In the barest, simplest terms, expenses can be broken down into two broad categories: things you need to buy, and things you want to buy. There are those things no one can do without, and therefore must spend money on: housing, utilities, transportation, and food. The trick is to try and cut the expenses on the necessities, which thereby frees up more money for buying those things you want.

Now you don’t have to choose between an empty stomach or an empty bank account

Let’s focus here on how to have a happy, full stomach without winding up with a sad, empty bank account. It is very possible to consistently enjoy a series of delicious meals, while creating a budget for your stomach.

Growing Your Own
With all these concerns about things like pesticides and genetically modified foods, perhaps one of the easiest, most direction solutions is to just grown your own. Consider the benefits of your own garden: inexpensive, healthy produce that you can take a measure of pride in having cultivated yourself. You know where this produce came from and what’s been done to it. And let’s not forget the benefits of working outside in the fresh air and sunshine. Now, of course, there are limitations to this. After all, it takes work, and you need to have the space for it. But even if you live in an apartment, you can still do things like growing herbs to use in cooking. Speaking of cooking …

Do More Of Your Own Cooking
Granted, going out to eat means more convenience, as someone else takes care of the chores of cooking, serving, and cleanup. And that’s all well and good, and shouldn’t be eliminated altogether, but look at how much it costs to buy component ingredients and prepare them yourself, versus purchasing the finished product at a restaurant. Take this simple example: if you go to a bar and order a decent beer, you’ll pay, what, maybe four dollars for it? Five maybe? And yet, a six-pack of that same decent beer sets you back around eight dollars, and you get much more.

Check Out A Diet Plan Or Two, Even If You’re Not Dieting
No, we’re not talking here about one of those bizarre plans like the Bat Guano And Lime Juice Diet, or some other idiocy. But responsible, realistic diets, like Weight Watchers, for example, tries to teach good eating habits such as portion control, and encourages people to experiment with different ingredients and do more cooking. In fact, my wife and I find that we not only save money but we also eat better when we’re on Weight Watchers.

Plan A Menu And Stick With It
This is related to the above-mentioned diet idea. Write up a menu for, say, the weekday meals. Make a shopping list for what you’ll need, and stick with it. Hey who knows, maybe you can also find some coupons for the stuff you need. And by all means, don’t go food shopping when you’re hungry!

Avoid Junk
Not only are junk food snacks not good for you, they can add up price-wise. Consider phasing them out to the point where they are more of a once in a while treat, as opposed to a daily staple. But don’t just settle for something; try different foods and see which ones appeal to you, then keep an eye out for when they’re on sale or featured as a special.

All Things In Moderation
It would be hypocritical of me to tell everyone “Don’t eat processed foods, and stay away from restaurants! Throw away those chips and salsa and enjoy handfuls of dirt and gravel instead!” To heck with that! The point is to save money and yet still be satisfied gastronomically, not to be made miserable. Sure, go out every once in a while for a beer or three. Hit a restaurant every so often, and even (gasp!) a fast food joint on occasion.

But the bottom line is, if you take more of a hands-on approach to meals, you’ll save money and eat better. Grab some coupons, keep an eye on specials and sales, and make meals yourself that you have planned for in advance, and phase out some of those restaurant and chain eatery visits. You’ll be surprised how much healthier you and your bank account will be.