Another blogger that I read was mentioning how much of her grocery budget goes toward beverages. I got into a bad habit of buying soda, sparkling water and drink mixes myself and for both budgetary and health reasons have spent a LOT of time and energy trying to cut back in that area. I tend to go in cycles, but for the most part we have really been able to cut back on purchasing non-essential beverages and these are a few strategies that helped.
First, I need to clarify that both my husband and I think coffee is essential AND we happen to prefer the good stuff. We could definitely cut back in our coffee consumption and save some money, but that is one area we have chosen as an ongoing splurge. We both find that our enjoyment of good (to us) coffee is worth the expense and having one thing that we both really look forward to makes some of the other ways we cut back seem less drastic. The thing I like about having a budget and being in charge of it is that we get to make the choices about where we will splurge and where we will save. I’d rather have two really good cups of coffee everyday than drink soda or juice with every meal. You could have other priorities and that’s okay!!
Anyway, this is what we do to keep our beverage buying in line:
- Filtering our tap water. We have a line to the fridge that is filtered and we also have a reverse osmosis system (in the house when we bought it), but even at work a group of us keep a Brita pitcher and fill it regularly. We spend less than $10/month on the filters and because they are a component of our water/fridge system we’d have to spend that money anyway. It makes sense for us to use that resource first and foremost!
- Keep lemons and limes sliced and on hand. You can even freeze the slices and just add them directly to your water. I really like the fresh citrus taste in a cold glass of water.
- Make iced black or herbal tea. I happen to have a ton of tea on hand that I bought a while ago on sale, but even at regular price, tea is a lot cheaper than soda and healthier too. I use the herbal tea more than the black tea because of the flavors and because I don’t need any additional caffeine.
- Set a goal for daily water consumption and don’t allow yourself other drinks until you meet it. This is a goal that grew up out of my quest to lose weight and generally have better health, but I find that trying to consume two 750ml water bottles/day really cuts into my ability to actually consume other beverages. The coffee with breakfast is non-negotiable, though!
- Related to #4–get each person in the household a reusable water bottle. I take one to work, the gym and on longer car trips.
- I allow myself to get a coke or beer when we eat out. We don’t eat out a ton and knowing that I’m not totally cutting out all soda makes it easier for me to forego soda at home. Ideally we eat out about twice a month. I generally do not buy beverages when I pick up takeout as I’m already annoyed with myself for failing in the dinner prep area and getting a soda both adds to the cost and makes me feel like I’ve failed two personal goals.
I do think that we have been able to stick to a reduced soda/juice consumption because neither of us grew up with a ton of soda or Koolaid in the house. And, for me, drinking water has a noticeable affect on the number of headaches I get (I suffer from migraines and other chronic headaches), so I have additional motivation to keep up with this goal. I also like having a lot fewer cans/bottles in my recycling bin!