Prices at the supermarket keep rising, but cooking at home can still be a bargain. Here are seven ways that cooking at home can reduce your food spending:
1. Less waste – If you leave food on your plate at a restaurant, you’re paying full price to eat only part of your meal. Cooking at home lets you make only as much food as everyone needs. Potential savings: about $10 per person per meal, based on unfinished portions.
2. Cook it and store it – Soup, jam, pickles; the list of foods that you can freeze, dry or preserve is long. Buy food in bulk, cook large quantities, eat a little and then store the rest for a later meal. Potential savings: $250 a year, based on saving about $20 per month on groceries.
3. Drink your own wine – Ever order wine at a restaurant and then find the same wine at a supermarket? How long did it take to get your jaw off the floor? Some restaurants mark up their wine as much as 200 percent. Dining at home means you get the wine at retail cost without a corkage fee. Potential savings: $20 or more per bottle.
4. Buy in large quantities – When most of your meals come from your kitchen, you can plan the weeks menu around the discounts you get from buying a lot at once. Potential savings: 30 percent or more on your grocery bill if you consistently buy in large quantities.
5. Take your lunch to work – How much do you spend eating out five lunches a week? Fifty dollars? Sixty? Now imagine brown-bagging it for four days each week enjoying sandwiches, pasta and salads made at home. That’s serious money in your pocket. Potential savings: $40 per week, or about $2,000 a year.
6. Save fuel – With gasoline at more than $3 per gallon, driving to a restaurant across town can get expensive. Turning three-quarters of your restaurant outings into home-cooked meals could save you a tank of gas a month. Potential savings: $50-$75 a month, depending on your car.
7. Cook from your (or a neighbor’s) garden – When you cook at home, you can use produce, herbs and eggs from your own backyard, a neighbors garden or a community garden. Its a great way to get fresh food for pennies, in minutes. Potential savings: $250 a year, based on saving about $20 per month on groceries.