If it’s one thing you should know about me it’s that I love food and will never ever restrict my budget so much that I can’t enjoy it.
Being vegetarian means I eat a lot of plants but that doesn’t mean those plants are smothered in delicious curries or deep-fried to perfection.
Second to food comes beer, wine, and fun mixed drinks.
For the most part we don’t spend too much on drinks, and we’re way past the stage of getting wasted every weekend so the most we end up spending is $75, but we could cut back or put in a small effort to find cheaper drinks or happy hours in our area. We also try to take advantage of the free beer hours that our programs sponsor, and like to host friends at our house for game nights fueled by store-bought wine & beer.
Spending money on food falls into two categories for us:
1. Expected food purchases such as groceries or planned dinners out
2. Lazy purchases on lunches we forgot to make or dinners we are just too tired to put together.
Our food budget is typically full of lazy purchases. Recently I’ve been working 12 hour days and Mr. M&M has also been staying late a few of those nights as well. The key for us is to plan ahead for those busy weeks and buy enough groceries to sustain us throughout the week. We also usually buy coffee in the morning and sometimes a treat to have with it. Spending like this is what makes our food category so high and is something we’re going to focus on reducing. As much as I love the convenience of a pre-made cup of coffee, I also know it takes about 3 minutes to load up our coffee pot and program it for the next morning. Doing that would save us on average $20 a week, and would also prevent impulse purchases at the coffee shop. Similarly, planning our meals and snacks out for the week will help us to cook more at home and also have food readily available to tide us over when working late or we’re too tired to cook.
I’m happy to report that for the last 7 days (including Super Bowl weekend) we haven’t bought food aside from groceries. I’ve been making a conscious effort to make my coffee in the morning and Mr. M&M is taking advantage of the free coffee at his work. We’ve also been planning ahead for our lunches and making quick & easy dinners that can last a few nights.
Dinners out with friends and social events are still part of our budget, but those extraneous purchases throughout the week can definitely be banished. Hopefully this will help us make progress towards our debt repayment and give us a lot more flexibility with our budget!