Sunday, November 11, 2012

How To Save Money On Food Costs

I splurge too much on food than on clothes so I find it really difficult to save money on food costs. I am writing this because I have the proverbial problem of not knowing when to stop spending on good food. Like most Filipinos, I am a lover of food and I'd rather eat delicious meals than pay extravagantly on fashion. On the general context, the love for food has pushed a lot of Filipinos to  go into food business or write blogs that  are dedicated towards food adventures. I might be wrong with this statement so feel free to correct me.

I guess, this has got to do with the old idea that eating great food is equivalent with having a great status quo. Everywhere you look in the Philippines, you will see a plethora of food stalls where people can buy their favorite foods.  It is inherent among Filipino families to spend a lot of money on food and this is the reason why food costs take up such a huge bulk on the family budget.

Saving money on food costs can be very beneficial since you can use the money that you have saved on other more important things. An average Filipino family of four with a mean monthly income of 15,000PhP spends between 2,500PhP and 4,000PhP on food costs alone per month. Why? It is because the price of every basic commodities have sprang up and, of course, Filipinos have a natural affinity to dine out at least once a week at a fast food restaurant. 

In our family, there are three of us which include me and my daughter and my sister. Although we are only three in the family, we still spend about 3,000PhP on food costs monthly and this can be a burden especially if your stream of income as a freelancer is not as steady as when you work in an office. Thus, I am working now on some ways on how to save money on food costs. Here are some things that I am strictly following now and I must say that I have noticed a drop in our food expenses by as much as 30%.

Eat seasonally

Foods are often cheap when they are bought in season. This is especially true about fruits and vegetables. Thus said, my Durian craving would have to wait for a few months so that I can eat them to my heart’s content without my guilt and wallet suffering.

Shop less

Right now, I shop only once every two weeks for preserved foods and once a week for the vegetables. I make sure that I shop only enough and store the vegetables inside the fridge to make them last longer. Shopping less saves you a lot of money in terms of fare. This is especially true if your place is far from the market. However, if the market is a walking distance from where you live, then feel free to shop everyday.

Make a grocery list

I am one of the many people who do not make a grocery list when shopping. As a result, I end up buying things out of impulse. I toss up different things into the grocery cart without giving any second thoughts. Later I realized that I do not have a need to use most of the things that I tossed in my cart.  And because I don't want to look bad to the other shoppers when it is my turn to pay for the groceries, I ended up throwing everything to the check out counter. Sometimes I have a habit of showing off and it always get the better of me when I have to pay for my purchase. There was one time when I bought honey and chocolate sauces which we really don't need just for spite. For impulse shoppers, you need to make a list and check it twice. When you make a grocery list, make sure that you stick by it and do not buy any thing that is not written down on your list.

It pays to go vegetarian

Filipinos are naturally carnivorous but it does not hurt if you sometimes go vegetarian. Sticking a few meatless meals a week will help you save about 200PhP to 300PhP weekly. Although eating meatless foods sound so unappetizing, the secret to making your meals delicious is to use the right spices.I am not a big fan of vegetables but I was able to experiment on some vegetable-based dishes like the vegetable nugget.

Start your own garden

Whether you have a lot of space in your home or not, you should consider growing your own food to save money on food costs. If you live in an apartment, you can always start your own container garden and grow your plants by the window sill. Not only will you save money if you grow your garden but you can also relieve your stress while you take care of your plants. Common plants that you can grow in a container garden include lemongrass, tomatoes and even eggplants. Currently, I am growing my own vegetable garden and I have the usual leafy greens, eggplants, tomatoes, some herbs, carrots and cabbages. I have yet to expand the small area in our backyard into a vegetable garden. I am excited with the prospect already.

Skip eating out

Most Filipinos love to eat out but if you can skip eating out for a month, you will surely save a lot of money. In most cases, a complete meal for an individual at a fast food restaurant will cost you 200PhP but if you skip eating out and just eat home cooked meals, you can save as much as 800PhP every week. Personally, I am still working on this particular tip. I can’t seem to avoid eating out every weekend when I fetch my daughter  after her ballet lessons. This is the one tip that I am having a hard time mastering and I think I will be posting an article on how to save money when eating out with kids. I'll be experimenting on this one soon. 

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