When you can save money on something you buy once a month, that’s great. But when you can save money on something you consume every day, that’s fantastic! Let’s talk about five ways to save money on food, whether you’re eating at home or dining out – and no coupons are involved.

1. Meatless Monday. In general, meat is the most expensive component of a homemade meal. Cut the budgeting corners without cutting taste by declaring the first night of the week as “Meatless Monday.” You may find you like going meat-free so much that you extend the practice into the rest of the week – which can save you even more, and, according to, extend your life!

How much can you save? Well, when I shopped this morning, ground beef was over $5 a pound and organic chicken was $6 a pound. Compare that to beans at $0.89 a can and rice at $4 a bag. Even tofu was less than $2 a pound. The savings are clear!

2. Potluck Night. A favorite tradition for families, friends, and neighbors is potluck night. Gather together for a summer barbecue, a “hot dish” banquet, or a soup and sandwiches night. Take advantage of this get-together to build your community of friends as well as for the cost-savings. You can invite just a few families, or a whole block – it’s up to you. To keep costs down, have each family bring their own utensils, plates, and drinks, as well as the dish they will share.

3. Eat Out, Off-Peak. Eating at restaurants not just before the traditional dinner hour (known as “early bird” dining), but on off-days can mean more money in your pocket. Happy hours at bars, Sunday evening specials, and brunch menus are also attempts for restaurants and bars to even out the flow of traffic. Hit your favorite watering spot for the all-you-can-eat appetizer buffet rather than the overpriced cocktails.

Many restaurants offer Kids’ Night where kids eat free. They want Mom and Dad in the restaurant spending money, so they feed the kids for free. But be smart. Keep your own meals limited (drink water, order one salad, one sandwich, and share) and you’ll come out ahead every time.

4. Freezer Cooking. “Cook once, eat for a month” is the rallying cry of many a happy homemaker. These savvy chefs spend one day a month, whipping up dozens of freezable meals for their families. Not only does it save on time during the week, it saves cash by putting bulk purchases to good use. You also save money because on busy nights, you’ve got dinner waiting for you so you skip the expensive (and unhealthy) take-out. Check out any of the numerous resources online. Visit the Hillbilly housewife for help at this link.

5. BYOB. A restaurant’s biggest mark-up is on drinks, both the hard and soft variety. Do not let the restaurant get your hard earned money at a 50% markup. Drink water! Don’t stop there. Do the same at home. Instead of purchasing expensive soft drinks or premixed juices, stick with water, milk, or tea. Whip up your own juice from frozen concentrate rather than buying the bottles or cartons of pre-made juices. If you MUST buy pre-made juices, water them down by half to increase your mileage. No one will really notice the difference and you’ll save a bundle, not to mention the calories and sugar, too!

Food is one of the first places we can immediately save money. From your first nibble or sip in the morning until your final snack before bed, every bite you put in your mouth costs money. How much money depends on you and you alone. Now that we’ve trimmed our food budget, let’s see what we can do next to save money.


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