I haven’t put much effort into learning exactly how to save money on food expenses. I’ve been wishing and hoping and fell into the same trap that millions of people have fallen into. We wish and hope for better outcomes without doing what’s necessary to improve our situations.
In early July, I committed to tracking my food expenses every month. Personal finance bloggers know that groceries and eating out can get out of control quickly and become a major pain in the @$$ets. Maybe I haven’t paid attention in the past or I wasn’t receptive to doing this although many others have been saving hundreds of dollars a month.
Thank you, Mrs. Frugal Asian Finance, for inspiring me with your monthly food expense reports.
I wanted to track my expenses on a spreadsheet but
am lazy have to spend more time with my wife and kids leaving me very little time to devote to bookkeeping.
After searching Google Play, I found a few receipt-scanning, expense-tracking apps but everything required so much time and commitment that I couldn’t commit to using them. I need simple, easy, and quick.
So, I decided to see if Personal Capital has a way of tracking my expenses. It does!
I didn’t realize that I could categorize all my income and expenses in one combined view. Awesome! Convenient! Easy!
Oh my God! How much did we spend?
- July 1 – 31, 2017
- Groceries -$1201
- Restaurants -$608
I thought this wasn’t too bad but then I decided to go back three more months…
- June 1 – 30, 2017
- Groceries -$1174
- Restaurants -$648
- May 1 – 31, 2017
- Groceries -$1226
- Restaurants -$1066
- April 1 – 30, 2017
- Groceries -$1327
- Restaurants -$978
I stopped with April’s data because I can’t take anymore. This is really painful and an eye-opener for me.
The first thing we have to do is…
Quit Eating Out So Much!
I know how to save money on food expenses. Quit eating out so much and buy groceries after planning our meals for the week … but it’s easier said than done. That’s why I just committed to the Zero Day Challenge and will be tracking all our expenses on a dry erase board. It’s hanging up in our dining room and it’s a big eye sore. My wife and older daughter are involuntary participants.
Every single day, we’re going to write our expenses up on the board AND hang our receipts up at the upper-left corner using a little magnet clip. That magnet better not fall off!
Our intent is to have as many zero days as possible before the end of the month. My goal is to spend less than $500 eating out. This is going to be tough because we have a vacation coming up in mid-August.
I’m going to pack a lunch for work every day. My colleagues and I usually eat out together at least once a week. This is fine since our meals typically average $10. We call this our team-building lunch. 🙂
Meal Plan for Each Week
The Mrs. isn’t usually on board with frugality. The word doesn’t exist in her vocabulary. In fact, I just
coerced convinced her to stop grocery shopping for the week. We’ll see what happens because she’s NEVER been able to go more than a few days without buying some groceries for something. Our two refrigerators (yes, we have two) are packed with food that eventually gets eaten or thrown out.
I want our grocery bill to be under $700. This might be a lofty goal but if other people can keep their monthly grocery bills under $500 we should be able to manage. We’re a family of four with two little girls. There’s no way we’re eating that much food!
We’ll figure out what to eat for the rest of the week. On Sunday, the Mrs. and I are going to sit down and develop a meal plan for the upcoming week. We usually skip breakfast but still need to feed the kids. Although I love steak and everything beef, I’ve decided to eat a lot more chicken, pork, and other cheaper cuts of meat. We’ll probably buy more frozen vegetables and prepare large meals in advance so I have leftovers for lunch.
At the end of August, I’ll follow up and post what our meal plans were. We’re going to figure out how to save money on our food expenses. It’s gonna happen…
We’re doing so many things right like saving money on our cell phone plans, not paying for or watching cable TV, and having other people help pay for our children’s college education. It’s time we started controlling one of our biggest expenses: food.
Although we’re spending a ridiculous sum of money on groceries and eating out, we’re trending in the right direction. We just haven’t been deliberate about it because it takes work. I usually don’t have any problem eating out because to me it’s more of an entertainment expense than a food expense. However, we can definitely do better and I’d rather spend the money we save on one more vacation a year.
What about you?
Do you know how to save money on food expenses?
Please share your tips and advice in the comment section below. I’d love to hear your thoughts.