If you’re working on controlling your personal finances, one key area to review is how much money you’re spending on feeding yourself each month. In an extreme case, if you buy every meal (because you think you can’t cook, or don’t have the time), and live in a major metropolitan area, this could easily reach $1000 a month! That’s ok if you have a cushy white collar job full-time and they are paying you enough to outsource other parts of your life since you’ll be working so much. But for others, this can be an area of improvement.
For those of you willing to re-assess how much you spend on food, you should know that buying groceries and making food yourself is definitely better value. However, grocery shopping also requires restraint and a little bit of advance planning so you don’t fall prey to impulse buying or over-buying, which results in your having to throw away spoiled ingredients before you’ve even taken a crack at cooking them.
You don’t have to be a gourmet chef to buy groceries and make fabulous meals on a budget. One inspiration I use that has great original recipes and helps you with an actual grocery list is the Poor Girl Eats Well site. Her challenge, aka The $25 Shopping Cart, which I now adhere to, is to limit yourself to a $25/week grocery budget (per person?). Yes, for vegetarians this may be quite easy. But PGEW makes recipes for omnivores, too!
Sticking with a grocery budget does mean you have to take a few minutes to plan in advance what you want to make that week, and what ingredients you’ll need. Don’t cave in to impulse buying. Reduce your waste as you evaluate, “Will I really get the chance to make that or eat all that this week?”
And she provides grocery lists that allow you to shop at nicer establishments, like Trader Joe’s, or even Whole Foods!