I don't know anyone who isn't trying to cut back on their food bill these days. We read a lot about what we should do to spend less on food, but often we need to look at what we shouldn't be doing, too. With that in mind, here are some food-related food habits that send our food bills soaring.
Cereal. Even if you purchase it in bulk, and even if you use store brands, it just isn't a good value. Yes, maybe you can buy it for next to nothing by using coupons, but unless you add some protein to the meal, cereal won't satisfy hunger for very long.
Processed Foods. I know how difficult it is to try to cook everything from scratch; there are only so many hours in the day, right? But processed food is not only unhealthy, it's very expensive. So focus on cutting it out altogether. Must you really buy Goldfish for the kids? Can't they learn to snack on fruit or fresh vegetables or homemade potato chips instead? Sure they can.
Out of Season Food. If you purchase food when it's out of season, it's considerably more expensive. Instead, purchase it while it's in season and freeze or can it. Or simply learn to enjoy eating what is in season. (Not sure what's in season? Check out the Eat the Seasons website.)
Letting Food Rot in the Fridge. To prevent this common problem requires meal planning (try my simple method) and paying attention to what's in the fridge. Then learn how to use food when it's close to going bad. This could include freezing or canning it, or learning to make meals like Garbage Soup.
Not Comparing Prices. Keeping a simple price book is a huge step toward cutting back on food expenses.
Going to the Grocery Store Too Often. Statistics prove that every time you visit the grocery store (or farmer's market), you will buy more than you expect, cutting into your food budget. (And adding to your fuel bill, too.) Instead, plan ahead and shop just twice a month.
Not Paying Attention to Sales. If you plan your meals without looking at sales flyers first, you're wasting money. Instead, plan meals around sale items.
Not Comparing Value. For example, while in the produce section, if you're tempted to buy melons for $3 a pound, look around and consider what other produce you could purchase for much less. For example, bananas are almost always under $1 lb. Apples, carrots, and potatoes and a host of other vegetables usually are, too.
Cooking Recipes with Expensive Ingredients. If a recipe requires an ingredient not already in your pantry, and if that ingredient is something rather pricy, either find a substitute for it, or choose a different recipe.
Eating Out or Buying Take Out. There's no question this is one of the most expensive food habits Americans have. Instead, double home cooked meals and freeze the extra. Then, when you're too tired or too short on time to cook, all you have to do is warm something up.