Thursday, January 5, 2012

Save on Food Expenses Now!

One of my major goals for 2012 is to save money. I can see from perusing my bank statements from the last year that one of my biggest expenses is food –from grocery shopping, to eating out, to grabbing coffee in the morning. 

Food expenses can take small bites out of your bank account, adding up to a lot in the end. Fortunately, there are a number of ways to save. Although it might seem go against your instincts, investing now in a few key items will save you money in the future. Here a few inexpensive tools that you should buy now to save on food expenses:

Bodum 12 oz. Porcelain Mugs
1) Travel coffee mugs: Sure, spending $2 every day at your local coffee shop before work seems inconsequential, but it’s not. Depending on what drink you get (I’m talking just plain cups of coffee, not double-tall mocha skinny soy chai latte cappuccino lattes) you can spend up to $500 per year on just coffee. Buy these great porcelain travel mugs by Bodum, make your coffee (or tea) at home, and take it with you to work. Get two of these mugs nowon sale for only $17. (You can still support your local coffee shop on the weekends!)

2) Home canning kit: One of my biggest peeves is wasting food. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve found a half-used bag of baby carrots or a box of wilted mushrooms in the back of my refrigerator. One solution: can your veggies. Made a salad and have some cucumber left over? Can it for a July picnic (and save yourself from spending later). Canning is a fun way to turn unused produce into delicious pickled or jellied treats. ChefTools.com has every piece of canning equipment you need.

3) Water bottles and pitchers: You want to stay healthy and hydrated, but you don’t want to keep wasting money and hurting the environment with disposable plastic bottles. Get a reusable water bottle – take it camping, take it to work, take it to the gym. It will last forever and you’ll go back to getting your water for free. ChefTools has a number of great stainless steel Alfi water bottles on sale now, for you and for the kids.

4) Spray bottles and towels: Stop buying $3 bottles chock full of crazy chemicals. Get yourself a spray bottle (like this atomizer), a couple of microfiber cloths, a bottle of hydrogen peroxide and some white vinegar. Clean and disinfect any surface with just the peroxide and vinegar in a spray bottle. The microfiber cloths absorb much more than any paper towel, and are washable and reusable until they fall apart (which won’t be for a very long time).

Norpor Compost Container
5) Composting tools: For a long time I was one of those people who marched down to the local garden supply store every spring and bought things like fertilizer, topsoil, and all the rest. But I haven’t done that for years since I started composting. It may take a year or so to start up, but countertop composting can provide you with enough rich soil for your flowerbeds or vegetable garden – just 2 months’ worth of scraps add up to pounds of soil; you’re turning what was once garbage into plant food. Compost is free and it’s loaded with nutrients - your basil never tasted so good, your flowers never bloomed so bright. 

These are just a couple of ways to save, and some have the benefit of being environmentally conscious, and a fun activity. Do you have any tips to save on food expenses?
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