Foodstuffs, the gastronomical delights that surround us in our land of plenty – how fortunate we are! I thought, ‘hey I budget a pretty astronomical $1,000 per month on groceries and restaurants for our family of three. Maybe, I can reel that in a bit.’ It sounds like a lot, but we eat a lot of fresh food, currently have a teenager, enjoy a meal out at least once a week and, well the artsy craft beer is also a part of the food budget. But, I was rocking a pretty lean food budget when I was a stay at home mom, so how much could I have possibly backslid? I’ve probably unconsciously avoided actually looking at what we’re spending in this department for good reason. So, I decided to just plow through and hope I’d be pleasantly surprised and be able to self-congratulate our family with our frugality. I was not…. I very much was not. The last six months is the figure I decided to look at…
$5,581.11 on restaurants
+ $6,083.96 on groceries
$11,665.07 six months of food
This equals $1,944.17 per month on food, and a staggering $63.74 per DAY for three people. We are spending TWICE as much as I budgeted! We don’t eat steaks every night, keep a garden, use leftovers religiously, shop the sales and outside aisles at the grocery store, plan the meals weekly, and we’re not at sit-down restaurants daily. So, what are we going to do to reign this in? A lot.
Faced with this stark reality (and clearly first world problem) – what can we do to make this number first come close to what we actually budgeted (half of what we’re spending), then lower than that… Some tactics we’ll be trying:
- Sitting down with Mr. Moe on these numbers so we are playing from the same sheet of music
- Try a few new grocery stores that have better prices (we’ve had some luck with Aldi and will be shopping more there)
- Break up with Costco
- Pack snacks
- Eat at home before going to the grocery store
- Put in a few more meatless meals
- Find a new lunch (rice and beans?) and stick to it
- Be more careful with how we plan our meals
- Make fast casual treats – treats instead of the norm and split the giant portion sizes
- Dumping the seltzer water habit (or at least reigning it in) and buying less craft beer (sorry Mr. Moe)
- Save sit-down restaurants for special occasions (birthdays). Sit-down restaurants are a lot more expensive than fast casual. Our average sit-down restaurant bill was $75 and our average fast casual was about half of that. We leave both restaurants equally full.
How I’ll hold myself accountable. In three months (July) I’ll do this exercise again. I hope we’ll be celebrating a success the next time versus confessing another failure. Anyone have any other ways we can reign in the food budget?