Most people cringe when they hear the word ‘frugal’, as it conjures up images of hoarding ketchup packets and tinfoil trays, and never spending a dime on anything.
We’ve written before about frugality in general, and today we’re going to look at some specific ways you can stretch your budget to focus every extra penny on knocking out your debt. Remember that frugality does not equal being cheap with everything. It simply means staying conscious of your spending and focusing your money in way that best achieves your goals.
Frugality And Food
When it comes to food, your focus should be on providing healthy, tasty choices for your family. Frozen pizzas might be easier, but there are always better options.
Everyone has different preferences with regards to what they eat. Being frugal with regards to your eating can take many different forms.
Switching to no-name items will always save you money. From beans, condiments, and oils, all the way up to processed meals, the off-brand choice will be cheaper. This is one of the easiest steps to take because you won’t actually be changing your eating habits – just your shopping ones.
Be careful, however. Some off-brand items are of course just as good as their brand-name counterparts, but some ignore healthy considerations for price, loading up with salt and preservatives. You’ll have to decide where the line is and when not to cross it.
Skip the Non-essentials
Most of us have some items we buy as staples that don’t necessarily benefit us health-wise. Expensive cheeses and other ‘top shelf’ items can quickly eat into a food budget. Of course you should be able to enjoy them once in a while, but take a hard look at your default items and see if you can cut a few back to special occasions to save a bit more every week.
Buy What’s On Sale
Depending on the day of the week and other factors, different items are on sale at different times. One way to save money while shopping is to focus on what’s on sale when you go rather than making sure you buy the same thing every week.
This obviously requires a bit of creativity on your part when it comes to cooking as you might end up buying some vegetables or meat cuts that you’re unfamiliar with. Enjoy the process and have fun Googling new ways to feed your family.
A Slow Cooker Is Your New Best Friend
Many of us get stuck at the last minute, eating take-out or junk food because we don’t have time to cook. Using a slow cooker solves this problem in a few ways. First, you ‘cook’ ahead of time, in the morning or the night before, so it’s easier to schedule.
Second, you’re usually preparing larger portions, so you’ll have extras to store or freeze for later.
Slow cookers are also great because you can use cheaper cuts of meat. Stewing beef is cheaper than steak, but turns out delicious with the right recipe in a slow cooker.
Grow Your Own
Regardless of how much space you have, chances are you can grow SOMETHING. Whether it’s a small herb garden, growing your own sprouts for salad, or using a small patch of backyard for some basic veggies, growing your own food can be rewarding as well as budget friendly.
Buy In Bulk
When non-perishable staples go on sale, stock up for later. There’s no point in paying full price for something you could have saved on. This takes a bit more planning (and storage space), but can be well worth it.
Always double-check the price, however. Bulk shopping at places like Costco may always seem like a great deal, but they’re often not as cheap as other stores. 4 litres of mayo might seem like a good deal, but it’s hard to compare the relative price with the usual amount you’d buy. Even if it IS cheaper, the pennies in savings might not be worth using up that storage space for the next 3 years.
Paying Attention Is The Key
A lot of us shop without considering a larger strategy. Food is food, and we all have to eat. Focusing on your budget and larger goals will force you to pay attention to every food purchase.
You’ll likely find yourself getting more creative with your meals, choosing healthy items over unhealthy ones, and having more fun with your cooking.