An ROB Household Dirty Budgeting Secret

An ROB Household Dirty Budgeting Secret

Generally, Mrs. ROB and I are somewhat financially healthy. We have money in investments, our home will be paid off in 10 years (if not sooner), we generally have more money coming in then going out, but we also live paycheck to paycheck like most Americans. Part of this is because Mrs. ROB’s income is a little unusual because she works at multiple campuses. Mine is more steady, but I do make more money during the summer doing extra duties, which can also offer a great windfall, but it usually gets used up by January and June which we don’t get that extra money so I need to sock it away to pay for expenses.

Like most American families we also have traditional expenses. We have a car payment, mortgage, student loans, gas, electricity, etc. We also pay for food, like most families. The average American family spends about $500 a month on food per year. In the ROB household we don’t spend that much.

It is worse.

Much worse.

As most of you know I track our expenses on Personal Capital and Mint. For most of our marriage our food budget has averaged….over $1300 a month.

Yes, you read that right $1300 a month for the two of us.

That is how much money our mortgage is (and I am not kidding).

I know that we spend too much money on food. And I know that we need to get it down more. I would like to get it down more.

The truth is Mrs. ROB and I like to eat too much. We go out to eat too much and we don’t cook at home enough. And when we do cook, well Mrs. ROB is one of the finest chefs there is around. I would put her against anyone, but the ingredients can be expensive.

That is why I am trying to figure out multiple ways to reduce our food bill. I just want to get it down to $1000.

Some Steps We Can Take:

  1. Only eat out once or twice per week. The problem is that we will often go for convenience instead of cooking at home. That convenience (ordering food) will cost us at least $20 to $30 more than a conventional meal.
  2. We need to meal plan more. This is probably the thing I would like to do the most, but for us it is the hardest. It is the hardest to plan. I am a planner, but I am not a good cook (I can barely make scrambled eggs). Mrs. ROB likes the spontaneity of cooking and isn’t much of a planner.
  3. Grocery store take out instead of restaurant. I have found that if we do get take out and I get it from the grocery store it is actually 1/2 of what it would be at a restaurant. That would help us cut out down our food bill.
  4. Start bringing lunch to work. This is something I am bad at and trying to get better. I need to stop going out and getting small things (e.g. chips or something) when I am at work because it can add up. $10 here, $5 there. Before you know it we have blown our budget.
  5. Find cheaper, but good restaurants to eat it. Mrs. ROB and I are not totally foodies, but we love good food and wine. We just went out at for our anniversary, did a 7 course tasting menu, and it was divine. THe problem is that if we go out we want to try to new restaurants that can run $100 per time.  We need to stop. Maybe Groupon some places.
  6. We need to stop buying extras when we go out. When Mrs. ROB and I go out we go out, but we also add appetizers and sometimes desert to our dinner. Not only does that cost an extra $20 or so per meal, but it is calories we don’t need (particularly me).
  7. We probably need to buy more food stuffs, instead of snacks in our groceries. A lot of times for quick fixes, we will buy protein bars, snack items, etc. These snack items, again, add up quickly. We probably add $40-$50 on our grocery bill for stuff we don’t need. We need to stick to either making snacks or just cutting them out (it will also be better for our health).

The Bottom Line: We spend too much on food. I know it. We also treat it as a bit of entertainment, but we need to stop on this, particularly the take-out. We need to cook more at home. It is better for us, healthier, and that is a good thing. By the way, we already shop at the cheapest grocery store in our area (which is great).

So now you know our secret and our struggle. Every month I say I will keep this budget under $1000, but it doesn’t happen. Any advice is helpful, but I know that we need to cut back, just for the sake of our health and not only our wallets.

8 thoughts on “An ROB Household Dirty Budgeting Secret

  1. Been there . . . We used to eat out most nights each and every week . . . It becomes habit really . . . One thing we did was to discover new meals that we could prepare on our own. Costco was kinda helpful for this. Interestingly, after the habit started to break . . . we actually enjoyed the home time much more than the added (or lost) time that eating out creates . . .

    Now don’t tell the Mrs., but I took the savings from not eating out and parked it right in my taxable portfolio investing . . . hehe.

    1. Great idea….and that is what I want to do. Take any savings we have from what we save on food and put it in Mrs. ROB’s IRA. 🙂

  2. Whoa that’s a huge food bill! Definitely recommend not eating out. You’ll easily cut your bill in half if you don’t eat out. Beyond that, meal prep is awesome. When I prep my meals for the week, my evenings are so much more enjoyable.

    1. YOu are right. It is just laziness on our part. We do need to make a more conscious effort to do more meal prep and eat at home or if anything get something at the grocery store that is inexpensive. I need to learn to cook more.

  3. Since you are both going to be on campus may I suggest a snack husband keeps a mason jar of nuts and trail mix at his desk. Things like beef jerky, cheese sticks, and fresh fruit or cereal bars are relatively easy to have on hand or quick to pack in a bag. Plus protein will help keep you from wanting to hit the vending machines.

    At home there are a few different strategies to keeping costs down. The instant pot has become my new best friend. I make hardboiled eggs or steelcut oatmeal in a fraction of the time it normally takes. Then I portion them out for the week. I also make freezer breakfast burritos. Fraction of the cost of going to Mcdonalds. Breakfast ready to go.

    Another strategy is to make a lot of something but use it in different ways. For example, I make instant pot carnitas and have that one night, extras I mix with BBQ sauce and have pulled pork sandwiches. I also mix with beans to make chili. I have a foodsaver so I freeze meals in full and in lunch sized portions. If you like to grill, just do your meat for the week all at once. My husband will grill chicken, pork chops, and burgers in one go. Then we have chicken for tacos or chicken salad. Pork chops which I will also cut up for fried rice. Then we freeze the burgers cooked. When you have all this food prepared/semi prepared it makes it so much easier to eat at home because its all ready forwill

    When you cut out the quick convenience foods and restaurants the times you eat at those gourmet foodie meals become more special. It is a tough change not hitting the drive through at will, but your budget will thank you for it.

    1. I like that idea Cynthia. I think I will have to do that. Stock some stuff and just use it as I am at school.

  4. You say that the ‘average American family spends about $500 on food per year’!

    Sorry but I don’t believe that for a minute! This works out to be around $41 – $42 per month!

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