Four Surprising Ways You May Be Eating Yourself Into Debt – by Kelly Bagnasco

Did you know?
One of the main causes of personal debt is actual due to dining out on a regular basis. Many justify the “need” to dine out frequently with various excuses such as:
I don’t have time to cook.
I’m late getting home and my family won’t/can’t cook.
It’s easier for us to eat out.
It’s cheaper to eat out than it is to buy groceries (Seriously, people have written in believing this!)
I don’t know how to Cook

1. Do you dine out one or more times per week? The average dining out check for a family of 4 starts at $60. If you do that just 1x per week, you’ve spent $3,120. dining out in 1 year, which is actually less than we allot for our families entire Yearly grocery budget.

Alternatives for dining out: Make your own Copycat Restaurant Dishes and enjoy the flavors of your favorite foods at a significant reduction of the original price. For example, we adore Beef Wellington and we’ve discovered a way to make it for $3.63 per person, rather than the $48. per person our local steakhouse charges.

Utilize the Slow Cooker- Meals can be prepared with very little effort, simple measure a few ingredients in the cooker before you head out the door to work, (school, gym, where ever it is you go) and when you come home, a delicious meal will be waiting for you.

Double the Recipe Twice Per Week- whatever it is you’re making, whether it’s a casserole, hot dish, etc- make it a point to double the recipe at least twice per week. While you’re enjoying dinner the first time around, the other dish is wrapped and put away into the freezer for another night. If you do this just twice per week you will literally cut out an entire week’s worth of cooking each month. How’s that for having a night off?

Invest in a Digital Pressure Cooker- for the expense of a single meal out with the family, you can pick up a digital pressure cooker and prepare meals in under 30 minutes (from Freezer to the table, no thawing!)

Lunchtime is one of the biggest budget busters, oftentimes people (think) they don’t have time to make a lunch in the morning and end up snacking out of the vending machine at work (or school). If you work with several colleagues who are have an interest in eating healthier, consider starting a Salad Club at work. Here is a collection of Hot/ Cold and Bag lunch ideas for the Entire Family to help reduce your lunchtime expense.

2. Do you purchase prepackaged seasoning mixes? We recently shared a homemade (copycat Taco Bell) seasoning mix on our site and received several inquiries as to “why would anyone would make it when you can just buy it at the store?” Well, to be honest, a package of name brand seasoning mix is $1. It costs approximately 12¢ to make the seasoning mix from scratch at home in about 3 minutes flat.

Let’s look at the Math: 1 Package of (store bought)Taco Seasoning Mix, used just twice per month x 12 months = 24 Packages of Mix at $1 per package = $24. Spent on JUST Taco Seasoning.
Homemade Taco Seasoning costs approximately .12 per Pkg (equivalent), x 24 servings = $2.88 $24 minus $2.88 = $21.12 Savings on the grocery bill in 1 year JUST by making your own taco seasoning.
Imagine the difference in your grocery bill if you swapped out 5 similar prepackaged foods per Month for homemade foods, just 5. With over 2,000 homemade mix recipes in various categories here, it should be simple to swap out 5 of the most frequently purchased items on your list for major savings each year.

3. Do you purchase portioned snacks such as 100 Calorie snack packs, apples that are sliced, mini bags of chips? Each of these items is a major drain on the grocery budget and can be easily packaged at home for a fraction of the cost.
Make Your Own 100 Calorie Snack Packs
If chips & pretzels are routinely part of your normal grocery budget, consider purchasing large bags and repackaging them into single serving size baggies. This will help keep the kids from eating an entire bag in one sitting, as well as save money on those tiny bags of air containing 5 or 6 chips.

4. Do you insist on purchasing Name Brand items? Many people aren’t aware that most store brand AND Name brand items are literally frequently packaged in the exact same facilities and the only difference is often a different colored label being slapped on the can.
When purchasing eggs, fruit or frozen veggies, always choose generic as they’re generally up to 70% less cost for the exact same product. An apple is an apple, regardless of which company label you purchase it from.
Examples:
Kirkland Signature (Costco Brand) Tuna is packaged by Bumblebee
Kirkland Signature Shampoo is made by Pureology

As you can see, by altering a few spending habits the savings per year can be immense. Sometimes people comment that they don’t have “time” to make a few of these homemade mixes to save money. Here’s an alternative way of looking at it..

How much money do you make per hour? If you make $8 per hour and you’re purchasing $24 worth of taco seasoning packets per year, you are literally working 3 hours a year just to buy prepackaged taco seasoning. Is it worth it NOW? For less than 10 minutes of your time you could have made a years worth of seasoning.
via:budget101