9 Tips to Stretch Your Food Budget

THE NEW YORK TIMES – The tips below, from four budgeting experts, can help you maximize your food budget.

Focus on Cooking

It should go without saying, but cooking at home is almost always cheaper (and healthier!) in the long term than going out to eat or ordering in.

To make it even easier on yourself, keep your pantry stocked with essentials to make quick, simple recipes: a fast pizza with store-bought dough, a stir-fry built on frozen vegetables, 15-minute quesadillas.

Having a collection of recipes you love to make can curb the urge to call for delivery.

Eat Less Meat

Toni Okamoto, who runs the blog Plant-Based on a Budget, recommends cutting out meat at least one or two times a week.

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It’s the “one thing that comes up over and over again,” Ms. Okamoto said, in the budget cookbooks she has read, both vegetarian and not.

“If you can go meatless a couple of times per week, you can definitely save,” she said. Hearty eggs, legumes and tofu can all serve as sources of protein.

And not only are they cheap, they often last longer in the fridge than the average piece of meat, meaning there’s less of a chance that they’ll go to waste when life inevitably gets in the way of dinner.

Avoid Wasting Food

Speaking of, several experts noted that wasting food is basically throwing money in the trash.

“It always breaks my heart,” Ms. Okamoto said. Reframing it as such may have you thinking twice before you buy more than you need, or simply let something languish.

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Repurpose your odds and ends into something else, like pizza and soups, frittatas and tacos.

Sign Up for Coupons

Ms. Okamoto remembers the feeling of embarrassment she had when grocery shopping with her mother — and her mother’s accordion folder full of coupons.

“Now, you can be really discreet about coupons,” she said. You can clip them on your phone with store apps …

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