35 Cheap Dinner Ideas: 30-Minute Dinner Recipes for $5 or Less!

cheap dinner ideas
Cheap Dinner Ideas

Find 35 easy and cheap dinner ideas that you can make in 30 minutes or less for your family! If you are looking for quick, easy, tasty, and inexpensive dinner ideas, then you have come to the right place!

These quick, easy, and cheap dinner ideas are perfect to get a yummy dinner on the table fast to feed your hungry family!


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35 Easy and Cheap Dinner Ideas

Below are 35 easy and cheap dinner ideas you can make for your family in less than 30 minutes!

One of the easiest things you can do to save money on dinner is to eat at home and to keep things simple! Today’s families are busy, and keeping things easy will help you save both time and money! Your family will love these cheap dinner ideas!

 

1. Skillet Burritos

If you love burritos you will love this tasty dish! For this easy and cheap dinner idea, you will need a chopped onion, ground beef, diced tomatoes (fresh or from a can), kidney beans, tortillas, and cheese. Garnish with sour cream or plain yogurt, avocado, green onions, olives, or other favorite toppings. You can get this easy skillet burritos recipe here.

 

2. Quick and Easy Taco Salad

You can’t go wrong with a tasty taco salad. In this quick and easy version, you need just hamburger (or substitute ground turkey or ground chicken), taco seasoning, cilantro (or omit it, like I do), lettuce, cheese, salsa, green onions, tortilla chips (crumbled), and a lime for garnish. Simple! Find this quick and easy taco salad recipe here.

 

3. Avocado and Black Bean Quesadillas

This cheap dinner idea is a fun twist on traditional quesadillas. To the traditional tortillas and cheese add onion, bell pepper, taco seasoning, avocados, and cilantro (or omit the cilantro, if you prefer). This quick dish is ready in 20 minutes or less. You can find this avocado and black bean quesadillas recipe here.

 

4. Quick and Easy Calzones

Have you tried calzones before? They are sort of like a personal pizza, folded up. To make, you need pizza crust dough (from the store, or make your own simple crust like we do), marinara sauce (or alfredo is great too!), shredded mozzarella (or other) cheese, pepperoni, and a litle butter, Italian seasoning, and Parmesan cheese. My calzones never turn out as pretty as the ones pictured with this recipe, but that’s all right. 🙂 They still taste great. Find the quick and easy calzones recipe here.

 

5. Quick Beef Stroganoff

Beef stroganoff is another of my personal favorite cheap dinner ideas. This particular recipe has a bit of a fun twist with the addition of ketchup and cream cheese to make it extra creamy. Other ingredients include the egg noodles (or substitute whatever noodles you have on hand), sliced mushrooms (optional), butter and minced garlic, a little flour, milk, sour cream, and salt and pepper to taste. Another awesome comfort food! This quick beef stroganoff recipe is here.

 

 

6. One-Pot Creamy Garlic Chicken and Rice

You just can’t go wrong with an easy chicken and rice dish! (Well, I guess you could, but the odds are in your favor that you won’t! :)) This meal really is simple, with chicken, spinach, garlic, rice, and some seasonings. We don’t generally have heavy cream on hand, so we substitute whole milk (or even 2%, if that’s all we have at the time). You can find this creamy garlic chicken and rice recipe here.

 

7. Vegetable Ramen Pad Thai

For a fun twist on a cheap-dinner staple, try this Thai-inspired dish. All you need are ramen noodles, vegetables, soy sauce, peanut butter, sriracha, and red pepper flakes. If you want a milder version, reduce or leave out the sriracha and red pepper flakes (like I do). You can find a simple vegetable ramen pad Thai recipe here.

 

8. Teriyaki Chicken Thighs with Rice

This recipe is easy! It requires just 3 ingredients. All you need are the chicken thighs, brown sugar, and soy sauce. You can also add in vegetables toward the end of the cook times, if desired. Serve over rice, and enjoy! You can find this three-ingredient teriyaki chicken thighs recipe here.

 

9.  Chicken Gnocchi Skillet

This is another tasty and easy chicken dish. If you have never had gnocchi before, you need to give this classic Italian dish a try! Quick and tasty, you can have this dish on the table in just 20 minutes! In addition to a package of gnocchi, this recipe calls for ground chicken (though I bet chopped chicken would work, as well), onion, spaghetti sauce (or make your own to save money, like we do, with tomato sauce and spaghetti seasoning), salt, oregano, and (optional) grated Parmesan cheese. You can find this tasty chicken gnocchi skillet recipe here.

 

10. Spaghetti with Bacon

Bacon makes everything better; am I right?  This pasta dish is super simple. All you need is pasta (spaghetti, or use a different pasta of your choice), garlic, parsley, and a little olive oil, and you will be ready to eat in less than 30 minutes. You can find this simple spaghetti with bacon recipe here.

 

11. Sour Cream Enchiladas

This is another easy and cheap recipe idea, with just 4 ingredients! All you need is a can of enchilada sauce (or use tomato sauce and taco seasoning as a substitute, like I usually do), an eight-ounce container of sour cream, shredded cheese, and corn tortillas. Simply put a spoonful of sour cream and handful of cheese in the center of each tortilla, roll them up, put them in a baking pan, pour sauce over the top, and distribute remaining sour cream and cheese over the top. Then bake and enjoy! You can find this simple sour cream enchiladas recipe here.

 

12. Easy Microwave Chicken Enchiladas

This is another one of my favorite enchilada recipes. And this one you can make in the microwave! Woo hoo! All you need are shredded chicken (already cooked—this is a great way to use leftover chicken!), enchilada sauce (or again, you can use tomato sauce), taco seasoning, cheese, corn tortillas, sour cream, and cilantro for garnish (or omit the cilantro [like I do]). Total prep and cooking time is just 20 minutes! You can find this easy microwave chicken enchiladas recipe here.

 

13. Skillet Cheeseburger Mac and Cheese

Another of my own favorite tasty and cheap recipe ideas is cheeseburger macaroni and cheese. For this simple from-scratch recipe you need macaroni (or other pasta noodles, though larger noodles may take a few more minutes to cook), oil, ground beef, onion, garlic, tomato sauce, milk, cheese, sugar (or you can omit it), and salt and pepper to taste. Put it all together, and you have a tasty twist on good ol’ mac and cheese that is ready in just 30 minutes or less. You can find the skillet cheeseburger mac and cheese recipe here.

 

14. Best Chili Mac

This cheap dinner idea is such an easy comfort food to make! All you need are macaroni noodles, half a pound of ground beef, tomato soup, mozzarella cheese (or substitute whatever cheese you have on hand), and seasonings! And then you can have this easy chili mac and cheese dinner on the table in 20 minutes or less! You can find this best chili macaroni and cheese recipe here.

 

15. One-Pot Bacon Cheeseburger Pasta

With melty cheese (two kinds!), hamburger, and bacon all in one yummy dish, this is a yummy combination! The ketchup and Worcestershire sauce give it a tasty kick, too! You can find this cheap dinner idea for bacon cheeseburger pasta recipe here.

 

16. Sweet and sour meatballs

If you love sweet and sour dishes, you will love this easy from scratch recipe for sweet and sour meatballs! This recipe calls for hamburger, an egg, onion, bread crumbs, cider vinegar, ketchup, brown sugar, cornstarch, soy sauce, and salt and pepper. And it is ready so fast; have dinner on the table in just 20 minutes! you can find this easy sweet and sour meatballs recipe here.

 

17. Easy Orange Chicken

Orange chicken is one of my favorite Chinese dishes, and this recipe is great because it is quick and easy to make. You can have this delicious dinner on the table in 25 minutes or less! The main ingredients for this cheap dinner idea include chicken thighs, a large orange, soy sauce, brown sugar, an egg, and green onions. When prepared, eat piping hot over white or brown rice. You can find this easy orange chicken recipe here.

 

18. 30-Minute Asian Orange Beef

Or if you are more in the mood for beef, give this easy Asian orange beef recipe a try.

 

19. Easy Sesame Chicken

 Easy sesame chicken is another one of my favorite cheap dinner ideas. For this Asian-inspired recipe the main ingredients are a large egg, boneless skinless chicken thighs, soy sauce, brown sugar, and green onions. Serve over rice. This cheap and easy sesame chicken recipe can be found here.

 

20. Classic Bean and Cheese Burritos

OK, moving right along from Asian inspired to Mexican inspired cuisine. 🙂 These easy bean and cheese burritos have just four ingredients (plus add any other toppings you love, such as salsa). All you need are refried beans, cheese, tortilla shells, and taco seasoning mix. Such an easy and cheap dinner idea! You can find this simple bean and cheese burrito recipe here.

 

21. Spinach and Artichoke Melts

Love spinach and artichoke dip, like me? Then you will love these simple melts! Main ingredients for this simple recipe include spinach (you can substitute frozen spinach, if it is cheaper), artichoke hearts, cream cheese, mozzarella cheese, and sourdough bread (or substitute your favorite bread on hand). I don’t particularly like feta cheese, so we omit that, and we generally substitute a less expensive spread for the butter. If you want, you can also add thinly sliced or chopped and cooked chicken breast to the melts. You can find a simple spinach and artichoke melts recipe here.

 

22. One-Pot Chicken Pot Pie Fettuccine

OK, confession—there is no “pie” in this chicken pot pie fettuccine recipe. But I think your taste buds will forgive you. This recipe instead calls for a pound of fettuccine pasta, as well as chicken breasts, an onion, two carrots, two celery stalks, garlic, a little flour, milk, chicken broth, and a little parsley for garnish. You can find this winning chicken pot pie fettuccine recipe here.

 

23. Italian Pesto Pizza

If you love pesto, you will love this simple pesto pizza recipe. In addition to the pesto, add mozzarella cheese, parsley, basil, and Parmesan cheese. (The recipe also calls for prosciutto, but you can omit that ingredient if you like to make the recipe even more budget friendly, or substitute regular chopped ham, Canadian bacon, or pepperoni.) This Italian pesto pizza recipe is here.

 

24. Tater Tot Casserole

Tater tot casserole was one of our regular staples when I was growing up. But I think that this recipe is even better than the one we ate growing up (shhh; don’t tell Mom!) because it has yummy, melty cheese, and Mom’s didn’t. 🙂 This tasty tater tot casserole recipe doesn’t call for vegetables, but we do include either half a bag of frozen mixed vegetables or a can of corn when we make it.

 

25. One-Skillet Smoked Sausage and Rice

This quick and easy cheap dinner idea calls for smoked sausage, broccoli, cooked rice,  and cheese, which add up to an awesome combination that can be on your table in 15 minutes! (Even if you need to cook the rice, you can still have dinner ready in 30 minutes or less.) You can find this budget-friendly one-skillet smoked sausage and rice recipe here

 

 

 

26. Chicken Pot Pie Rice Bake

This is another fun twist on chicken pot pie (in other words, another pot pie dish without the pie). For this cheap dinner idea all you need is rice, chicken, cream of chicken soup, sour cream, cheddar cheese, frozen mixed vegetables, and a little milk. Another dinner success in 30 minutes or less. Find this easy chicken pot pie rice bake recipe here.

 

27. Hidden Veggie Mac and Cheese

This is another great cheap dinner idea when you want to sneak in some extra veggies for those picky palates. In this fun version of mac and cheese, to traditional elbow macaroni you add cauliflower, butternut squash, sliced carrots, milk, cheese, and cream cheese. You will find this hidden veggie mac and cheese recipe here.

 

28. Stuffed Green Peppers

For another fun vegetable-themed dish, try these stuffed green peppers. To make, you need four large green peppers, tomato sauce, ground beef, chopped onion, a cup of cooked brown or white rice, and some seasonings. Easy! Get the stuffed green peppers recipe here.

 

29. One-Pot Lemon Herb Chicken and Rice

This cheap dinner idea is another tasty one-pot chicken dish. This recipe calls for boneless skinless chicken breasts, a little butter and some seasonings, rice, chicken broth, lemon, and Italian seasoning. It takes just 5 minutes to prepare and about 25 minutes to cook. And then, lemony goodness! Yay! You can get this one-pot lemon herb chicken and rice recipe here.

 

30. Easy Garlic Chicken

Garlic chicken is another one of my favorite cheap dinner ideas. For this simple dish, all you need is the boneless, skinless chicken breasts, a little butter, garlic powder, season salt, and onion powder. Serve with rice and your favorite vegetables, and you are set! Find this simple easy garlic chicken recipe here.

 

31.  30-Minute Mozzarella Chicken in Homemade Tomato Sauce

For another cheesy treat, try this easy mozzarella chicken. This recipe calls for chicken breasts, garlic, onion, a can of crushed tomatoes, Italian seasoning and red pepper flakes (or you can omit, like I do), dried basil, a tablespoon of pesto (recipe included), salt and pepper to taste, and the mozzarella cheese. Find this mozzarella chicken recipe here.

 

32. Pesto Pasta with Chicken

This is another easy chicken and pesto recipe, ready in 30 minutes. In addition to the chicken breasts and pesto sauce, this recipe calls for olive oil, minced garlic, red pepper flakes to taste, and sun-dried tomatoes (or you could substitute canned tomatoes). Get this easy pesto pasta with chicken recipe here.

 

33. Spinach Alfredo Pasta

I love this light and easy meatless spinach alfredo pasta! To a package of spaghetti or fettuccine noodles add spinach, a little milk, Parmesan cheese, butter (or substitute a spread), and a little salt and pepper. This simple spinach alfredo pasta will be ready in 30 minutes!

 

34. Classic Garlic Fettuccine Alfredo

For another 30-minute meatless pasta dish, give this garlic fettuccine alfredo a try. This recipe calls for Fettuccine (or substitute a pasta of your choice), butter, minced garlic, diced shallot, half and half (or we just substitute whole milk or whatever milk we have on hand), cream cheese, Parmesan cheese, and salt and pepper and parsley to taste. Get the garlic fettuccine alfredo recipe here.

 

35. 20-Minute Skillet Chicken and Spinach Parmesan

This is another quick, easy, and cheap dinner idea. This chicken and spinach dish can be eaten or rice or noodles, and is ready in just 20 minutes. Ingredients include the chicken, panko bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, a little oil, spaghetti sauce, spinach, and grated mozzarella cheese. Find this skillet chicken and spinach Parmesan recipe here.

 

Check out these related articles:

31 Cheap Dinner Recipes for under $5!

42 Cheap and Easy Budget-Friendly Meals for under $5!
5 Cheap Slow Cooker Meals for under $5
5 Cheap Instant Pot Meals Your Family Will Love (for under $5!)
59 Must-Know Tips to Slash Your Grocery Bill in Half!
7 Simple Steps to Use a Meal Plan to Save Money on Groceries
13 Top Tips to Save Money Eating Out
How to Use a Grocery Item Price Comparison Cheat Sheet to Save a Ton of Money!
Eat Free for Your Birthday!
12 Best Tips to Save Money on Entertainment

 

Conclusion

These 35 quick, easy, and cheap dinner ideas will let you get dinner on the table fast after a busy day at work and school!

For even more quick, easy, and cheap dinner ideas, check out these 31 easy dinner recipes here.

 

What are your favorite quick and cheap dinner ideas for busy night? Do you have quick and inexpensive go-to meals that you just love?

Give these recipes a try and let me know how it goes! I would love to hear your thoughts! Leave a comment below!

 

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85 Best Tips for How to Save Money on Food

how to save money on food

How to Save Money on Food

In this article I am going to share more than 80 of my ideas for how to save money on food.

Food is one of the areas where most families spend the most money. In fact, for some families, it is the budget category where they spend the most money! An average family of 4 in America spends between $700 and $1,100 a month on food! That is close to or even more than $10,000 a year! That is a ton of money to spend every year!

There is no denying that food is expensive. But we also make it expensive by the choices that we make. There are tons of ways that you can save money on food by simply being intentional with your food budget.

By following the money-saving tips below, we’re able to feed our family of five (two adults and three young children) for under $400 a month (including our occasional restaurant eating). Learn how you can slash your food budget with these must-know tips below!

 

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85 Best Ideas for How to Save Money on Food

If you Google or search on Pinterest, you can literally find tons and tons of ideas for how to save money on food. In this article I am going to share 85 of the best tips for saving money on food.

1. Remember that food is fleeting.

This first tip can potentially help you save a ton of money on your monthly food  budget. As you plan and shop for food, keep this in mind: when you eat something, even the best-tasting food in the world, it is nothing more than a fleeting experience. You are done eating that yummy food, even if you take your time to enjoy it, in likely well under an hour.

So though I love a great-tasting ________ (fill in with your favorite food splurge) as much as the next person, I love financial security and meaningful experiences and financial independence and freedom so much more.

And since I don’t have enough money to buy everything that I want, I have to choose (with my husband of course) what is most important for me and my family to spend this precious resource on. And for us, that is things other than food.

If you will take a little time to consider what’s really important to you and your family—what your core values are—that may help you find the motivation you need to not only save money on groceries but also to then use that money for reaching other awesome financial goals.

2. Know how much you can spend before you go food shopping.

I know—knowing how much you can spend on groceries means you need to have a budget or spending plan. 🙂 But don’t worry—I’m here to help! Here’s how you can learn the simple steps to starting a budget and start reaching your financial goals!

You need to know what you can spend so that you don’t blow your food budget halfway through the month and have to live on PB&J sandwiches or mac and cheese for the rest of the month (or much worse, use a credit card to buy your food, so that you can finance it and be paying interest on food you ate 9 months ago—yikes!).

Find a list of 45+ cheap and healthy foods that you can buy to help you save money on groceries and avoid busting your food budget.

3. Use apps on your smartphone to save money on food.

There are several great apps that can help you save money even after you buy your groceries. Some of the most popular ones include Ibotta, Checkout 51, and Ebates. These services can be a great way to save money on things you buy every day. Signing up for any of these accounts is free.

4. Buy items when they are at their best price. Sign up for the handy cheat sheet below so you will know how!

Keep a record of the best prices for the grocery items you regularly buy (sign up for the handy cheat sheet below!), and then check the ads and shop the sales to buy items when they are at their best price.

Remember to look at the ads as you’re making your meal plan, and base your meals when possible on the items that are on sale at the store (or stores—we generally go to two to get the best deals from each one) that week. And then don’t forget the ads when you leave the house! (Although fortunately the store should have some.)

Also, make sure that the sale price is actually a good deal. The best way to do that is to keep a record of the price you normally pay for the items that you buy and consume regularly so that you will be able to recognize when something really is a great price.

You can receive a free grocery cost comparison cheat sheet by filling out the information below—if you have not shopped this way before, it will be life changing. You’ll never have to wonder again if something is a good price or not—from now on, you will know!

Get your free grocery cost comparison shopping cheat sheet now!

 
5. Reduce your number of shopping trips.

One of the best things you can do to save money on food is to shop less often. The less often you’re in the store, the less often you’re tempted to buy more than you intended. And the best way to do that is to start planning your meals and to shop for what you can online (more on that below).

6. Create a simple meal plan to use to create your shopping list to save a bunch of money on food.

Once a week or every two weeks (if you can go that long between grocery shopping trips, like my family does—and which I recommend if you really want to save time and money), sit down and write out your plan for what you will eat for your meals. You can do this a day or two before your shopping trip so that you don’t feel rushed and so you don’t have so much to do on shopping day.

Want a quick and easy way to plan your meals? Sign up below to get your free meal planner now!

 

Or if you feel overwhelmed at the thought of having to create a meal plan and add one more thing to your to-do list, then an inexpensive solution is a service like Emeals or $5 Meal Plans. Emeals costs as little as $5 per month and $5 Meal Plans costs just $5 per month.

With these services, they do all of the planning for you. They plan the meals you will eat and include the ingredients you will need to buy and the recipes you will need to follow to prepare them. Pretty cool. With $5 Meal Plans, the dinners themselves also cost less than $5 per meal to make! And both come with a 14-day free trial, so if this sounds like a good option for your family, you can check out Emeals here and $5 Meal Plans here.

And with a plan like those from Freezeasy, you can save even more time by preparing 10 simple and nutritious meals in an hour that you can then freeze. When you’re ready to eat them, simply throw them in the slow cooker or the oven, and voila! With plans for as little as $8 per month (and no more than $10 per month), your money is well spent if it keeps you from going out to eat or buying expensive grocery store convenience foods. Learn more about Freezeasy here.

If you’re regularly spending several hundred dollars on groceries or hundreds of dollars eating out, one of these services could really help you get on the right track and save your food budget.

7. Simplify your meals.

Keep things simple, especially at the beginning of your move to more mindful meal planning. Choose a few different things you can eat for breakfast, and then multiply that by two or three (for a week) or four or five (for two weeks). Do the same thing with lunch—keep things hassle free by choosing three or four things you really like that you can eat a couple of times a week each, and then buy the quantity you need for the one or two weeks.

For lunch, consider keeping things simple with a two or three different kinds of sandwiches or two or three different kinds of salads, and then just eating each of those a couple of times a week.

And for dinner, choose a simple, relatively healthy (if you know I really should have typed “healthful” there, you’re a fellow editor at heart <3), and inexpensive meal for each day of the week, and then write down the needed ingredients for your shopping list.

Then just multiply the things you need to buy for each meal by two if you’ll be going two weeks between shopping trips like we do.

Remember that dinner does not have to be an elaborate three-course affair—a simple main dish with a salad is always sufficient, or do a one-pot dinner to make things even easier. Some of my favorite quick go-to inexpensive dinners are macaroni and cheese with carrots and broccoli; egg omelets with spinach and mushrooms and topped with salsa (or add different-colored peppers and onions); and spaghetti with salad and French bread. Other favorites include beef, bean, and rice burritos with salsa; noodles with chicken and broccoli and carrots; chicken broccoli alfredo; and chicken, broccoli, and rice casserole.

We have young children, and they can be somewhat picky like many young children are, so our meals sometimes lean toward chicken nuggets and corn dogs or hot dogs with fries—even though I know those aren’t the healthiest options. (Just keeping it real. :))

Our older daughter won’t really eat vegetables right now; how do you get your picky children to eat more vegetables? I would really love to know! (Leave a comment below and enlighten me, please!)

8. Plan your meals around what foods are on sale or in season to really save money on food.

This is another huge money saver. I know you may want strawberry spinach salad, watermelon, cherries, or blueberries in January, but you’ll save a ton of money if you can be patient and buy food when it is in season.

9. Make a shopping list, and stick to it.

Once you’ve checked out the ads and created your meal plan, create your shopping list, and then stick to it to save money on food. When you’re at the store, buy only what is on your list. The only exception should be if something that is shelf-stable or will last a while in the fridge or freezer (and you actually have room for it! note to self!) is on sale for a really great price.

Be aware of what you have and what you’re getting low on so that you don’t run out of items and have to make an “emergency” run to the store. And if you do run out of an item, substitute! Google an ingredient or find a recipe that uses an alternative to what you are missing. Or make something else. Or just leave the ingredient out; in many cases, you will be fine without it.

10. Shop the less expensive grocery stores.

You probably already know the grocery stores around your town that are generally less expensive—and those that are more. So why do you shop at the more expensive stores? Is it to impress people—on the off chance you might see someone you know? Is it to feel good that you can “afford” the food at the more expensive place? Wouldn’t you rather feel great that you upped your Roth IRA contribution this year to enjoy an awesome retirement, contributed substantially to or even maxed out your child’s college fund ESA, or paid for your next amazing vacation with cash?

I admit that I’m not a foodie, and I don’t think I ever will be. There are just so many other awesome things I would rather spend my money on!

11. Look for items in your recipes that you can substitute for less-expensive items.

Where possible, substitute more expensive foods for less expensive but similar items. For example, try substituting chicken for beef, roast for steak, strawberries for blueberries, and so on.

12. Use what you already have before you buy more.

Closely related to the tip just above, use what you already have (and substitute for what you don’t) before you buy more of an item.

13. Decide to eat less.

I am teasing (mostly :)), but the truth is, most of us eat more than we need to—sometimes a lot more. So buy less so you’ll eat less (especially less of the nutrient-void pure fillers like junk food and soda and alcohol). Both your wallet and your waistline will thank you! If you don’t have cookies or potato chips or soda in your house, you can’t give in to cravings to eat them.

14. Ignore the fad diets in order to save money on food.

The truth is that most of the diets out there are pretty expensive and most of them aren’t sustainable long term—and many of them just don’t work even in the first place.

If you want to lose weight and save more money, then you probably already know the simple formula: eat fewer calories than you burn every day. So count calories, find a means of exercise that you love to do (and if it requires a piece of equipment, buy one for your home), and keep a food journal. Those are the three habits that have been shown to give people the most powerful, long-term success on maintaining a healthy weight.

15. Use a grocery pickup service like Walmart Pickup and Target Drive Up.

Grocery pickup services are really nice because, at least with those that are like Walmart Pickup, you spend the same amount as you do at the store (there’s no convenience fee and you don’t even have to tip or anything—in fact, they can’t accept tips), you save time, and you don’t succumb to impulse buys! That’s a win-win-win!

I love Walmart Pickup and even drove to the Walmart a couple of towns away (it was still only about a 10- or 15-minute drive) before they offered the service in my own town. If you prefer to shop at Target, see if Target’s Drive Up is available in your area!

 


16. Buy generic or store brand whenever possible to save a bunch of money on food.

Another easy tip for how to save money on food is to buy generic brands whenever they are available.

For the majority of items, you can’t even tell the difference in taste—in fact, many of the items are made in the same factory in the exact same way and just have different labels! You’ll save tons of money once you make this switch. Because buying name brand food doesn’t mean you are well off—but having money in your savings account and in your investment accounts does. 🙂

17. Shop at multiple stores to help you save money on food.

You don’t want to go overboard with this, of course, because the time and gas spent wouldn’t be worth it, but if you do your grocery shopping at two or maybe three stores, the savings can be significant and you really don’t need to spend much more time.

For my family we shop one store that generally has better prices on meat and produce and pantry goods (pasta, rice, and so on) and the other that often has better prices on dairy and eggs and bread.

18. Shop the sales cycles to help you save money on food.

Many stores follow cycles where they routinely have sales on specific items every 6 to 9 weeks. If you shop regularly at a particular store, you may have even begun to notice this pattern. The trick to use this to full advantage is to buy enough of the items when they go on sale to last you till the next time you need to buy them.

This means that you will need to have room in your pantry or cupboards or in a storage room to be able to buy the quantity of food needed until the item goes on sale again. You might need to get creative to accomplish this, but the savings can definitely be worth it.

19. Don’t buy toiletries at the grocery store.

Unless there’s a good sale, you’ll generally pay more for toiletries at the grocery store than at Target or Walmart or similar stores. You might be able to find these items for even less on Amazon.

20. Leave the bottled water on the shelf.

Just get used to drinking tap water (buy a filter if you live in an area where you really need it), and keep the water in the fridge. It’s the environmentally friendly and money-saver-friendly thing to do. 🙂

21. Learn to spot a bargain, and stock up to potentially save a ton of money on food.

When you find great bargains on nonperishable items in particular, stock up. Again, do this only for items that you will use before they go bad. Again, use the grocery price comparison cheat sheet available above to help with this! You’ll quickly be a pro at spotting deals and buying in bulk by using the price comparison cheat sheet.

22. Get a rain check.

If an item that is on sale sells out, see if your store will offer a rain check.

23. Buy staples (shelf-stable foods) online to save money on food.

If it makes sense to do so, consider buying foods that you can online. As with grocery pickup services like Walmart Pickup, one of the main benefits with buying groceries online is that you buy your groceries and they get delivered right to your door, and you don’t have the temptation of buying anything that you hadn’t planned on buying. You can buy groceries online from Walmart.com, Amazon, and Target.

You might even consider using a grocery delivery service like Amazon Fresh, Smith’s delivery, or Peapod. Amazon Fresh is just $14.99 a month (but you do need to be a member of Amazon Prime in order to join). Amazon Fresh isn’t available in our area, but I have to admit that at that price (and if we weren’t able to do much of our grocery shopping at a nearby discount store; see below), it might be tempting. I spend at least four hours a month grocery shopping (you probably do too?), and so for about $4 per hour (or less, since I probably spend a little more time than that), I could buy back my time. And that sounds like a pretty good deal to me!

24. Leave your kids at home.

Your dear little children can’t ask you to buy things that tempt you to blow your grocery budget if you don’t take them with you. So whenever you can, leave them at home.

One parent can go grocery shopping while the other parent takes the kids to the park or the library or one of many other free activities. Or for when that won’t work for whatever reason, even if you or your spouse shops early in the morning (one of my favorite times to shop, at least during the summer) or after the kids are in bed at night, it’s worth it to be able to leave the little cherubs at home and shop in peace.

25. Remember that convenience costs—a lot.

When you buy convenience items such as cut fruit, deli platters, prepared cakes, and so on, you’re paying a premium for the work that someone else did. With a little bit of planning, you can make these things fit in your schedule so that you can do them yourself.

If you’re unsure how to do something, just start with simple and work your way into more difficult endeavors. For most things, super simple is good enough. And remember that Google and Pinterest and Instagram are your friends—that is, they’re great for helping to find ideas. And you can learn how to do anything on YouTube. 🙂

26. Know the best bang for your food buck.

Some of the best deals you can get on foods are items such as beans, rice, pasta, potatoes, and whole grains. These items make an excellent, filling side dish, or you can even make them the main show at dinnertime.


Top tip:
 Find a list of more than 45 of the cheapest healthy foods you can eat here.

 

A couple of my favorite bean and rice dishes are a simple beans, rice, and cheese burrito and a simple red beans with rice dish.

And we love to have a simple baked potato bar where we sprinkle on cheese, spoon on chili, add butter and salt and pepper, garnish with sour cream and olives, pour on ranch, or dress them up with stroganoff or hamburger gravy. The many possibilities are one of the reasons I love this additional inexpensive, tasty staple.

27. Don’t shop when you’re hungry.

If you’re famished after a hard day at work or chasing after the kids you’re going to be more susceptible to buying convenience foods and overbuying in general. If you don’t have time to eat a full meal before you grocery shop, then at least eat a quick snack before you head out the door. Even if it’s a stashed apple, granola bar, almonds, or pretzels, that’s definitely better than trying to fight temptation on an empty stomach.

28. Avoid the snack and junk food aisles to save money on groceries.

The junk food and snack items can be some of the most expensive in the store—and they have very little if any nutritional value. So don’t put yourself in temptation’s path—just skip them altogether. Unless I have something I know I need to get from the candy aisle or cookie aisle (such as licorice for rope necklaces for a fun kids craft or graham crackers to make s’mores for a camping trip), I try to just skip these aisles. (Whether I actually do or not depends on how well I’m doing at trying to eat healthier. :))

29. Look high and low to find good deals.

The most expensive grocery items are generally in the middle shelves of food—at eye level—so look in the upper and lower shelves to find good deals. Though they can be a place for grocers to highlight great deals, more expensive items are also often displayed on the ends of the aisles, so don’t assume that everything on the ends of the aisles is a good price just because it’s featured there.

30. Buy in bulk (for frequently used, nonperishable food items) in order to save money on food.

Buying in bulk can be a great way to save money on food. The general rule is that food is less expensive if you buy a bigger package or can or box rather than a smaller one. However, stores also know that they have trained people to understand this rule of economy, and so sometimes they break it, assuming (correctly! I’ve been guilty of this) that people will buy the bigger item without checking to make sure it’s actually the better price.

However, there are a couple of important guidelines to follow when buying in bulk: Don’t buy more than you can use in a reasonable amount of time. This isn’t such a big deal because many things you can use after the “best by” or expiration date, but for true perishables like produce and fresh meat, make sure to either use it or freeze it before it goes bad.

Also make sure that the things you buy in bulk are things you will actually eat. Even if something is a steal of a deal, your efforts will backfire if you buy a bunch of something you’ve never tried that you end up not liking that just takes up space in your cupboard or pantry until you toss it.

31. Use your calculator to help you save money on food.

If you’re not using your calculator when you shop for groceries (and everything else) there’s a good chance that you’re overspending. Even though many stores do show the unit price for grocery items, sometimes they (either intentionally or not, but I think there’s a good chance it’s intentional) don’t keep the unit consistent. So, for meat, for example, they might use per pound for some items and per ounce for others, and they often will do the price per unit (such as ounces) for some brands and then do the overall price for other brands of the same item. So be sure to combat this (sneaky?) practice by using the calculator on your smartphone or keeping a small calculator in your purse or pocket.

32. Follow the 10 cents per ounce rule as a great guideline for how to save money on food.

For many foods like cereal and snack foods like chips, pretzels, and crackers, I’ve found that if you pay about 10 cents per ounce, you know you’re generally getting a good deal.

So when you see items that are priced less than that (especially if they’re half that!), you know it’s a great time to stock up. Of course this rule of thumb will vary in more expensive areas, but find your own rule of thumb (the 10-cent rule is just really convenient because it makes the math really easy) for where you live, and keep it in mind so that you can more easily spot great deals.

33. Choose cheaper cuts of meat.

Meat may be, overall, the biggest food budget buster. If you want to know how to potentially save a ton of money on food, one of the best things you can do is to choose cheaper cuts of meat 95 percent of the time and then leave the more expensive cuts of meat (those that are more than $2 or $3 a pound) for special occasions.

34. Buy less red meat.

Going along with the point just above, if you want to spend a lot less money on food, then buy less red meat in general. Chicken and turkey and even pork are far cheaper—where I shop, I can often get boneless skinless chicken breasts for $1 a pound on sale.

Even if you don’t have a nearby grocery store where the deals are that good, you’ll still spend far less if you eat less red meat (and your heart will thank you, too!). There are so many great dishes where chicken is the star that the possibilities are nearly endless. And ground turkey is a great (less expensive and more healthy) substitute for ground beef.

35. Buy less meat in general.

The simplest way to save money on meat when doing your grocery shopping is to simply buy less of it. Has your family initiated a meatless Monday in your meal plan yet? (Or it can be whatever day of the week is most convenient, of course—Meatless Monday is just nice because of the alliteration. :))

Even if you love meat, like we do, planning one or more dinners a week that don’t include meat will help you save a ton of money on food. And go meatless during breakfast and lunch when you can, too!

Are you using a meal planner? Doing so can really help you save a ton of money on food by helping you stay organized and giving you the opportunity to spend less money on the meals you choose to make. Sign up below for your free weekly meal planner to save money on meat and all of your groceries!

36. Use less meat than is called for in your meals.

Related to the item just above, when you do have a meal that calls for meat, use less than is called for. I regularly (to the slight chagrin of my husband :)) use about three-fourths of a pound of meat rather than a full pound when recipes call for it.

But I have heard of people who use even less than that—half a pound or even a quarter of a pound. In its place, add more vegetables, beans, pasta, and grains as appropriate.

37. Buy your meat in bulk.

The most expensive way to buy meat is generally one pound at a time. Instead, buy family packs of 5 or even 10 pounds to save money on meat. Then when you get home, set aside the meat that you will use in the next day or two in zip-top bags or airtight containers and put that in the fridge, and put the rest of the meat in single-meal portions (for example, one pound of hamburger for spaghetti or 4 quarter-pound patties for hamburgers) in zip-top bags, label them with the type of meat and date, and put them in the freezer to be used for future meals. Most meat will store well in the freezer for at least 3 months.

38. Buy meat that is marked down in a variety pack.

Variety packs can be a great way to get meat at a good deal. At our local grocery store they regularly sell variety packs of meat for $20 that, when averaged out, are between $2 and $3 a pound. So, for example, they will have two pounds of steak, three pounds of hamburger, three pounds of chicken, and 2 pounds of bacon in the variety pack. So, with this example, what would normally cost $25 or more costs only $20, for a savings of 20% or more. Pretty sweet.

Do you know what the standard prices are of the cuts of meat that you regularly buy? In order to know when the really great deals are, you need to be familiar with the regular prices. You can receive a free grocery price comparison cheat sheet by filling out the information below. If you have not shopped this way before, then this will be a wonderful way for you to save money. You’ll never have to wonder again if something is a good price or not—from now on, you will know!

Get your free grocery cost comparison cheat sheet now!

39. Stretch your meat with oats, rice, breadcrumbs, or similar fillers.

Another easy way to save money on meat is to use fillers to stretch your meat portions. For many meals and various cuts of meat, you can use common fillers and no one will even know the difference. Meatballs, meatloaf, hamburger patties, hamburger to be used in chilis and stews, and ground beef to be used for lasagna and enchiladas are just a few examples.

40. Buy fruits and vegetables in season to save money on groceries.

Even though I’d love to eat cherries and the perfect watermelon and blueberries and strawberries and zucchini and squash and many other fruits and vegetables year round, I’m just not willing to pay the price when they’re not a good deal. Not to mention, when I have occasionally decided to pay the price for fruit out of season (who wouldn’t love cherries in March?), they just didn’t taste as good. That might be because they were shipped from another part of the world and so maybe the quality just wasn’t the same or maybe they just weren’t ripe enough, but whatever the reason, it wasn’t worth the cost.

And by having fruit in season for a shorter period, it does make it a rare treat, which does have its benefits—every year, I can’t wait till mid-June till cherry season. 🙂

Of course what is considered a good price will, as I mentioned above, vary depending on the region where you live, but in my area $1 a pound is a good rule of thumb for a great price on most fruits and some vegetables.

41. Buy frozen fruits and veggies when the fresh alternative isn’t in season.

In some cases it is cheaper to buy frozen produce when the fresh varieties aren’t in season. If the frozen alternative is a good price, then this is a great option. And another benefit of this option is that there is very little if any nutrition lost when you eat frozen produce.

42. Stock up when you find a great deal on produce, and freeze, dehydrate, or bottle or can what you won’t use before it goes bad.

When you find a particularly great deal on a fruit or vegetable your family really likes, stock up on it! Figure out how much you can eat in the week or two that it will last in your fridge, and then plan to freeze, dehydrate, or even bottle the rest.

Many fruits and vegetables freeze very well. For best texture and flavor, you can freeze fruit for about 12 months and vegetables for about 18 months. You can find a guide for freezing fresh produce here.

Another way that we love to preserve fruits and some vegetables is with our dehydrator. We have a couple of fruit trees and we also occasionally get great deals on produce from the local discount store (like $5 for a large box of apples or bananas), and the kids like to eat the dried fruit like candy. (And so do we. :))

43. Buy smaller items when buying fruit and vegetables by the pound.

When buying fruits or vegetables by the pound, consider buying smaller pieces. If buying apples or oranges, for example, buy the smaller ones. You’re likely going to eat one piece no matter the size, so you save money by purchasing the smaller fruits.

Especially if you have young kiddos, as we do, buying smaller pieces of fruit and vegetables is a good idea so that the food is less likely to get wasted.

44. Buy the largest pieces of fruit and largest vegetables when buying by the piece.

On the other hand, when buying at a certain price per item, as long as the food won’t go to waste, buy the largest pieces you can find. So, for example, when they are sold by the piece, by the largest avocados, mangoes, oranges, onions, peppers, broccoli bunches, and so on that you can find.

And then if you do have young kiddos, cut the fruit in half, for example, for your kiddos to share so food won’t get wasted.

45. Shop at farmer’s markets.

If you have a local farmer’s market in your area, you may be able to find great deals. But be careful! Farmer’s market prices are not always less expensive than what you would pay at the grocery store. Again, that’s why it is so important to know the cost of the items that you buy.

If you didn’t do so already, sign up above to get the free grocery price comparison cheat sheet so that you can track and know what the best prices are for the produce and other foods that you regularly buy!

46. Weigh your produce.

When you buy prepackaged produce such as a five-pound bag of apples or oranges or a bag of carrots or potatoes, take a minute to weigh them. The bags are supposed to weigh at least the amount indicated, but because each piece of fruit or vegetable is different, some bags will weigh more than others. You could get 10% more produce (or more!) by weighing the bags and getting the one that weighs the most.

47. Buy dry produce.

 To save a little bit of money, buy produce that is dry. Wet produce weighs more.

48. Participate in a community garden.

 If you have the opportunity to participate in a community garden, this could be a great way to get produce for a great price. If you don’t know if you have a community garden in your area, Google it to find out. 

49. Look into grocery co-ops in your area.

 Food co-ops such as Bountiful Baskets can be a good way to get produce and other food at a good price. We have not personally participated in one (maybe we will give it a try sometime when life slows down a little!), but I have family members who love them. 

50. Perk up wilted vegetables instead of throwing them out.

 Don’t throw out your spinach, lettuce, or other vegetables if they get wilted! You can perk them up by putting them in ice water for about 30 minutes.

51. Store fruits and vegetables in their ideal conditions so that they will last longer.

 Look up online how to best store the produce that you regularly eat so that it will last longer. For example, though the peels will turn black, bananas will last longer (possibly even up to a couple of weeks longer), if you store them in the fridge. If you don’t want to or don’t have space to store bananas in the fridge, then keep them out of direct sunlight and hang them up if possible.

52. Use older vegetables in stews and soups.

Instead of throwing them away, use vegetables that are past their prime in stews, soups, broths, chilis, and so on.

53. Grow a garden (if you have time and a green thumb).

If you have the space and the inclination, growing a garden is an excellent way to not only save money but become more self-sufficient. Or it can be once you get good at it, at least. 🙂

54. Ditch the fruit juice.

I was a little crushed several years ago when I learned that fruit juice, unless it’s freshly squeezed and doesn’t have added sugar, isn’t actually very good for you. It’s especially not something you want your children to be consuming in high quantities. Treat it like soda—a rare treat—and eat whole, fresh fruit instead. It’s better for your wallet as well as better for your body.

55. Cut out (or cut down on) soda to help you save money on food.

Soda has virtually no nutritional value, and it’s expensive (tap water is totally the way to go!), so try cutting it out of your diet, or at least saving it for special occasions.

56. Cut down on or ditch the alcohol.

If you can give up alcoholic beverages, you’ll save a good chunk of change. The average American household spends nearly $600 a year on alcohol, or about 1 percent of their annual income. And that number doesn’t appear to account for the households that don’t spend anything at all on alcohol, so for those that do, the number would be even a little higher. There’s a lot of things you could do with that $600 a year (like going a long way toward funding your children’s education savings accounts [ESAs] to help pay for their debt-free college eduation, if you start young).

57. Cut down on processed and packaged foods, and cook from scratch.

With some food options, the healthier option is also the cheapest, and that is often the case with processed and packaged foods. You can save a ton of money if you cook from scratch. And if the idea of cooking from scratch is intimidating, start with very simple recipes with only a few ingredients, and expand your repertoire from there.

58. Buy day-old bread and other baked goods to save money when buying food.

In many cases, you can save up to 50 percent or even more if you’ll buy bread and other baked goods that are a day or a couple of days old.

59. Scrap the cigarettes.

I don’t mean to take this lightly—I know quitting smoking is extremely difficult. I know many who want to quit or who have tried for years and haven’t been able to kick the habit long term. I know most smokers are well aware of the costs—both monetarily and to your health. But if you can give up smoking, you will save so much money!

60. Make your own seasonings to save money.

Make your own taco seasoning, spaghetti seasoning, chili seasoning, and so on. You likely have most if not all of the ingredients on hand, or you can buy what you don’t have next time you’re at the store and make the seasonings for far less than you can buy them. Just Google the recipes.

61. Use price matching when it’s available to help you save money on groceries.

If you have a grocery store near you that participates in price matching, take advantage of it! Just don’t forget to bring your ads with you, if you need them (I’m speaking from experience here).

62. Buy holiday items and seasonal items after the holiday or season.

Holiday item prices get slashed after the holiday is over, so when you can, wait till then to buy. Love Christmas cookies, Valentine sweethearts, or Cadbury eggs, for example? You can often get them for 50 to 75 percent off (or even more!) if you wait to buy them till a few days after the holiday. What about turkey or corned beef? Again, these items will often go on sale after the holiday.


63. Shop the scratch and dent aisles at the grocery store. 

If your store has a scratch and dent aisle, you can sometimes find amazing deals.

64. Shop at discount and salvage stores to save a ton of money on food.

Another way that you can potentially save a lot of money on food is by shopping at discount and salvage stores. Discount stores like ALDI (I sure wish we had one in our state!) are another awesome way to save money on groceries, even without coupons!

And moms and dads, if you have a salvage-type store (where they sell overstock, soon-to-expire, lost, or damaged items) in your area and you’re not shopping there, you are doing your wallet a huge disservice!

Not too long after we moved to the town where we now live, I heard from a couple of people about a discount store in the area that offered great prices on food.

At the time we didn’t have any children and Walmart was still offering price matching, so our food budget really wasn’t that much. And when I eventually did go to check out the discount store, it was after 7 in the evening, and the place was already closed. It seemed odd to me that a grocery-type store would close that early, and it was a long time before I went back.

But eventually after a couple of my family members started shopping there sometimes and told me about some of the great deals, I decided to check it out. By then we had a few kids (our two youngest children are twins, so it didn’t take as long as normal for that to happen :)), and food prices had risen some over the years, so we were definitely spending more on groceries than before. And I have to tell you, after going there and seeing the great deals, my life has not been the same.

Pretty soon after going to that discount store for the first time I started doing the bulk of my grocery shopping there. The prices on some things are just incredible. Most of their produce is cheaper than anywhere else by far, and even though some of it is a little too ripe or bruised or is otherwise not worth buying, for the most part, it’s just great prices.

And they have great prices on a lot of other things too, like yogurt and meat and other perishables. Many of these items are close to or even past the recommended “best by” or “use by” date, but with everything we’ve bought there over the past two years, we’ve never found anything that looked or smelled sketchy or otherwise seemed questionable (besides some of the produce, as I mentioned).

For more information, see this article from Consumer Reports, which mentions how the “best by” and “use by” dates are more a matter or food quality than safety. (But, really, I wonder if it’s not also another way for the big food producers to make more money. The sooner food “expires,” the more likely you are to feel like you need to toss it and buy more of it. I’m not trying to be a food conspiracy theorist; just sayin’. :))

Here are some examples of awesome deals from this discount store: 10 cents a pound for cherries (the cherries were in great shape), 10 cents for a large bag of tortilla chips, 10 cents for everything in the baking aisle, like a huge canister of baking powder (they were working to clear the aisle out to restock that day), a bushel of bananas (about 40 pounds) and of apples for $5 each, red delicious apples for 20 cents a pound (pretty regularly), 48 ounces of yogurt for a $1 (often), boneless skinless chicken breasts for a dollar a pound (regularly), boxes of cereal for a $1, and much more. If you are someone who loves to find great deals, it’s a lot of fun!

At these discount or salvage stores you never know exactly what you’re going to find, so it’s also kind of like going on a treasure hunt. What I generally do is shop there first to buy produce and other things I find great deals on like chicken and meat and eggs and snacks like chips or popcorn or things like that, and then I go to my neighborhood grocery store (which also has pretty great prices) and buy bread and cheese and other staples I couldn’t find (or that weren’t a great deal) at the discount store.

65. Shop the clearance racks.

Similar to the point just above, clearance-rack items at regular stores—which may include items that are nearing “use by” or “best by” dates—are often 50 percent off or more. 

66. Consider shopping at membership clubs to save money on food.

You may be able to save a ton of money by shopping at membership clubs. We personally have never had a membership to a store like Costco, BJ’s Wholesale, or Sam’s Club. However, I know many people love to shop at these stores for the great deals you can get on some items. 

We may consider getting a membership when our children are teenagers and eating us out of house and home. 🙂

Just remember to only buy what you will eat or what you can eat in a reasonable amount of time.

67. Put back items you decide you don’t really need or find out aren’t the deal you thought they were.

When you get to the checkout aisle you may regret putting some of the items in your cart. If you do, politely ask the cashier to put them back for you. Don’t buy something you really don’t want out of laziness or guilt for a slight inconvenience caused to the checker and stocker.

68. Pay with cash to potentially save a lot of money on food.

Another of my best tips for how to save money on food is by purchasing your groceries with cash. Not only will this help you really feel how much you are spending on food (so that you will be inclined to spend less), but it will also stop you from overspending.

Most grocery stores have monitors at the cash register where you can see the total amount as each item is rung up, so put the most important things first (and the nonessential and especially junk food last), and if you reach your budgeted amount for the week or two-week period, then stop and, again, politely ask the cashier to return the rest of the items for you. By doing this you’ll never overspend on groceries again.

69. Watch the cash register monitor (if available) or check your receipt when you’re done to make sure you didn’t get overcharged for an item.

Another important reason to watch the cash register is to make sure that you don’t get overcharged for an item. One time I was buying cherries for $1.50 a pound but they got rung up for close to $4 a pound, so the total was close to $30. Needless to say, I was really glad I was paying attention!

 

70. Don’t buy individual-sized portions of food.

You will pay a lot more money on groceries if you buy individually packaged items of food such as cheese sticks, small yogurts, boxes of small bags of chips, snack-sized bags of carrots or other vegetables, individual-sized cups of fruit, individual-sized cups of pudding, and so on.

Instead, slice the cheese yourself into little sticks (and then put them into zip-top bags for an easy and convenient snack), put baby carrots in a zip-top bag yourself (or peel and slice regular carrots yourself), portion out small quantities of applesauce and canned fruit and pudding and so on for the kiddos yourself, and so forth.

71. Don’t let food go to waste.

One of the main advantages of meal planning is that you can avoid letting food go to waste by planning how much to buy and by planning leftover nights to use up the food you have before you buy more.

And one of the best ways to avoid letting leftover food go to waste, or food that you may have forgotten you bought (I know that I sometimes forget the food that I’ve bought earlier in the week or the week before!), is to plan one night a week for leftovers. Plus, it also means one night of easy reheated meals where you can have dinner on the table in minutes.

As you inventory your leftovers, also evaluate what you bought and what you used (or didn’t) to see what you can do differently in the future. For example, if you regularly have meat leftover that you haven’t used, than cut back on how much meat you buy. Or vegetables. Maybe you have the intention of eating two servings of vegetables with each meal, but you really only ever eat one. If you know you’re really not going to eat that second serving, despite your best intentions, then reduce the amount of vegetables that you buy.

 

72. Use fresh produce and meats first.

Going along with the suggestion just above, be sure to use fresh food first before it spoils. So plan your meals with fresh produce and meats and so forth earlier in the week (or in the first week if you shop for two weeks at a time, as we do), and then use frozen, canned, and dehydrated produce and frozen meats later in the week (or in the second week).

I mentioned it above, but it’s worth repeating—the fewer times you go to the (grocery) store, the less money you’ll spend, so give shopping only every other week a try! Your wallet (and quite possibly your waistline) will thank you!

 

73. Turn going out to eat at restaurants back into a rare treat to save money on food.

Another idea for how to save money on food is to spend less money eating out. The average American family spends about $300 a month eating out, so if you spend anywhere near that, you have a ton of money you can potentially save each month!

The most important way to save money on eating out is simply to go out to restaurants less as a family. I have to believe that 75 years ago, eating out was the rarest of treats for a family. And I also have to believe that they were better off for it. Their waistlines weren’t so wide as ours are now :), and as an overall percentage of what they earned, they undoubtedly saved more money.

So instead of spending the $300 a month that the average American family reportedly spends on eating out, try cutting back to just one fun and inexpensive meal a month with your family for $50 or less. You will all then appreciate the experience more, and you’ll be able to spend the extra money on goals that will lead your family to financial success—goals like getting out of debt, saving up for emergencies, investing for retirement, and saving for your kids’ college. If you’re really gung-ho or are on a really tight budget, save eating out for really rare occasions like birthdays and anniversaries.

You could even make it a game to see how long your family can go before going to a sit-down or even fast-food restaurant again. One of my favorite FIRE bloggers has on his blog a ticker that counts the number of days it’s been since their family has gone out to eat. You might think that’s kind of a funny thing to do, but hey, it undoubtedly helped him retire by his late 30s. That’s a trade-off I’m willing to make (to retire early, though we won’t make it by our 30s—but I hope we make it by our 50s!), as well. 🙂

Spending less going out to eat also means brown-bagging your lunch, but that’s better for you, too. If you love going to lunch with a group of coworkers every day or once a week, see if they’re willing to brown-bag and eat together instead. Or be gutsy and take your made-at-home lunch to the restaurant or food court while they eat, or see if your coworkers can pick up their food and then you all eat somewhere outside or back at the office. Or just tell them you’re making some changes to your financial habits or working to get out of debt (which you are, until you pay off your mortgage [early]!), and ask them over to watch a football game or play a round of Frisbee or something instead.

74. Choose less expensive restaurants when you do go out to eat.

Of course there is a huge difference in what you will pay at a fancy French restaurant compared to the local chain burger joint down the road. But there’s even a huge discrepancy between generally nice sit-down restaurants. One of my favorite restaurants, Applebee’s, costs only about $20 for dinner for two, but another restaurant that we went to a while back was over $70 for just the two of us. (That’s a lot for us to pay, as you might guess. :)) And I wouldn’t say that the food at the more expensive place was necessarily any better.

75. Find great deals for restaurants on Groupon and Living Social and on local deal websites to save money on food.

On the rare occasions you do eat out, try to save money by buying vouchers and similar items from deal websites such as Groupon and Living Social. But only buy them if you will actually use them and if you would have gone out to eat anyway for a special occasion! (Read again the tip just above. :)) Otherwise, you’re not actually saving any money—you’re just spending more money you wouldn’t have otherwise spent! We’re all guilty of this sometimes, right?!

76. Use the restaurant gift cards and gift certificates you are given to save money on food. 

If someone gives you a gift card to a restaurant, hang on to that and use it to go out to eat for your birthday or anniversary. There’s a good chance you get at least one gift card a year to restaurants, so put it toward a special occasion, and bank the savings!

I’ve heard from one finance guru that the bulk of gift cards never get used, so make sure you don’t fall into this trap. If you’re given a gift card or certificate for your favorite restaurant or if you buy one, put it in your purse or wallet so you will make sure that you use it and don’t lose it or let it expire! (So make sure you put it in a safe, and memorable, place!)

77. Look at menus online before you go out to eat.

If you’re considering going to a restaurant where you haven’t been before, look at the menus online beforehand. That way you’ll know about how much to expect to pay for your meal. You wouldn’t want to end up at a restaurant that was outside of your price range and either feel bad for overspending your budget or feel bad for having to leave and go find another place to eat.

78. Eat an appetizer for your meal to save money on food when eating out.

At one of my favorite restaurants, I routinely order one of the appetizers for my meal. Portion sizes at most restaurants are so large that you can often eat enough to be satisfied by eating an appetizer and skipping an entrée altogether.

79. Order the free kids’ meal if one is offered to save money on food.

One of my favorite restaurants is Café Rio, and I love the fact that you can order their kiddie quesadillas for free for your kiddos. Sweet!

80. Save half of your meal for lunch the next day to save money on food.

By asking for a carryout box next time you go out to eat you can avoid overeating today and enjoy a scrumptious lunch tomorrow! Two meals for the price of one!

81. Order one entrée and share it to save money on food when eating out.

Similar to the tip above, another good way to save money on food when eating out is to order an entrée with your spouse or good friend, and then share it. Entrée sizes at most restaurants are huge! You’ll save money and won’t end up eating so many extra (even if delicious!) calories!

82. Order just the entrées when you eat out—skip the appetizer, drinks, and dessert.

Another great idea for how to save money on food is to eat just the entrée when you go out to eat.

If you’re already hungry before you go, consider eating a light snack at home before you leave. Then you can skip the appetizer without getting too ravenous. To save additional money, also order water instead of a beverage, and skip the dessert, as well. You can buy a whole gallon of ice cream from the grocery store on the way home for the price of one piece of pie or cake at the restaurant. And then your whole family can enjoy it for the week or more instead of for just one evening.

83. Ask if they have any current specials or discounts in order to save money on food when eating at restaurants.

Before you go to a particular restaurant or before you place your order, ask if they have any current specials or discounts, such as military or senior discounts. If it’s a special occasion like a birthday, ask if they do anything special for that. Many restaurants will offer a free dessert for birthdays and some (like my favorite restaurant, Tucano’s) even offer a free meal on your birthday with purchase of another meal. Pretty awesome!

Find a list here of restaurants that offer free meals and treats for birthdays!

84. Eat a late restaurant lunch for dinner to save money on food.

When we go to Tucano’s for my birthday, we usually go a little before 3 o’clock so that we can go for the lunch price. I do this mostly to save money, but also because it’s less crowded at that time between the traditional lunch and dinner hours. (And then I just eat a very light dinner, or sometimes I don’t even need dinner at all!)

 

85. Find other free and cheap pastimes and activities to spend time on with your family.

If eating out is currently your go-to activity for entertainment for your family, branch out and find new things to do! There are so many fun and cheap things that you can do with your family, and they might even bring you closer together than eating out (yet again!) will. (I bet they will!)

For example, you can go biking, hiking, walking, or swimming at a lake or beach. You could go to a park, splash pad, or inexpensive attraction such as a museum. Check out this list of 90+ free activities for family fun.

 

Conclusion

I hope you found this article a helpful resource for how to save money on food. If you want to spend less money and cut your monthly budget, saving money on groceries and spending less on eating out are a great way to help you do it because there are so many things you can do to trim your spending in these areas.

If you are looking to save money or if you have to find ways to save money, treat food like the fleeting consumable that it is, and don’t break the bank when you buy it.

 

What do you do to save money on food? What grocery money-saving tips or tips for saving money on food at restaurants did I forget to include? Leave a comment and let me know! I would love to hear your ideas!

 

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Eating Healthy on a Budget: 23 Best Tips!

eating healthy on a budget

Eating Healthy on a Budget

In this article you will find awesome tips for eating healthy on a budget!

There’s no denying that food can be expensive, especially when you want to feed your family healthy meals. But there are many things that you can do to save money on groceries even when you are wanting to eat healthy.

Read below to find 23 tips for eating healthy on a budget.

Tip: Pin the image above so that you can easily find this article about eating healthy on a budget to refer to it later!


 

23 Tips for Eating Healthy on a Budget

Do you ever struggle with the balance between wanting to feed your family healthy food and wanting to save money on groceries? I definitely do!

Food is expensive, and since in my mind I see it as a short-term commodity—something fleeting that you eat and then it is gone forever—it makes it difficult for me to swallow (pun intended :)) spending a ton of money on it.

But you can eat healthy foods without having to bust your budget! Here are my best 23 tips for eating healthy on a budget.

 

1. Find healthy foods that are on sale.

One of the best ways to save money on groceries and eat healthy on a budget is to review your weekly grocery ads and then base what you eat for the week around the sales items. Even if you have to go to a couple of grocery stores, like we do, it doesn’t take that long, and you can save a lot of money that way by buying the items that are on sale at each.

If you are lucky enough to shop at a grocery store that does price matching or honors the coupons from other stores, great! You may also be able to find apps that do the price matching for you (like the now-defunct Walmart Savings Catcher), so it’s a great idea to do a little hunting around!

 

2. Plan your meals.

Another one of the best ways that you can eat healthy on a budget is to plan your meals. Once you have reviewed the weekly ads and know what foods are on sale, plan your meals using those foods as much as you can to save a bunch of money on your groceries.

You can learn more about planning your meals here.

And be sure to sign up for the free, handy weekly meal planner below to help you get organized and save more money on food!

 

 3. Use a grocery shopping list.

 Another thing that can help you with eating healthy on a budget is to create and use a shopping list when you go to the store. You will create the shopping list from the foods you include in your meal plan, of course!

The free weekly meal planner you can sign up for above (you signed up for it, right?! :)) also comes with a handy grocery shopping list.

 

4. Comparison shop.

Another thing that really helps our family save money on groceries is to use a price comparison cheat sheet. If you have never used one before, you need to give it a try!

With a price comparison cheat sheet, you can easily know whether something is a good price or not. If it’s not, leave it on the shelf. And when nonperishable items are at a really great price, you can stock up to save big!

Sign up below to receive the free price comparison cheat sheet!

 

5. Eat at home.

It’s generally a lot easier and cheaper to eat healthy if you eat most of your meals at home.

When you eat at restaurants, it’s more difficult to know what is in the foods you eat and to get the nutritional information. Not to mention, often the portions are huge! You’ll save your money and your waistline by eating more of your meals at home. 🙂 

 

6. Drink lots of water.

Also make sure that you drink plenty of water as part of eating healthy on a budget. Water is about as cheap as you can get, and since many people are perpetually dehydrated, it is important to drink up.

I have also read that when you are dehydrated your brain can actually give your body the signal that it is hungry in order to try to get the fluid that it needs. I don’t know if that is true, but if it is, then being adequately hydrated can also potentially help keep you from overeating. And that in and of itself is a great reason to drink up.

 

7. Buy more whole foods and fewer processed foods.

You can buy some processed foods for pretty cheap, but a lot of times, processed and prepared foods are more expensive than buying the whole foods and preparing your meals yourself.

And whole foods are better for you than processed foods. They are also more filling, so that you are inclined to eat less. Some great options for inexpensive whole foods are beans, many in-season fruits and veggies, oats and brown rice, and other whole grains.

 

8. Pay attention to the calories and fat of the foods you eat.

Another important element of eating healthier is to watch the number of calories you consume and your fat intake. Unfortunately, often high-calorie, high-fat foods are pretty cheap and are not very good for you—they are cheaper than many foods that are good for you.

But the cheapest foods are the foods you leave on the grocery store shelf, so leave the high-calorie, high-fat junk food at the store.

 

9. Cut out the soda, sweets, alcohol, and other empty calories.

Like I said just above, you can save a lot of money and easily eat a more healthy diet by cutting out, or at least cutting back on, soda and sugary fruit juice, candy and candy bars and other sweets, alcoholic beverages, chips, and other junk foods.

 

10. Buy generic.

Buying generic foods is another great tip for eating healthy on a budget. Did you know that any many cases the generic-brand foods are made in the same plant and with the same ingredients as the name-brand items?

In most cases, the generic foods taste just as good are almost as good as the name-brand foods—and sometimes they taste better. There are only a very few name-brand items that I am willing to pay extra for. And if you really want to save money on your groceries and you buy mostly name-brand foods, start buying the store-brand versions instead. Your wallet (and your future, retired self) will thank you.

 

 

11. Buy less expensive, lean meats.

Another way to save a ton of money on groceries is to spend less money on meat. Buy more inexpensive, healthy meats like chicken, turkey, and even pork. When you do buy beef and even when you buy the other less-expensive meats, get less expensive cuts. For example, you spend less on chicken thighs than on chicken breasts. And you spend way less on ground beef than on top sirloin. To save money, make buying the more expensive meats a rare treat, like we do.

 

12. Go meatless for some meals.

To help you eat less meat, go meatless for some of your weekly meals. Make meatless spaghetti and lasagna and other pasta dishes. Eat more meals where the primary protein is beans. Save money by eating nut butter (like no-sugar peanut butter) sandwiches and more meals with eggs, like egg-fried rice and eggs with whole-grain toast or wraps.

 

13. Chew sugar-free gum.

 I have a sweet tooth. I wish I didn’t. But one thing that helps me to get over my cravings for sweet treats is to chew sugar free gum. And gum, for what you get, is really cheap! You can buy a pack with 30 pieces for just a couple of bucks, and since I like to chew half pieces so my mouth isn’t full of a wad of gum, that lasts me two months! Way cheaper than the cookies and candy and such that I would probably indulge in more often if I didn’t have my favorite gums as an option. 

 

14. Eat heart-healthy produce when it is in season.

 As I mentioned briefly above, buy produce that is in season. Even though I love blueberries (and my kiddos love them even more!), I’m just not willing to pay $4 a pound for them. So we primarily eat less expensive fruits that are in season for most of the year, like apples, bananas, oranges, and grapes. Strawberries are also often a good price where we live.

Some of the least expensive vegetables are carrots, broccoli, potatoes and sweet potatoes, squash and zucchini, and spinach (much of the time, but not all of the time). Kale and peppers (especially green peppers) are also often a good price.

I share a list of the cheapest healthy foods below, toward the end of this article. Check it out for more inexpensive and healthy fruits and vegetables and other food items.

 

15. Freeze or bottle fruit that is in season to eat when it is out of season.

Another great hack for eating healthy on a budget is to buy extra fruit when it is in season and freeze it or bottle it so that you can enjoy it later in the year when it is not in season. Berries in particular are great to buy in season and freeze for later.

 

16. Buy frozen fruits and vegetables when the fresh variety is out of season.

Similarly, another way to save money on groceries is to buy frozen fruits and vegetables when the fresh versions are not in season. Frozen fruits and vegetables lose very little if any nutritional value, so freezing these items is a great way to help you eat healthy on a budget.

 

17. Buy nonperishable items and items you use frequently or rapidly in bulk.

As with many other things, you can save a lot of money sometimes on groceries when you buy them in bulk. For items that you use frequently so that you know they won’t go bad before you are able to use them, stock up to save big!

Also know that for many things, you can eat them well past the recommended “best by” and “use by” dates. Obviously if something is 10 years past the expiration date you should toss it, but if it is just a few months past the best by date, you should be fine.

We’ve even eaten some canned things a year or more past the best by date when they got lost in the back of our pantry, and the food has been just fine. If the can isn’t bulging and the food isn’t discolored or odd smelling, you are probably OK.

 

18. Add more vegetables, fruits, and whole grains to your diet.

Something else that can help you eat healthy on a budget is to look for ways to add more vegetables, fruits, and whole grains to your diet. If your kiddos are picky eaters, like ours can be, this can be a little tricky. But try different things to see what might work.

For example, throw spinach into your kids’ scrambled eggs or egg omelets. Feed your family 100% whole grain toast and sandwiches made with whole grain. Sneak extra vegetables into your pasta dishes. Steam vegetables as a quick and tasty side dish.

 

19. Love your healthy leftovers.

 You can also save money on eating healthy by being sure to eat your leftovers. Don’t just let them sit in the fridge until they go bad.

Put them front and center in clear plastic containers with bright lids so that you will see them and take them with you to work for lunch, or heat them up as a quick weeknight dinner.

 

20. Review what is in your fridge, cupboards, and pantry before you shop.

As you do your meal planning before you go grocery shopping, inventory your fridge, cupboards, and pantry to see what you already have.

How often do you go to the grocery store, buy something, get home, open the fridge to put it away, and find that you already had it? I am definitely guilty of doing that sometimes—and I even know better!

Not only will doing an inventory of what you already have prevent you from buying duplicate items, but it will also help ensure you use up your perishable food before it goes bad.

 

21. Keep your fridge, cupboards, and pantry organized.

Going along with the tip just above, also keep your fridge, freezer, cupboards, and pantry organized so that you can easily see what you have and see what you need. We have a can rotator, and it is a great way to know how much we have of our canned goods.

Unfortunately, our freezer and cupboards are not so well organized. 🙁 That is why sometimes food gets lost in them. So for this tip, I partially have to say, do as I say, not as I do. 🙂 And one of these days I’ll take the time to get our pantry and cupboards more organized …

 

22. Try farmers markets and ethnic markets.

You can also sometimes find great deals on healthy foods by shopping at your local farmers market and at your favorite ethnic grocery stores.

Because your farmers market and your ethnic markets may not have the handy price per unit stickers that many grocery stores have on many items, make sure to take the price comparison cheat sheet (get it by signing up above!) with you so that you will know when items are a good price—and when they are not!

 

23. Know the healthy foods that are generally the best price.

To save money eating healthy, it is important to know the healthy foods that you can generally buy for the best price.

 Here I list some of the cheapest healthy foods you can buy. They are perfect for when you are trying to eat healthy without spending a ton of money!

 

Oatmeal

Oatmeal is one of the cheapest grocery staples you can buy for your pantry, and it is also very good for your heart. You can make oatmeal the traditional way over the stove or in the microwave, with fresh or frozen fruit to sweeten it. Or you can add a little honey or sugar or brown sugar, or use your favorite no-calorie or low-calorie sweetener of choice. Yes, no-calorie sweeteners cost more than sugar, but because you don’t have to use as much of it (because they are sweeter than sugar), I have found that my no-calorie sweetener of choice lasts a long time. So it really isn’t all that expensive.

I also like to make overnight oatmeal and these super easy 2-ingredient banana oatmeal cookies. Another thing I like to do that is even easier than the two-ingredient cookies are to simply mash up a banana with one-half to one cup of oatmeal for a filling, tasty, nutritious, low-calorie breakfast.

 

Cream of wheat

This is another one of our family favorite staples for breakfast. It is not quite as cheap as oatmeal, but it is still very inexpensive if you buy it in the box. You can flavor it with fresh fruit like bananas or a few berries or even with a little brown sugar or honey (or even an artificial, calorie-free sweetener of choice).  Yum!

 

Eggs

Another staple for eating healthy on a budget is eggs. At a price (where we live) of only about 10 cents per egg, you can have a hearty breakfast (or whatever meal) of eggs and whole wheat toast for well under $1 per serving.

And eggs are so versatile! You can scramble them, fry them, boil them, poach them, and more! Add some fresh-made or even store-bought salsa adds extra nutrients and flavor with very few calories!

 

Nonfat greek yogurt

Nonfat greek yogurt is another great food item when you are looking for the cheapest healthy foods! Sweeten it with your favorite fruit and berries, use it in smoothies, enjoy it with homemade healthy granola, and more!

 

Nonfat or low-fat cottage cheese

Cottage cheese is packed with protein, and especially when you eat the nonfat or low-fat varieties, it can be a fairly healthy food to eat on a budget. If you want to sweeten it up, try it with fresh, frozen, or canned peaches or pears. (If you use canned fruit, buy the kind that is canned in its own or other fruit juices, not the syrups.)

Or another favorite way that I like to eat cottage cheese is by adding fresh chopped tomatoes. Savory or sweet, this versatile power food will please your palette without unduly lightening your wallet.

Low fat or nonfat milk

Milk is about the cheapest food you can buy in the dairy category. Where we live, you can get a gallon of regular milk for less than $2 per gallon. That’s a pretty amazing deal considering how many ways you can use milk in your meals and recipes.

 

Bananas

Probably because they are readily available all year round, bananas are one of the cheapest healthy foods  you can buy, so they should be on your go-to list when you are trying to save money on groceries. And they are just delicious, in any case. 🙂

 

Apples

For what you get, apples may be the overall cheapest fruit in many grocery stores, if you choose the least expensive varieties such as red delicious and Gala. But even golden delicious, Granny Smith, and some of the others are not too expensive, either.

 

Pears

 Pears can be another great inexpensive fruit, at least when they are in season. Two varieties that are generally a pretty good price are Bartlett and Bosc. Anjou is one of the least expensive winter pears.

 

Oranges

Oranges are another great fruit when you are wanting to eat healthy on a budget. They are somewhat seasonal, so you will pay more for them in the winter generally than you do in the summer, but the prices year round are pretty good. And these awesome little fruits are packed with vitamin C as well as fiber and potassium. If you love orange juice, save money by making your own, fresh squeezed! (And you will avoid the extra sugar and other additives that way, as well!)

 

Strawberries

You can also often get strawberries for a great price during the summer months when they are in season. Strawberries are an excellent source of vitamin C, vitamin K, folic acid, potassium, and fiber.

 

Plums

Plums are another good option for a pretty inexpensive fruit during the summer season. Plums are a good source of potassium, fiber, vitamin C, and antioxidants.

Cantaloupe

Though not as cheap as the fruits listed above, cantaloupe is still a great choice when you are looking for cheap healthy foods to eat. It is a good source of vitamin C, folate, fiber, potassium, and other vitamins and minerals. Cantaloupe is awesome to cut up for a simple fruit salad, or chop it up and eat it plain or with your favorite low-fat or nonfat yogurt. 

Kiwi

This sweet, delicious fruit is another budget-friendly option—particularly during the summer months when they are in season. At our local grocery store we can usually get three or four for a dollar during the summer. Kiwis have tons of vitamin C and fiber, and they are great alone or sliced up in a fruit salad.

 

Watermelon

You can find watermelon for a great price—when they are in season! When they are not, stick to fruits that are so that you don’t spend an arm and a leg on them. Check local fruit stands and farmers’ markers to find great deals during the summer. This powerful fruit is a great source of vitamin C and is delicious in fruit salads or all on its own.

 

Frozen berries

When your favorite berries are not in season (and honestly, even sometimes when they are), you will get more bang for your buck by buying them frozen. Especially if you get mixed frozen fruit with strawberries, you will spend less per serving than you will on berries bought out of season. And frozen berries lose little if any nutritional value, so they are a great option when you are looking to buy cheap, healthy foods.

 

Grapes

Grapes are another one of the cheapest fruits available. When they are in season during the summer months, they can be a steal of a deal on sale. They are great in fruit salads, straight off the vine, or frozen as a sweet, healthy treat! We also love them in chicken pasta salad and chicken salad sandwiches.

 

Spinach

Spinach isn’t generally the cheapest vegetable you can buy, but it is a great way to (relatively) inexpensively increase the nutritional value of other inexpensive dishes such as egg omelets, meat sandwiches, salads, stir fry dishes, pasta dishes, quesadillas, and more.

And you can often buy frozen bagged spinach for even less than fresh spinach (unless it’s on sale or in season), at about 10 cents per ounce for a generic brand at my local grocery store.

 

Peppers

Green peppers are another good option when you want to eat the cheapest healthy foods—at least when they are in season, that is. They are a great source for vitamins A and C, potassium, fiber, and folic acid.

When peppers are not in season, if they are too expensive, look at cabbage, spinach, and the other vegetables included in this list for cheaper options. Green bell peppers are generally your cheapest option, then red, and then yellow and orange. Sometimes the bagged peppers that are sold as a variety pack are a better deal than buying the different peppers individually would be, so be sure to comparison shop!

 

Frozen vegetables

Frozen vegetables can be an economical option, as well, particularly when other favorite vegetables are not in season. And despite what you may have heard, from what I have read, vegetables lose little if any nutritional value when frozen.

Frozen vegetables are great in casseroles, soups and stews, omelets, and more. To know when frozen vegetables are a better deal, do a rough comparison of serving sizes.

 

Garlic

Garlic is an awesome flavor enhancer that also has healthful vitamins and minerals. At 50 cents or less per bulb, it is not the cheapest healthy food around, but because it is so packed with flavor, a little goes a long way. 🙂 In addition to having various vitamins and minerals, I have read that garlic can help fight the common cold and other illnesses and also help reduce blood pressure and improve cholesterol levels.

 

Canned pumpkin

Pumpkin doesn’t have to be reserved just for the fall. 🙂 You can buy canned pumpkin year round to enjoy in soups, muffins, and curries. The antioxidants in pumpkin make it a healthy choice,  and at less than a dollar for the 15-ounce can, it’s another good choice for a cheap, healthy food.

 

Kale

Kale is one of the healthiest vegetables around, so it really is a great value. It is packed with antioxidants like vitamins A, C, and K, fiber, calcium, iron, and potassium, At our local grocery store you can find it for around $1 to $1.50 per bunch.

 

 

Related articles:
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Potatoes

Regular russet potatoes are a good source of nutrients, and they are super cheap! (Make sure to eat the skins to get the most nutrition!) At our local grocery store we can often buy them for a dollar for a 10-pound bag, and regularly for $2 to $3 for the 10-pound bag.

You can cook several potatoes in the microwave in about 15 to 20 minutes for a quick and very cheap meal. I like to make them a little healthier by topping them with salsa (or salsa mixed with a little bit of ranch) instead of sour cream, ranch, cheese, and other more expensive and more caloric options.

You can also slice up potatoes and season them and fry them up (with a little of your favorite healthy oil), or make homemade fries. And of course mashed potatoes are cheap (and delicious :)). Go easy on the butter!

Sweet potatoes

Personally, I really like making baked sweet potatoes as an even healthier alternative to regular baked potatoes. Because they are so naturally sweet, I don’t even think you have to top them with anything. But if you choose to, you can add a little cinnamon and honey or sugar for an even sweeter treat.

Or go savory by topping your sweet potato with things like cheddar cheese and broccoli, ground turkey and black beans, salsa and eggs, guacamole and cheese, or turkey bacon and cheese!

 

Carrots

Your list of great foods for eating healthy on a budget should always include carrots. The cheapest way to buy carrots generally is  full sized, in bulk, but if you find baby carrots for a good price, then they are a great option, as well.

 

Canned tomatoes

Fresh tomatoes can fluctuate in price pretty wildly throughout the year, so for meals where it makes sense to use them, canned tomatoes can sometimes be a less-expensive alternative.

 

Squash

In the fall when it is in season, you can sometimes buy squash at amazing prices! (If you have neighbors who grow them and give them to you, then that’s an even better deal!) After the later summer and fall, winter squash can be another economical and healthy option.

 

Zucchini

Similar to squash, you can sometimes get amazing deals on zucchini during the fall when it is in season. (And again, you might even be able to score a lot of it for free from family and neighbors happy to share!) Zucchini is high in antioxidants and may reduce blood sugar levels and improve heart health. Fry it up with your favorite oil, make a tasty zucchini lasagna, or make healthy zucchini muffins or breads.

 

Cabbage

Cabbage is quite inexpensive; in our area, you can buy it for less than 80 cents a pound, so it is another great choice when you are looking for the cheapest healthy foods. It is a good source of vitamins B, C, and K. Chop it up for an inexpensive addition to your favorite green salad!

 

 

Onions

Onions are another vegetable that you can get for a pretty good price most of the time. In our area, yellow onions are generally the cheapest variety, though white are not generally much more expensive. And because of the awesome way that they enhance the flavor of many dishes, onions are a great staple to keep on hand all the time.

 

Broccoli

You can also generally get broccoli for a pretty good price. Often the crowns are more expensive, but occasionally they are the better deal because you are not paying for the stalk. (However, we slice up the stalk and include it in some of our dishes. If you can do that, then that makes the whole broccoli heads even more affordable.)

Broccoli is a great sources of vitamin C and vitamin K, and it is a good source of folic acid, potassium, and fiber. We can generally buy broccoli crowns at our local store for $1.50 per pound or less (at least when they are in season).

During the winter months, you may be able to buy frozen broccoli for a better price than fresh, so be sure to price compare. As with everything you buy, the generic or store brand will generally be cheaper than name brands.

 

Salsa

Not only does salsa taste delicious, but it is really good for you! And salsa is particularly helpful if you are getting low on fresh produce before your next scheduled trip to the grocery store. It is a great item to keep on hand all of the time because it lasts longer (once opened) than most fresh vegetables, too. And it is a great staple to keep in the pantry because it is shelf stable.

 Salsa is a good source of vitamin A, vitamin C, and fiber. 

 

Green salad

Green salads can be another cheap and healthy food. You will usually get a better price if you buy the ingredients for an inexpensive salad yourself rather than buying premade salads. However, sometimes the premade salads are on sale for a great price.

We generally keep our salads pretty economical by making them ourselves using spinach or romaine (or similar) lettuce, tomatoes, sliced or chopped carrots, cauliflower (if it can be bought for a good price), and broccoli.

 

Beans

Beans may be the overall cheapest food staple there is. Especially if you buy them in a large bag and soak and prepare them yourself, you pay just a few  pennies per ounce. Pinto beans, black beans, and garbanzo beans are all good options when you are looking for healthy foods at a great price.

Dry beans do take time to prepare, but if you soak them overnight and then prepare them in a slow cooker, they really don’t take much effort at all. And of course there are tons of different kinds of beans. Pinto, black beans, red kidney beans, garbanzo beans (chickpeas), great northern beans, white chili beans—we like them all at our house.

Even if you buy canned beans, you can still make a lot of inexpensive and pretty healthy meals, such as taco soup (made with lean ground beef), white chili chicken soup, or even meatless taco or simple multi-bean soup.

 

Canned refried beans

Though definitely not as cheap as making refried beans from scratch, canned refried beans are still a cheap, fairly healthy food. Go for low sodium, unsaturated fat options.

Refried beans are a good vegetarian source of  protein and a good source of various vitamins and antioxidants.

 

Edamame (soybeans)

 Edamame is a great source of fiber and protein, and they are a great snack as well as a power-packed side dish. Frozen edamame is great steamed with a little salt.

 

Lentils

You can also buy lentils for very cheap, and they are another great protein option when money is tight but you still want to eat healthy. There are lots of recipes (just search Google or Pinterest) for lentil soups and other dishes with lentils, such as veggie lentil stir fry.

 

Brown rice

Brown rice is a healthy food that is about as cheap as they come. 🙂 In my area, you can get a pound of brown rice (in the five-pound bag) for about 66 cents, and a pound of rice makes about 10 servings. So you can have a serving of brown rice for well under 10 cents!

You can make a simple breakfast rice for a cheap option for that meal, and of course there are tons of cheap dishes that you can prepare with rice for lunch and dinner meals. Rice and beans is a favorite among frugalists everywhere. 🙂

 

Whole wheat pasta

Pasta, even whole wheat pasta, is another fairly cheap food. You can use it in simple and relatively inexpensive main dishes such as spaghetti (especially if you make meatless spaghetti), homemade mac and cheese, pesto pasta, and so on.

 

Air-popped popcorn

Popcorn that you pop yourself is super cheap and also good for you! To make your own microwave popcorn, simply put it in a paper bag, fold the top of the bag over twice to seal it, and microwave for about two minutes (or until you hear a couple of seconds between kernels popping). Then carefully take out the hot bag, and simply add your favorite toppings like a little Parmesan cheese, cinnamon, brown sugar, or even taco seasoning!

No paper bag? No problem! Just put the popcorn kernels in a large microwave-safe bowl (such as a glass bowl) and put a glass plate over the top. Voila!

 

Quinoa

Though not as cheap as other less-expensive grains, quinoa is great for you and is fairly inexpensive considering its nutritional value. It is high in both fiber and protein and contain various essential amino acids. Quinoa is a great side dish or add-on for main dishes to give them an extra protein punch.

 

100% Whole Wheat Bread

Bread can make a very inexpensive breakfast item when you make toast, but of course bread is a staple of an inexpensive lunch, as well, with the many kinds of sandwiches you can make.

Obviously, you can spend quite a bit of money on expensive artisan and craft breads, but your basic store-brand breads, even the whole wheat kind, are one of the items where you can get the most bang for your buck.

The 100% whole wheat loaves are more expensive than white bread or just partial-wheat, but it is still quite inexpensive at just around $1.50 to $2 a loaf (in our area) for the less-expensive brands.

When you are needing to buy the cheapest healthy foods you can, then skip buying whole wheat buns, and just use whole wheat bread for hamburgers and hot dogs and similar things. We regularly use bread in places of buns for these things just because I don’t like to have to keep buns on hand because sometimes they go bad before we can use them all up.

 

 

Chicken

When money is tight or when you just want to be able to buy the most economical foods, chicken is definitely your friend. Much of the meat that we buy is chicken because it is generally less expensive than beef and pork and other kinds of meat.

We can often get skinless, boneless chicken breasts for a $1 a pound, and so I tend to stock up when it is at that price until the next time it goes on sale. Occasionally we can even get ground chicken for a great price, and it is excellent for dishes like tacos and enchiladas in place of ground beef.

 

Pork

Pork is another good option when you are looking for cheap healthy foods because it is a relatively inexpensive source of fairly low-fat protein. At our local grocer you can buy a pound of pork regularly for between $2.50 and $4 a pound, depending on the cut.

 

Ground turkey

Sometimes ground turkey is on sale for a better price than ground beef, and since it is also a healthier option than ground beef, when it is, we will sometimes buy several pounds of it and freeze it to use in various dishes where we would normally use ground beef.

Ground turkey is great in tacos, enchiladas, spaghetti, casseroles, for turkey burgers, and more.

 

Lean ground beef 

 Though not as good for you as chicken or ground turkey, lean ground beef is not a bad option. And it is less expensive than many of the other types of meat of similar nutritional value. Of course, the leaner it is, the more expensive it generally is, so we usually wait to buy ground beef until it is on sale and then stock up and fill our freezer so that we can wait until the next time that it goes on sale.

 

Peanuts

Peanuts can be a pretty cost effective and fairly healthy food, particularly when you buy then unsalted in the shell. Peanuts are a good source of healthy fats that can help reduce the risk of heart disease.

 

Peanut butter

When you are eating healthy on a budget, peanut butter is a good value because it is high in protein and is really inexpensive per serving compared to other high-proteins foods and particularly compared to meat.

The non-sugar, all natural peanut butter does cost significantly more than regular peanut butter (about twice as much), but you can make a ton of sandwiches from one large jar of peanut butter! And at 15 cents per ounce even for the non-sugar variety, it is still an awesome deal!

In the 36 ounce jar, that is about 72 tablespoons of peanut butter, and if you eat the standard serving size suggested, that is 36 sandwiches that you can make from a jar that costs (in our area) a little over $5. So for about 15 cents for the peanut butter and another 20 cents for the two slices of bread (if you get the less-expensive, whole wheat bread) and another 20 cents or less for a sliced-up banana, you are spending only about 50 cents for a tasty, healthy peanut butter and banana sandwich. Eat an inexpensive apple with it, and you have a light lunch for well under a buck.

 

Tuna fish

Tuna has definitely gotten more expensive over the last 10 or 15 years, but it is still more economical than most meats. Tuna salad sandwiches are more expensive than peanut butter sandwiches, for example, but a simple tuna salad sandwich is still very inexpensive—especially if the alternative is going out to eat for your work lunch. 

 

Related articles:

42 Cheap and Easy Budget-Friendly Meals for under $5!
5 Cheap Slow Cooker Meals for under $5
31 Budget-Friendly Cheap and Easy Dinner Recipes
59 Must-Know Tips to Slash Your Grocery Bill in Half!
7 Simple Steps to Use a Meal Plan to Save Money on Groceries
13 Top Tips to Save Money Eating Out
How to Use a Grocery Item Price Comparison Cheat Sheet to Save a Ton of Money!

 

Conclusion

When eating healthy on a budget, there really are a lot of options for making tasty, healthy, and inexpensive meals by following the tips above. With the ideas in this article, you can save a ton of money on your monthly grocery budget!

I really am a big advocate of keeping your grocery costs down, even when money isn’t tight, so that you can use the money for things (such as getting out of debt, investing for retirement, saving for kids’ college,  and becoming totally financially free) that have longer-lasting value than a meal that is consumed in 30 minutes or less and that you can then barely even remember the taste of. 🙂

Want more inspiration for how to save on your grocery budget? You can find more than 70 ideas for saving money on groceries (without having to use coupons!) here.

 

What are your best tips for eating healthy on a budget? What other foods would you add to this list of inexpensive healthy foods? What else do you do to save money on groceries? Leave a comment below and let me know! I would love to know your thoughts!

 

Invitation to Share

Was there something in this article that inspired you to change something about your money? Are there ideas or tips that you feel could help others? Would you please take a minute to share this article via email or social media? I would love your help to share these principles of financial well-being. Thank you!

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Travel Savings: 7 Tips to Save for Your Travel Fund

travel savings
 

Travel Savings

In this article I am going to talk about how to create a travel savings fund. 

One of the best things about this wonderful world that we live in is just how diverse and yet beautiful it is. The mountains have their beauty. The forests have their beauty. The beaches have their beauty.

There are so many uniquely beautiful places to see around the world. That is one of the things that makes travel so desirable!

But travel can quickly become a very expensive habit. Fortunately, there are many things you can do to save up money for travel savings so that you can travel without going into credit card or other debt.

Don’t let your travels be tainted by debt that follows you around afterward. Use  these simple tips to fund your travel savings account so that you can save up the money before you travel and enjoy traveling debt and guilt free!

 

Tip: Pin the image above to save this article to Pinterest so that you can easily refer to these travel savings tips later!


 

7 Tips to Fund Your Travel Savings!

Some of my favorite memories from childhood were the fun vacations that we had as a family. My dad loves to find great deals (that’s one of many traits that I likely inherited from him :)), and he loved to travel and take vacations, so we did a fair amount of traveling while I was growing up.

We have a large family, so most of the traveling was within the U.S. so that we could drive rather than fly, but it was still awesome!

In this article you will learn how to build up your travel savings fund so that you can plan and take fun trips that you and your family will always remember! Read on to learn 7 simple tips to fund your travel savings! 

 

Top Tip: We are big fans of Airbnb to save money on travel! To receive $40 off your first Airbnb stay, sign up here!

1. Figure out how much you would like to save every month toward your travel savings fund.

Once you know that you want to save toward travel, look at your monthly budget, and decide how much money you can afford to save each month toward your travel savings.

Even if the amount is small at first, such as $50 or $100 per month, the money will add up pretty quickly over time. I will also give ideas for how you can save more toward your travel savings fund below.

No budget? No problem. Find out how to create a simple budget that works here.

 

2. Set up a separate bank account for your travel savings.

I am a big proponent of setting up separate savings accounts to fund your various financial goals and dreams.

By setting up separate savings accounts, you won’t accidentally spend money you were intending to use for one thing on something else.

If your current bank doesn’t allow you to easily set up multiple savings accounts, look at opening an account with an online bank like Capital One 360. We have been banking with them for about 15 years (since the time that they were ING Direct), and even after being bought by Cap One, I have to admit they are still a great bank. We actually have more than 20 savings accounts, if you can believe it. But it helps us be able to easily save money toward our various financial goals and obligations, and it also lets us easily see our progress toward reaching those goals.

Learn about the 9 savings accounts that I feel that every family should have

3. Transfer money automatically from your checking account to your travel savings account.

Once you know how much you want to save each month toward your travel fund, then set up automatic transfers from your checking account to your savings account to make that happen.

You might transfer money on the first day of every month or some other day of the month, or you could transfer money every other week following your pay schedule, for example.

When and how often you transfer the money doesn’t really matter; what matters is that you automate the savings process so that you know it will actually happen. 🙂

Find out more about automating your money in various areas of your finances (such as paying bills and paying off debt, saving for emergencies and putting money toward sinking funds, investing for retirement and kids’ college, and so on) and how it can help you to reach your financial goals and succeed with money.

Related articles:

 

4. Find ways to reduce spending in order to build up your travel savings more quickly.

Another important step in building your travel savings is to reduce spending in other areas where you can. Most people can fairly easily make cuts in the following areas, especially if they haven’t really been budgeting or following a spending plan.

 

Save money on entertainment.

There are tons of ways that you can save money on your monthly or yearly entertainment and related costs. Here are some of the biggest ones:

  • Ditch your dish (satellite) or cable service.
  • Save money on your cell phones or smartphones.
  • Save money on your internet service.
  • Go to the movies less.
  • Buy fewer books and movies (go to the library instead :)).
  • Go to fewer and less expensive music concerts.
  • Go to fewer and less expensive sports games.
  • Spend less on video and computer games.
  • Spend less on electronic devices.
  • Cancel your subscriptions to magazines and paid TV services (Netflix, Sling, and so on—again, videos from the library are free!).
  • Consider canceling your memberships to the gym, rec center, museums, aquariums, zoos, and the like.
  • Spend less money on recreational activities like skiing, bowling, miniature golf, playing arcades, and so on.
  • Spend less on Christmas shopping.
  • Find ways to save money on family vacations.
  • Reduce the amount allocated to your personal monthly spending money (your fun money or blow money).

 

Save money eating out.

The average family in America spends about $3,000 a year eating out. That means there is a lot of money that can be saved here! I know it probably sounds crazy, but we spend less than $300 a year eating out. And I don’t feel deprived! Want to know why? The reason is that that frugality has helped us to reach other financial goals that we have—and to do it on one average income.

The best thing you can do to save money eating out is to simply do less of it. 🙂 But there are lots of other ways that you can save money eating out, as well! Read this article to learn how to save money eating out.

 

Save money on groceries.

 There are so many things that you can do to reduce your grocery spending. I discuss more than 70 ways that you can save money on groceries in this article.

But here are some of the things you can do to save the most money:

 

Check out these related articles for more money-saving tips:

 

Save money on transportation.

 Another way that you really need to be smart with your money is with your spending on transportation. The average car payment in America is close to $500 a month! Is is any wonder that nearly 80 percent of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck? Our savings accounts and emergency funds and retirement funds are sitting in our garages!

So here is what you can do to turn things around and save money on transportation costs:

Find more than 30 tips for how to save money on transportation costs here

 

Save money on housing.

For many families, housing is their single largest expense. But there are also many things that you can do to save money on housing. Here are some of my best tips for saving money on your housing:

  • Shop around to see if you can lower your homeowners insurance premiums.
  • Look into refinancing your home if interest rates have dropped. (But don’t lengthen the term of your loan! If anything, shorten it!)
  • If you are renting, find a cheaper place.
  • If you bought too much house, look at downsizing.
  • If you really want to save money on housing, consider renting out a spare bedroom (or bedrooms) either long term or on sites like Airbnb and Booking.com.
  • Save money on alarm monitoring with inexpensive services like SimpliSafe. (I love SimpliSafe!)

Check out this article for more than 30 ways to save money on housing.

 

Save money on utilities.

You can pretty drastically reduce your utility bill if you want to. Years ago I heard about a professor of economics who just couldn’t bear to see the money spent on utility costs go down the drain because he knew what that money could grow to if it were invested, and so he kept his AC up and his furnace down, and his family wore sweaters and bundled up during the winter and found ways to stay cool during the summer.

We haven’t gotten that extreme in my family (not yet, anyway :)), but it’s a little tempting! Because I hate spending money on things that have no lasting value, too! Sigh. In any case, here are some free and easy ways that you can save money on your utility bill:

  • Turn down (to 62 degrees or lower, if you can) and turn up your AC (to 78 degrees or higher, if you can).
  • Wash all of your clothes in cold water. Washing machines are so powerful these days they will still get your clothes clean even with cold water.
  • Hang your clothes out to dry.
  • Use your dishwasher less. Wait till it is full to run it, and consider using your dish drain and washing the dishes by hand.
  • Turn off lights, TVs, computers, radios, nightlights, and so on when they are not in use.
  • Unplug appliances and electronics when they are not in use.
  • Open your curtains during the day to let in the sun to warm up your house during the winter or keep them closed to keep out the sun to help keep it from heating up too much during the summer.

Also, read this article for more ideas on how to save money on utilities during the summer and this article for more ideas on how to save money on utilities during the winter.

 

Save money on clothing and shoes.

Some people just love to buy designer clothes and shoes. And they look really nice! But so does a paid-for beach house in retirement. 🙂 So we buy most of our clothes, for us and the kids, either on sale or from thrift stores or the classifieds. For now our kiddos are young, so they don’t know the difference (and I hope that even when they are older, they won’t care—and I hope they never do :)).

My sisters and I also swap clothes back and forth for our kiddos that are the same ages, which is awesome! I love to see the clothes that my kiddos wore on my nieces and nephews; it brings back such fun memories! If you have family or friends with kiddos the same age as yours, see if you can set up a kids clothing co-op!

Read this article to learn easy ways to save money on clothes.

 

Comparison shop.

Another important way to spend less money on your expenses is to comparison shop—on virtually everything. When I have done this, particularly with larger expenses like fairly major home and auto repairs, the difference in prices I have been quoted has often been pretty drastic!

Get the most bang for your buck by calling several (I usually call at least five) places or checking several stores before making a purchase or spending money on a service like a car, plumbing, or home repair.

 

Do a no-spend challenge.

Another great way to spend less money is to do a no-spend challenge. I love doing no-spend challenges because they can be a great way to save money fast!

With a no-spend challenge, you can choose to not spend any money for a specified amount of time on a certain budget category. So, for example, you could choose to go six months without spending any money on clothes or shoes.

Or you could choose to go two weeks or a month without spending any money at all on anything besides necessities like basic needed food 

Read this article to learn how you can do a no-spend challenge!

 

 

5. Look for ways to earn more money to increase your travel savings.

Another important way that you can fund your travel savings account, and do so more quickly, is to find (fun!) ways to earn more money or bring in more cash.

Here are some of my favorite ideas for making more money:

  • Work overtime. If you have the opportunity to do so, working overtime is a great way to help you to save money quickly.
  • Ask for a raise or promotion. If it’s been a few years since you received a significant raise and you’ve been an exceptional employee at work, make a list of your contributions and your accomplishments, and schedule a meeting with your boss to request a raise or a promotion. Focus on ways that you’ve earned the company money or saved them money. If you learn that a raise or promotion isn’t going to happen right away, ask what specific steps you can take in the next year or two to make it a reality. Read this article for more information on how to seek a raise or promotion.
  • Do freelance work. If you work in a field that lends itself to doing freelance work, take advantage of that opportunity to earn extra income to help you save money fast! I have been doing freelance writing and editing since before I graduated from college with my English degree and editing minor, and doing freelance work has not only helped me gain experience in other areas besides what I do for my full-time job but has also at times (when I wanted to give the time to it) brought in significant additional income.
  • Do coaching or consulting. Similarly, if you have job experience or a skill that lends itself to coaching or consulting, put that skill to use! Popular areas for consulting include human resource (HR) consultant, public relations (PR) consultant, marketing consultant, business management consultant, and accounting consultant. Popular areas for coaching include financial coaching, job coaching, personal fitness coaching, and leadership coaching. Look for opportunities on indeed.com or your favorite job website.
  • Get a (second) job. If one spouse is available to get a second job in the evenings or on Saturday, for example, then this is another great potential way to earn additional income. And if you are a one-income family, or if one of you works only part-time, you might want to consider reentering the workforce or going full-time temporarily in order to save money more quickly.
  • Start a side hustle. If you would rather earn money without working another regular job, there are a lot of things you can do to earn a little extra income with a side hustle. Some ideas include starting your own small business where you turn a hobby into a money-maker, being a virtual assistant, or driving for Uber or Lyft. Learn how to start a side hustle and find out about many side hustles that you can explore.
  • Start a money-making blog. The potential for significant income is one of the reasons that I started this blog. If you love helping people and enjoy writing, being a blogger might be a great fit for you. In addition to great income potential (check out these amazing income reports of bloggers who make $10,000 to $100,000 or more per month!), there are many other benefits of being a blogger, such as being able to be your own boss and work on your own schedule. Learn how to start a blog for less than $5 a month.
  • Earn passive income. Some options for earning passive income are to create a product you have someone sell, write a book, create a money-making podcast or vlog, develop an online course, or participate in affiliate marketing. Read this article to learn more ideas for earning passive income.
  • Use rebate apps like Ibotta and Ebates. With rebate services such as Ebates and Ibotta, you can earn money by shopping for things and at places where you would shop anyway. With Ebates, you generally buy items through their website to save up to 40 percent on purchases. It is primarily an online service. Ibotta, on the other hand, is an app you use primarily after you make purchases at brick-and-mortar stores. Because of this, you can actually sign up for and use both apps to save on purchases. Sign up for a free Ebates account here, and sign up for a free Ibotta account here. You can literally sign up for both in just seconds and let the savings start stacking up.
  • Sell stuff on eBay or Amazon. If you have a good eye for a bargain, you can buy items at thrift stores or garage sales and sell them for a profit on eBay, Amazon, Craigslist, or your local online classifieds.
  • Sell your clothes to consignment shops. If you’re like most people, you probably have more clothes than you need. So use them to bring in some quick cash!
  • Have a garage sale. Declutter and earn money, all at the same time!

Check out this article to learn more about increasing your income!

 

6. Look for ways to save money on your travel plans.

You will be able to stretch your travel budget—and therefore be able to travel more! woo hoo!—if you will also look for ways to spend less money on the actual travel itself.

For example, to save money on your vacation lodging, check out places like Airbnb, Booking.com, VRBO, and HomeAway. We have been staying at Airbnb locations for the last four or five years, and it has been great! If you haven’t tried Airbnb yet, you should give them a try. I talk about some of the awesome benefits of vacations with Airbnb in my Airbnb review here. To sign up to receive $40 off your first Airbnb stay, sign up here!

By staying at places through Airbnb and services like them, not only can you save money on the accommodations themselves, but because you generally have a kitchen available, you can save a bunch of money by not having to eat out as much. (Or at all, if you choose—on this most recent trip we ate all of our meals at the home where we stayed or as picnics at the parks we visited.) You can also save money if you fly by packing fewer clothes and bringing carry-on luggage if your place has a washer and dryer, as many Airbnb rentals do.

You can also find ways to spend less money on your travel by following these tips:

  • Choose locations you can drive to.
  • Pack light. 🙂
  • Stay with family or friends when possible.
  • Share the price of a rental (such as a beach house) with friends or family.
  • Price compare to find the best deals using apps like Airfare Watchdog, Priceline, VacationsToGo, Kayak, Hotels.com, and so on.
  • Also set up price alerts with sites like the ones mentioned in the bullet above so that you will know when prices drop or when they fall within your budget.
  • Go to less popular destinations.
  • Travel during the should or off-peak season.
  • Stay at less popular hotels and eat at less popular restaurants (try to avoid the tourist traps).
  • Look at bundling your flights, hotel stays, car rentals, and so on with sites like Expedia, Kayak, Priceline, and so forth.
  • Find deals on entertainment at your travel destination. Check out visitors centers for things like discount tickets.
  • Enjoy some free and cheap entertainment at your destination spot.
  • If you do not drive, look at using the bus or train to get around.
  • Also look at services like Uber and Lyft to save money instead of using taxis.
  • Hunt for last-minute deals. You can save a lot of money by looking for deals and planning ahead, but sometimes the very best deals are when hotels, cruise lines, airlines, and so on slash their prices in order to fill their rooms and seats.
  • Be flexible if possible on timing and even destination while making your travel plans so that you can take advantage of the best deals.

 

7. Find ways to stay motivated to reach your money-saving goal.

If you are saving for a fairly big travel goal and need to save up quite a bit of money for your travel fund, consider setting milestones and rewarding yourselves along the way if that will help you to stay motivated and reach your goal.

For example, you might go out for ice cream every time you save $500 or $1,000 toward your travel savings goal. You definitely don’t want to give up and stop saving the money for your travel plans and then put a bunch of travel expenses on your credit card. Not a good idea! 🙂

Just keep working steadily toward your travel savings goal, and you will be there (figuratively and literally!) before you know it!

Final Tip: Are you ready to start saving money on your travel accommodations? Sign up with Airbnb to receive $40 off your first Airbnb stay!

Conclusion

With these top travel savings tips you will be able to save up for and take amazing trips with your family! And you can take those trips with cash rather than relying on credit cards! Your vacations will be more enjoyable when they are not tainted by the stress of having to pay for them for months after the fact in the form of monthly credit card payments.

Have you set up a separate travel savings fund yet? How do you find ways to fund your travel savings account? What are your favorite destinations for cheap and awesome travel? Leave a comment below and let me know! I would love to hear your tips!

Invitation to Share

Was there something in this article that inspired you to change something about your money? Are there ideas or tips that you feel could help others? Would you please take a minute to share this article via email or social media? I would love your help to share these principles of financial well-being. Thank you!

Join Our Facebook Group!

Join our closed Families for Financial Freedom Facebook group to get support and share ideas for how we can all improve our financial well-being by earning more, spending less, saving more, and investing more and reach our financial goals. You can do this! And we are here to help.

Dave Ramsey Tips: 25 Best Lessons from Dave Ramsey for 2019!

Dave Ramsey tips

Dave Ramsey Tips

In this article I am going to discuss some of my favorite Dave Ramsey tips. Learn 21 simple Dave Ramsey tips that will help you to spend less money, save more money, and invest your money wisely!

Dave Ramsey has become a huge influencer in the personal finance realm, and he deserves to be. He has helped millions of people to be able to fix their family finances by starting to budget, working their way out of debt, building an emergency fund, saving for retirement, helping to pay for their childrens college educations, paying off their mortgage, giving generously, starting to build wealth, and more!

You may not agree with everything that he teaches, but I hope you agree that he has had a huge positive impact on families and individuals to help them improve their finances and start to win with money!

Read on to learn a little more about Dave Ramsey and to learn about 21 Dave Ramsey tips that can help you too to turn your personal finances around and get out of debt, start to save, and ultimately achieve your own financial freedom!

 

A Little about Dave Ramsey

Before sharing the crucial Dave Ramsey tips we have learned (and lived!) over the last 10 years, I want to share a little bit about him for those who may not have heard of him or who don’t know very much about him.

Dave Ramsey’s Story

Dave Ramsey’s parents sold real estate, and so he grew up in the real estate world himself and got his real estate license at 18. He bought and sold real estate during college and was able to build up a $4 million portfolio by the time he was 26. It was a portfolio built on a lot of financed property. Then times got tough financially, the bank called his loans due, and he couldn’t pay them back and crashed and burned. He declared bankruptcy, and he lost everything.

Over the years that followed he clawed his way back to financial solvency, and he was able to pay back all of his debt. But he was never the same again.

 

On a Crusade to Change a Culture

After going broke and losing everything to the banks, Dave Ramsey swore he would never go into debt again—and he never has. In a society where they tell you that you have to have debt, you must have debt to buy a car, to buy a house, to rent an apartment, to rent a car, to get a cell phone—he says no. No, you don’t.

And he now has hundreds of thousands of people who have also sworn off debt to one degree or another (my husband and I are proudly among that group!) in favor of a better way to manage their money.

 

What We Have Learned from Dave Ramsey

I like to tease that I was a Dave Ramsey advocate long before I ever heard of Dave Ramsey. 🙂 And that is because my husband and I had started to follow many of the personal finance principles that he teaches before ever learning about him. That isn’t really too surprising, though, given the fact that Dave himself says that he teaches God’s and grandma’s ways of handling money.

Even though the financial principles Dave Ramsey teaches may be common sense, that hasn’t kept me from making some pretty stupid decisions with money, though! I have had to learn some pretty hard financial lessons along the way! Fortunately, after making some really dumb financial moves and having a lot of debt and being pretty freaked out about it, I was motivated to learn about money and turn my situation around.

And the clincher for me was learning about the power of compound interest! When I realized how money could grow exponentially over time, I was hooked on personal finance, and I have been an avid studier of it ever since!

So when I learned from a coworker about Dave Ramsey, I Googled him (of course!) and was thrilled that he taught the kinds of financial principles my husband and I had already started to live. He just taught them in a very clear, step-by-step, easy to follow way. And following his 7 baby steps has helped us to completely turn our finances around! 

We have been able to save up a good-sized emergency fund, pay off over $260,000 in debt, become mortgage debt free (woo hoo!), and save a good chunk of money for retirement in the 10 or more years that we have now known about Dave Ramsey and been following his principles.

 

Dave Ramsey’s Baby Steps

What Dave Ramsey does, in my opinion better than any other personal finance expert—and I have read all of the big ones and many of the ones few people have ever heard about!—is to break down the huge and often overwhelming topic of personal finance into simple steps and principles that anyone can follow. Perhaps the thing that Dave Ramsey teaches that is the most powerful is his 7 baby steps:

1. Save up a $1,000 baby emergency fund.

2. Pay off all consumer (nonmortgage) debt.

3. Save up a three- to six-month emergency fund.

4. Start investing 15% of your income toward retirement.

5. Help pay for your children’s college educations.

6. Pay off the mortgage to become completely debt free!

7. Give generously and continue to build wealth to live an awesome life and leave a financial legacy.

 So here are 21 crucial Dave Ramsey tips related to the baby steps and the other important personal finance principles that he teaches.

 

21 Awesome Dave Ramsey Tips to Help You Save More Money!

Below I share 21 simple Dave Ramsey tips that will help you get out of debt, save more money, invest wisely, and ultimately build wealth and achieve financial freedom!

1. Budget.

The way to be able to build financial security and eventually build wealth is to have money to save and invest after you pay all of your expenses. That’s just a simple fact.

And for most people to be able to manage their money so that they have enough left over to save and invest, they need to follow a spending plan or budget.

Dave Ramsey recommends having, and I agree, a simple zero-based budget where you account for every dollar you will earn in a given month as income and you spend those dollars intentionally on paper down to zero dollars left before the month begins.

Even though that may seem counterintuitive and like living on the edge, what it does is make sure that there isn’t money that is unaccounted for in your checking account. That is important because money that is unaccounted for inevitably gets frittered away, like pollen in the wind.

As Dave Ramsey often says, budgeting is telling your money where to go instead of wondering where it went. Think of your budget as the tool that is going to help you reach your awesome financial goals: goals like being able to get out of debt, being able to build an emergency fund, being able to retire someday, being able to one day live in the Bahamas or Thailand or travel the world or buy a lake house or give tons of money away and serve tirelessly or do whatever else you have planned and worked and saved for. 🙂

But that awesome future starts with a simple budget. Learn the simple steps for how to create a budget here and how to stick to a budget here.

 And you can sign up to receive my free spending tracker and simple starter budget forms below!

 

 

When you first start budgeting, I would recommend that you begin as Dave Ramsey says: on paper, on purpose. After a few months, once you get the hang of budgeting and it really starts to work for you, go ahead and switch to a digital system if you want to.

Or if you really can’t stand paper and you prefer to do everything electronically, you can build a budget in Excel or use a program such as You Need a Budget (YNAB.com). It’s a great, user-friendly budgeting tool with a lot of awesome features. 

 

Check out these related articles:
Complete Beginner’s Guide to Budgeting
17 Must-Know Tips to Rock Your First Budget!
Budgeting Fail? Try This Simple Alternative to Budgeting
13 Surefire Steps to Help You Stick to Your Budget
9 Must-Know Tips to Help You Finally Start Saving!

 

 

2. Be on the same page with your spouse.

Another of the most important Dave Ramsey tips is to be on the same page with your spouse about money.

If you are married, you need to agree with your spouse about the most important elements of money if you want to have a happy marriage and succeed in personal finance. If one of you loves to overspend and doesn’t see anything wrong with wracking up tons of credit card debt and never saving for retirement and the other hates debt and wants to save for a nice, comfortable retirement—well, that’s a problem.

If you don’t see eye to eye on money, even if one of you tries hard to do smart things with your money, the other one will either intentionally or inadvertently sabotage your efforts.

You can learn the simple steps for how to get on the same page with your spouse about money here.

 

3. Make taking care of your family your top financial priority.

When you are working to get your finances under control and get out of debt, you will likely feel pulled in many different directions. You may even have credit card companies calling and harassing you. You may not be able to pay all of your bills. An important Dave Ramsey tip is that you should take care of your family first by making sure they have enough to eat, a roof over their heads with running water and utilities, clothing to wear, and basic transportation. He calls these crucial expenses the “four walls.” When you create your monthly budget, make sure you list these items first and that they get paid for first. That way, no matter what else happens, you know your family will be OK. The cable might not get paid this month, the credit cards might not get paid this month, and that’s OK. You can go back and clean those up later if you have to once you have your finances in order.

Even if you are getting letters and phone calls and feel pressure to pay your bills with money you don’t have, take care of the basic necessities for your family instead.

 

4. Live on beans and rice so you can clean up your financial mess.

In general, Dave believes that you should be able to save up for and buy and own nice things. But when you are deeply in debt, he teaches listeners and readers to do a “scorched earth” type of lifestyle where you cut expenses wherever you can in order to get out of debt and then save up a full emergency fund as soon as possible. This is the power of focus. With focus, you can accomplish amazing things, and you can accomplish them quickly.

 

5. Save $1,000 in your baby emergency fund.

The first of Dave’s financial baby steps is to save up $1,000 in a baby emergency fund. The reason is that statistically, most financial problems that a family faces can be covered with $1,000 or less. You can cover the most frequent car repairs, home repairs, medical co-pays, and other minor emergencies with $1,000. Saving up this $1,000 is awesome because it is the first buffer, the first protection, between you and financial crisis.

 

6. Snowball your debt.

Another of the most well-known Dave Ramsey tips is to do a debt snowball.

While you are working to build up your baby emergency fund, pay minimum payments on all of your bills.

But once you have your $1,000, list your debts from smallest to largest, and put all of the extra money you can scrape together each month toward paying off that smallest debt. Then, once you have paid off that smallest debt, work aggressively to pay off the second smallest debt. And then work to pay off the third smallest debt once you have the second smallest debt paid off.

The reason that Dave recommends paying off your debts from smallest to largest is that as you pay off small debts you gain momentum and motivation to continue to work toward becoming totally debt free.

Though mathematically you will save some money on interest by paying off your highest-interest debts first, Dave points out regularly that money problems aren’t usually about the math. They are about behavior. The debt snowball method is the method we used to pay off our debt, and in general it is what I would recommend others do, as well. Learn about the difference between the debt snowball and the debt avalanche methods and which might be best for your situation here.

 

7. Commit to being debt free.

Another of the best Dave Ramsey tips is to not just work to become debt free but to then stay debt free, with the exception of a modest mortgage if you choose to go into debt for a home.

So once you get all of your credit card debt, car loans, student loans, medical debt, and so on paid off, then don’t go getting back into debt. One of the things that makes Dave’s message so powerful is that he is black and white; he believes and teaches and practices going all in when it comes to getting debt out of your life. Because of the stress and the pain and the hard times that he went through losing everything and then working to pay back all of his debts after he went bankrupt, he swore off debt for good.

And so have we. 🙂 There is just something powerful about drawing a line in the sand and deciding not to cross it for anything. So even though it would be kind of nice to buy a newer, nicer, larger home for our growing family, we are going to stay in our house instead for the next five to eight years and then buy our next house with cash when we are ready to do so.

You may think that is weird for various reasons, and in our society, it definitely is. But that’s OK. Being weird in a society where unfortunately the majority of people are deeply in debt and living paycheck to paycheck is a good thing.

Even if you don’t want to buy your houses with cash, I do hope you will commit to staying out of all other kinds of debt. It is just a more peaceful and more free and just a better and overall happier way to live, in my opinion.

You can find the simple steps for how to get out of debt here.

 

8. Choose to use cash.

To help you keep from overspending and going into debt, Dave is also a big advocate of using cash and of using a cash envelope system, particularly for areas where you might be more prone to overspend or impulse spend.

The budget categories where you might be tempted to impulse buy or overspend typically include food, clothes, entertainment, eating out, and personal spending (fun money/blow money). But you can of course use the envelope system for any area where you personally are tempted to overspend.

 

9. Forget about the Joneses!

Another powerful Dave Ramsey tip is to forget about the Joneses! If you want to be rich instead of just look rich, you need to leave the Joneses in the (financial) dust. Dave often says things like stop worrying about what your broke neighbors think, and I agree. They aren’t going to be there to take care of you in retirement or to help pay for you kids’ college educations, so don’t let their influence keep you from planning (and achieving) your own awesome financial goals.

 

10. Buy used cars.

According to Dave, only millionaires should buy used cars because of the huge depreciation that occurs as soon as you drive the new car off the lot and for the first few years after that. Unless you have a million dollar net worth, you really can’t afford to be losing that much money.

 

11. Side hustle and find other ways to earn more money to get out of debt.

Dave is a big fan of earning extra money to reach financial goals and especially doing side hustles when working to get out of debt as quickly as possible. And so am I. 🙂 When we were working to pay off more than $60,000 in debt, you better believe that I was working overtime and doing as much freelance work as I could get and donating plasma to help us get that debt paid off. We also rented out a couple of rooms in our home to my siblings, and my husband was working part-time while going to school.

Fortunately, there are tons of ways that you can make extra money these days! And for many of them, you can do them from the comfort of your own home with just a computer and internet connection.

Some of my favorite ways to make more money are these:

  • Work overtime. If you have the opportunity to do so, working overtime is a great way to help you to save money quickly.
  • Ask for a raise or promotion. If it’s been a few years since you received a significant raise and you’ve been an exceptional employee at work, make a list of your contributions and your accomplishments, and schedule a meeting with your boss to request a raise or a promotion. Focus on ways that you’ve earned the company money or saved them money. If you learn that a raise or promotion isn’t going to happen right away, ask what specific steps you can take in the next year or two to make it a reality. Read this article for more information on how to seek a raise or promotion.
  • Do freelance work. If you work in a field that lends itself to doing freelance work, take advantage of that opportunity to earn extra income to help you save money fast! I have been doing freelance writing and editing since before I graduated from college with my English degree and editing minor, and doing freelance work has not only helped me gain experience in other areas besides what I do for my full-time job but has also at times (when I wanted to give the time to it) brought in significant additional income.
    Do you love to read? Do you think you would be interested in doing freelance proofreading as a work-from-home job or side hustle? Then check out this proofreading course by my friend Caitlyn from Proofread Anywhere.
  • Do coaching or consulting. Similarly, if you have job experience or a skill that lends itself to coaching or consulting, put that skill to use! Popular areas for consulting include human resource (HR) consultant, public relations (PR) consultant, marketing consultant, business management consultant, and accounting consultant. Popular areas for coaching include financial coaching, job coaching, personal fitness coaching, and leadership coaching. Look for opportunities on indeed.com or your favorite job website.
  • Get a (second) job. If one spouse is available to get a second job in the evenings or on Saturday, for example, then this is another great potential way to earn additional income. And if you are a one-income family, or if one of you works only part-time, you might want to consider reentering the workforce or going full-time temporarily in order to save money more quickly.
  • Start a side hustle. If you would rather earn money without working another regular job, there are a lot of things you can do to earn a little extra income with a side hustle. Some ideas include starting your own small business where you turn a hobby into a money-maker, being a virtual assistant, or driving for Uber or Lyft. Learn how to start a side hustle and find out about many side hustles that you can explore.
  • Start a money-making blog. The potential for significant income is one of the reasons that I started this blog. If you love helping people and enjoy writing, being a blogger might be a great fit for you. In addition to great income potential (check out these amazing income reports of bloggers who make $10,000 to $100,000 or more per month!), there are many other benefits of being a blogger, such as being able to be your own boss and work on your own schedule. Learn how to start a blog for less than $5 a month.
  • Earn passive income. Some options for earning passive income are to create a product you have someone sell, write a book, create a money-making podcast or vlog, develop an online course, or participate in affiliate marketing. Read this article to learn more ideas for earning passive income.
  • Use rebate apps like Ibotta and Ebates. With rebate services such as Ebates and Ibotta, you can earn money by shopping for things and at places where you would shop anyway. With Ebates, you generally buy items through their website to save up to 40 percent on purchases. It is primarily an online service. Ibotta, on the other hand, is an app you use primarily after you make purchases at brick-and-mortar stores. Because of this, you can actually sign up for and use both apps to save on purchases. Sign up for a free Ebates account here, and sign up for a free Ibotta account here. You can literally sign up for both in just seconds and let the savings start stacking up.
  • Sell stuff on eBay or Amazon. If you have a good eye for a bargain, you can buy items at thrift stores or garage sales and sell them for a profit on eBay, Amazon, Craigslist, or your local online classifieds.
  • Sell your clothes to consignment shops. If you’re like most people, you probably have more clothes than you need. So use them to bring in some quick cash!
  • Have a garage sale. Declutter and earn money, all at the same time! Double win!

Check out this article to learn more about increasing your income!

 

12. Save 3 to 6 months’ worth of expenses in an emergency fund.

Dave talks the importance of having an old-fashioned rainy day fund and that when you do, a muscle you never even knew you had is able to relax. Financial peace is a good deal. It’s awful to be worried and stressed about money all the time or much of the time. And one of the best ways to have financial peace, besides getting unburied from a pile of debt, is to build a significant emergency fund. When you have 3 to 6 months’ worth of expenses in the bank, you can take care of most financial setbacks fairly easily. And that is just an awesome place to be.

Personally, I like the extra security of having a 6-month emergency fund, and that is what we have. As Dave Ramsey would say, that is a good amount of Murphy repellent. And I like it that way. 🙂

 

13. Set up sinking funds.

Even though I had been studying personal finance for quite a while before I was introduced to Dave Ramsey, I think it was from him that I first learned about the importance of sinking funds.

A sinking fund is an amount of money that you put away, such as a certain amount every month, to save toward the cost of replacing something or replenishing an account. So, you might have a sinking fund for car repairs, house repairs, and appliance repairs and replacement. You should have a sinking fund for replacing your vehicles, as well. Learn more about how to set up and use sinking funds and what sinking funds I think it is important for virtually every family to have

 

14. Protect your family and your possessions.

Dave also regularly talks about the importance of having adequate insurance to protect yourself and your family against different types of loss. So, for example, he talks about the importance of life insurance, disability insurance, auto insurance, homeowners and renters insurance, medical insurance, and even identity theft protection. When shopping for insurance, as when you are shopping for virtually anything, compare prices and features to make sure you are getting the right amount of coverage and type of coverage that is best suited for your family and that you are getting it for the best price. You can check out Zander Insurance, USAA, Amica Mutual, and your local insurance agencies and brokers.

 

15. Invest for an awesome retirement.

Most (maybe all?) financial experts that I know of recommend investing some amount of money for retirement. That amount generally varies from 10 to 15%. Dave recommends investing 15% to help ensure that you have a comfortable retirement. He recommends investing in Roth 401(k)s if you have them available to you and Roth IRAs because then the money is tax free in retirement, which means you will have 10 to 35% more money available to you. He also recommends being adequately diversified and investing equally in four types of stock mutual funds: small cap, mid cap, large cap, and international funds. He recommends not investing in bonds because traditionally they have underperformed stocks, and he recommends not investing in single stocks because of the increased risk that investing in single stocks represents.

If you are new to investing, you can learn how to start investing for retirement here.

 

16. Don’t invest in anything you don’t understand.

This is another important Dave Ramsey tip that can potentially save you from losing tons of money. There are many get-rich-quick schemes out there, but one way to protect yourself from getting ripped off and losing all of your money is to not invest in them if you do not understand how they work. Dave doesn’t do any fancy kind of investing; he invests in two simple things: paid-for real estate and good growth stock mutual funds in the four categories mentioned above. He says if you can’t explain it, you shouldn’t be investing in it. Sage advice to not lose your shirt.

 Want to learn more about basic investing? Join the free 5-day Invest Your Money challenge! Sign up below!

17. Help pay for your children’s college educations.

Dave is a big proponent of helping to pay for your kids’ college educations if you can. He doesn’t give specific amounts for this guideline because the cost of universities and colleges varies so much, but he recommends that you help guide your child to choose a college that they can afford. And he recommends that you continue to parent and to counsel with your adult children to help them to make choices that they will not regret later in life. And he is OK with a bit of tough love when it is needed.

In other words, if your kids aren’t living the way you know they should, if they are wasting money or wasting time or doing other irresponsible things that will not bring good results in their lives, then you don’t have to help fund that lifestyle—and in fact, you shouldn’t. As a parent, I truly appreciate that he teaches that parents can—and need to!—parent.

 

18. Become mortgage debt free!

This is another of my own favorite Dave Ramsey tips! We bought a modest home that we could afford, and I think largely because of Dave Ramsey’s influence, we paid it off as quickly as we could. In fact, I think we were a little more gazelle intense about that then he would say you need to be, but once we started on a sound financial path and a debt-free journey, we just wanted debt out of our lives! And so we paid off our home in about six years. And now we are saving up to buy a little bit newer, nicer, larger home with cash in five to eight years. I never want to have debt again, and so I am willing to sacrifice, if you want to call it a sacrifice, and live in a small and less expensive home to be able to buy our next home with cash. #debtfreeforlife

 

19. LLNOE.

That acronym is so powerful to me. I used to have it as my signature on my cell phone, in fact. Live like no one else. Live like no one else now—go against the norm; become debt free, live within your means, save for a rainy day, invest a good amount for retirement, maybe even sacrifice a little—so that later you can live and give like no one else.

If you follow what Dave Ramsey teaches, I 100% believe that you will be able to build financial security and eventually be able to build wealth in order to have some money to enjoy so that you can spend worry free and guilt free.

 

20. Change your financial family tree.

This is another very powerful bit of advice. In Dave’s own family, he has said that his intent is to leave a financial legacy in his family—one of wealth but more importantly a mind-set—of never having debt again. He wants to be the last Ramsey in his direct line to ever have debt. Is it a bit of a crazy ambition? For sure. But it’s an amazing and inspiring goal.

Even if you can’t realistically have that goal for your own family and descendants of never having debt again, you definitely can leave an awesome financial legacy by what you teach your children and eventually grandchildren. You can teach them to work hard, to be diligent, to live within their means, to save, to give. Those lessons are priceless.

 

21. Give generously.

Once you are able to right your own financial ship, and especially once you are able to accumulate some wealth, Dave recommends giving generously to causes that you care about to help those in need.

 

22. Know that leaders are readers.

Another of my favorite Dave Ramsey tips (I graduated with a degree in English and work full-time as an editor, so of course!) is that leaders are readers. He has said on his show that the average American never reads a nonfiction book after graduating from college. I don’t know where that statistic comes from, but if it is true, then that’s really sad. There are so many important things to learn in life when adulting! 🙂 There are things to learn about personal finance (of course!), marriage, parenting, business, leadership, gardening, self-reliance, emergency preparedness, history, faith and religion, and so much more!

 

23. Don’t borrow money, but also don’t lend money.

As Polonius says in Shakespeare’s Hamlet, “Neither a borrower nor a lender be.” Very, very good advice. If you can avoid borrowing money, any money at all, that is an amazing feat that will yield huge returns, as I mention above.

But equally important is to not lend money. One of the stupidest (stupidest! so stupid!) things we have done with our money is to lend it to family. And we did it when we knew better! And we got burned (badly), just like Dave says you will. So follow this advice, and don’t lend money to friends or family.

I know there can be a lot of pressure (that we feel from others, or that we just pile on ourselves) to help others out, and we think that by lending them money we’re helping them out. But we’re not. The person’s money problems don’t go away, and by lending money, we’re just enabling bad money choices because by bailing someone out you are helping them to avoid dealing with the problem of what made them be in a position to feel like they needed to borrow money in the first place.

Lending money changes the dynamics in a relationship. It is a very good way to lose both your friend and your money. And as Dave Ramsey says, Thanksgiving dinner just doesn’t taste the same when you are eating it across the table from your creditor. Not good!

 

24. Know that there’s a great place to go when you’re broke.

Dave also teaches that there is a great place to go when you’re broke—to work! As I mention just above, don’t ask to borrow money. Just don’t. It’s a recipe for disaster. Instead, if you need money, get a second job or start a side hustle or work overtime, as I mention earlier.

 

25. Remember that the tortoise always wins.

There are other Dave Ramsey words of wisdom that I could share here, but for now I’ll end with this one: The tortoise always wins. Dave Ramsey tells on his show a story of how after he became a millionaire, he wanted to continue learning how to be better with his money, and so he started to ask to meet with billionaires to learn from them. And one of the billionaires sat him down and told him to get ready to hear some very important advice (I’m paraphrasing here from my memory), and that all-important advice was this: I read The Tortoise and the Hare every year, and guess what? The tortoise wins every time I read the book.

Don’t try to get rich quick. Don’t try to cut corners with your finances. It’s an excellent way to get burned. Just be diligent and dedicated and disciplined and deliberate over time, and you will build wealth. It will happen. In a world with so many wonderful opportunities, as long as you keep your eyes open and are always learning and growing and manage your money well by following the tips above, it can’t not happen.

 

Conclusion

These 25 Dave Ramsey tips have helped us to win with our money over the last 10 years or more, and if you follow them, they will help you save more and invest more money, as well! It’s fun for me to think about what our financial lives will look like down the road, after we have followed these tips for 25, 35, or 45 years! I hope you have fun thinking about it, too!

What are your favorite Dave Ramsey tips? How has he helped you to change your money habits and change your life? I would love to hear your experiences with following the Baby Steps or living what he teaches. Leave a comment below and share your thoughts!

 

Invitation to Share

Was there something in this article that inspired you to change something about your money? Are there ideas or tips that you feel could help others? Would you please take a minute to share this article via email or social media? I would love your help to share these principles of financial well-being. Thank you!

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100+ Date Night Ideas on a Budget

date night ideas

Date Night Ideas

Discover awesome date night ideas that you can enjoy even when you are on a budget!

Whether you are more adventurous as a couple or more laid back, whether you enjoy spending time outdoors exploring nature or indoors exploring puzzles or new recipes or fun programs on the Discovery Channel, there is something in this list of fun date night ideas for everyone!

 

100+ Date Night Ideas!

In this article you will find more than 100 fun and inexpensive date night ideas that will let you have a great time with your sweetie without spending a ton of money.

 

1. Do a 5K or fun run together.

If you are active, or even if you just aspire to be :), do a local 5k or even 1 mile fun run together. You will enjoy some time outside and get a workout in the process. And if you spend time training for the event together, even better!

Want to be even more ambitious? Sign up for a half marathon or even a marathon together! Do your training runs together whenever you can and you will have tons of time to talk and get to know each other better! Whether you having been dating for only a little while or have been married for years, you will learn some fun new things about each other; I’m sure of it!


 

2. Talk while you gaze over the city lights.

I think that one of the most beautiful sights if you are inside a town are the city lights at night. Grab a blanket and some snacks and you are all set for a free and fun evening!

 

3. Have a barbecue in the backyard.

 Grill up your favorite meats, make kebabs, roast hot dogs, grill burgers—whichever you choose, it will taste even better when it is made together over the fire.

 

4. Make your sweetheart’s favorite dessert.

If cooking isn’t really your expertise but you like to bake, you could still dine in, but rather than making the dinner the highlight, make a simple dinner and make the main attraction dessert. Enjoy making your sweetie’s favorite sweet treat together.

 

Check out these related articles:

5. Host your own dance just for two.

Dish up a list of your favorite songs (including your song), and have a private dance for two. If it is warm enough, go out in the backyard or to a favorite park or even up the canyon and dance under the stars for a fun, romantic evening.

 

6. Have a movie marathon in your family room or in the backyard.

If you are movie buffs, enjoy some of your favorite box-office hits. You might even rig up a projector out in the backyard to enjoy the movies under the stars.

 

7.  Go to an indoor or outdoor movie.

I know going to a movie is about as common as it gets when it comes to date ideas, but if you know each other well and you both enjoy movies, maybe go to an international cinema for something new. Or go to the dollar theater to watch a movie you missed a month or two ago.

Or, for something a little out of the ordinary, if weather permits, enjoy a movie under the stars! Whether at the local drive-in or hosted by the community at the park, outdoor movies are an awesome summer activity! Bring your own popcorn and treats to the park, and you have a fabulous frugal, fun date!

 

8. Make heart-shaped sugar cookies, snickerdoodles, or another favorite cookie.

Making heart-shaped cookies together is a fun, tasty baking option.

 

9. Make dinner at home, and go out just for dessert.

Another fun and relatively cheap date night idea is to cook a favorite dinner together at home but to then go to your favorite restaurant for dessert.

 

10. Give each other massages as another cheap date night idea.

If one or both of you love massages and you are willing to be a little adventurous, then indulge each other with some extra touch time. Google massage techniques, purchase a couple of inexpensive scented body oils, and set the tone with dim lights, fragrant candles, and some relaxing music.

 

11. Look at photo albums together.

Looking at old (and not so old) pictures together is a great way to get to know each other better.

 

12. Plan a retro night for a fun and inexpensive date night idea.

For this activity, plan a retro night where you eat food and play board games, video games, or other games (or do other activities) you loved from your time as a kid or a teenager.

 

13. Write poems or love letters to each other.

For another wonderfully romantic and cheap date night idea, write romantic poetry or love letters to each other. Even if they end up being a little cheesy, your heartfelt sentiments will still be appreciated.

Or if you have them, read love letters you wrote to each other from the past. For example, if you were separated for a time because of military service or otherwise lived apart for an extended period, rereading these letters could definitely rekindle some romance.

This activity could be even more fun if you do it up the canyon or in the backyard under the stars.

 

14. Serve together.

Another inexpensive (but potentially priceless) date night idea is to do an act of service together. Take some time to consider what your loved one would truly appreciate, and then surprise him or her by planning this activity for your next date.

You might serve at a hospital or senior care center, a soup kitchen, a homeless shelter, an animal shelter, or a library (reading to children), for example.

 

15. Go ice skating.

Going ice skating is another great way to spend quality time together and get to know each other better doing something a little out of the ordinary.

And if it is summertime, you can enjoy ice skating in an indoor rink where you can beat the heat. Not to mention, because it is traditionally the off season for ice skating, you might be able to score a sweet deal.

 

16. Go rollerblading or rollerskating.

Rollerskating or rollerblading is another one of my favorite date night ideas. Especially if it has been years since you have gone, this could be a awesome activity for you and your honey.

 

17. Go to a park for a fun date night idea.

Walk or drive to a nearby park for hours of free fun. Swing, slide, or simply sit on a park bench and talk.

If it is cooler, bundle up a little and maybe even bring a blanket or two and snuggle up together on a bench or under a tree. Or if it is pretty warm, then simply enjoy some sunshine and warm rays.

 

18. Take a hike—together.

If you live near an area where there are trails to hike,  this is another great pastime perfect for two.

 

19. Go for a bike ride.

Going for a bike ride (maybe even splurge a little and rent a tandem bike) is another cheap date night activity for spring, summer, or fall.

 

20. Go for a walk or a nature walk.

If you want to keep things more low key, go for a walk around your neighborhood, around a park, or in one of your other favorite spots.

If you live near a beach or a boardwalk, those are two places that can offer hours of entertainment for a simple but fun date night.

 

21. Go to a local museum or art gallery.

You could go to an airplane museum, a dinosaur museum, or anything in between. For example, if you love art, indulge that interest.

 

22. Go to a zoo or aquarium.

Especially if it has been years since you have been, going to a zoo or aquarium could be a fun treat. Look online for discount tickets or coupons to make this activity even more affordable.

 

23. Go to an indoor or outdoor concert or play.

Music concerts and plays can be expensive, but they don’t have to be. Find one that is inexpensive, and enjoy some quality cultural time together.

 

24. Play miniature golf.

Whether indoors or out, miniature golf is a great way to pass the time. Don’t forget to check online for discounts before you go!

 

25. Watch the sunrise or sunset.

Another of my personal favorite cheap date night ideas is to watch the sunrise or sunset together. Either as its own activity or as the perfect ending of a wonderfully romantic day, watching the sunset with your sweetie is awesome.

 

26. Go stargazing or cloud gazing.

Similarly, another awesome and inexpensive date night idea is to watch the stars or find shapes in the clouds. If it might get a little cool (or even cold) where you live, bundle up, grab blankets, maybe even make hot cocoa, drive to your favorite spot, and then cuddle together in a field or park (or even stay home and just head out to the backyard) to watch the stars.

 

27. Read together.

If you enjoy reading, spend an hour or two (or more!) reading to each other from one of your favorite books. You could even read at a park, up a canyon, at the beach, or at another fun outdoor space.

 

28. Create a fun date night ideas jar.

Make a list of some of your favorite, cheap date night ideas, cut them into strips, put them in a jar, and choose one at random.

Not only does this give you a great set of fun date night ideas for today, but that way you will always have ideas for something fun to do readily available. And you could have a great time doing a different  date night activity from your jar that is inexpensive and fun every week for months to come.

 

29. Come up with an unconventional date night idea.

Do something out of the ordinary that will be uniquely meaningful for the two of you. Maybe re-create your first date. Go back to an old college haunt. Make dinner and eat it at the place that you first met.

Come up with date night ideas that highlight a special part of your past. You definitely don’t have to do dinner and a movie just because that’s the norm.

 

30. Make homemade pizza.

Why always go out for pizza when you can make your own just the way you like it? After you build your own savory masterpiece, top it off with your favorite dessert pizza, like this delicious s’mores pizza that my family loves to make.

 

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31. Watch a ball game.

Watch your favorite local professional or semi pro team, or go to a neighborhood little league game. Either way, grab a hot dog and soda and enjoy the fun energy.

 

 

32. Have an indoor or outdoor picnic for a fun and cheap date night idea.

Go to your local park, up the canyon, to the beach, or to the lake. Or just go in your backyard. Any favorite place is better with a picnic. 🙂

 

 

33. Do sidewalk art.

Buy sidewalk chalk from the dollar store or another store and draw each other’s caricatures, favorite outdoor landscapes, or other favorite scenes. 

 

34. Spend an afternoon at a local you-pick-it farm.

Another fun date night idea when weather is warm is to go to a pick-it-yourself farm to buy berries or other fruit. Spending an hour or two picking your favorite berries or other fruit and then eating them is a (literally!) sweet treat.

 

 

35. Do an indoor or outdoor scavenger hunt for a fun and cheap date night idea.

Enjoy this favorite pastime of younger years. You can find ideas for simple scavenger hunts online, or get together with other couples and create your own.

 

 

36. Go to an inexpensive amusement park or go when you have discount tickets.

Going to your favorite amusement park, or even one you have never been to before, can be another awesome date night idea. Be sure to search online for dreat deals first, and then enjoy a fun day at your local theme park.

 

37. Go to a farmer’s market.

Spend the morning at a nearby farmer’s market just browsing or sampling a few of your local favorites.

 

 

38. Go out for ice cream for a fun date night idea.

Winter or summer, you can have a great date night enjoying this favorite sweet treat. Enjoy a favorite chain or find a local mom-and-pop shop that you have never been to before.

 

 

39. Go to the beach.

Another favorite and cheap date night idea is to go to a nearby beach. Drive to the beach to walk along the shore, collect seashells, build sandcastles, jump the waves, watch the sunset over the water, or simply sunbathe.

 

 

40. Take a short road trip.

Enjoy a short road trip for the day to somewhere you have never been. You might visit a ghost town, a local historic site, local landmark, or other local favorite.

 

41. Have a food truck smorgasbord.

Walk or drive around to several of the local food trucks to enjoy a potluck-type dinner of the local favorites.

 

42. Go to an indoor or outdoor festival.

Food festival, music festival, cultural festival—whatever the festival, you can have a great time just enjoying mingling with the people and taking in the sights and tastes.

 

43. Enjoy the afternoon at a lake, pond, or river.

Whether you are skipping stones, swimming, floating on tubes or air beds, or kayaking or canoeing, you can have a great time at a lake or river without having to break the bank. If you want to rent canoes or kayaks, check local colleges and even churches, which will generally be cheaper than the local outdoor rec rental stores.

 

44. Fly kites for a cheap and fun date night idea.

This is another favorite pastime of kids of all ages. Whether you use a super inexpensive kite from the dollar store or get a slightly nicer one from a local store, this cheap date night idea can provide hours of inexpensive fun!

 

45. Watch fireworks.

Enjoy watching fireworks at a park, up a canyon, or from your backyard on national or state holidays or other special occasions.

 

 46. Enjoy a local splash pad.

If you don’t feel up to going to a pool but you want to cool off, find a local splash pad. These have become really popular in the last few years (at least where we live), and so many of your local parks likely have at least a small area to splash around in. And it doesn’t have to be summertime, either! In warmer places, many splash pads are open even during the winter!

 

47. Go to a community pool or water park.

If you want to enjoy even more water fun, visit a local community pool or water park. Though water parks can be expensive, they don’t have to be.

One of our local water parks has a crazy-good deal sometimes where they sell their season passes for just $20. I think they do it as a loss leader to get people to come and buy the food and drinks and things (which we never do; we always pack a picnic lunch). You might be able to find great deals on day passes at Groupon, Living Social, or your favorite local online deal site.

 

48. Go to a carnival or fair.

If your community has a local carnival or fair then this can be a fun way to spend an evening or the entire day! You can ride the rides, try the delicious foods, and play some of the many games. This can get expensive if you do everything a la carte, so see if they have day passes available. Our local state fair has a $20 day pass that includes unlimited rides, so if you are an adrenaline junkie, see if this type of deal is available.

 

49. Play a team sport as a cheap (or even free!) date night idea.

Get a group of friends together and play soccer, volleyball, flag football, softball, kickball, or another favorite team sport.

You could play with just you and your sweetie and have a great time, but if there are other couples that are sports enthusiasts as well, why not get together for a friendly game from time to time or even on a regular basis?

 

50. Take a tour of a nearby city that you want to get to know better.

Where do people go who come to visit your state? Is there a city pretty close that you have been wanting to check out? Google fun and inexpensive things to do in that area, and then enjoy a fun-filled day or evening of new sights and experiences.

 

51. Build a fire and roast hot dogs and make s’mores.

Whether it is in the backyard or up the canyon, roasting hot dogs and marshmallows over the fire is a classic fun, cheap date night idea.

 

52. Go fishing.

Fishing licenses are generally pretty cheap to buy. And this cheap summer date idea become even more economical if you are able to catch a decent number of fish and fry them up and eat them for a delicious, inexpensive dinner!

 

53. Go camping.

If you love to camp, then this can be a great, inexpensive way to get away for a night or weekend with your honey. There are many places where you can camp for free, or you can stay at an inexpensive campground to enjoy some modern amenities if you prefer not to entirely rough it.

 

54. Find a deal on your sweetheart’s favorite pastime.

If you know there is something in particular that your sweetheart would love to do, shop around to find it at the best price. There are tons of discounts and coupons available online,  so Google them and see what you can find!

For example, you could find a discounted gift card to your favorite restaurant or movie theater. Or you might find a special two-for-one deal to a favorite fun center or similar place.

 

55. Host a game night.

Invite some of your favorite couples over for the evening, and have a fun game night. You can play your favorite board games, card games, or even video games!

 

56. Bake yummy treats together to give away.

This is both a fun and tasty activity, and it is a fun way to serve someone, too!

 

57. Sing karaoke or go Christmas caroling!

If you both love to sing (like I do :)), consider hosting or attending a karaoke night. Or if it’s the holiday season, enjoy caroling as a fun and free date night idea. You might even get some other couples to do it with you!

 

58. Stay in and make dinner instead of dining out.

A great way to enjoy a fun, inexpensive date night is to stay at home and have dinner. If you live with just the two of you, one of you can make a special candlelight dinner for the other—or make one of your favorite dishes together! Play some romantic music, dress up if you like, and voila! And then follow dinner with one of your favorite rom-com’s (or action movies; I won’t judge :)) snuggled up on the couch together at home.

 

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59. Share your diaries or journals with each other.

Another fun and free date night idea is to gather up your old diaries or journals and share them with each other. Or read old blog posts, if you have (or used to have) a personal blog.

If you have a journal or diary and haven’t written for a while, this would also be a great way to encourage each other to catch up on your journaling, or to start journaling!

 

60. Do a photo scavenger hunt.

I think there is just a little bit of kid in all of us (or at least most of us), and it helps keep us young! So enjoy this fun activity from your youth! You can find lots of fun ideas for photo scavenger hunts online.

 

61. Talk about your faith.

If your beliefs are an important part of your life, then spend an evening talking with each other about your most important values and beliefs. If you are Christian, talk about what Jesus Christ means to you. You might even talk about things you have been meaning to do (or start doing again) to be closer to Him, such as praying more, reading scriptures more, being more honest with others, or doing better in other ways.

 

62. Jump in a pile of leaves.

This is another throwback to yesteryear, but it’s still fun! Rake up a big pile of leaves in your backyard (or someone else’s), and then take turns jumping in them! You can get needed yard work done and play, all at the same time!

 

63. Make root beer floats or soda frappes.

You don’t have to go out for ice cream to really enjoy ice cream! Buy one or two of your favorite ice cream flavors and root beer or another favorite soda, and make root beer floats or soda frappes.

 

64. Make banana splits or hot fudge sundaes.

This is another awesome option for ice cream lovers! But a couple of your favorite ice cream flavors and toppings, and go to town making a decadent banana split or hot fudge sundae. Yum!

 

65. Host a holiday or other party.

If you love to entertain, then this is a great way to spend an evening with all of your favorite people.

 

66. Have a bonfire.

For a fun and unique date night idea, build a bonfire up the canyon or even in your backyard. You could even tell ghost stories, play the guitar or ukulele, or do other fun activities as part of your fun-filled evening.

 

67. Curl up in front of a fireplace (real or digital) together and just talk.

Another cheap and fun date night idea is to simply sit together and chat in front of a warm fire. Especially if it has been a while, with all of the hustle and bustle of life, since you have been able to really connect with a good heart-to-heart, this could be a real boon to your relationship.

Don’t have a fireplace? Not a problem. Use an internet-enabled TV or monitor with HDMI cable, and pull one up on YouTube. Extra bonus: Choose one with romantic music included.

 

68. Go for a ride on a train.

 Unless you do this every day for your commute to work, going on a train ride could be a great way to see some new sights or see them from a totally different perspective.

And if you have a historic train, taking that train ride can be a fun way to connect with the past, as well.

 

69. Enjoy an evening browsing your local artisan chocolate shop.

If you have a shop (or more than one) that makes fine chocolates in your area, go check it out! If you have never tried fine chocolate, you are in for a new kind of treat. And even if you have, they likely have some new flavors to try!

 

70. Have a potluck dinner with one or more other couples.

 A great way to enjoy delicious new food and save money is to have a potluck dinner. You could pick a favorite theme, such as Chinese or Mexican food, or to really mix things up, just let people bring whatever they like!

 

 

 

71. Hold a progressive dinner.

Another fun way to enjoy a less conventional dinner is to have a progressive dinner, where you start at one couple or person’s house for one course, such as the appetizer, and then go to another home for the salad, and then to another home for the main dish, and then end at another home for dessert. This is a great and inexpensive way to try some new dishes and get to know people better.

 

 

72. Go sledding or snowshoeing.

If you have snow, sledding or snowshoeing is an awesome way to enjoy some time in the beautiful outdoors. You can buy inexpensive sleds or rent snowshoes for cheap from a local college.

 

73. Build a snowman.

Don’t overlook this fun date idea that will bring back memories of yesteryear. You might even make it a friendly competition to see who can make the best snowman or snow woman. 🙂

 

74. Build a snow fort or igloo.

If you have never build an igloo or snow fort, you are missing out! Admittedly, this activity can take quite a bit of time, but what a fun way to be able to chat for much of the afternoon or day and to get to know each other better!

 

75. Go to a winter festival.

There are various holiday festivals in many communities, so go online to find winter or holiday festivals in your area that you might be interested in, such as Christmas tree festivals, light festivals, and more!

 

76. Make a bucket list or even set goals or New Year’s resolutions for next year.

As another cool (and free!) date night idea, create a fun bucket list of things you would like to do together.

You could also come up with and share some goals or New Year’s (or any time of the year) resolutions. Bonus points if you create some that you can work on together. 🙂

 

77. Have a snowball fight with other couples.

For a fun winter afternoon and another way to enjoy being outside even on a cold day, get some other couples together, bundle up and have hot cocoa on the ready, and have an old-fashioned snowball fight! If you have the time and you really want to get into the spirit of things, take the time to build snow barricades.

 

78. Make snow angels.

This simple and fun activity could be a fun part of your winter afternoon.

 

79. Get away for a weekend (or a week) to a warmer place!

If it is wintertime and you love to escape the cold (like me!) for a while, plan a trip to visit warmer climes for a weekend or even an entire week.

 

80. Go hot tubbing.

I love spending time in hot tubs! If you do too and you have access to one, this is a great, free or inexpensive date night idea!

 

81. Go to a comedy show.

Many comedy shows by local favorites are pretty inexpensive, so if this is the kind of thing the two of you enjoy, it can be a highly entertaining way to spend an evening.

 

82. Have a luau.

In my extended family (my siblings and parents and I and our children) we love to have a summer (or winter; they can be just as fun!) luau! You can find simple recipes online by Googling favorite Hawaiian dishes, and many party supply stores have Hawaiian decorations all year round.

 

83. Go to an ice hockey game.

If you enjoy ice hockey, this can be a cheap winter date idea if you attend a game of a local semi-professional or school team.

 

84. Go to a candy shop or candy factory.

 Of course this is a (literally) sweet date night idea, but if you have a candy shop in your area where they give tours and do demonstrations, and it can be educational, as well!

 

 

85. Take a drive up the canyon.

Whether it is winter or summer, taking a drive up the canyon can be a beautiful way to spend the evening. If you have a sunroof or moon roof, open it up and let in the fresh air. Have a convertible? Even better! This is a great way to spend some time taking in the scenery while talking to get to know each other better.

 

 

86. Go to a ballet.

If you enjoy the arts, spend an evening together watching one of your favorite ballets. Or try one you have never seen before.

 

87. Make your own ice cream together.

Another one of my personal favorite date night ideas is to make homemade ice cream together! If you have an old-fashioned or electric ice cream maker, then this is a great way to spend an hour talking while making a delicious treat.

Or don’t have an ice cream maker? No problem! You can purchase an inexpensive ice cream ball. Or simply make your favorite flavor of no-churn ice cream!

 

88.  Take a community ed class together.

Whether you just want to spend one evening or several, taking a community education class together can be a fun and inexpensive way to spend time together learning something new.

 

 

 

89. Go to a fun center together.

 Spend an evening or an afternoon at a local fun center riding bumper boats or go-karts, playing arcades, going bowling or enjoying the batting cages, playing miniature golf, doing laser tag, and more. 

 

90. Do water color painting together.

Enjoy making your own personal masterpieces, or for a unique twist, work on a large water color painting together.

 

91. Go to a play.

Enjoy a local community or high school play, or if you want to spend a little more money, enjoy an off-Broadway favorite. To save money on plays, go to a matinee and look for discounts online at sites like Groupon and Living Social.

 

92. Go to a Christmas concert.

Many schools, churches, and community bands and singing groups have Christmas concerts during December. This fun and generally inexpensive winter date idea can be a great way to get you into the holiday spirit.

 

93. Go to an inexpensive symphony.

If you have a symphony in your area, this could be another fun date idea. Check for discount tickets on sites like Groupon and Living Social.

 

94. Drive around to see the Christmas lights.

One of the most beautiful winter date night ideas is to drive around (or walk around; just bundle up, and I think that walking around to see the lights is even more fun) and look at all of the amazing Christmas lights. 

 

95. Decorate a Christmas tree together.

If you haven’t put a Christmas tree up yet, then this can be a fun activity to do with your honey. If you don’t have ornaments yet, then you can even buy ornaments and other tree decorations together.

  

96. Play hide and seek or sardines, capture the flag, kick the can, or another similar game for a fun date idea.

Kids aren’t the only ones who can have fun with hide and seek, kick the can, tag, and other similar games! Enjoy the kid in you and get some other couples together for an afternoon or evening of active fun!

 

 

 

97. Make gingerbread cookies or build a gingerbread house together.

You can find tons of recipes online for gingerbread. Making gingerbread cookies is fun and does not take too long, or if you want to spend a little more time and effort (which is totally worth it if you like this kind of thing, though!), make gingerbread houses, instead. My family loves to make and decorate gingerbread houses on a cold winter evening.

  

98. Test drive your favorite car. 

 If your favorite car is made in a newer model, indulge in some free fun by taking turns going for a test drive! Just don’t get sucked into a skillful sales pitch and end up driving home with more than you bargained for!

 

 

 

99. Make hot cocoa and scones (fry bread) for a fun, inexpensive date night idea.

One of my favorite date night ideas for things to do during the winter is to make yummy food! It warms up the kitchen and warms up my soul! So if you enjoy spending time in the kitchen, try making hot cocoa and scones (where I’m from, scones are what most people think of as fry bread) as a fun winter date idea with your sweetie.  Or make Navajo tacos during the summer!

You can definitely just use your favorite store-bought hot cocoa, but if you want to be adventurous, I like this simple recipe for homemade hot cocoa. And I also like this simple and tasty fry bread recipe

 

100. Play pool, ping-pong, air hockey, or a similar game together.

No matter the season, playing pool, ping-pong, air hockey, and similar table games are a great way to enjoy an evening. And if you have the games or visit someplace that does for free, even better for a free date night idea!

 

101. Make indoor s’mores.

Why keep the joy of s’mores just a summertime or outdoor activity? You can enjoy s’mores all year round by making them indoors using your microwave, oven, or even an indoor s’more machine. 

 

Conclusion

There are so many fun, cheap date night ideas! With these (mostly) inexpensive date night ideas you can have a great time without spending a ton of money on your honey. No matter the season, with these date night ideas you can enjoy time with your sweetie without breaking the bank by being creative and focusing on simple but fun activities.

 

What are your favorite date night ideas? What activities should I add to this list? I would love to hear your ideas for fun and cheap date night activities!

 

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