Simple tips to be more frugal
I’ve never been an avid restaurant goer for numerous reasons, but when I occasionally make my way to one to catch up with friends, one thing has blatantly stood out: food isn’t cheap.
When you’re younger, the cost of food isn’t something you think much about or seriously consider. You don’t start to become more mindful of your spending habits until you get older.
As a recent college graduate, I’m always looking for new ways to save money and to limit my spending on useless things I don’t really need. Something I’ve been interested in lately is the cost of food.
There are ways that you can be more frugal with your money. One of the ways to save a large chunk of cash is by simple making food at home as opposed to eating out on a regular basis. Here are three foods that you should be making at home.
Salads are one of the foods that greatly surprised me by how expensive they are. You would think that a bowl of lettuce and vegetables would be one of the cheaper meals to buy at a restaurant or fast food place, but in reality, they tend to be one of the more expensive foods to buy.
Salads are typically made with unprocessed, natural ingredients like lettuce, tomatoes, olives, cucumbers, and spinach. These are all relatively inexpensive foods you can get at a grocery store, yet the price of salads is often inflated at restaurants at a ridiculous price.
Salads can cost up to $20, and possibly more depending on what restaurant you eat at. In many instances, burgers, which are highly processed and often made with more expensive ingredients, cost less than salads.
Even if the salad you’re eating is healthy, you may very well be spending a ridiculous amount of money on mere lettuce that you could easily make yourself at a fraction of the price.
You can make a salad for under $5 if you make it at home:
- Lettuce: A normal bag of lettuce costs around $3 and has multiple servings in the bag. It depends on how large a bag of lettuce you buy and what brand, but lettuce tends to be pretty inexpensive.
- Avocado: An individual avocado costs around $0.68, and there are about three servings in an avocado. If you had one serving, it would cost you around $0.23.
- Tomato: An individual tomato costs around $0.50-$1, and it will likely last you more than one use.
- Olives: A can of olives has about 11 servings, and costs around $1.77. Each serving costs about sixteen cents.
- Dressing: You can buy a 24-ounce bottle of dressing for around $3.88 that has 24 servings in it. That averages out to about seventeen cents per serving of dressing.
If you choose to add a protein like tofu or meat, it may cost a little bit extra. A container of tofu costs only $1.78 and has 4.5 servings. Nonetheless, you can make a homemade salad that is significantly cheaper than if you were to buy it at a restaurant.
2. Protein Bars & Granola Bars
Protein bars and granola bars used to be one of my favorite snacks to buy. I would bring them to lunch, to sports practices, and eat them for breakfast if I was running late and needed something that was quick and easy.
They’re easy, convenient, and fully satisfying, which is why they’re such a tempting snack. With that being said, they’re not super affordable. While you can get a protein bar for as little as $1, some can range up to $3–$4, depending on the brand and the popularity of the product.
One of my favorite vegan protein bars is the No Cow Bar, which costs $2.50 — and that’s when it’s on sale.
At it’s original price, it’s around $3 a bar.
While this might not seem like a lot of money to some people, I’d argue that it’s outrageously expensive. If you ate a protein bar for breakfast every day at $3 a bar, you would be spending $21 on protein bars for the week. That’s an insane amount of money to spend on a snack bar alone.
While I love protein bars and splurge on them every one in a while, lately I’ve been making them myself. I’m not someone who is willing to regularly spend $3 on a protein bar. I find spending even $1 on a protein bar difficult.
Instead of buying protein bars, I’ve been making vegan peanut butter energy bites.
What you’ll need:
- Peanut Butter: A typical jar of peanut butter has 14 servings and costs around $2.99. For this recipe, it calls for two servings of peanut butter.
- Medjool Pitted Dates: A box of dates costs $5.99, but you only need about eight dates for this recipe.
- Rolled Oats: Oatmeal is one of the cheapest items you can buy. A container of oatmeal with 13 servings costs $3.79, and you only need 1/4 of a cup.
- Chia Seeds (optional): This is an optional ingredient that you can certainly forgo, but you only need a tablespoon of it to make these energy bites. A 5 ounce container of chia seeds can cost as little as $2.79.
Typically a black coffee is just a few dollars, but if you regularly buy the lattes and frappucinos, it can get pretty pricey.
A $5 cup of coffee might not seem like a lot of money, but it adds up rather quickly. If it’s in your daily routine to stop at your local coffee shop before work every morning, that $5 cup of coffee can turn into hundreds, and maybe more.
Let’s do some quick math.
If you bought a $5 cup of coffee every single day before work, for the year you would have spent approximately $1,825 on coffee. I don’t know about you, but there are other things I could buy with $1,825 instead of coffee.
It’s easy to be a little reckless about buying things when they’re so cheap. However, it all adds up. Making coffee at home is really inexpensive. You can make numerous cups of coffee for $5 at home in comparison to a single coffee you’d buy from a coffee shop.
I’m not saying to never buy a cup of coffee. It’s one of my hobbies to go to coffee shops with my friends and catch up. However, I’m simply saying that if you’re a little more mindful of how many times you’re swiping your credit card at your local coffee shop, you can easily save some cash.
Benefits of making food from home:
While it’s nice to splurge on a nice meal or protein bar every once in a while, making it a regular occurrence can be quite costly. If you were to buy one salad and two coffees a week, that’s already about $100 down the drain.
If you’re a college student, tight on cash, or are simply looking for new ways to save your coin, making more meals at home and being more mindful of how much you’re getting take-out is something to consider.
Originally published at https://veganandplants.com on August 31, 2020.