Oh my goodness. I about had a heart attack as I looked at the categorical spending of our May monthly expenses. Mint told me we had spent $1,095 on “food and dining” last month. Are you fricken kidding me? Four figures worth of food went in to our body? I punched a baby unicorn in the face I was so angry.
But then, on closer inspection, I noticed Mint is just a crappy free budgeting tool that was duplicating a ton of my BoA credit card charges. After spending 15 minutes going through and reviewing every transaction (and marking the duplicates) we managed to get a better understanding of the damage…
Total spent on food last month: $795.
Holy Frijoles. That just isn’t going to cut it in the Ninja household. That is entirely too much money going to one category. In San Diego, we budgeted around $400ish a month on food and seemed to do just fine, but ever since we made the move to the Pacific Northwest, we’ve struggled to stay under $500. What gives?
As you can see, we spend a TON at the grocery store. Almost $500 last month alone. There is really only one explanation for this. We buy a lot of freakin’ groceries. These high school kids are going to bleed us dry. We’ve been entertaining like crazy having the high school kids over for game nights and bible studies, as well as hosting a few other Youth Group leaders for business-y type dinners. That crap adds up quick and we spent way too much playing host.
All the other food categories were relatively manageable. I should note that “fast food” does not mean McDonalds and Burger King, but places like Subway, Frozen Yogurt, and Teriyaki. Contrary to what you might think, I’m not pounding 43 McChickens each month.
We did great on restaurant spending, considering Girl Ninja went to a $96 bachelorette party dinner one night. Ignore that one freak of nature expense, and our total restaurant tab was only about $135, which is well below average for us.
Long story short. I want to get our grocery budget WAAAAAAAY down this month. We decided we are going to try to incorporate, at minimum, one “cheap” meal per week in our meal schedule. Last Friday that meant breakfast for dinner. I made us scrambled eggs and she made us waffles from scratch. This week we are having pasta with no meat in it (typically we put like chicken sausage in it). Next week is to be determined.
I would love you all forever if you would drop us some of your FAVORITE CHEAP MEALS that don’t suck but DO use relatively common ingredients (don’t want to have to spend $10 on some random spice I wont use for any other meal).
How do you keep your food budget low, when costs start creeping up?
Oh and I know Top Ramen and Macaroni and Cheese are cheap, but we aren’t really interested in eating cardboard, so hook us up with something with at least a hint of nutritional value.