Budget Killer: Eating Out

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(Image source)

We started tracking our spending this month on the Every Dollar app/website.

I created a trial budget for February 2016 to compare how much I think we spend in each category vs. how much we actually spend. I was pretty accurate on most of the categories since most of our spending is relatively fixed every month.

However, I grossly underestimated how much we spent on food (groceries and restaurants).

I had allocated $200 to groceries and $350 to restaurants or eating out.

We’re currently 24 out of 29 days through February 2016 and this is where we actually are:

  • Planned spending on groceries: $200 / Actual spending on groceries: $320.50
  • Planned spending on restaurants: $350 / Actual spending on restaurants: $401.20

That’s $721.70 on food, and the month isn’t even over!

And that doesn’t include the $300+ we spent for food on our son’s birthday or the Valentine’s Day lunch and birthday lunch I took my wife out for.

Our spending on food is out of control. It’s killing our budget, loading us up on excess calories and sodium, and ruining our chances of achieving our goal of financial independence.

My wife and I decided to start planning out our meals ahead of time weekly. We still include restaurants in our budget for when we typically eat with friends, like on Sundays after church, and for planned nights like pizza night. But other than that, we’re going to do our best to stick to our pre-planned meals when we’re at home. We’ll go grocery shopping about 1-2 times every week and buy only what we need.

At the end of March 2016, I’ll put up our totals for both February 2016 and March 2016 to see how we did.

If you have any tips to share or want to share what works for you, please share in the comments section below.

By the way, the pic above is of food from Cava Grill, one of my favorite places to eat in the DC Metro area.

Update: 3/1/2016

Here was our total for February: $773.56. Of that, $342.93 was for groceries and $430.63 was on restaurants.

We’re gradually trying to pare down our spending on food, so we’ve set realistic, attainable goals of $300 for groceries and $350 on restaurants for the month of March. I’ll post an update sometime in early April.

 

 

5 thoughts on “Budget Killer: Eating Out

  1. Meal planning is a great way to save money. My wife and I just started making large meals during the weekend so that there are leftovers to eat throughout the week. The main issue is taking the time to cook these meals (that’s why we do it on the weekends). Also, having food available and ready to make in your home helps to get rid of the “let’s just eat out cause I’m too tired to cook” mentality for us.

    There’s a great blog called: http://www.budgetbytes.com. This site has great recipes that include cheap ingredients, but great tasting meals.

  2. Thanks for the tips! I think we will start making large meals to save leftovers for another meal more often. I just checked out budgetbytes.com, and the food looks really good and simple enough to make.

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