Spending money on food is 100% worth it… but we still need to cut back

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!

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6 thoughts on “Spending money on food is 100% worth it… but we still need to cut back

  1. ha ha speaking of food budget! I occasionally do like a coffee outside of the house, and eating out isn’t a problem, but I love my good quality groceries, and I’m a crappy cook and picky eater, so it makes meal planning damn near impossible because if I try to plan, when it comes to that day I’m either too tired or lazy to cook it, or I just don’t have a taste for whatever it is I planned several days prior. That’s my big issue!

    1. That is hard, especially if you are particular about what you like to eat! We also resort to pre-made burritos or meals from Trader Joe’s sometimes, and really love the dumplings they sell there as well. Luckily we’re both pretty flexible but we do have those days where we don’t want to cook and don’t feel like eating anything in the house! Thanks for the comment Tonya 🙂

  2. I put a Challenge out on my blog that I’d try to keep our groceries under $80 per month because we gave so much food in our cupboards. So far, so good. It’s shocking to me how much can hidden, if we just take a little time to plan and prepare (aka, not be lazy, like I usually am).

    PS, I came across your blig from Tonya’s Twitter. I’m a 29 year old former PhD student in chemistry – defended 2 years ago – so I feel like there might be some kinship there from similar paths 🙂

  3. Do you use the cocktail compass app? My friend and I started using it find happy hours and cheap eats since we used to spend a small fortune going out after work 🙂 The food budget is tough, but the dining out budget is so hard to handle! There are sooo many great places to try in Seattle it can be a real struggle with my wallet!

    1. I haven’t heard of that app & will be downloading it ASAP! I agree about dining out – you either pay what the restaurant is asking or you don’t, it’s not like adjusting your grocery list depending on sales. We’re still trying to figure out how to be social & save money on eating out – I’ll let you know if we are successful!

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