When I first began working full-time after college, I didn’t make much money. My daily food budget was around $5, and I stuck to it. Like most twentysomethings, I relied on Taco Bell, McDonald’s Dollar Menu, and the $1 Totino’s party pizzas.
- Shop at Sam’s Club for bulk items like pasta, cheese, and meat. Particularly the 5 lb. bags of pasta, 5 lb. blocks of cheese for $10-$12 (MUCH cheaper than grocery store), chicken breasts and steak, and large containers of Bertolli olive oil for around $16. Sam’s Club sells whole USDA choice ribeye and NY strip steak for about $5-6 per pound, and you can break it down yourself simply to slicing your own steaks.
- Shop at Aldi’s for staples like produce, wine ($3 Winking Owl comes in Shiraz, Merlot, Cabernet, Chardonnay and it’s very drinkable), baking ingredients, and random items.
- Buy a FoodSaver. We use it to save and freeze that cheese, chicken, and steak from Sam’s Club.
- Clip coupons from the Sunday St. Petersburg Times, then look for those items as BOGO deals at Publix. Best items for this are pasta sauce, juice, and frozen dinners.
- Don’t buy expensive knives and cookware. My professional chef husband says they are nice, but completely unnecessary for quality home cooking. We buy knives and pans from Sam’s Club and they just need to be sharp. For pans, just look for the words “hard anodized” and those will last quite awhile. We bought our pots and pans from WalMart for $9 each, and they came with lids.
- DO spend money on spices, salt, pepper. Seasoning your cooking and making sure to taste it will make a world of difference.