Update on Budget Killer: Eating Out

See the update for March spending at the bottom of the page.

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.

Update 4/1/2016

March was a FAIL (kind of)! Our spending increased in both categories, but it was a slightly longer month than February.

March started off great, but we had guests stay with us (10 people in our condo at one point) in late March which increased our spending. Tracking expenses for the past 2 months taught us a lot about our spending habits. We probably won’t be tracking spending as much in the future, as I think we’ve learned enough about our habits over the past 2 months. We can definitely improve on spending when it comes to food, but I think as long as we are more intentional and thoughtful about it, we will probably achieve similar results.

Here are the totals for March: $850.59. Of that, $345.66 was for groceries and $504.93 was on restaurants.

(Featured image source)

2 thoughts on “Update on Budget Killer: Eating Out

  1. I think food is definitely the thing Ian and I have the most trouble controlling. We keep thinking it will get better after we get married, but it seems you really have to plan things out and be willing to commit to making budget stretching foods (even if that means eating nothing but gom gook for a week) haha

    • Yea, food is definitely one of the things we struggle with. It’s especially hard when both spouses are working full-time. Sometimes it’s just easier to go out to eat, which is what we end up doing when we don’t plan ahead and make time for grocery shopping.

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