Even if you rarely eat at restaurants, preparing food at home can rack up a more deceptive bill. Throwing out uneaten leftovers is a common practice. The average family throws away $2,500 worth of food in a year, adding to the estimated one-third of food produced in the world that goes to waste annually.
You probably know the basics: less takeout, more cooking. And anyone who’s lived in a college dorm knows microwaved ramen noodles will do in a pinch. But what money-saving tips will keep you healthy and lower your food bill at the same time? We’ve compiled a few easy, doable changes below—no ramen required.
1. Track your food expenses for one week
Maybe you already know what and where your biggest food expenses are. It’s possible, though, you’re racking up unnecessary charges out of habit. How much is your daily coffee or pre-packaged sandwich costing you per week? The amount might surprise you.
Once you’ve tracked where your food budget is going, you’re more likely to see areas where you can scale back. Plus, you’ll have a handle on your daily meal patterns and be able to incorporate changes that work for your diet.
To make it easier: Most cellphones have a calculator function for quick addition. This function will also come in handy when you’re at the grocery store.
2. Make a shopping list and stick to it
Plan your meals ahead of time and know the ingredients for each meal. The time you spend planning will end up being time you save while you’re shopping.