For most of us, there are times when it's necessary to pinch pennies (and now that the penny is dying out, loonies are perhaps the things to pinch).
While rent and mortgages usually remain non-negotiable, food is usually an area that can go from the Whole Paycheck mentality of Whole Foods to the bare budget No Name brands. However, sale items at the supermarket are not economical in terms of long-term health (hot dogs, cookies, frozen meals).
How can you eat with your health in mind and still having money left over by the end of the month? Some ideas:
1. Shop for food as you would shop for clothing. Just as you wouldn't buy the orange jacket if you have nothing to go with it, don't buy the coconut curry if it requires a whole grocery cart of exotic ingredients to go with it. Think about your pantry staples back at home, and add onto your food wardrobe with your weekly additions.
2. Sign up for online coupon deals. Include the big city coupon websites and think about getting your specialty ingredients this way. You may see deals for lobster and filet mignon for a quarter of what they would normally cost, simply to bring in new customers. You didn't think you would see the word lobster in this article, did you?
3. Plan your meals in advance. This does not mean that you have to eat the same thing every day, but it may mean that you need to be creative. If there's a sale on peaches, make peaches a part of your breakfasts. Peaches with muesli and yogurt, peach French toast with the soon-to-be-stale bread on your counter, peach muffins with your pantry flours, peach smoothies – and Google can provide you with a few (thousand) more ideas.
4. Leftovers are fantastic things. It does not cost much more to cook for four than it does for two. Don't worry about buying bulk amounts of veggies and lean meats that have an expiry date that is soon. Make a ratatouille, or shred and slow bake the meat in a yummy sauce of whatever you have lurking in your fridge (put to use those half-used condiment jars). Leftovers can be great with eggs for another meal, or heaped on slices of bread or lettuce for tomorrow's lunch.
The fact that you cannot eat out as frequently need not be a hindrance. As your waistline shrinks, your colleagues may look enviously at your plate, without realizing that this is your mouth-watering result of saving some coin.