10 Ways to Save Money on Food Expenses When You're Low in Budget
Life is certainly difficult for a lot of Filipinos at this time. It's no joke that an Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) is enforced because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many people can't go out to work or just go anywhere. Most are stuck at home. But there's no other choice because life is at stake.
A common complaint is not having enough food on the table since many have no money. If they don't work, they get no pay. Since the majority of businesses are shut down now, it follows that many also do not earn any for food.
Although the local government and different government agencies are distributing food packs and cash assistance, some people still do not have enough to feed their families. We always include them in our prayers and help those we can.
How's your situation in your family? Do you have the same dilemma? I think that the COVID-19 pandemic is teaching most people, if not all, to think about the way we spend money. It is making us think of how we could stretch our budget, especially our food budget.
People need to do something to cope with the situation. Even if you can afford to buy food, it is still wise to know what to do to save some as you don't know when the situation will be better, when people could go out and work again.
Here are some of my suggestions as a mom who takes care of a family of 7. I try to always be mindful of how to save on our food expenses and I would like to share some tips here:
1. Plan your meals for the week before you go shopping.
- First, list what you plan to cook or prepare for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Include snacks as well.
- Second, take an inventory of the food items you still have at home.
- Last, list the items that you need to buy.
Buying too much or too little is not good. Buying too much food could mean spending more unnecessarily and there's a probability of wastage. You might end up throwing away some of the perishable foods.
Buying too little would mean that you need to spend extra time, effort and transport fees to make another trip to the market.
2. Stick to your list.
3. Choose where to shop.
4. Use coupons, or redeem reward points.
Here, couponing is not as popular. What is usually offered in the supermarket is a way to earn points via a loyal shoppers card. Accumulated points can be redeemed as a discount for items you buy in the store.
By simply shopping smarter, you can save some cash on food every week. So, don't forget to make your list and bring it when you shop. Doing so will help you keep your budget.
Smart Meal Preparation and Consumption
5. Cook in bulk.
6. Use leftovers.
7. Limit meat consumption.
For example, I don't use one whole chicken for just one dish. I use the chicken meat to cook 2 to 3 dishes. I fillet some of the breast meat and cook them like chicken nuggets or cordon bleu. I take the bony parts and make chicken soup. Then, I take the rest for a dish with sauteed vegetables or tomato sauce.
Also, I try to prepare meals with more vegetables. Aside from the fact that vegetables are very nutritious, they are a lot cheaper, too.
8. Practice food rationing.
Sometimes, I just tell them to be mindful of others and get a small portion of the viand first. They could just get some more again if there's any left.
It's my duty as a mom to make sure that everybody gets to eat their meals. Sometimes, we eat less because we have less food on the table. But what's important is everybody eats. My children are very family familiar with the saying, "kapag maiksi ang kumot, matutong mamaluktot" (if the blanket is short, learn to bend your body).
9. Try a change of diet.
10. Grow your own food.
I'm actually glad that we have some plants in our backyard like malunggay and kamias, so we could just pick some when we need. And then there's our neighbor who is very kind to share with us the fruits of his Indian mango tree. Yummy!
You don't need to have a big garden to grow some vegetables like tomatoes, okra or pechay. You can try container gardening and vertical gardening. Engage your kids who might actually love gardening.
I hope that you can take some of these tips on how to save money on your food budget and use them not just during this time of COVID-19 emergency but even beyond.