Where My Money Goes on Food

by Debt Hater on March 2, 2010

I always go over budget on food it seems if you read my monthly reports.

I just couldn’t understand what I was doing wrong, but then I realized during the last snowstorm that my habits are very simple. I go over budget on food when:

  • I don’t plan my meals for the week.
  • I treat people to dinner (usually my guy because we take turns paying to eat out). Here, I can spend a third of my dining out budget on one meal.
  • I don’t spread dining out through the month. I wind up overdoing it right at the start of the month or right at the end.

That’s it.

The break down between weeks when I plan meals and cook at home is startling, but  not surprising. Using Fabulously Broke’s method:

One week dining in: $40 on food.
One month of dining in, then, would be about $160 (no meals out at all).

One week dining out: $70
One month of all meals out, then, would be $280.

This ain’t rocket science. We knew I’d spend less dining in than out. I just thought that the difference wasn’t going to be that significant.

In real life, though, I don’t eat ALL my meals in or out. There is a blend. Too keep either from ballooning out of control (and to keep my body from doing the same), I think I need to go back to eating like I was broke:

  • When dining out, skip the drinks and desserts (I’ve gotten back to making sweet treats at home anyway — so much tastier and cheaper!).
  • When dining out, don’t gorge on the whole plate. Take some to work for lunch the following day or to finish off for dinner the following night.

Simple to the point of silly, but I got away from all these once I was out of debt.

If I want something I’ll have it, but I won’t order desserts and drinks for the sake of ordering them. And I’ll cook more for my guy and I… and ask him to cook for me instead of spending money. He’s a good cook!

So when there is a special occasion, happy hour or night out with the girls, I’ll have the money, not bust my budget.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

ctreit March 3, 2010 at 2:03 am

Those figures for eating in are pretty close to mine–it costs me $40-50 per week for food if I buy all of it at the grocery store and cook from scratch.

The eating out figures would be higher for me though–probably over $100 dollars per week, n0t $70. . I’m not good at minimizing my expenses when I eat out, it just brings out the “splurge” in me! So my best strategy is to simply not eat out. These days I don’t budget for eating out. What I do is budget $200 for groceries in the month, and take any eating out money from my “blow money” category, because that’s what eating out really is for someone with my low income.

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FB @ FabulouslyBroke.com March 6, 2010 at 8:22 am

We do the same thing. My wife and I are pretty good cooks, which is why the regular fare at an average restaurant doesn’t do much for us. When we eat in, we can also buy better ingredients and still come out ahead compared to eating out. Now, about that cleaning up part…

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Steve in W MA October 6, 2010 at 8:31 pm

I agree with ctreit — BF and I are pretty good cooks on our own. We eat in, buy better food.. and feel better in general
The only thing is that if I don’t have a kitchen (when I travel) I am slightly more lazy and more apt to eat out for dinners as a result
But I’ve combated that by bringing my lunches & breakfasts for the WHOLE WEEK in a cooler :P And then storing it in the client’s fridge

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