Everyone has to eat, there’s no getting around that! But budgeting for food and saving money on meals can be tricky. The holidays are over which makes it a great time to tighten up your belt…in more ways than one. As part of my ongoing quest to live a frugal life and keep my belly full, I’ve put some easy techniques into practice over the years. Today, I’m sharing 6 easy ways to trim your food budget. These tips will help you reach your own food budgeting goals!

6 Easy Ways to Trim Your Food Budget

No Purchasing Lunch

I normally always bring a lunch to work, but there are those days that I don’t have time to make my own lunch. Then there are those times that I just want to eat at Panera Bread. But no more! I’m planning out all of my lunches for the week and making them the night before. If I get really ahead of the game, I’ll take some time on Sundays to put together my lunches for the whole week. This way, I find that I have no excuse but to bring me own lunch to work. Which brings me to my next tip…

Plan Meals in Advance

You know what they say about impulse purchases? You want to avoid going to the grocery store too often because it can lead you to spend more or grab for something you don’t need and probably shouldn’t be eating anyway! On Sunday nights, I make a list of all my meals for that week. My goal is to eventually get to the point where I plan a month of meals in advance, but one week at a time for right now has been working. One of my favorite make-ahead meals for lunch is this BBQ Chicken Salad! It’s so simple and healthy to put together. I also plan my breakfast ahead of time, since I leave so early in the morning. By making egg sandwiches, waffles to freeze, fruit bowls, or breakfast smoothies, I am not tempted to go to a fast-food restaurant in the morning.

Share Meals at Restaurants

After work drinks with your co-workers? You and your significant other want a night out on a budget? No sweat! If I know where I am going, I check out the menu beforehand to figure out some different options. I also suggest sharing a meal or splitting appetizers. People are usually more than willing to split meals. It’s a great way to try a few different things on the menu in the same trip.

Use Credit Card Rewards for Gift Cards

Remember those reward points the credit card companies love to tell you you’re so lucky to have? Don’t let them go to waste! I’m definitely not advocating for charging up a storm on your card simply to reap the reward points. In fact, I’m not really using my credit cards too much at all these days. But, I still make sure to turn in my reward points for gift cards to restaurants or grocery stores. I earned it after all!

Keep Track of Your Grocery Receipts

In order to know if you are getting a great deal, you need to keep track of your food purchases. You’ll also see that different foods go on sale at different times during the course of the year. The best way I found to keep track of all of this was to setup an Excel spreadsheet of the different grocery stores and to log what I purchased at each of them, along with the cost. It’s a time-consuming task at first but easily becomes a habit, and it’s well-worth knowing when and where the best deals are.

Coupon, Coupon, Coupon!

On top of screening your grocery stores for the best deals, couponing is still one of the best ways to save money on food purchases. There are so many outlets for collecting coupons these days: newspapers, grocery store flyers, mobile apps, and internet websites. Another great idea is to start a couponing circle with your family, friends, or co-workers. You can trade coupons that you don’t need with someone who might put it to use, and you may even get some ideas for recipes in the process!

What are some budgeting tips that you have to save on food purchases?
Follow my Frugal Living board on Pinterest for more inspiration!

Follow Michelle D’Auteuil’s board Frugal living on Pinterest.