Creative ways to make the most of your food budget

Reduce your food budget and maybe even make a bit of cash on the side using these three tips.

twoman in organic farm

Photo credit: Ben Bloom/Photodisc/Getty Images

t The ebb and flow of the global market continues to increase the price of basic commodities, which include food. Figuring out what food to serve on the table three times a day is one of the basic needs we all have to meet.

t Various economic ills, such as recessions, greatly affect U.S. consumers. With the most recent recession still fresh in the minds of Americans, there remains a lingering concern about how we can adapt to the same situation in the future. In the event that another economic downturn takes place, here are three recession-busting food ideas that you can carry out.

Establish your own mobile food business

t These days, relying on your monthly salary is not enough. Many people choose to take on a second job. However, considering the increasing rates of unemployment, it may be wiser to establish another income stream.

t Recent years have seen the rise in popularity of mobile food businesses, primarily because this kind of investment costs less than a brand new gourmet restaurant. Establishing this business requires research and preparation.

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  • Choose the type of mobile food business.

t There are many types of this business to choose from — kiosks, carts, food trucks, catering units, or “bustaurants” (converted buses). The menu varies for each type, depending on the size of the cart or the vehicle. You should also research the amount of money needed to jump-start a particular kind of mobile food business.

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  • Be aware of the legalities involved.

t Paperwork can be tiring, but no one can simply put up a mobile food business without securing the necessary permits. Look up all the licenses needed, tax permits and certificates, health and safety permits, insurance and zoning laws.

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  • Know how to run the business.

t Finding the best location is important. However, there are also a number of considerations you need to keep in mind: the parking space, the storage space for the cart or vehicle when not in use, the cooking or preparation facilities, the equipment, and the marketing strategies (if needed).

t Some of the more successful street food businesses in the U.S. include Streetza Pizza, CupcakeStop, and Mmmpanadas.

Save money during grocery trips

t Regardless of whether you are living alone or with your family, there are plenty of ways to save money during grocery trips.

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  • Create a food budget.

t The monthly budget for food eats up a major chunk of a person’s salary. Create a food budget and a meal plan, and then commit to following it. As with other financial priorities, a wise person regularly checks to make sure he is following or going beyond the established food budget.

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  • Take stock of your food inventory before going to the store.

t Often, people only list the food they want to buy without properly assessing what they still have. There may be times that you have enough food in the pantry or in the refrigerator to create a number of meals. You can cut down on your grocery budget by removing these items on your list.

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  • Don’t waste food.

t Keep tabs on the expiration dates of foods. You can also use leftovers to create more meals, as long as these are properly stored.

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  • Take advantage of grocery coupons and discounts.

t Everyone loves a good discount. Make use of grocery coupons to save on your budget. However, you have to make the proper calculations to be sure the coupons really save you money.

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  • Look for alternative grocery stores.

t In addition to the popular grocery stores, there may be other stores near you that sell products at a cheaper price. Some of them may be unknown to you, as they do not invest much on marketing. Their budget for marketing instead goes to offering bargains for their customers. Ask around to find out where these stores are located.

Grow your own food

t Creating your own organic food farm may be an arduous task for some, but there are plenty of advantages.

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  • More savings.

t Growing your own food is a sure-fire way to reduce your monthly food budget. Since you are picking vegetables and herbs in your own backyard, you can divert a part of your grocery money to your savings account instead. This also helps on your gas and commuting budget, as you don’t have to make frequent trips to the store anymore.

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  • More nutrition.

t Organically-grown foods contain more minerals and nutrients than those grown using various chemicals and pesticides. Also, organically-grown foods taste a lot better than those bought in the stores.

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  • Have a good source of food minus the chemicals.

t Pesticides are basically poisons used to combat harmful organisms. However, these may also affect humans. Studies show that majority of the chemicals used in growing food are carcinogenic. If you grow your own food, you don’t have to worry about these chemicals as you are certain of what goes into your plants.

t As the old adage goes, prevention is better than cure. Considering the state of the global market, who knows when the next recession will happen? Be well-prepared, and use these recession-busting food ideas to your advantage.

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