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Eating is a favorite pastime for many people. I know I love to eat.  I'm not fussy, but I like good quality and healthy food.  However, since I am frugal, I don't want my desire for food to make me broke.  Therefore, I plan when, where, and how I eat.  Okay, it may seem tedious, but I believe it is wise.  Keep reading, and I think you will too.  

Plan Your Meals
Home cooked meals are great, and cooking them doesn't have to be an unpleasant task.  My secret is taking two hours on a Saturday or Sunday, cooking three main dishes and three vegetables.  Then I section the food into different microwavable containers to make separate meals.  It's usually enough to last three days.  In the evenings instead of cooking or eating out, we put a container in the microwave and within seconds we have a home cooked meal.  You end up cooking about two or three time per week.  You save time, money, and get variety.

Plan Your Snacks
When we go to the park, visit friends, the movies, church or just away from home – We bring our own snacks.  It saves us an average of $20-30 a week or $1,040 a year. Also, when visiting family and friends we don't inconvenience them, and we know our food was prepared with clean hands in a clean place.  

Other Suggestions
• When dining out look for restaurants that offer early bird specials, the menu selections are usually very good, and the savings are fantastic.  Usually, the savings can be as much as half off if you get there by 5:30 p.m.

• Research restaurants that offer kids eat free on a certain day.  Usually an adult has to purchase a meal, and the child or children's meal is free.

• Use buy-one get one-free coupons.  The goal is to not pay the full price of the meal.  Therefore, using these coupons allows you the opportunity to enjoy a delicious meal and pay half the price.

• Ask if there are any daily specials when you go to a restaurant.  Sometimes restaurants have specials each day for a discounted price.  If you don't ask you won't know.

• Use coupons or buy-one get one-free specials when you go grocery shopping.  If the coupons aren't for junk food only—use them.  Again, using discount specials can help double the amount of food you bring home.

• When you are thinking of having a dinner party, have a potluck party or plan a progressive dinner.  Both are fun!  You get to sample a variety of foods, enjoy different people at the same occasion, and it will put less of a strain on your budget and time.  

Is food costing you too much money?  Not a problem.  Now you know how to eat more and spend less!

Sharman Lawson a columnist on Fabulously40, and a financial coach, speaker, and author of the book 12 Steps to Eliminate Debt Forever! Visit her website: [Link Removed]

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