Friday, October 05, 2012
I posted a response very similar to a SparkCafe question. A SparkMember was asking how to eat healthy on a small budget. She thinks eating healthy will cost her more and push outside of her budget.
When I go on a diet I find my budget for eating decreases substantially on a monthly basis. I can eat well on simplistic staple foods. When I am not on a diet I tend to shop for items that are not healthy and costly. (Lots of Junk-Food...you know what I mean) Coupled with the fact I am eating a lot of fast foods. I find I can buy a lot of good nutritious food that will last 2 or 3 meals for the cost of one Carl's Jr. $6.00 burger combo meal (combo meal $8.00) or a couple of Costco Pizza's @ $20. eating at a "local" restaurant with my wife the minimum bill with tip is close to $17-$20. A higher end restaurant like Stanford's is closer to $40+ and Claim Jumper is $75.
My typical week for eating:
Restaurants 2 times/week 2 people $30
Fast foods 7 Times/week $56
Starbucks 1Times/week $2 (Black coffee)
Costco Pizza 2 whole pizzas $20
Deli Market $16
It is almost frightening when I calculate this on my calculator. $537/month!! That is over $6400/year! And this is a semi-conservative estimate since some weeks are higher. Just think about the cost of gas going to get the food, the cases of Pepsi's, and the cost shoots even higher!
If a person really wants to give themselves a reality-check, just keep track of what you spend on fast foods and other pre-prepared dinners from the frozen food section in the market. If you work for a living, take a hard look at how many times you go out to eat instead of brown-bagging it.
When I go on a diet I estimate I save over $350+/month with food alone. If I calculate my wife expenses for eating out/Starbucks (designer coffees) the number is more staggering, where our combined total shoots up over $650. Our food bill, for a family of 3, when eating at home, with nutritious foods, prepared meals and brown-bagging it is around $250/month. Between fast foods and home food bill our food budget is around $900/month. I estimate when going on a diet and substantially cutting down on fast-foods and junk-foods I will save $550/month or a total of $6600. Saving this amount of money will buy several years membership at a good gym, make payments on a good car or even buy a good used car.
Tracking your expenses is like tracking nutrition and fitness on a daily basis. It gives you a snapshot of how you spend your money, and in this case food.