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These days single folks, couples and families are spending more money each week to feed themselves. Since food is a basic necessity of life, people tend to take the expense for granted and may cut back on other things but not on the food bill. However, Americans are sustaining themselves increasingly on unhealthy diets and are paying more to do so. Not only do we pay more at the register, but in rising health costs.
Here are a few simple ways to save money on food and live healthier by exploring three common living scenarios. Which one describes your situation?
The Single Person
Your average single person spends a lot of time at work, and more time looking for a relationship or recreation after work. This equates to a lack of time and interest in cooking — ordering take-out far too often. It may seem cheap at first, but $10 for Chinese or pizza everyday amounts to $300 a month. Add to that the lunch ordered at work and you can double that amount. Throw in a McDonald’s, Dunkin Donuts or Starbucks breakfast and we’re talking close to a thousand dollars each month in food. By the way, that’s food that isn’t very nutritious.
Recommendation: Instead of spending so much on fast-food, go to the grocery store and buy food for some home-cooking. Make a list before you go by separating out for Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner. Under each one, plan for the week. For example, you may want to get eggs, fresh fruit, whole grain bread, butter and orange juice. For lunch you could make delicious sandwiches and have a fruit cup and/or granola bar. Buy packs of all natural juices like Capri-sun or Adam and Eve, and/or bottled water. For dinner get some chicken, fish and ground beef. On the side, enjoy some rice, pasta or cous-cous. Finish it off with a nice salad, you can even get a pre-packaged one to save time and effort, while still being healthy. You’ll have more energy too!
The typical couple used to live as described above, but now found each other… and a new way to eat. They go out to romantic dinners. It started as dating, but progressed to frequenting all the trendy hot-spots in the city, as they wanted to keep things ‘interesting.” They thought they were keeping costs down with $50 maximum dinners for two, no more than three times a week. But that’s $600 a month. They both work and even though occasionally get up early enough to make breakfast, still can’t resist the occasional morning coffee and donut; By the way, they still order lunch too. Cost: same as above, more or less. At least it is a little more nutritious due to the gourmet dinners.
Recommendation: A romantic evening doesn’t have to be a table for two at the current chic restaurant. Why not set up your own table on the balcony or patio complete with candlelight and a bottle of your favorite wine? You can surprise your significant other by making your own domicile a delicious hot-spot. Place a few nice plants in the vicinity and play some relaxing music. Grill some garlic and rosemary chicken, served on whole grain rice with a side salad of mixed greens, plum tomatoes, calamata olives and croutons; Dash with a raspberry vinaigrette and make a toast to: Saving money! The next day, you can bring the left-overs to work for lunch. You can save both time and money in the morning with a quick, but healthy, vitamin-fortified cereal and fresh-squeezed juice breakfast.
The modern family has kids and more of a need to watch the budget. They don’t eat out much and they bring their lunches to work and school. They also have breakfast in the morning together. Consequently they spend about $450-600 monthly on the grocery bill. That’s a nice improvement. But what about nutrition? Well, unfortunately, Mom and/or Dad are far too busy getting the kids ready for school, helping with homework, household chores, and focusing on their jobs to make a nice gourmet dinner every night. Sadly, what may have started with a healthy ideal, slowly reduced to frozen pizza, “TV Dinners,” and any number of processed foods. These may seem cost effective, but are unhealthy and eventually can lead to poor health and increased medical bills. Not only this, but for the same money they could be eating better.
Recommendation: Stay away from those high-calorie, high cholesterol, high sodium processed foods and make a switch to going fresh and natural. Perhaps work out a schedule with your spouse on alternate days for cooking and clean up duties. If the kids are old enough you can get them involved in the process too. You’ll find that if you plan accordingly, you’ll have meaningful family time together, healthier meals, longer lives, and all without paying more. If you must go “frozen” for lunch, at least consider an organic, microwavable meal such as: Amy’s or Cascadian Farms.
To ensure you pay even less, here are a couple tips that apply to all of the above: Check the local paper or internet for coupons on the products you already enjoy. Some people find that they save buying in bulk too, such as at a BJ’s or Costco. Most supermarkets offer better prices when you buy two or more of a certain product. Other stores offer their own store member’s savings card. Visit product websites directly, often they offer their own online, printable coupons. Finally, if you have a credit card like Bank of America that offers a point reward system, you may want to take advantage of that. Just make sure you pay off the balance each month to avoid interest charges. Many people report receiving hundreds of dollars in rewards from their cards.
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