Resolve to Save Money on Food
Following Starting Out columnist Stacy Rapacon's lead (7 Money Confessions), I have a confession to make: I spend too much money on food from restaurants.
Now, I don't eat out for all three meals every day as a friend of mine in New York City does. I don't even pick up food from a restaurant most nights of the week, as my neighbors do. But for someone who writes about saving money, I know I should be trimming this unnecessary expense from my budget.
But here's what happens every time my husband and I say we're going to stop eating out (actually, in our case, we usually get carry-out -- which is a little cheaper than dining in a restaurant). We come home from work tired, our two small children claim that they're starving, and we look in the refrigerator and see nothing that we can prepare quickly. So we pick up the phone and call our favorite Indian restaurant or pizza place.
Resolution: I will create a meal plan and stick to it so I no longer have an excuse to eat out so often. I was inspired by a post on The Consumerist about a Texas mom who created a year-long meal plan to lower her grocery bill.
I know I can't create a plan to cover the entire year. In the past, I've created a plan that covers four or five days at most. Using the advice of the Texas mom, I'm going to create a list of all the things my family will eat and craft my meal plan at the beginning of each month. (If you set unrealistic goals, you'll get frustrated and give up.)
If you've been spending too much on food -- whether in restaurants or at the grocery store -- we can help. See our Save Money on Food slide show for lots of tips. Pay Less for Food will show you how to save up to $2,700 a year by making four simple changes to your dining and grocery-shopping habits. And get tips for making the most of coupons.
Share your tips below for keeping food costs under control. And feel free to share any toddler-friendly meal ideas -- I could use those.