Follow These Tried-and-True Tips to Budget Your Food Spending in 2018
The good folks at The Kitchn went through their 2017 series of Food Budget Diaries and culled five big takeaways:
Figure out the easy go-to meals that you can afford. When I was a very broke single person, I relied on a variation on these "bodega beans" -onions, carrots, and beans over rice. It's not a dish I'd proudly serve dinner guests, but it was healthy and filling and about sixty cents a serving. Everyone's budget and needs are different, but once you figure yours out, knowing a few easy dishes that fit will save you from the anxious indecision that usually leads to take-out.
Keep cheap staples on hand. Eggs and beans were a common theme in The Kitchn's series-inexpensive and adaptable proteins. Whether it's pantry goods like rice and dried beans, a freezer full of frozen vegetables, or a weekly list of fresh ingredients that help you cook flexibly and for cheap, keeping your kitchen full of basics will help you stay on-budget.
Find your ideal budget categories.
Remember that booze is pricey. A round or two of drinks can double the bill for a dinner out. You can budget for alcohol, but it's going to make a big dent. Scaling back drinking-or doing it at home instead of at restaurants at bars-can save a lot of money.
Use your phone. Contrary to what your elementary school teacher predicted, you probably do have a calculator with you all the time. So: use it! Compare unit prices at the supermarket, look up sales and circulars, and keep track of your spending as you fill your cart-you'll never be caught off guard at the register again.