Do you struggle to cook at home? It's time consuming, energy consuming, and for some people, just downright not fun. But it's also expensive! And that can really eat into your food budget!
In 2016, for the first time Americans spent more at restaurants than they did on groceries. So, do you know how much you spend at restaurants?
As 1 person, if never cook at home and spend $5 per meal eating at restaurants, you spend $16,825 per year. If you spend $10 per meal, you spend $33,650 per year. And if you spend $20 per meal, you spend $67,300 per year. Yikes!
Multiply that for a couple, or a family of 4 and you're eating up a huge chunk of a budget! And all of this money in the name of convenience.
How we keep our Food Budget under $10,000 per year
Alternatively, my husband and I spend $100 per week on groceries for 7 breakfasts, 6 dinners, and 5 lunches, or 36 meals. That breaks down to $2.77 per meal, and costs $5,200 per year. The additional lunches and dinners are eaten at restaurants, with an average spend of $15 per meal, or $4,680 per year. That means our total grocery and restaurant expense is $9,880 per year.
With this example, you can see how substituting the meals at restaurants for cooking recipes at home can substantially cut your food expenses budget.
How much can you save on your Food Budget?
Look at your restaurant spending from last week. Identify meals that would be easy to replace. For example, if you went through the drive through for lunch 2 times for $10 each, and then dinner with your significant other twice for $40. Can you pack your lunch in advance and cook at home one night?
Then calculate your average spend per meal at home. Say you spent $80 on groceries and it fed you for the other 17 meals. Your per-meal cost is about $5.
So, you'll now spend that $5 per meal on groceries instead of each meal cost. Subtract the total the cost of the meals from home from cost of the meals you used to eat at restaurants. In our example, you're going to spend $20 replacing 4 meals (2 lunches and one dinner with your significant other). But you're going to save $60 because you're not eating those meals at restaurants. Your total savings will be $40.
Now multiply that times 4 weeks a month, or 52 weeks a year. Cooking at home really adds up! In our example, we'd save over $2,000 per year!
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Top tips to lower your Food Budget
One of the hardest things about maintaining a low food budget is staying motivated! It's hard to get started cooking at home, it's hard to stay consistent cooking at home, and it's hard to stay interested in cooking at home.
As with anything, the hardest part is getting started. When I started focusing on fixing my food budget, I was only cooking only one or two meals per week at home, and taking canned soup and pre-made salads for lunch. It was expensive and not very healthy. I decided to change, and here are my top tips to stick to your new cooking at home routine.
Use a pickup service!
Grocery shopping is a dread of a chore… unless you've discovered Walmart Grocery Pickup. I place my order for exactly what I need (no impulse shopping temptation!) and then pick up my order when I'm ready, and I don't even have to go into the store. Best of all, it's FREE! Click here to Give it a try and get $10 off your first order!
Keep it interesting with New Recipes
After a few months of cooking at home, you tend to get in a rut of the recipes you are cooking. The same 10 meals circulate every 2 weeks. BORING! I keep it interesting by finding new meals on Pinterest. Even better, I've signed up for The Dinner Daily which provides you five new recipes every week based on your preferences– and they search for coupons at your local store to get you the best deals! Sign up for The Dinner Daily here!
Get prepared Meals!
Sometimes it's hard to make yourself eat in, so make it easier on yourself. Pick up one or two easy pre-prepared meals in the grocery store. From a financial stand point, the $10 oven ready pizza that you can take to work as leftovers for 2 lunches is much better than a $15 dinner at a local restaurant (even an oven ready pizza isn't the cheapest meal you can make)! Allow yourself some easy nights, they will give you sanity and convenience!
Try a Healthy Meal Prep Service!
If you're trying to stay a little bit healthier, try a meal delivery service! I love SunBasket because they provide organic and sustainable ingredients delivered to your door– and they're always new different and interesting! Check out SunBasket and get new recipes weekly!
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