We all know rent is a huge expense, but too many people forget about how expensive it can be to eat. When you’ve moved to a new city and are eager to try local food, meet new friends at intriguing bars, and go out to events that involve the yummy stuff… it can be hard not to spend just as much money on food and drink as you do on rent. Here’s a few tips to help keep it under control without becoming a hermit.
1. Pick one night to go out to eat
Eat all your other meals at home or brown bag it. Pick one night and really make a night of it, invite friends, take your time and pick a place that you really want to eat. Remember, you’re only going out to eat once this week/month don’t waste it on a place you don’t want to go. Save more by making this a lunch outing instead of dinner. Looking for some places to try? Check out our #neighborhoodspotlights:
2. Host potluck meals at your house
Eating at home doesn’t mean you have to eat alone. Invite your friends over for a potluck meal… Everyone brings a dish and shares. Mix it up, go to different friends’ houses, have dinner on the rooftop, host a potluck BBQ, brunch, cultural dinner, etc. Get creative and make it fun.
3. Meal Prep
It’s much easier to order take-out if you’re hungry and there’s nothing made and ready for you to eat. If you’ve made your meals in advance all you’ll have to do is heat something up… This also means you’ll spend less time in the supermarket because you can buy your food for the week at one time. Incentivise meal prep by doing prepping on the day you go out to dinner, just make sure you finish your cooking for the week first. Don’t know where to start? Beth, from Budget Bytes, breaks it down.
4. Look for deals
There are quite a few bars in the city that give you something to munch on with your drink. Alligator Lounge in Williamsburg, and Crocodile Lounge on 14th and 2nd in Manhattan both give you a free personal pizza with EVERY drink you buy! I wish I could remember the name of the place that gives you a bowl of mac n’ cheese with your bev, but I had a few too many that night… Know it or another spot that’s worth checking out? Share the wealth in the comments.
5. Start drinking at home
If you plan on going out, invite friends over to pregame first. Avoid places with a cover charge to enter, and then have 1 or 2 drinks at the bar. Have fun, don’t break the bank ;) … And then there’s coffee. How much money would you have for other things if you weren’t buying coffee out? Put those dollars back in your pocket and BYOC.
6. Share bulk food items with housemates
At Our Place we share milk, eggs, onions, potatoes, rice, sugar, coffee, flour, and sometimes more. We buy these items in bulk as needed and it saves us all a bit of our food budget. Talk with your housemates and find out if there’s anything they might be willing to buy as a household. You can always use a bill-splitting app, like Splitwise, to easily keep track of who has spent what. The key here is communication.