Today’s post is a conversation between me and the little voice inside my head. Feel free to listen in.
Voice: Jake…..JAKE….JAKE JAKE JAKE JAKE JAKE JAKE
Me: Ok! What?
Voice: Haha, just playin’.
Me: Uh…ok, weird.
Voice: Well, now that I have your attention, what the junk are you going to do about your food budget this year?
Me: Whaddya mean?
Me: Ok, seriously annoying..
Voice: Well, you spent like $300 a month eating out last year. The heck is that all about?
Me: Oh yeah, that….well, my new job threw me all off….and I got hungry at weird times….and we don’t get much sleep with young kiddos sooo….
Voice: Huh? Not sure I heard any legitimate reasons there, just excuses. So really, what are you going to do about it? Most people could easily spend less than $100 a month eating out (including date nights). What in the world, man?
Me: Ugh. You’re right. Honestly, last year I just got careless. My wife would even try to convince me to stop doing it, but I built a habit of NOT taking lunch to work (because I had free lunch for 7 years at my old job), eating out on Fridays and Saturdays, and eating out while traveling a lot. It didn’t seem like much, but I guess it really just adds up, huh?
Voice: Yeah dude. $30 a meal on Fridays and Saturdays = at least $240 a month. That’s ridiculousness. It compounds when you’ve got kids to feed, so you can’t just grab a small portion to share with your wife. You’ve got some voracious eaters, and eating out is now 2x as much. Plus, your wife is a ridiculously awesome cook who is all about feeding the family healthy, budget-conscious meals. YOU KNOW THIS, MAANNNNNN!
Me: Yeah, man. I really screwed up, huh? I mean, I took the LAZY ROAD, instead of putting on my big boy pants and letting my wife rock the food budget like she always does. My bad. And I’m always preaching the value of rocking a sweet meal plan, but in practice I let life take over instead of taking charge.
Voice: Yup, you really blew this one.
Me: Yeah…I know. I just said that.
Me: So, voice of reason, or whatever you are, what should I do?
Voice: How about you take your own advice.
Me: Wait, wait, the voice inside my head is telling me to listen to myself?
Voice: Weird, huh? It’s like inception, except not. Anyways, yes, you need to take your budgeting advice. You have helped people cut their food budget IN HALF by having them start MEAL PLANNING with eMeals. You know that a family of four can live on $500-$700 per month food budget, even buying almost all organic. You have also never spent so much money on eating out, so just chalk up 2014 as a weird anomaly, and don’t go back there. You just wrote about how to make a friggin’ goal, remember? So, here you go:
Goal: You are going to save money on your food budget this year by sticking to your meal plan 7 DAYS A WEEK, and reserving eating out for twice a month (no more than $80 total). You will bring lunch to work 5 DAYS A WEEK, and reserve eating out for twice a month (No more than $25 total)
Me: Wow, that’s a flippin’ sweet goal! I can make that happen. Thanks! You must read a lot of www.iheartbudgets.net, huh?
Me: Hey voice, you think you could help me stop talking to myself so much in 2015?
I Sucked Last Year, Don’t Be Me
Here’s the deal. I know what it takes to rock a sweet budget. We’ve been doing it for a while now. We’ve survived on $14 an hour, gotten out of $40,000+ in debt (less than $8,000 to go!), bought a house, and dropped down to 1 income….not to mentioned adding 2 more humans to the mix. And we’ve been able to save money and build our net worth along the way. We have lived on $240 a month for the food budget, with $60 for date nights. Our food budget has increased with the additions to our family, and switching to a much more healthy/organic meal plan. But no way in heck do we EVER need to drop $300 on eating out!
Last year, I sucked. And you know what, I’m ok with that, because I can clearly see that I needed to make a change (and finally listen to my wife!). I could wallow in shame that I blew our food budget as a financial coach and blogger, but instead I wanted to be honest and put it out there so that others who have blown their budget don’t have to act like they have it all together, and can regroup and get on track STARTING NOW! Remember, it’s OK TO FAIL.
Meal Plan Or Bust
Most everyone I have ever coached or chatted with about finances has struggled with getting their food budget in check. It’s the most volatile spot in the budget, and with 90 meals a month to manage, can feel overwhelming. I always recommend getting on a plan for those meals, as putting together a list of meals and ingredients needed ahead of time can cut down the cost SIGNIFICANTLY.
Since most don’t have the time to sit down for a few hours to bust out a lengthy meal plan, I route people to eMeals, as they are basically your in-house meal concierge and personal shopper. They have TONS of meal plan options to choose from, build healthy, affordable meal options, and do all the hard work for you (as in, build the meal plan, cooking instructions and even the SHOPPING LIST)!
But I just found out they built a SUPER BUDGET FRIENDLY PLAN to get the cost of the family meal plan down to $85 per week! The family plan covers 7 dinner meals for 3-6 people, which is a TON of food. That’s about $350 per month! Add in breakfast, lunches and snacks, and your family of 3-6 could easily cut your grocery bill down to $450-$600 per month!
Listen, if you are overwhelmed with how big your food budget is getting, I’d say give meal planning a shot. Whether you try eMeals, or build your own, think of it as giving yourself an extra $100 an hour to make this happen. A few hours spent can save $200 – $300 a month!
Sweet Emeals Offer!
And if you want to go the eMeals route, they are currently offering a 14 Day Free Trial. They’ll send you two full meal plans to get you started, which includes 7 meals, a full shopping list and cooking instructions. If you hate it, you can cancel. If you love it, it’s only $5 a month for the year.
Come join me (and the voice inside my head!). Let’s take the “save money” resolution, turn it into a goal, and kick our ridiculous food budget to the curb!
Disclosure: I do receive a commission if you sign up for eMeals through my links. No obligation whatsoever, I just like to partner with these guys because I think they have a SUPER awesome solution for the headache of meal planning most everyone faces. If you give it a shot, I would really like to know how it’s working for you 🙂