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The Great Food Fight of 2013

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Last year, Mr. BFS and I caught ourselves spending around $700 a month on just food early in the year, so we instituted our food fight.  We started keeping track of our food spending as it happened so we would stay around $500 a month instead.  It worked great but thanks to a bunch of holiday parties, we made the decision to put the logging to the side for most of November and December.  But we’ve started once again.

How We Track

We like to keep things simple, so we just have a sheet of notebook paper on the refrigerator where we log every food expense when we get home.  It has two columns, one column for restaurants and fast food and one column for groceries.  We are attempting to keep the total at $500 or less for January 13, 2013 through February 12, 2013.  Our main credit card statements run from the 13th through the 12th, so we just base our main budget month on those dates to make tracking super easy.

Our Spending

You may be thinking that $500 a month is still a lot of money for food for just two people.  I sort of agree, but here is how I see it:

  • Some people eat to live and some people live to eat.  We are in the live to eat category.
  • Even though we are not dieting hardcore right now, we are trying to eat healthier overall as a permanent lifestyle change.  Per snack serving, healthier options like fruits and vegetables are actually more expensive than the crappier options that I used to buy during sales (like anything on the cookies/snack aisle at Kroger…).  For example, baby carrots have sort of become an addiction and can cost anywhere between $1 to $3 per pound…
  • Food is our main monthly fun expense.  We host at least one potluck a month for 15-25 people (we provide a main dish) AND we have 2-5 friends over for dinner at least once a week too.  So we do spend extra on food for others.  But that would only account for a max of $100 a month, so we still spend more than necessary and we know it.

Overall, we are happy around $500 a month and more than that is completely unnecessary – that is how we chose our target.

Regular Updates

To keep us accountable, I’ll once again use all of you.  😉  I’ll be posting the monthly results here between the 13th and the 20th of each month.  If we are successful at the $500 mark a couple of times in a row, we may try for a lower number later.  Let’s just see if we can stick to this target first, lol.

Are you trying to keep your food expenses within a certain range every month too?

FYI:  I worked at a dead end cubicle job from 2005-2011 for about $30,000 per year.  I went self-employed in July 2011 and make between $70,000-$90,000 through blogging, professional pet sitting, hubby's reffing, and our rental home.  If you’d like to start your own site (link to my free step-by-step guide), I highly suggest checking out Bluehost (my referral link with a nice discount for you, PLUS a free custom header banner from me!).  Please contact me any time at budgetingfunstuff*at*gmail*dot*com with questions or just to brainstorm! I’d love to help!
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11 thoughts on “The Great Food Fight of 2013

  1. Our food budget for a family of 4 is $700/month, including household necessities (soaps, paper products, etc.). We do a lot of fruits and veggies too, thankfully our kids love them. I used to do baby carrots, but now I buy big carrots in bulk and chop ’em up… mostly because I read really gross things about baby carrots. 😐 I don’t usually weird out about food “revelations”, but this one got me for some reason. Plus, I’ve convinced the kids that they are more fun to eat whole, so I giggle everytime I see the kids on the floor with a whole carrot each, like Bugs Bunny. This is an area that we’ve struggled with too because we’re both lazy AND love food (especially that other people prepare)… but until our debt is gone, we’ve committed to limited eating out (twice per month).
    Keep up the good work! Oh, and I have to commend you for the potlucks – what a way to build community! I would like to make the time to do that more often…

  2. My food budget just for ME is 340, and I almost always go over or have to dip into my entertainment/misc budget, and that does not include eating out, which I don’t do much of at all. I have healthy habits, like puting wymans wild bluberries on my oatmeal every single day. It cost me 40 plus dollars per month just for that. I used to feel guilty, but considering I really want to eat healthy, whole, and sometimes organic food, my cost is going to be more. I don’t know how some people feed a family of four on 200/month. I’m baffled. Just letting you know you’re not alone!

  3. @Michelle, it has gotten easier for us since friends come over and really enjoy hubby’s cooking, lol. Nothing gets you to stay indoors like someone appreciating your work…

    @Mel, cool beans! And I am actively avoiding Googling anything about baby carrots now… 😉

    @Budget & The Beach, yeah, I wish our overspending was all because of health, lol. But it’s good to know that we’re not the only ones that find that the healthy stuff is generally more expensive…

  4. I think my bf and I probably spend a similar amount on food in a month and the vast majority of that goes to groceries. I always feel like I spend a fortune at the grocery store and come home with practically nothing! I think I need to sit down and analyze why that is, but I have the feeling that prices are just that high.

  5. My husband and I love food… but I wish we had your budget!! We get $50 a week/$250 a month for all groceries and house supplies for 2 people… That doesn’t include eating out (we have $60 a month for date nights/discretionary spending) but man… $500 for food… we’d be eating like kings, lol. When I was single, I normally spent $30 a week for food and I gave myself $50 a month for house items. The biggest loser challenged the contestants to buy healthy food for a week for $70 a person and my husband and I were laughing because that would be $140 a week for the both of us… and we couldn’t afford to do that despite their “buy groceries on a budget challenge.”

    So while we can’t afford to do organic, we do eat healthier options… it just takes more preparation because our carrots have to be peeled and chopped to get down to that “baby” size…

    I really think we can make it on $50 a week because my husband is lazy and doesn’t ask for healthy food, nor will he eat it without prompting (but I also don’t buy junk so he’s not totally living a bachelor life). He’s happy with bean burritos, ramen, etc while i’m at work… On weekends I literally have to ask him to eat an apple… and 9/10 times I have to cut it up and put on a plate in front of him before he’ll eat it.

    If he ate the same foods I did (fruit, greek yogurt, etc) we would be spending more money… but we might also have more bulk options available since food wouldn’t be wasted as much that I could start buying yogurt at Costco or something like that which isn’t an option now because I am the only one consistently eating it…

  6. We used to spend about $80/week on groceries for the two of us, but since we’ve eliminated meat from our diet, our grocery bill has (unintentionally) dropped to about $50 or $60 per week. veggies, lentils and beans are just so darn cheap! (compared to meat anyways). Restaurant meals aren’t included in this number though – we probably spend another $40 per month at restaurants.

  7. @Lisa, you may want to peek just in case…we were spending way more than we should have on convenience crud…

    @South County Girl, wow, congrats! We eat a lot of convenience foods, so that doesn’t help the budget. But without boneless, skinless chicken boobs, we wouldn’t eat chicken nearly as often, so I just write off the cost in my head as “at least we aren’t having another burger right now…”

    @Julie, we are not ready to give up meat. But congrats on the lower bills!

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