crutch for many who don’t have time to cook their own food. For others, they’re a helpful fallback for a last-minute craving. Still, those delivery fees can rack up, and the convenience can quickly make you lose sight of the cost. 

Of the $7,203 a year the American household spends on food, $3,154 is spent on food away from home. There’s nothing wrong with the occasional takeout, but it’s actually delivery that can complicate things. Having delivery apps at the ready can make you overly reliant. In fact, a recent article from the New York Times concluded that these apps are up to 91% more expensive than eating directly at the establishment. 

So, start with taking these off your smartphone. Having to boot up your computer is one extra step between you and Uber Eats that just might save you a couple hundred bucks a month. 

Stick to a list 

Equipping yourself with a shopping list when you go to the grocery store is one of the best ways to prevent excessive impulse purchases. When you create a shopping list, you’re really only thinking about what you need. Whereas, when you go to the store without one, you’re often driven by what you want in that moment. 

Not only does a shopping list promote healthier choices, it makes for a quicker trip, money saved on pointless snacks, and less frequent trips to the store for items you may have forgotten. 

Join a CSA

The concept of community-supported agriculture in urban areas is still relatively new, but it’s a wonderful way to obtain fresh produce for less than at the farmer’s market or grocery store. So many people forego fresh fruits and vegetables because of the cost. 

When you join a CSA, however, you pay a lump sum at the beginning of the season right to the grower, or in installments. As a result, you have a regular flow of fresh produce without the ridiculous price tag. Sounds extravagant, but it’s not. 

There are a few caveats to this, however. Firstly, you really need to cook frequently to get more bang for your buck. If you supplement this with a continued habit of eating out, your fresh produce will go to waste, which means so will your money. 

Secondly, this is assuming you’re not still investing in fresh produce from the store. If your CSA is your sole source of produce, then you could save anywhere between $780 and $1,260 per year.

Meal prep like a pro

“What’s all this fuss about meal prepping?” — you may ask yourself. 

It’s simple. Preparing a meal at home costs an average of $4. Meanwhile, a meal from a restaurant costs an average of $13. Unfortunately, after a long day at work, the last thing you’re thinking about is preparing lunch for the following day. You’re too fixated on taking care of dinner to worry at that point. As a result, you end up in an endless cycle of eating out for lunch during the workweek. 

That’s why Sunday may as well be coined Universal Meal Prep day. People are starting to take time out of their weekends to prepare their meals for the week — a decision that is 325% more affordable than choosing to eat out. 

Even if you alternate between meal prepping and eating out, you’re sure to save a ton of money at the end of the year. 

Space out grocery trips

Some people prefer to make 3-4 small stops at the store throughout the week, especially for staples. However, these frequent trips will burn through your wallet. You’re far more likely to overspend and impulse buy at the grocery store if you go often than if you just go once a week with a carefully curated shopping list. 

Consider gradually decreasing trips to the store until you’re making one solid weekly grocery shop that will keep you covered with the essentials for the next seven days.