People think of portion control as a way to watch their weight, but it is also a very effective way to watch your grocery savings too.

The less you eat, the less you spend. Most people eat a lot more than they need, simply because of the habits they have when it comes to how they plate and serve their food.
We’ll show you how to change those habits to save money.
In this post, you will :

  • Some of the costly food habits you might have
  • How to change your food mentality
  • Tips for cutting your food costs that require little effort


do this right now to save money on your food bill


Tip 1: Store leftovers away before eating, not after

Decide before making your meal how many portions you are aiming to make. Then, after you finish cooking, immediately pack and store away any portions for leftovers that you weren’t intending to eat today.

When you know you have a huge pot of food still left in the kitchen, you’re more inclined to convince yourself to get seconds. Putting away that food promptly leaves less of a temptation.


Eating out? Restaurant portions tend to be way more than you need for a single meal.

Save leftovers to squeeze out another meal. That way, you save yourself some time and money. 

Tip 2: Use smaller dishware

Everyone has a natural tendency to fill up their dish or bowl whenever they are grabbing food, without thinking about whether they will actually eat it all.

Unfortunately, that unconscious habit leads to a lot of food waste or eating more food than you actually need.
An easy way to counteract that habit is to simply use smaller dishware.
A lot of times we eat mindlessly, while we are watching TV or talking to the people at our dinner table, and the only reason we stop is because the food is gone from our plate.
By using smaller dishware, you hit that stopping point sooner, rather than continuing to eat more than you needed just because you were on auto-pilot.

free budget meal planner template printable


Get your simplified printable:

  • To plan with ingredients you already have on hand
  • Know what you need to buy at-a-glance
  • That's easy reference on a single page

Bonus Tip: Use your hand for reference

If you’re out and about, you can use your hand as a guide for portion size. In general:

Hand SymbolPortion SizeFood
Fingertip1 teaspoonMayonnaise, butter
Thumb1 tablespoonSalad dressing
Handful1-2 ouncesSnacks
Palm3-4 ouncesProtein, starches
Fist1 cupGrains, fruits, vegetables
Of course, everyone’s hand size is different, so use this as a rule of thumb.

We have a handy (heh heh) printable reference guide for portion size that includes which food groups and approximate calories for each of these hand symbols. It’s part of our food budget planner pack, designed to help you slash your food bill.

Tip 3: Wait before going back for seconds

It takes a little bit of time for your body to register that you are full, so you need to give it a chance to figure that out before you go straight to getting more food.

After you’ve eaten your first portion, wait 5-10 minutes before asking yourself “am I still hungry?”
Don’t ask yourself if you want seconds, because that’s not the same question.


Drink water or another beverage before that 5-10 minute lag after your meal. It’ll help you feel more full and more conscious of if you really want to have seconds. 

Easy steps to control your food portions

As a recap:

  • Before you start cooking, decide how many portions you intend to make
  • After you are done cooking, immediately pack up any portions intended as leftovers and store them away
  • Use smaller dishware when plating your current portion
  • If you thinking about going for seconds, wait 5-10 minutes after eating and then ask yourself if you are still hungry


Eating less means saving more. Save money by using portion control to slim your waistline while you fatten your wallet. Learn how to use portion control to lower your food budget!



stacy trinh aka aunty chang headshot


STACY, aka AUNTY CHANG, is a personal finance blogger set on a mission to show people that there's more to money than just the numbers. With two rental properties and a six-figure 401k by her 30's, she's on track to retire early without sacrificing work-life balance to get there. She wants to teach others how to identify their goals and use money to make them happen. Dual income, no kids, based in Hawaii.

Hangs out on Keeping Up with the Changs: Facebook | Twitter