Sense & Centsibility Blog
Couple look over grocery list in produce section of store

Eat frugally; strengthen your finances, health and relationships

February is a great month to write about eating frugally. The holidays are over, you’ve made your New Year’s resolutions, and you now have momentum to make positive changes in your life. Reducing your spending on food is one area where you can make changes that will save you money, improve your health and build relationships.

Examine Your Food Budget

Identify all the items that increase your food bill over a given month, and see which ones you can reduce or eliminate.

Food is a budget category where monthly expenses can vary widely, depending on what and where you eat and drink. You will dramatically increase your food costs if, for example, you:

  • Drink significant amounts of alcohol.
  • Purchase food or beverages from convenience stores or coffee shops.
  • Go to restaurants frequently.
  • Buy too many groceries, then toss them when they spoil or reach their expiration date.

Prepare Food at Home

Another way to feast frugally is to prepare food at home. Cooking and teaching your kids to cook provide everyone with lessons for a lifetime. This can also be an intentional way to care for yourself and develop relationships. Here are a few ideas:

  • Soups: The winter months are ideal for making large batches that you can freeze or refrigerate and then use for lunches to warm your body and soul. Onions and garlic – common elements in soup – both have healing properties. So does bone broth, which has collagen. You can create the broth by boiling down parts of the chicken carcass. Use up other veggies in your fridge to add even more nutritional value.
  • Baking: Imagine your home smelling like baked bread, which is basically just flour, water and yeast. Or whip up a batch of baking powder biscuits with butter, flour, baking powder and milk. Drizzle a little honey on the biscuits and they taste divine.
  • Homemade treats: Teach your kids to bake cookies and say no to prepackaged sweets and junk food at the grocery store. You’ll have both delicious goodies and quality time together when you make treats from scratch.
  • Pancakes: This is a semi-healthy breakfast option if you set out nuts, yogurt, real maple syrup and fruit. You can cut costs further by thawing frozen fruit. I like to splurge on nuts because they are our family’s go-to protein source, comparable in price to meat, and have a long shelf life. Pancakes are also fun to share with others. Hold a pancake breakfast on a non-school day and invite your friends. Eating with your community -- friends, neighbors or family – not only saves on your food bill but also builds and strengthens relationships.

Disclaimer: I’m not a nutritionist, and everyone has certain dietary needs. Cook what makes you happy and healthy. The internet has an endless supply of great recipes. Find ones that work for you.

Sarah Jannusch is a Certified Financial Counselor with LSS Financial Counseling.

LSS Financial Counseling has certified counselors who provide free, non-judgmental support. Whatever financial challenges you are facing, we will work alongside you as you take control of your finances. Call us at 888.577.2277 to set up an appointment, or get all your support online.