This is a series of posts about eating well on a budget, minimizing food waste and becoming an adventurous eater.
Food Tips that Can Help You Save Thousands of Dollars
When I first met my now-husband, he was throwing away, right into the trash, half a large loaf of ciabatta every week. I was horrified. Gradually, I started to teach him some food hacks that I’d learned over the years, some from my mother and some from daily life and he and I have managed to literally save thousands of dollars as a result, while eating really good food too.
I grew up in several different countries with different cultures. My parents are Egyptian and both grew up in relative poverty. Growing up in a country where most people live in poverty helps me be mindful of the fact that many people cannot afford the food we take for granted. In addition, some items aren’t available all year round and there are times when you have to store food long-term, all this has taught me a lot about minimizing waste and maximizing what I can get out of every food item.
Food waste is my absolute worst pet peeve. I cannot stand food waste, throwing away even one bad cucumber makes me feel guilty and sad, so I do my absolute best to minimize food waste so that it very, very rarely happens. So here are the tips I live by when it comes to cooking at home, while minimizing waste, maximizing benefit, and eating healthy, high quality food even when you’re on a tight budget.
TIP #1: LEARN HOW TO COOK
If there’s one piece of advice I would give anyone and everyone regardless of age, gender, income, or career it is to learn how to cook real food from scratch. This is the most important tip in learning how to save money on food. At first, I thought it was very obvious, but then I met a lot of people, in their 20s, 30s and even 40s who couldn’t cook a pot of rice or put together a simple meal using fresh ingredients. Cooking at home does not have to be difficult or complicated; indeed, some of the most delicious dishes need less than 10 minutes of preparation to make. On a side note: most of the recipes on this blog are very quick, easy, healthy and nutritious. Most of them are quite affordable to make too.
Once you have learned how to cook and you get reasonably good at it, you will realize that buying food from outside whether it’s through eating out or ordering in, is a real waste of money. You can probably make something that tastes better, uses fresh ingredients and is probably better for your health, plus it will save you loads of money. Take steak, for example. In a restaurant, you will typically pay at least 20 dollars per person for a simple steak with salad and potatoes. The same 20 dollars can feed you and your significant other two to four meals, if you buy your own meat and vegetables and make them yourself. An added bonus is that a good steak literally takes minutes to make and salad is simply a matter of chopping up vegetables and fruits and mixing them together.
I’m not against eating out on special occasions, but try to make it count by going somewhere with really good food rather than wasting money on mediocre takeout or fast food. Also, try to avoid frozen, ready-made meals, those are terrible for your health and your wallet. You get much better value for money when you use real ingredients and put them together yourself; not to mention that you know exactly what went into your meals.
Next Post: How to Plan Ahead and Why That Helps (Coming Soon)