Eating In But Still Wasting Money? This Could Be Why
Making meals at home can be a great way to save money. While one meal out can cost $15 to $20, you can often make all meals at home in one day for that amount of money. But, that’s only true if you’re making financially smart choices at the grocery store. The markets can still put a major dent into your checking account if you aren’t careful. You may realize it would’ve been cheaper to get that burger from that burger stand rather than make it at home when you compare the numbers. And since cooking takes a lot of time between the prep work, the actual cooking, and doing the dishes that creates, you want to make sure you’re actually saving money. So if you’ve been dining in, but notice that your credit card statements haven’t dipped even a little, here are some hidden reasons why that is the case.
You’re still buying pre-made at the store
You believe it’s inexpensive, because it’s from the grocery store. So you’re just buying your sushi, your meatloaf, and your chicken noodle soup from the pre-made section. But sushi rolls at grocery stores aren’t much less expensive than those at a restaurant. You’ll still face $10 to $13 a roll. That chicken soup is $6 or $7 for about a bowl, which might be more than it is in a restaurant.
Even semi pre-made
You may not realize that some of the food you are buying is premade or at least prepped in some way, like shredded cheese, fruit salads, or boiled eggs. A little two-pack of boiled eggs can be $2 or $3…which is the price of a full carton of raw eggs. You get maybe half a cup of shredded cheese for $4, or four times as much for the same price if you buy a block.
You’re buying fresh items in bulk
You’re doing a bulk buy on fresh items like produce and fresh meat. They go bad before you can eat them, and you toss them. A lot of produce goes bad quickly, like spinach, mushrooms, and zucchini. Bananas, apricots, and other fruits can rot within a few days, too. It’s better to buy these in small batches, a couple times a week.
You’re paying for delivery
You’re paying for a grocery delivery service. Sometimes it works because, purchases over a certain amount come with free delivery. But, maybe you’re overloading your cart in order to meet that minimum, and buying things you don’t need. If you don’t meet it, you’re paying for delivery.
You are dazzled by gourmet items
You get into the mindset of, “Well, I’m saving money by grocery shopping, so I can treat myself to some gourmet items.” So you’re buying a $14 French cheese and that $12 jar of gourmet maraschino cherries.
You’re giving it all away
You’re being too generous. You’re making large batches of food, with the intention of spreading that into several meals for yourself. But you tell your roommate to have some. You give some to a friend who comes over. There go your leftovers.
You’re eating too much
You’re also saying to yourself, “This food was really cheap so I can go in for second servings.” Now you aren’t saving money, and you’ve put on a few. Whoops.
You’re indulging “because you’re saving”
Because you’re not eating out as much, you tell yourself you’re free to buy the things that would be expensive at a restaurant. Like the filet mignon and the scallops. But now you’re buying those quite a bit, and they aren’t cheap—not even at the grocery store.
You buy a lot of “Just in case” items
Canned corn. Tons of Gatorade. Rare spices. Horseradish. Capers. You’re buying things that you may use, one time in a year, “Just in case” you need them. And they added an extra $40 to your receipt.
You aren’t making a list
You aren’t checking what you’re running low on at home before heading to the store, and so you’re accidentally double purchasing things you already had at home. This can lead to things going bad, or just never getting used.
You’re getting the fresh seafood
This is another way you’re treating yourself more, because you’ve “earned it” by grocery shopping. You’re buying more fresh seafood, rather than the frozen stuff. But remember the “Fresh” stuff arrived frozen and was defrosted, so it’s no better than the frozen stuff: it’s just far more expensive.
You’re adding courses
You tell yourself that since everything is so cheap, you’ll go four-course on this meal. “I’ll make hors d’oeuvres, appetizers, several sides, and a dessert…” Now you’ve over-spent.
You’re going name brand on coffee
You’re so proud of yourself for making coffee at home, that you treat yourself to the fanciest coffee in the grocery store. The price per cup at home is still cheaper than it would be at the coffee shop. The issue is that, now you’re treating yourself to two or three cups at home because it’s just sitting there. You’re blitzing through the stuff.
You’re dazzled by clearance
You’re all about the clearance cart. If it’s on clearance, “It’s a good deal”—you tell yourself. So this $30 bottle of wine that was once $60 is a good deal. But…under normal circumstances, don’t you just buy the $8 bottles of wine?
You’re stocking up on frozen goods
You’re buying frozen foods because you think they never go bad. You really put that to the test, saving them for “emergencies only” and then they do go bad.