For personal challenge #3 we are cutting out eating out for the month May. One of the reasons why we are looking forward to Erin staying at home is that it will be much easier for us to cook every night and in turn save money. Part of making our budget work on one income is that we are aiming to spend about $400 a month on food which includes eating out. Not much room for error on $400 a month.
As we start this next phase we are treating it as though we are hitting the reset button and part of that is to establish a base line. When we were doing our debt payoff a couple years ago we did a month similar to this where we never ate out and I believe we spent around $275 total that month. Our family is a little bit bigger so I expect that cost to be higher now but hopefully we can cook bigger meals this time that will provide more left overs. We are aiming to spend about $300 or a bit less than $2 per meal per person.
Also, one of the benefits of Erin being at home is that we can do a better job of keeping an organized house. Rather than buying new food for meals each week we should go through the pantry to see what we already have and use it. This is paid for food and why let it go to waste?
Before I met Erin in 2009 I lost my job because, well it was 2009, and I used my pantry to its full extent. Even though I wasn’t smart with my money, I did get smart the moment I had no job. I was amazed at how many meals I had (albeit simple and unhealthy) in my pantry and I saved a lot of money by not eating out and by using what I already had. I wish I maintained that focus once I got work again but now I look at it as proof of concept.
We are not set on depriving ourselves. We are, however, looking to be more intentional and smarter about how we approach meals. Doing our best to use the resources we already have and getting maximum use out of the food we buy. There might be some moderate coupon use where it makes sense but nothing like extreme couponing.
We will be tracking each meal similar to how we track our expenses and hope to check in each week to provide an update on where we are at.
So what do you spend per month? Have you done anything similar to this? Have you done anything radical to keep your food costs down?