6 Simple Changes That Could Help You Save $2,997 a Year
Thrifty tips and easy recipes come together to help you save some major cash over the course of a year.
Pictured recipe: Easy Vegetarian Chili
Can you enjoy a healthy diet and save money? With a few simple changes to your regular routine, you certainly can. And the best part is, it's easier than you think. Read on for six tips and tricks that will help you save money, while eating deliciously and maintaining a healthy diet.
1. Eat Vegetarian a Few Nights a Week
Pictured recipe: South of the Border Buddha Bowl
Skipping meat, even once (or, better yet, twice!) a week, can help save money. Meat is often the most expensive part of a meal. Try to include a couple of vegetarian meals in your menu for the week. On top of being a heart-healthy choice, cutting out meat will also have a lighter impact on the environment.
Save $312 per year. (Replace 1 pound of sirloin [$7.99] with a 14-ounce block of tofu [$1.99] once a week for a year.)
More Recipes: Our 45 Best Vegetarian Recipes
2. Minimize Waste
Pictured recipe: Strawberry-Banana Bread
Would you consciously put $1,820 in the trash can once a year? Probably not. But if you're an American family of four that's exactly what you're doing, according to research conducted by the Natural Resources Defense Council. What's going in the trash? Mostly foods that are good for you like seafood, fruits and vegetables. To kick this bad habit in the butt, we need to do a better job of managing the food we buy. Planning our meals carefully, using leftovers and storing food properly are all good places to start. If you have food that's been sitting around for a while, don't automatically throw it away. A soft banana can be come banana bread. Slightly wrinkled cherry tomatoes can be cooked down into sauce. And those sell-by dates on products like eggs and dairy? They only suggest the peak of freshness and don't necessarily mean the food has expired. Let yourself be the judge before you toss it.
Save $1,820 per year. (Estimated value of the food an average American household of four wastes in a year.)
See More: Easy Recipes for Leftovers
3. Buy Cheaper Cuts of Meat
Pictured recipe: Pressure-Cooker Chicken Tacos
Just because some cuts of meat are less expensive than others doesn't mean they're lesser quality. In many cases, less expensive cuts of meat like chicken thighs or beef brisket have a better flavor when compared to pricier options like chicken breast and sirloin. The trick is that you have to know how to cook them. If you're finding that less expensive cuts of meat take longer to cook, a slow cooker or multicooker can come in handy. Other inexpensive cuts of meat that work well in the slow cooker or multicooker include pork shoulder and beef chuck.
Save $31 per year. (Replace 1 pound of boneless, skinless chicken breast [$2.99] with 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs [$2.39] once a week for a year.)
4. Discover Great Ways to Use Canned Fish
Pictured recipe: Salmon Salad-Stuffed Avocado
If you love fish, but don't love the price tag, give canned tuna or salmon a try. Just like their fresh counterparts, canned salmon and tuna provide omega-3 fats, which help keep your heart healthy by lowering triglycerides and blood pressure. Fresh fish is a real treat, and we wouldn't suggest you give it up completely, but if you eat seafood regularly, adding canned fish to your lineup once a month can save you some cash.
Save $188 per year. (Replace 1 pound of fresh tuna [$10.99] with 2 cans of tuna [$7.38] once a week for a year.)
See the Recipes: Delicious Canned Wild Salmon Recipes
5. Forget Delivery & Make Pizza at Home!
Pictured recipe: Grilled Taco Pizza
Ordering pizza is a quick dinner solution, but a typical pie costs more than $15. Of course, there are times when ordering out works for your busy schedule, but if you have a little extra time you can make your own at home, like this Grilled Taco Pizza, for a lot less. And when you factor in the amount of time delivery takes, you could have your homemade version on the table in roughly the same amount of time it would take for delivery. A Domino's large, Brooklyn-style pepperoni pizza is $15. You can make a similar pizza for half that cost, while adding healthy ingredients like peppers and mushrooms to boot.
Save $90 per year. (Make pizza at home once a month instead of ordering out.)
Related Links: Easy Healthy Pizza Recipes
6. Pack a Lunch
Pictured recipe: Meal-Prep Curried Chicken Bowls
When you're busy at work, the easiest choice is to grab a bite nearby. But this convenience takes a toll on your food budget. For example, the average lunch at Panera Bread costs around $8. To help you stick to your budget, try bringing a lunch from home a few times a week. If you think ahead, bringing a lunch from home is easy. When you make dinner, think about what you're going to eat for lunch tomorrow. If you're making a salad, make a little extra and put it in a container, undressed. And what about your leftovers? If you have a little extra chicken or half a can of beans, toss that in with your lunch salad. And if you're feeling really excited about a certain recipe, meal-prep it ahead of time to take for the upcoming week.
Save $720 per year. (Replace an $8 lunch with a $3 lunch from home 3 days a week, 48 weeks a year.)