One of Our Biggest Expenses – Food

The following is a post by staff writer Crystal at Budgeting in the Fun Stuff. Her blog covers living expenses, saving for your future, and the fun stuff along the way.

Our biggest expense every month is no surprise – it’s our mortgage. Our second biggest expense is slightly more surprising – food. Mr. BFS and I live together, we have no kids, yet we spend between $400-$600 a month for groceries, restaurants, and fast food.

Our most expensive food category changes monthly depending on how well stocked our chest freezer is, but we spend about the same for groceries as we do eating out. It usually is a conscious decision when we are going to get home too late to cook or when one of us has a hankering for something specific.

Since we do spend more than we need to on food, I occasionally make plans on how we could cut back. These plans make me feel a little safer, like a “break glass in case of emergency” scenario.

Here’s my most recent plan:

1) If we ate out no more than once a week, that would come to $80 or less a month.

2) We already stock up on meats at Sam’s Club like steak, pork chops, hamburger, and chicken for about $40 a month.

3) We also stock up on fozen veggies like green beans, mixed vegetables, corn, and sliced carrots for $30 a month.

4) We “only spend” about $125 a month for the rest of our extras now, so we could continue this without any problems. That would cover bread, milk, butter, potatoes, fruit, Digiorno, hot dogs, fish, and any other sides.

5) We’d probably continue hosting a monthly gaming party unless we were really hurting, which runs us about $50 including food and supplies.

That would bring our monthly food bill to $325. It’s amazing what happens when you cut out a bunch of eating out…

I’m not sure if we’ll ever follow this to the letter, but it does make me feel better to have backup plans. Thankfully the school year has started, so Mr. BFS doesn’t eat out as much as he does when he’s off. We also have discovered several new recipes that are yummy enough to have kept us in our kitchen pretty regularly lately anyway. Who knows, we may just naturally end up saving more money in time. :-)

What does your food budget look like? Is it one of your biggest expenses too?

12 Responses to One of Our Biggest Expenses – Food

  1. I track our spending and we noticed a few years ago that eating out cost more than our groceries! So, we started buying more groceries, cooking at home, and eating out much less. We are saving quite a bit of money. It’s funny how small things add up!

    • @Little House, I know! It was a big step in the right direction when our food budget went from being $300 Restaurant $200 Grocery to $300 Grocery and $200 Restaurant, lol!

  2. Nicole says:

    I haven’t looked recently, but I’m fairly sure we spend a lot more than that each month on food. Though we can go several weeks on just our pantry (and an additional gallon of milk) if cash or time is short. Luckily DH spends his allowance on his coffee expenses.

  3. Hmmm, good question. probably 20% higher than your food number (soon to increase since my son is now double digits).

    I like to go out to eat at least once a week, but it’s usually for breakfast on Saturday (cheaper but still fun)!

    Kids kind of take some of the romance out of evening dinners (although this Saturday, my wife and I are going out will the kids stay at Grandma’s)…

  4. phi vo says:

    I like to budget about $200 a month for my girlfriend and I each month, but I often (read: always) go over it. I figured $50 per week is good enough for 2 dinners but then I realize how cheap I am being compared to some of my friends. A guy has to treat his sweetheart out right?!

    In actuality I’ll spend about $350-400 per month, including once a month fights or other excuses to get the guys over the house.

  5. Khaleef @ KNS Financial says:

    I would have to say that our grocery budget has dropped tremendously since we began shopping at CVS and using coupons! They have a decent supply of groceries and shopping there has cut the amount of items we have to buy from the supermarket. Eating out is better, but not as good as it should be!

  6. myfinancialobjectives says:

    Without a doubt FOOD is totally my biggest expense. I am always trying to spend less on food, but it’s just not possible. I am simply hungry ALL THE TIME! I thought this was supposed to stop after puberty, here I am in my mid twenties and I still eat like I am 16 playing 8 sports year round! AYE!

  7. eemusings says:

    Yep, it’s definitely our second biggest expense! We aim for about $130 a week or just over $500 a month. Our eating out varies WIDELY – it can swing from about $130 a month to, uh, double. Lately it’s been hovering more around $150 though.

  8. Wojo says:

    Food is definitely a big problem area in our budget, largely for the same reasons. When we stick 100% to groceries, we can usually make it work (except when we decide to cook some wild things and then it’s out the window). But when you factor in eating out, the whole thing skyrockets.

    There were months in our college years where the 2 of us were easily spending upwards of $1,000 on food every month.

    Obviously, we’ve cut back since then. In a good month, the two of us plus the baby can come in under $200. Usually, it’s more like $300-$350 though.

  9. Sarah Gilbert says:

    I have found that if I buy the ingredients for subs, I can get almost a weeks worth of meals for the same price as one meal at Subway. Couponing helps also.

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