That was the number glaring back at me from my calculator as I continued to add all of the food-related costs from the past month. Yikes! Carlos and I were getting ready to plan our next trip to Cancun and wanted to get a tally of how we can increase our savings leading up to our trip. I knew that we’d been going out to dinner more and more, but I almost didn’t think we were capable of spending that kind of money on food for just one month! I knew then that we were in need of the total food budget make-over and we had to act fast.
2. Restaurant Meals
It was very easy to spot where our groceries spending have run amok! We’ve always been good about going grocery shopping on Sundays but we never had a plan as to what we were going to cook for the week. We would get whatever looked good to us at the time and pull it out of the fridge when we’re ready to cook. But we were constantly throwing food away because we never got around to cooking what we bought in the first place. Most of the time, we’d forget what we bought until it was unrecognizable in the back of our produce bin. Eww.
Additionally, we were getting saddled with unnecessary trips to the grocery store during the week to pick up additional ingredients when we do end up cooking. The problem with that is, instead of just picking up a couple of lemons for Taco Tuesdays, we would inadvertently end up picking up the lemons AND an extra bottle of wine along with it. What should have been a $1 trip to the grocery store ends up being $12-$15! That makes a HUGE difference in blowing our budget!
Our restaurant meals were even worse. Our affinity for sushi was very much to blame. Going out to sushi on a Wednesday night just because we were both too tired to cook is never an excuse - especially when we’re more than capable of throwing down over $100 worth of sushi in one sitting.
Once we knew where we have gone astray, it was time to implement some simple fixes to get us back on track with our food budget:
1. Meal plan for the week and make a grocery list BEFORE going to the store. We list down what we’re going to buy and if it’s not on the list, it won’t make it into our cart.
2. Going to the grocery store during the week is a NO-NO. If we forget to buy something during our weekly grocery trip, we would go without it for the week. Tough cookies.
3. No going out to dinner during the weekdays! We can plan our work schedule during the week and trade cooking duties if we know that the other person will be at home late.
4. Limit one restaurant meal per week. Going out to eat should be something that’s celebrated – it’s our special date night! We look forward to our foodie adventures at the end of the work week and it becomes more quality time for us.
Following these simple steps cut down our monthly food costs from the monster $1,200 per month to a manageable $550 per month. Yay! No matter your budget, implementing these easy fixes can mean more
money in your pockets. Sometimes all you really need is to just take a closer look at your expenses to save big bucks in the long run!
How have you creatively cut your food budget?