Eating is a necessary part of any budget, and it is an area that varies widely from person to person. Most people can reduce the amount they spend on food, while making healthier eating choices. With the rising cost of food, you will need to be even more careful about how you spend your food budget. Another problem for people in their twenties is that they are often single and buying and preparing food for just one person can be tiring. In addition to meal planning, here are some practical ideas on ways to save money on lunches and your grocery bill each month without resorting to extreme couponing.
1. Pack Your Lunch
Eating a lunch from home will save you money. Fast food lunches cost at least $6.00 a day, and a healthy quality lunch costs even more. One of the biggest problems with packing your own lunch is dealing with appetite fatigue. You may get tired of bringing the same thing in every day, but you can choose your favorite foods and vary what you buy each week. Think outside the traditional sandwiches and salads to include your favorite foods. You can also pack leftovers, and if you freeze them instead of refrigerate them you can eat them a few weeks after you originally made the item.
2. Do a Lunch Exchange
Get a group of friends together and set up a lunch exchange every two weeks. This event can take place in the evening or over the weekend. Each person prepares one dish or lunch that can be frozen or refrigerated and portions it out so each person attending can take one serving home with her. For example if you have five people in your group you will bring five lunches prepared and frozen and come home with five different lunches. The same thing can be done as a dinner exchange to cut done on the prep time needed for dinner meals.
3. Potluck Dinners
Instead of eating out once a week with friends have a potluck dinner where everyone brings a different dish or rotate through friends giving each one a turn to prepare dinner for the group. This gives you variety but will cut down on the cost of a meal out each week. You still have the opportunity to spend time relaxing with friends, and if you want you can still go out later to a bar or club.
4. Cook on the Weekends
If the biggest reason you pick up take out each week is that you do not have time to cook each night or that you are exhausted when you come home, then considering cooking on the weekends for the entire week. Some people cook for the entire month in just one day. It does take work and planning, but it will save you a good deal of money over the week. You can also use a slow cooker to heat up items so they are ready as soon as you get home.