Save Money by Turning Your Refrigerator into a Food Bar

Do you know how restaurants make so much money off their food bars?  They charge you too much for the food!  Okay, that’s a lame joke.  But if you want to get into the restaurant business you will find it very tempting to run a food bar because they can be so profitable.  And that is because the kind of food you can stock on a food bar is usually very inexpensive.

A picture of a refrigerator stocked with food.
Dining out is expensive, even when you buy a buffet meal. So turn your refrigerator into your own private food bar and enjoy buffet-style dining all week long at a fraction of the cost!

When I was in college I often found myself running short on grocery money toward the end of the month.  My roommates usually had food that I could not touch but they would let me borrow from them if I paid them with a meal.  I finally hit on an idea that was popular with all the guys.

We turned our fridge into a food bar.  We bought some cheap plastic food containers and put shredded lettuce, carrots, potato salad, chicken salad, black olives, radishes, deviled eggs, peas, green beans, cheese, bacon bits, and other good food bar ingredients in them.  There were whole weeks where we munched out on our own food bar meals just because we had so much variety.

Of course someone had to make sure the food was fresh every day but with four guys that usually meant you had to refill the containers or buy new ones.  Once in a while we add some dinner rolls to the food bar or some other special treat.  We could also buy deli meats and add them.  We had a lot of fun saving money that way.

And I don’t see why that would not save the average family money today.  These are all pretty inexpensive foods.  You just need to keep them refrigerated and that is easier to manage when you use rectangular containers.

Now if you’re thinking this could get boring pretty quickly you can vary the mix of ingredients.  You can also plan special non-bar days where you eat regular meals.  But when you host a party or just have uninvited guests drop in you’ll find it takes no time to get some nice food onto plates for everyone.

Buying the same staple items for your food bar also means you can buy in bulk, especially the vegetables.  Since you are eating vegetables every day your bulk items won’t have time to spoil.

A good food processor makes it easy to prep most of these foods, too.  And cleaning up the mess is much easier than scrubbing pots and pans.  But the greatest benefit of all is that most of the food you are eating is healthy.

Another way to stretch the food bar concept is to buy some fried chicken and serve that as a main dish.  Almost everyone loves fried chicken.  Of course you can also fry it up yourself.  There is no reason why you cannot save some money by doing some real cooking.

Just be sure you have enough salad dressings on hand.  Everyone will have their favorite but if you’re eating all these salads you’ll go through the dressings quickly.