This year, hubby and I decided to try “No Spend November,” primarily to get our food costs under control. As I mentioned in an earlier post, the process of getting dinner on the table is an integral part of life, so it makes sense to approach it with a “minimalist” way of thinking. We are the worst when it comes to nickel, diming, and dollaring our food budget. We eat out often, instead of cooking; frequently for both lunch and dinner. Trips to the coffee shop at work, a stop by the On Cue for a fountain drink and a bag of chips, etc, etc. In the back of my mind, I knew we were spending quite a bit on this. I had no idea just how much, because we had never tracked it.
A little planning goes a long way
Thus, we resolved to eat out only twice during November, as a date, and for all other food requirements, we would plan ahead and prepare our own meals. To make planning easier, I bought a year’s membership (on sale) for an online program called Plan to Eat . Overall, I think we did remarkably well with sticking to the “no spend” part of this. We’ve done great with planning for breakfast and dinner by using make ahead meals and crock pot dinners. However, there’s some room for improvement on lunches and snacks.
On tracking food costs
I sat down yesterday, and added up all our food costs for both October and November. This included actual grocery shopping, all restaurant purchases, and all purchases made at the coffee shop at work, On Cue, 7-11, etc. We were both appalled at the October tally, I’m honestly too embarrassed to post it. Only 40% of our food expense was from actually buying groceries. The rest was eating out and stops at convenience stores. Our November tally was so much better, with less than $100 spent outside of grocery stores. The rest was two dinners and a lunch at restaurants. Our only cheat was the lunch out on one of the days we were running errands. I did get to go to Starbucks a few times because I won a gift card at work, which made me happy.
To save even more on our food costs in December, I plan to bring lunch and snacks to work with me, instead of eating in the cafeteria. I’m fairly certain that our grocery budget will drop as well with a full month of meal planning, and my recent sign-up on the Ibotta app. I’m also going to do some comparison shopping and see if the Dollar Store really is less than Walmart on paper products and sundries. It may be a trade off; I’m willing to spend just a little more for the convenience of Walmart’s grocery pick up service. If it’s a substantial difference, then I’ll make the extra trip to the dollar store, and buy in bulk.
The Quest Continues
For my next money-finding adventure, I’m look at the feasibility of cutting the cord and getting rid of cable. The goal is to still have the programming we like to watch, a reasonably easy way to watch it, and a lower TV bill. We’ll see if that’s really possible.