Save a little time & money on food and drinks with tiny habits

The ease of buying breakfast and coffee and spending money on buying lunch instead of making your own can add up to you spending a lot of money. Cooking from scratch and buying fresh ingredients can also add up money and time. Here are a few things that hopefully encourage you to save a little coin and eat a little healthier.

A brightly-lit kitchen with white walls of honeycomb-shaped tiles. The kitchentop on the left is made of white marble, and an oven sits on the right. Ahead, some white cabinets can be seen, some with windows
(📸: creatveight)

Water is your friend: Drink water at home and take a bottle when you go out

I don’t know why people still buy plastic-bottled water! 😩 It’s terrible for the environment and is really expensive. I’m a big believer in obtaining water for free when you can – I think it’s silly that you have to pay for water in some places. It’s a good habit to carry a water bottle where possible, and fill it with water before you leave home, and fill it up along your journey when you have access to water. If you live in an area where the tap water isn’t all that great, you might need a fixed water filter tap like this one.

I think it is also good to encourage yourself to drink water by having a bottle with you at home, or keeping a jug handy in the fridge. I personally prefer room temperature water, so I try to fill up a stainless steel bottle and have it with me while I am working at my desk. Setting reminders to drink can be helpful too.

By drinking more water and staying hydrated, hopefully you feel less need to have drinks like sodas. Don’t forget you can also make your own juice (instead of paying someone $8 to throw some fruit into a machine!) and if your water tastes a little too bland, throw a few seasonal fruits in and infuse the water to give it some flavour.

Make your own coffee. Be a part of making it, even if it’s just pressing a button

I recently started adopting the habit of buying barista-made almond milk mochas, when I’d been making my own coffee at home with single origin instant coffee. It was definitely adding up to be buying coffee regularly, so recently I’ve dialled it back by encouraging myself to reduce my coffee intake as well.

Make your own latte at home and save your pennies. Making yourself a cup of coffee, even if it’s simple, even if you just have a press a button on a machine, can actually feel quite nice compared to waiting in a queue for a cup to be handed to you.

Super basic meal prep: Make use of slow cookers and rice cookers

The slow cooker was apparently popular in the 70s, but has made a comeback (likely due to so many people being at home more often). Slow cookers allow you to cook a range of soups, stews, dips and meats. You can put your ingredients into the pot and just leave the cooker to do the work. It makes it super easy to cook in bulk.

A rice cooker is a kitchen item that can be easy to use. You can not only boil a large amount of rice, but you can cook risotto, and cook a full meal. I’m not one to really meal plan, but if you are, batch cooking is made a lot easier with a rice cooker. Cook multiple servings of your food for the next few days and they can be re-heated in the microwave (hopefully you have one of those too). It will also save you some time. Meal planning doesn’t have to be a scary thing. It also doesn’t have to be incredibly advanced – you don’t need to cook up something extravagant to be able to do it.

Store food for later: Use environmentally-friendly reusable bags and containers

Great for the environment and your pocket. Reusable silicone bags are great for storing ingredients, leftovers and your lunch. Beeswax wraps are also fantastic for wrapping over jars, plates, bowls, and containers, as they are flexible and easy to mould to the opening of a container.

Having easy-to-use covers in the kitchen is a good idea because it can actually indirectly encourage you to put your food aside and eat it the next day, if you’re unable to finish it. I can definitely remember many a time where I’ve left my food on the table or thrown it out because I couldn’t finish it, instead of thinking of storing it away to eat next time I have a meal.

Of course, having a few reusable containers with lockable lids is a must-have in any kitchen. Just don’t buy too many more than you need. 🤪

Don’t be wasteful: Eat what is in your pantry

If you got this far, thanks for reading! This is by far my favourite habit I’ve been trying to employ lately. You may have a lot of excess in your pantry that has been sitting there for some time and may still be edible, so try and use it up instead of throwing it out.

If you come across food past its expiry date or that has gone bad, obviously you must dispose of that food and learn from your lesson. But I am constantly learning from what is in my pantry: sometimes I buy an excess of snacks when I feel like being naughty, then realise that I don’t want to be eating cookies every time I want a snack. I only wanted it that one time.

I’m also learning from the random food cravings I have, when I buy a large portion of something and then struggle to finish it over the course of a week when it’s coming close to its expiry date. 😞 Make sure you pay attention to these things: try and buy smaller portions, freeze the food if that will extend its life, or use it as an ingredient in a recipe to make sure it gets eaten.

I really encourage you to try is to try and finish the food in your pantry before you go ahead and buy something else. Especially if you are tempted to buy less healthy food.

I hope this encouraged you to employ some more healthy habits and save a little money here and there. What’s a healthy habit that you’ve been trying recently that saves you money and time?

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I buy plastic bottled water at work if I run out of water from my water bottle. I aim not to, because it’s a lot of money for that single bottle of water AND taxed, even with my employee discount, but the water fountains are off due to coronavirus and the sink in the breakroom, I try to avoid just to avoid the breakroom.

Now I’ve a car, though, I’ll go home and refill it there — with some ice, too. It’s a hassle at times to keep up with, but it’s more convenient, sanitary and priceless. Only issue I run into is when I start displaying symptoms of overhydration and my body feels/acts like it’s drowning. 😳

I have a bad habit of buying produce and then forgetting about it. I have to keep my food in the garage fridge, so I don’t see it staring at me as much as I see my cousin’s food — just something I have to deal with until I have my own place. I prefer buying frozen produce, though, because it’s a step up from canned produce (I hate canned produce) and doesn’t go bad as quickly as fresh does.

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