Want to know a dirty little secret about our spending?
We spend, on average, $644 per month on things that go in our mouths. Gasp! For just the two of us. Doesn’t that seem like a lot? That’s groceries. Starbucks. Trader Joe’s. Chipotle. About $10/day for each of us.
Now, the reason I share this is because I think this number is much too high for our budget. We tried a ton of different ways to bring the number down, all without success. We use Mint.com to track our finances. Mint is brilliant, and I absolutely love the way it brings our finances into focus. If you haven’t yet signed up, do so!
If you don’t have a mint account, and don’t track your spending, you honestly have no idea how much you spend on food. I know that for most households it’s a top-five expense. For us, it’s right behind rent.
Why our food budget is so high:
Neither one of us eats lunch at home. Most days, Sergio doesn’t eat dinner or breakfast at home either. He normally doesn’t have time to cook, but I do. But sometimes when you take an hour and a half bus ride home and it’s six thirty, the last thing you want is to spend another hour cooking. Excuses, I know!
Last week I heard about Emeals. This is how it works:
- You can choose which grocery store you shop at (but they don’t have Trader Joe’s!) and then you can select what food preferences you have, i.e., vegetarian, portion control, low carb, etc.
- After that, they generate a shopping list for you for your store, choosing the ingredients that are on sale in that store this week. The shopping list is broken out by sections of the store. And they give you seven recipes to make, one each night for dinner.
- The beauty of the system is that when it comes time to make dinner, you know exactly what you need to do, and you know you have all the ingredients.
How it’s working for us:
So far this week, we’ve had turkey gorgonzola burgers, shrimp scampi, sausage with ziti, and chinese chicken salad. Sergio’s liked all of them, I liked all of them but not the turkey burgers, which were weird.
Next week we’re trying the vegetarian option. They don’t have that option for couples, only for families, so I’m thinking we might have a lot of leftovers. I’m hoping they increase their selections soon. My ideal option would be vegetarian for two at Trader Joe’s .
So far, I’m really enjoying the program. But there are three things I want to achieve with this. One, I want to spend less on food. Two, I want to eat healthier. Three, I want to eat at home more often.
I’m going to check back in in about a month to see if I’m achieving those goals. Eating at home more, definitely. Spending less, probably. But I”m not sure about eating healthier, especially with the amount of cheese I had to buy this week!
One thing that really excited me happened on Sunday. I called Surge at work and told him I’d be cooking the ziti with sausage, since I had the day off and he didn’t. He said that yeah, he knew, and he was really looking forward to it. Awesome!
Have you tried E-meals or a similar service? How do you reconcile cooking or eating out with your finances?
I’d love to hear your ideas & advice.