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- When the pandemic hit, I thought my food spending would go down since restaurants in my area were closed — but my grocery spending more than doubled.
- I went from spending $110 a week to $250, and I knew I had to cut back to save money.
- I followed a friend’s advice to buy more frozen — including fruits and veggies and pre-packed lunches and dinners — and it’s saving me $100 a week.
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One of the most frequent financial conversations I have with myself is around how I spend too much money on food. It’s embarrassing to admit, but the majority of my credit card swipes are from grocery store purchases or restaurants.
I figured when the coronavirus shutdown happened, my spending on food would go down because all the spots around my neighborhood — where I’d normally grab a quick breakfast or a lazy lunch — were closed. But my spending actually got worse.
Spending more at the grocery store
I went from spending around $110 a week on groceries (for my fiancé and myself) to breaking the $250 mark easily on weekly food purchases. Since we were both working from home and eating all of our meals at home, my shopping cart was filled with enough ingredients and items to be able to satisfy our stomachs at all hours of the day (and night).
Spending more than double every week on groceries made me uneasy, and I knew I needed a plan to cut my bills down while still also being able to grab enough items so we could eat healthy and stay full.
So I followed a friend’s advice to cut down my bill: Skip buying fresh and stick to the frozen aisles at the store. Listening to this trick helped me lower my bill by $100 a week.
I switched to frozen fruits and veggies
I’m a sucker for fresh fruit and veggies because they make up 75% of my diet as a life-long vegetarian. But stocking up on those items every week cost me around $50 to $75. If I didn’t use all the fresh fruits and veggies in time, they’d go bad and I’d waste them. On rare occasions, I remembered to stick them in the freezer, but it wasn’t always possible (sometimes I picked overripe veggies or fruits by accident and they went bad fast).
So I switched to buying big bags of frozen veggies (green beans, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, carrots, sweet potatoes, and more) that would last me two weeks and cost around $20. I did the same with my fruit (frozen blueberries, mixed berries, pineapples, peaches and cherries) that would also last me two weeks. My budget was $45 total for both the fruit and veggies, and since that last me, on average, two weeks, I was able to save a lot.
Sure, sometimes the frozen veggies and fruits didn’t taste as good, but it helped me cut down my bill substantially. And on nights I knew I wanted to cook something specific, I’d head to the store and buy that item fresh, so I knew it wouldn’t go to waste, and then freeze any leftovers.
I bought frozen lunches and dinners
After eating all our meals at home for so long, I often got bored of eating the same old thing. I’m not a big cook and don’t enjoy testing out recipes, and I found that I would often end up with a pile of groceries that I didn’t know what to do with. So I’d just make a simple, plain pasta and waste what I purchased.
I decided to try purchasing low-sodium, healthy frozen dinner and lunch options instead. I typically buy about 10 frozen dinner or lunch items a week (averaging around $6 each) for my fiancé and myself, which helps me cut down on expensive ingredients (like quinoa, or meat and fish for my fiancé). I spend around $60 to $65 a week on these frozen meals.
I clipped more coupons for frozen foods
As an avid coupon hunter, I noticed that there were a lot of coupons for frozen items. I used around 10 coupons every week to shave about $15 off my bill. I used websites like The Krazy Coupon Lady and Coupon Surfer to find weekly deals.
Even though that doesn’t seem like a lot, it adds up, and it also allowed me to be more decisive with brands and items I wanted to buy. If a coupon was available, it seemed like an easy grab at the grocery store.
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