Could snacks be adding $100 to your grocery bill?

3 Sure Ways to Cut the Cost of Midnight Snacks

by Roxana Molnar


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Midnight snacking is one of the quickest ways to fatten your grocery bill. It may not seem like much of a pocket burner, but if you take the time to consider your family's eating habits, you might find that you're chowing down $10-$15 out of the fridge each night. Wouldn't you like to save up to $120 a month?

Since the midnight snack usually consists of something sweet, find that part of your sweet tooth that you crave and replace it. You should replace it with something more substantial and potentially cheaper.

We tend to develop a sweet tooth in the midnight hours, and since we know ourselves well, we tend to prepare for this moment while shopping and buy our snacks accordingly. When we do this, we mentally give ourselves a thumbs up. In the snack department, your sweet tooth jumps out and grabs anything it can get a bite into. Sometimes a single grocery trip will yield a week's worth of snacks, sometimes only a few days' worth.

When this happens, we lose count of how much we put aside solely for sugary goods. If you buy a box of cookies, a couple chocolate bars and a carton of milk, you'll find that you've spent close to $15. The box of cookies will only last two or three days and the chocolate bars might not make it home in their entirety, but in a few days, you'll be back in the store buying something new.

Consider what types of sweets you like and find alternative, healthier, options to replace them. Instead of $20 a week on cookies, you might find a cake (or any baked pie/cake alternative) to ease the hunger and help keep a few extra bills in your pocket. A cake and milk would most certainly last you twice as long as your first choice. If your cake or pie has fruit, you've now added healthier additions.

Don't assume all midnight snacks are evil. We tend to need an extra boost now and again, although midnight snacking is probably less healthy than an afternoon snack. Sometimes our stomachs take us on a low, rumbling journey to raid the nearby fridge and we can't avoid a stomach in need.

A good way to save some money through your midnight snacking is to build a snack tub. It's easy to create. It mostly involves food already in your house and can help you manage the hunger without focusing on your wallet. A snack tub made during the day is always best.

Cut up some fruit, soak it in water, and add it to your tub. You can also make sandwiches stuffed with your favorite (or your leftover) foods and wrap them individually before adding them to the tub. In essence, you're creating a place where you don't need to think about what to eat. Instead, you think about what to eat first.

calculator iconCalculator: How much can I save packing a lunch instead of eating out?

In many cases, seeing food ready and waiting on a shelf in the fridge helps the brain distinguish between feeling hungry or wanting to snack. Many times we feel hungry but we choose a snack instead and eat too much of the snack as a result, which trains our brains to repeat the process. If you get creative and make a chocolate spread with some leftover chocolate chips, you'll enjoy it as much as any bought good. It's also a great way to get rid of leftovers, which means you're able to save a few dollars simply eating food you already have. Training your brain to create a snack tub could save you at the very least $10 a week and can spark creative interest and healthier eating habits in the process.

Don't limit your snack spending. Doing so increases the chance of stress-related spending to compensate for bad days or the occasional "give up" attitude. Make replacements that gradually change the way you snack and they will, in turn, adjust your spending to increase your savings. When you limit yourself, you teach your brain to want what it can't have rather than giving the brain a reason to choose what's best to eat. When you've hit the groove of these few changes, you'll notice that a few extra dollars are wonderfully tucked away in waiting.

Take the Next Step:

  • Once you trim the grocery budget, don't waste that extra money! Consider opening a savings account to start an emergency fund or save for some other financial goal.
  • Get cash back on the groceries you buy. Checkout 51 can show you how!
  • Visit the TDS library for more ways to stop snacking away your food budget.
  • Could spending 5 minutes reading a newsletter twice a week save you time and money every day? Dollar Stretcher Tips readers think so. Subscribe and find out how many ideas stretch your day and your dollar! Subscribers get a copy of our ebook Little Luxuries: 130 Ways to Live Better...For Less for FREE.

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