Five Unconventional Ways to Save Money on Food

By Erin Lozano

Cooking TogetherFor many of us, this economy has taught us all a lesson on creative money management. So, in keeping with our creative money savings tips series, SMW’s money contributor Erin Lozano offers 5 new uncoventional ways to save money on food. Try a few or all of them and let us know what you think.

Here’s a fun tip for the $200/week grocery challenge.

1. Throw a supper party!

When reserves are running low, throw a supper party. Invite guests to bring ingredients they have hanging around in the fridge. Then, together, design and make a meal out of everything that people bring. You can get really wild and creative…and come home with some new dinner tips from others, to mix up the regular menu.

2. Trade gift certificates and coupons.

After dinner, make the theme of savings a clever event. Have guests bring coupons, and a list of local discounts they have heard about. Be prepared to share and trade. Over dessert, bump up the stakes. Invite your guests to round up all of their unused gift certificates and free dinner coupons, and bring them to the supper party. (We all have some stuffed in a drawer, don’t we? The massage certificate we gave our mom for her birthday and she never used. The $50 restaurant raffle we won and never spent.) Then open the trading floor! Someone else would use that massage certificate in a heartbeat, and you could get something you really like in return. Commit to using the coupons and gift certificates you end up with, and see what kind of new experience it leads you to. I love to use mine for inevitable special occasions where I’ll be treating, like birthday dinners.

3. Eat out more often.

Not at restaurants. Instead, consider the dinner invitations you have gotten from friends and neighbors over time. Start taking people up on them. Instead of putting it off, say yes! Offer to bring a salad.

4. Share a farm fresh produce box.

Nearby farms often provide monthly or weekly produce delivery to urban areas. If you go in on a share with enough friends or neighbors, it could cost as little as $20 a week for a big box of vegetables. And the vegetables change with the season. Yum.

5. Make a night out special.

Instead of fancy Italian dinner, head to an all-night taco stand. Broaden your adventure horizons, and go on a walk. Look up at the stars. If you go to a discount theater, bring your own popcorn that you made at home. Money can be a short cut to gratification that creativity can make up with more fun. If the intent is having a memorable night out, you’ll have a great time getting creative.

More Money Saving Tips

The 30-Day Grocery Challenge

Step-by-Step Guid to Mastering Your Money and Managing Debt

GreenSherpa Money Management Tool