Chit Chat: Reining In My Spending On Food and Eating Out
With trying to dedicate more money to my student loan bills each month and saving up for a couple fun trips on the horizon I am in total watching my budget mode right now. Over the last few weeks I have really been paying attention to where all of my money goes. After keeping a close eye on my spending I was shocked at just how big of a chunk of my budget went to paying for food.
Picking up lunch several days a week, frequently going out to dinner with family and friends, grabbing my typical fat free latte each morning on my way to the office really adds up during the course of a month. One thing that really put this spending into perspective for me was looking at how many hours per month I have to work to support these habits. Dining out has become a huge money drain for me. To make it worse most of the time I don’t even like eating out. So now I am making a big effort to eat most my meals at home (or food I have packed from home) and to make the occasion times I eat out count by forgoing my regularly purchased subpar salads and delivery pizza for meals out that I really enjoy.
Another thing I have learned is I have horrible habits when it comes to grocery shopping. I spend a lot of money on fresh fruits and veggies and good quality cheeses and I have no problem with that because these are some of my favorite foods and I eat them every day. What alarmed me though was when I cleaned my kitchen cabinets and refrigerator out last week and I had to throw away 3 trash bags of expired food. Who does that? I felt horrible about all of that wasted food and money.
I never make meal plans, I go to the grocery store several times a week but only purchase enough food for a couple meals, and I never keep stock of what is actually in my kitchen. When cleaning out my kitchen I realized I had 6 bottles of orange extract. That is crazy. I only have one recipe that I have ever used orange extract in.
Right now I am immediately cutting my trips to the grocery store to once per week. I am creating a meal plan at the beginning of each week. Plus I am going to focus on creating as many meals as possible in the upcoming weeks from items that I already have in my kitchen. By taking these steps and tracking my spending on food I hope to save myself from going over my monthly budget and save a little more to spend on upcoming vacations.
Are there any areas of your budget you should try to get in shape this year?
image via: 1, edited by Sunny Days and Starry Nights