Being a Foodie Can Be Expensive
I know a handful of people that eat to live, placing very little emphasis or thought on food. Those people completely baffle me. I love food: the colors, the flavor combinations, the endless possibilities and the sheer pleasure of enjoying a delicious meal. As I get older, I find myself becoming even more interested in cooking and embracing my more adventurous side with meals.
The one large, and it is LARGE, drawback to being a foodie is cost. Delving into the world of truffles, imported cheese, and gold leaf does add up quickly. Thankfully though I have also learned a few tricks to help my family eat the best without breaking the bank. After all, saving money is still the bottom line these days.
Here are a few simple tips on how to be a frugal foodie:
This is obviously the easiest way to save money at the grocery store, whether you want gourmet goods or just the basic staples. Grocery shopping without a plan leads to unnecessary purchases and can add 25% or more to your bill. For even more tips on saving at the store, see this post from Dave Ramsey.
Another well-known but still relevant frugal foodie tip is to buy in bulk when possible. This means pasta, rice, soup broth, and other pantry staples will cost far less in the long run. All the usual suspects can help with bulk shopping: Sam’s Club, Costco, etc. Once you get the hang of buying in bulk, you’ll see how handy it is to have a stocked pantry and how much less money you spend per weekly grocery trip.
Eat Less Meat
Meat is often the most expensive part of any meal. Tap your inner vegetarian, or at least cut back on the portions of meat, and you are well on your way to saving more money on groceries. If you have true carnivores in your house, try some of these recipes to get started on making the transition toward meat-free meals.
Another grocery store tip that works for all frugal families is to buy seasonal fruits and veggies. Not only will they cost less, but you are more likely to find local options too. Frugal foodies rely on this tip because they understand that when fresh produce is the main focus very little else is needed to make a 5-star meal. Look no further than these fresh fruit recipes from Martha Stewart to see what I’m talking about.
Know Your Alternatives
Sure, the good stuff tastes great, but there are a surprising number of food swaps you can make to cut costs. For example, using a truffle oil can infuse your meal with the same flavor but at a fraction of the price of fresh truffles. For other frugal foodie swaps, start here.
Know Your Basics
This is possibly the number one frugal foodie tip that works magic on meals and doesn’t have to cost a thing. A lot of frugal foodies have mastered the art of cooking. In other words, they understand exactly how to poach an egg or make perfect rice every time. By learning some very basic techniques, your meals suddenly go from blah to standout without spending a dime. Here’s a great roundup of cookbooks to get you started.
If I had to pick just one cookbook, it would be the frugal foodie Bible, The Joy Of Cooking. This book is large and may seem intimidating at first, but is chocked full of the most amazing explanations and tips on foods and cooking. It is still stocked in almost every bookstore, but can also be picked up for as little as $5 via eBay or thrift stores.
Whether you host dinner parties regularly or just want to impress your family, eating incredible meals doesn’t have to cost a fortune. With a few smart tricks and some planning, anyone can easily become a frugal foodie!