Jake, It’s Time To Fix Your Food Budget (With Emeals)

Jake, It’s Time To Fix Your Food Budget (With Emeals)

Today’s post is a conversation between me and the little voice inside my head. Feel free to listen in.


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: Dude

Me:   😐

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.

Voice: Yup.

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?

Voice: Nope.

Me: Hey voice, you think you could help me stop talking to myself so much in 2015?

Voice: Nope.

Me: Cool.

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 🙂


  1. The other big bonus here is that if organic healthy meals are important to you, you probably aren’t getting that eating out. Especially not if you are spending only $30 for 4 people to eat out.

    One thing that helped us in sticking to a food budget while exhausted from a new parenthood and work committments was stocking up on frozen pizza. That way we had a cheap ($3 apiece at Costco!) option for those nights when we were both so overwhelmed and tired that cooking wasn’t going to happen. This is not the healthiest option, but probably not any worse than going out for fast food, and definitely cheaper. Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the food budget!

  2. Thanks for the suggestion on eMeals. Our dining out budget has been averaging $400/mo while here in NYC. That needs to stop.

    • NYC, oh man, ours would be right there as well. I can’t imagine the temptation with all the good food around. Yeah, eMeals is feelin’ good this week, ready to rock!!!

  3. Haha really got a kick out of this post. My wife and I haven’t spent much eating out this year only because the town we are living in doesn’t have a nice place to go. All changing next week with a move cross-country though so I might need to keep this category in check =)
    Rethink Retired recently posted..Incentive Distribution RightsMy Profile

    • Good luck in the new place. Yeah, eating out is a blast, but should stay in a set budget, otherwise it can creep in and snatch those hard-earned dollars in a hurry!

  4. Its funny but very realistic. I am also budgeting my eating habits as I don’t want to keep my pocket with a dent.
    Amos recently posted..Why You Need to Start Saving for Retirement NowMy Profile

  5. I have made similar mistake in the past. Thanks for sharing you experience. Makes me sit down with a pen and paper.
    Simon recently posted..The money zen: Budgeting and financial goals for a stable 2015My Profile

  6. I’m going to look into this. I need to get better with my food spending too. I usually do pretty good for a while and then I’ll fall of the wagon and have to get back on track after eating out for a few meals in a row. Ugh!
    Kayla @ Everything Finance recently posted..5 Free Apps to Help You Achieve Your Weight Loss GoalsMy Profile

    • Yeah, eMeals not only gets you thinking about food differently by meal planning for you, but helps build a good habit and routine. We’re at the point where we’re ALWAYS assuming we’re eating at home, and eating out is something we’d have to go out of our way to do, so it’s helping build a good habit. Feeling good 2 weeks in now 🙂

  7. I wish emails did the cooking too!
    We spent a lot eating out last year too BUT it comes out of our grocery budget. So when we eat out, we have to spend less at the store. We like punishing ourselves.
    Holly@ClubThrifty recently posted..Are You Ready to Work Until You’re 80?My Profile

  8. I like the idea of Emeals. My wife and I are always saying that we should create a meal plan. We don’t eat out often but we do order a pizza once in a while whenever we don’t know what to cook (or don’t really have stuff in the house). Making a meal plan would definitely save us on those pizza orders and probably some cash on groceries too since we’d be better prepared.
    Thomas recently posted..How To Survive On Minimum Wage – 37 Strategies To Make Ends MeetMy Profile

    • Give it a shot! Free for 2 weeks, and you can see if you like it 🙂 We’ve enjoyed it this month immensely, and we haven’t eaten out once! Which is awesome considering our track record last year….

  9. I have to do this too. I kinda suck at budgeting.
    Christopher James recently posted..free betting picksMy Profile

  10. Meal plans can be great for a busy family, especially if they meet your budget.
    I just find the delivery is difficult!!
    Mr Ikonz @ ProjectIkonz.com recently posted..Money making ideas – $1,000 in 10 minMy Profile

  11. Thanks for suggesting on eMeals.I am going to look int this.I need to check how I spend.
    Amos recently posted..Five Most Common Workplace Injuries to AvoidMy Profile

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