Being frugal does not mean being cheap

I recently did a no coffee month, and this post sort of relates to this experience. To start off, let’s just say we’re not cheap and we LOVE to eat. We buy in bulk, we check where we can save money on food, but we are not buying rubbish that has no nutrients! Yeah, people in the lean FIRE community is willing to sacrifice their health for becoming financially free, but surely your health is one area that you should focus on getting right in your life.

I think frugal eating has more to do with personal finances, self-control and personal happiness than you would imagine. So, without delay, let’s jump into the food exploration, self-control and frugal foodie posts and get you eating and spending less.

Focusing on how and what you eat

Think back about a meal that you had in the last month that stood out for you in experience, flavour, colour and texture. Are you able to recall one? Awesome. If you are not, maybe you grow to be a bit more aware of your meal times and meal experiences. 

Do you sit in front of the television when you eat? Do you sit on Twitter when you are forcing the food down your throat? 

These bad habits can make you enjoy your food less and can lead to overeating and unhealthy eating habits, as you are unaware of the quantity and quality of the food that you’re eating.

If you have not yet explored mindful eating, it’s really simple – try to enjoy eating. 

  • Savour the moment.
  • Be fully aware of the flavours and textures.
  • If you are eating with your partner, be fully engaged in enjoying the experience with them
  • Take your time eating – your body can take up to 20 minutes to tell you that you are full!

I know that you might not see it now, but if you practice the above, you will probably eat less, and enjoy the time more – and that has a large impact on your life and your health! 

So, in short with the above – think about the food you eat. Make it an experience, even if you’re only eating spinach and bread. Savour the moment, as your body uses this food for energy to propel you forward.

Tips for eating frugally

Plan your meals

How many blogs need to mention this…? This feels like something that’s been mentioned so many times, but we sort of don’t do it… So, here’s some hacks on this I learnt from James Clear in his book “Atomic Habits”:

  • Make it easy
  • Make it obvious
  • Make it rewarding/satisfying 
  • Make it attractive

Here are some of the things we do:

  • We plan our meals on a weekend by checking out Pinterest and going shopping for the ingredients. 
  • We try and use the ingredients we have first
  • We walk through the store first, and then when we have seen everything, we change our meal plans
  • Make frozen dinners over the weekend and take it out for defrosting before work – thus making it easy and obvious
  • Buy in bulk if you can – this makes it a bit cheaper!
  • Pack your lunch as far as you can – my most awesome wife packs me a lunch every day – and beware, my soul, if I don’t eat my lunch – there will be atom bombs and a hurricane through our kitchen…!


Sadly, the Frugal Local household is not perfect. And the below are some of the things we focus on to become better at:

  • Don’t drive 20km to save R 2 on breakfast cereal!
  • If you have issues with overspending:
    • Look for specials in newspapers and advertisements
    • Download a few company apps to check what they have on special
  • Know what you are going to buy before you do
    • if you see a special, STOP, ask yourself if you really need it
    • Put your wallet in your other pocket, put your bank card in another place in your wallet to help you think twice.

Eating out

Buy experiences.

As mentioned above on mindful eating, when you eat out or get takeaways, don’t do it because of laziness – treasure the moment, otherwise it loses its value. Here are some of the things we do when eating out: 

  • Choose specials – you can get the same amount of value from specials as you do from buying more expensive meals. do a quick google for specials on the day you want to go out
  • Check out restaurant apps that would offer you discount such as a Spur card, Starbucks app and Burger King app – this might help a little bit when you really have no choice but to eat out (e.g. your partner is poisoning you with a packed lunch and there’s no other options)
  • Eat your meal at home and then go out for ice cream, coffee or tea rather than eating out – you get to experience the atmosphere and the world outside your home


I could break these down in 4 different articles, but as an introduction, I think these points should do?

  • Be mindful about eating – you deserve to enjoy what you eat without overeating
  • Plan your meals and find ways to make you stick to the meals you have planned like taking out the frozen dinner in the morning before work
  • Plan your groceries – buy in bulk, don’t waste and eat healthily
  • When you eat out, look at specials. If it’s about going out, rather have a coffee or ice cream somewhere.