One of our biggest challenges is controlling food cost. I believe that this is an area we can improve. The struggle is around consistent meal planning an trips to the grocery store. It’s easy to neglect because there is a convenient alternative available (dining out). This is likely a common occurrence amongst our peers (though I’m not sure everyone considers it a problem).
We budget $800 per month for groceries and household supplies. I also budget $240 per month for dining out. That’s around one restaurant trip per week for our family of four (sit down type as we rarely do fast food). So far this year, we should have spent $4800 on groceries and $1440 on restaurants. Instead, we’re currently at $5300 on groceries and $4200 on restaurants!
One would think that if we neglected grocery runs and dined out instead that we would see groceries come in under budget. What happens though, is that by not having a weekly meal plan we end up doing on demand grocery runs to pick up things for the next day or two. This leads to inefficiency and a propensity to buy impulse items.
We definitely dine out much more than we should given our budget. It’s very easy to fall into the trap of convenience when we’re both tired from the day and unprepared for dinner time. It’s even easier when we know we can afford it. The problem is that we’re throwing away money that we could be investing in our financial freedom and getting closer to our canoe dock lifestyle.
New 2015 Goal: Cut the dining out expenses in half. $2100 or less.
Here we go!