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Cutting Food Expenses in Half

Frugal Parenting (featured column)
by Rachel Keller

Are you looking for a way to cut back on your food expenses? Are you trying to save extra money? You can easily save some extra money from your food budget by dividing things in half.

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Carefully consider the ingredients when preparing recipes. By cutting some of the more expensive ingredients in half, you will reduce the cost of the meal. For instance, do you really need a full pound of hamburger meat in that casserole? Try just half a pound, or double the recipe and use a whole pound of meat instead of two.

In most recipes calling for cheese, you can usually decrease the cheese by a third or half. You’ll sacrifice the cost and calories but not the taste.

You don’t have to use the whole package of seasoning mix with those oriental soup noodle mixes. Boil two or three packages of noodles, leaving out one seasoning mix. Use the extra package to flavor vegetables, noodles, or rice.

The directions may tell you to add a full cup of sugar to a packet of flavored fruit drink mix, but half a cup (or less) works just fine. Your children certainly don’t need all that sugar. Better yet, cut out the fruit drinks and sodas completely, opting instead for water. Check out How to Become Healthier and Save Money on Your Food Budget for more information.

When eating out, divide appetizers or desserts with a spouse, child, or friend. If entrees are large, you may want to share that as well. Even if you can’t share your entree, ask for a "doggie bag." Immediately put half (or part) of your meal in the container to save for later. This is especially great if you’re trying to lose weight.

Before eating that candy bar, cake, or other dessert, cut it in half. You’ll save money and calories as well.

Cut smaller servings of cake or pie at parties. You can always give seconds if necessary, but most people eat just one piece.

By using smaller plates at a brunch, luncheon, or party, people will naturally eat less. The same is true at meal time. Use smaller plates, chew slowly, and wait before eating second helpings. You’ll eat less and will probably feel satisfied. Again you’ll save money and calories.

Do you like to snack while watching television or movies? Don’t mindlessly gobble a whole bag of chips! Instead, place a small portion in a bowl or plate.

Avoid wasting food (and money) by serving smaller portions to your children. Over the course of a year, throwing out uneaten food from your children’s plates adds up to quite a bit of money. Why buy food simply to toss it in the trash. On the other hand, forcing your children to finish their food to prevent waste may add to their waists.

Save money both before and after eating. Whether washing your hands or washing dishes, dilute your liquid soap with water and use less. (Save an empty dishwashing bottle. Fill it half full of water and add half the detergent. Now, add water to the other bottle. You now have two bottles of detergent instead of one.)

Finally, when brushing your teeth after you eat, don’t use a whole glob of toothpaste. A little bit will do just fine.

Being frugal and saving money takes effort. These are just a few simple ideas to get you started. Combine these ideas with your own and save more money yet!

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Copyright © 2007 by Rachel Keller. All rights reserved.

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