#1: Eating Healthy For You
To be honest, I have never been a huge fan of salads. I know they are a healthy meal and an excellent way to get vegetables in my daily diet so I always buy the supplies. I appreciate people who love salads, but, I always have a hard time finishing everything before it spoils. So, in order to not waste food (and consequently waste money), I no longer insist that I eat salads. I focus on other ways to get my servings of vegetables so I buy greens that I can freeze. For example, I will choose to buy spinach instead of romaine lettuce. To be budget-friendly, before I go shopping, I compare between packaged frozen and fresh. Furthermore, I am careful to look at serving sizes on the package. In appearance, a package of fresh may look like you are getting more but you may be getting more in a smaller package of frozen. Also, the nutrients in frozen can be more because it’s packaged and frozen rightaway. If I find fresh is cheaper per serving, I will rinse it right away and put it into freezer bags. Then, I can be really creative in the way that I use my servings of greens in dishes like soup or pasta. Soup is so awesome on a cold fall day! For example, I made this Rice Lentil Veggie Soup where I included freshly frozen spinach.
Veggie Lentil Rice Soup
#2: Save $ by Shopping Around Before You Step in the Store
Grocery List Creating App = Favado
This app is great for comparing weekly deals among your favorite stores.
You can see a list of all of the weekly deals by store or you can create your list by searching for each item. I found searching was the best way for me because I could find the lowest price on items that I wanted amongst all stores.
Then, once you find the deal for your item, you add each item to your list and it creates a weekly list for you, grouped by store, that you can print out and bring with you.
No need to search ads!
If you live in Northern California, the only downside is that Oliver’s Market is not included. However, I created my list and then compared it to Oliver’s ad online. This will be true for any local grocery chain in your area.
Money maker apps = Snap by Groupon, Shrink, BerryCart, Checkout51, Ibotta, Saving Star
Lots of apps but lots of savings. Each one of these apps give cash back (usually $.25 to $1.00) for making purchases on certain items. It also does not matter if an item is already on sale at the store, it still works. All you do is open the app and scan your receipt. Once you reach a certain amount like $20, they will send you the money. That’s it!
This week, I earned $7.75 in savings.
#3: Fuel Your Body, Fuel Your Car
One area that I did not realize I would be saving so much money is on gas. As a huge foodie, I would drive out of my own city limits several times a week to go to my favorite restaurants. These trips are anywhere from approximately 20 to 40 miles round trip. Driving is relaxing for me (well, except in rush hour traffic) so the time it took me to drive these places was not a problem for me so I never really considered how much gas I was using per week to go get food. But, I was noticing as I was shopping more locally once a week, that I was using up a lot less gas. So, I decided to calculate this extra expense. I have a car that gets about 20 miles to the gallon. Even if I were to buy gas at its lowest current price of $3.19, if I eat out 3 times a week, that is anywhere from $9.57-$19.14 per week or $38.28-$76.56 per month. Instead, when I plan out my grocery shopping, I would spend about $3.19 per week or $12.76 per month. A huge savings!
If you eat out every day even if you drive to where you eat within your city or town limits (let’s say 5 miles one way, 10 miles round trip), your cost on gas alone if you have a similar mpg would be $11.17 per week or $44.66 per month. This only calculates the price of gas and not the wear and tear that occurs on the car. Do you know how much money you are spending per week or per month just on gas from getting food? There are definitely hidden savings when you start eating at home.
When I realized how much I was spending on gas, it inspired me to start saving on gas. Usually, I stop by the best priced station near my home or I let my gas run down to the point that I need to refill it at the closest station. I always like to save a few cents but, overall, I thought it would be too difficult to truly find the lowest price around. Again, my philosophy is that time is money. But, it does add up eventually and since I found such success with apps, I went searching for one for gas prices. Sure enough, there are some free apps. My favorite is Gas Buddy (see above picture for icon). It is extremely easy to use. You can even get points towards free gas by logging in local gas prices. And, the prices are updated frequently. Now, that I plan ahead for my weekly food consumption, I am planning ahead for gas.
For example: You need to fill up and have $15 to spend
Station A which is on your daily route near your home is $3.59/gallon so you get 4.18 gallons
Use the app, you find Station B which is a few blocks away but not on your daily route is $2.93/gallon so you get 5.12 gallons
A savings of $.66/gallon, you would get almost 1 more gallon!
I will definitely be using this app and not letting my tank near empty so that I can make wiser, more cost effective choices for gas.
#4: Beware Extra Trips
I am really great at finding deals and getting lots of healthy foods for less but I am not the best at keeping track everyday on how much that gets spent on the extra trips. As I have said before, I am a work in progress. And, this week was particularly difficult. Whenever I found some great recipes that I wanted to try or I wanted a treat for when I was feeling down, I went to the store a couple of extra times. I even went out to eat an extra time. When life is overwhelming, I think a lot of us turn to food. And then, not only do our waistlines grow but also our wallets shrink. We ended up spending $111.17 in these extra trips out and to the grocery store. Eek!!!
This week, we spent a total of $271.05 which is $169.04 over my goal of $102.01 per week. Now, I have $40 total for the next two weeks to work with. It will be an exercise in extreme frugality. No eating out. This is a learning process.
Although I am a bit less optimistic than I was going into week 2, I still think I can pull off my challenge without starving in Week 3 and 4. It just gives me an opportunity to be extra creative. Through my successes and failures, I definitely believe I have the tools to improve next month and to keep this going long term. There is no reason not to eat healthy on a budget.
How do you stay healthy while on a budget? I love to get your advice and I will continue to share my tips and tricks. Thank you for taking this journey with me.
Disclaimer: I am not paid by anyone to make reviews or recommendations. I simply want to share what products and apps I find useful.