1. Meal prep each week
How many times have you bought groceries on a whim and thrown just about anything into your grocery cart? Without a solid plan, it’s easy to overspend on groceries. The simple practice of meal prepping each week can help you budget and go into the store with an action plan. Instead of letting the aisles tell you what to spend your money on, you can plan your meals based off of discounts, bulk-savings, and what you want for lunches and dinners.
…you can take enormous advantage of ordinary grocery sales when planning for a meal-prep day. I’ll give you a specific example. Let’s say my family was planning on making several pans of our much-loved spinach and mushroom lasagna. When I look at the grocery store flyer, I happen to notice fresh mushrooms and fresh spinach are on sale. Maybe I should make six pans of it so that I can score all of those cheap ingredients.
The important thing to remember from that point is that freezing meal is a great way to keep your food fresh for a long period of time. Some argue that meal prepping wastes good when, in reality, you don’t have to eat all of it that week. You can store meats, bread, fruits, and vegetables in the freezer and make them last for months.
If you plan your meals each Sunday, you can keep the excess food in the freezer and be certain that it all stays fresh. If you’re responsible for cooking lunches and dinners for your family, consider bringing them in on your weekly meal prep. Making this a family activity can be a fun way to instill the practice into your family members and get help at the same time.
2. Buy reusable kitchen items
No matter what your environmental views are, we can all agree that replacing “one-time use” items with items that are reusable can make a huge difference in your budget. Instead of continually buying kitchen disposables, you can save your money and use some awesome reusable items instead. This is a great way to get more intentional in your home, reduce waste, and help the environment–oh, all while contributing to your financial goals.
- Cloth napkins
- Paperless towels
- Muslin cloth for tea bags
- Unbleached cotton muslin coffee filters
- DIY eco tawashi dish scrubbers
- Abeego (alternative to plastic wrap)
- Sandwich/snack bags
- Mesh bags produce bags
- DIY bowl covers
Try to keep track of what disposable items you find yourself using the most. This way you can pick and choose which reusables would make the biggest difference in your budget. Do you find yourself using paper towels to dry your hands, clean the spills, and use for a handful of snacks?
Simply becoming aware of the fact that you are overusing disposable items can help you fix the problem. If you’re serious about saving money, hold yourself accountable for each disposable item you use. An easy way to do this is to be intentional about counting how many things you throw away each day. Keep track of this on your phone or notepad. Understanding the numbers is sometimes the first step in changing your perspective and desiring change.
3. Start a home veggie garden
Starting your own personal vegetable garden is a great way to save money on food that you love. A few vegetables that are common for those who have a home garden are tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, zucchini, bell peppers, and broccoli. You can also grow spices and herbs instead of paying high prices at your local store.
There are a ton of online resources about starting a home garden and a community of people who are advocates for the practice.
Do some research and you might find yourself understanding that you can save money and learn a new skill that you enjoy.
A home or community garden can also help you plan your meals and grocery list. Knowing that you won’t need to purchase tomatoes for your dinner dish will save you time and money in the checkout line. What could be better?
Here are a few steps to start your own home garden:
- Find an area with good sunlight and soil with the right pH levels
- Decide which vegetables to grow
- Get the right gardening tools
- Start the seeds
- Water the seeds
- Let them grow!
If you don’t have the luxury of space for a home garden, research community gardens in your area. Volunteering at a community garden is a great way to get involved and benefit from some free veggies. If there isn’t one near you, get in touch with local government officials or the town’s rotary club and suggest starting one locally.
Another option for those who don’t have space for a home garden is to consider the practice of container gardening which is done by growing plants on a porch, window sill, or balcony. This is a great way to utilize your back porch or window sills and give the area a fresh look. Next time you have a sunny Saturday at home, keep an eye out for which spots in your home get sunlight throughout the day so that you find the right size pots for that area.
4. Take care of kitchen appliances
In 2018, 40% of American adults reported they don’t have enough savings to cover a $400 emergency bill. If you’re part of that 40%, you likely don’t have enough cash to spend on a broken dishwasher either. To most of us, $30 a month for a home protection plan sounds much more manageable than a $1,000 dishwasher replacement.
This serves as a great reminder that, while $30 a month may seem like a lot, paying monthly for a protection plan can save you hundreds to thousands of dollars in the long run. Think about your health insurance, for example. Imagine how much more you would pay for medical bills if you needed an unexpected surgery. The same rings true for your home–it’s better to be safe than sorry.
5. Plan smart with coupons
The grocery industry has a huge amount of competition which is why many stores try to win customers with coupons and sales. Many grocery store clerks are even required to highlight or circle the amount of money you saved from their reward card. This means, as consumers, we should take advantage of all the discounts.
The best way to start couponing is to begin gathering as many coupons as you can. You can begin your search in various ways. Ask around to see where other people find them. If you see someone at the grocery store with a handful of coupons, ask for advice. Couponing takes a ton of time and skill, and those who have taken the time to learn how to do it would most likely get excited to share their insights with you.