How to Cut the Food-Budget Fat

Dave fans offer suggestions for saving some money but still eating well.

The situation: A particular family of two parents and two kids spends a whopping $1,000 each month on food! Here's some of the advice this family received:

Leave Some for Next Time

We try to make meals that will feed more than our family of 4. This gives me leftovers for lunch. I make a lot from scratch and limit the amounts of desserts and such to buy. Also, are you using cash? Our grocery/dining bill went down 20% just by using cash.

Lesson learned: Cooking two meals at once can keep you from eating out because you get home from work and your meal is already there waiting for you. It also never hurts to spend with cashwait, yes it does. That's why spending with cash is best!

Now We're Cooking

The real question is this: Do you know how to cook? If not, then you'll never meet your goal. We put the vast majority of our foods together from raw ingredients. I never buy pre-made spaghetti, pizza, etc. I also bake my own bread, and it's much better than store-bought (and healthier).

Lesson learned: The more work you do, the less things cost you. It's easier to buy the ingredients to a pizza for $5 and make it yourself than it is to spend $15 to have it delivered.

Just Say No

Our big thing is if we run out of chips before the end of the month oh well, no chips for the rest of the month. Same goes for about half our groceries. If there is rice, potatoes, cereal, bread and milk, then that';s what we eat. Meal planning, less convenience foods, and cooking at home whenever possible will save you a ton of money.

Lesson learned: When you learn to say "no" and stick to the budget, you'll have enough money.

Stay Away From Snacks

Snacks can really put you over on the budget. The cost for chips, cookies, granola bars, fruit snacks, popcorn and stuff like that can be brutal.

Lesson learned: Healthy snacks are less expensive than sweet snacks. No snacks are the cheapest of all. You won't starve by not snacking, but you'll save money.

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