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Military Finances 101: 4 Ways to Save on Food Expenses

Managing Your Finances

People often say that if you want to start saving money, stop eating out so much. With hectic schedules that can be much easier said than done. Sure, it may not seem like eating out a couple of times a week isn’t a big deal and won’t do too much damage, but the truth is, it all adds up. Luckily, there are still ways to indulge the foodie in you while still saving money. The average American household spends $3,000 a year eating out.1 With a statistic like that, seeking out ways to be cost-effective with your food is critical. 

1. Make Your Coffee at Home 

This may seem like a small step, but starting somewhere is better than starting nowhere. Every little bit helps, especially if you are getting coffee and breakfast 5x or more per week. The extra money you save by making your morning cup of joe at home can be put towards other things such as a special meal out on occasion. You’ll be surprised how much this small change can help you save so much. 

2. Meal Prep and Cook at Home More Often 

Once you have the basic necessities for cooking at home such as olive oil, flour, spices, etc. your grocery bill won’t be high as high when you meal prep. Cooking at home will save you money, but this doesn’t mean you can never eat out again. Instead, tell yourself that you will meal prep and cook at home five to six nights a week and treat yourself to a dinner out with friends on the nights that you aren't cooking. 

3. Give Up The Extras 

Just because you go out to dinner doesn’t mean you have to order multiple drinks, a lavish desert, and numerous appetizers. In other words, you can still eat out but just make some more frugal choices when you order. If you stick to one main entree, you can keep your eating out spending more under control and still enjoy the experience of eating out. 

4. Look at The Restaurant Prices in Advance 

This can be especially important when you are TDY/TAD. Make sure to check out the menu ahead of time to make the best choices on what to order once you arrive. This can also help you decide what restaurants to go to. Maybe you look at the menu ahead of time and realize that the entree prices are a bit out of your budget. That gives you the chance to make a financially smart decision and choose to eat at a restaurant where the entrees are more reasonably priced. 

Proclaiming that you’ll never eat out again to save money is slightly unrealistic. The good news is, you don’t have to give up eating out entirely to save major cash. Most Americans eat commercially prepared meals about four times a week. If you make just two of these meals at home instead, you save $936 – almost $1,000 a year!2


If you found this article useful, you might like the following blog posts:

Military Finances 101: Don't Sweat the Small Stuff


Military Finances 101: What is Financial Coaching?


Military Finances 101: 8 Real Estate Books to Read Before Buying Your First Home


  1. https://www.bls.gov/opub/reports/consumer-expenditures/2015/pdf/home.pdf
  2.        
  3. https://www.moneyunder30.com/the-true-cost-of-eating-in-restaurants-and-how-to-save

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