How To Eat Like A Queen On A Pauper’s Budget

Because we love food but we love shoes more

We love food almost as much as we love clothes (ok sometimes we love it even more). But sometimes all that eating can be seriously harsh on the wallet. Maybe you’re studying, or maybe you’re just saving for something really, really important (like Coachella tickets). No matter the case, we’re here to show you that you don’t have to spend big to indulge big when it comes to food. Your bank account (and your wardrobe) will thank you.

Create a budget

Ah, the B word. The word budget might send a shiver down your spine but let’s face facts ladies; budgets work. Be upfront with yourself about what you can achieve when it comes to creating one though. Your focus is to reduce your spend slightly by giving yourself firm boundaries (because we all need boundaries right). Daily, weekly and even monthly budgets for yourself are a sure way that you track your spending with food and also give you the opportunity to save up for special occasions. For example, set a goal to eat at slightly more swanky restaurants monthly or bi-monthly rather than eating at cheaper spots weekly.

Use the envelope method

Sure tapping your card is easy but we all know it can be very dangerous. Paying with card may have become the norm, but it’s the easiest way to lose track of your spending. Instead, stick to cold, hard cash. The envelope method may be rather basic but it works. Separate your monthly (or weekly) expenses into different envelopes, marking your grocery and dining out envelope clearly. This envelope will accompany you on your weekly shop and when you dine out. Just remember that once that money is gone, there’s no replacing it.

Embrace your inner planner

There is nothing wrong with a little organisation. Meal planning is one sure way to stick to your budget. Excel spreadsheets may fill you with dread but that’s not to say you can’t jot down on the back of a Showpo receipt everything you’ll be cooking this week. Take a look at when you’ll be eating out and when you’ll be eating in to avoid impulsive spending at the shops (Of course those late night period-fuelled chocolate runs don’t count, that Mars Bar is definitely a necessity).

Don’t be afraid to freeze away

Listen to your mum! ‘Waste not want not’ is a thing, people! Any leftovers or ingredients you have at the end of the week can be chucked in the freezer and left for another day’s dining. Bread, stock, meat, fish, veggies, berries, 99% of food can, in fact, be frozen, just give it a good google first.

Stock that pantry

A fully stocked, organised pantry is a trick of the trade for any budding chef. Dry goods are typically the least expensive thing you can buy for your kitchen, and having them on hand is not only convenient but you’ll avoid those unnecessary shopping trips once you get your MasterChef on. Yes, it’ll be costly to initially stock your pantry but the investment will pay off down the track. Another tip? Organise long-life ingredients (oats, rice, beans, pasta, spices etc) into different clearly labelled containers so that you’ll always know what you have and how much.

Look out for a meal deal

No, we’re not talking about Maccas (but no judgement if that’s totally your vibe). At many fine dining locales, you’re able to enjoy a set 2-course meal plus wine for a fraction of the cost if you go during quieter times. Generally, special meal offers are available at lunchtimes or on weeknights so don’t be afraid to ask your fave restaurant what they have on the horizon. For those counting their pennies, these meal deals are exactly the time to grab a girlfriend, take a long lunch break and go indulge in the one spot you’ve wanted to go for years.

Host a dinner party

Why go out when you can stay in and eat for a quarter of the price? Sure, hosting a dinner party can be expensive, but there are ways to avoid racking up the big bucks when your friends come round. First and foremost there’s the option of encouraging everyone to bring a plat. There’s also the potential to start a dinner club. Once a month (or so), get the gals together and each take turns at taking at being the hostess with the mostess. If you decide to go down this route, avoid too large a group. It gets pretty complicated pretty quickly once you’re catering for more than 8 or so people.


Words by Sarah Bristow

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