Last year, I set a goal to see if we could spend an entire month eating at home. No takeout food, no eating out, and no fast food. It took some planning and preparation, but I accomplished the goal, and continued past that month, where we went about 75 days without buying any takeout or fast food. I did this for several reasons, the most important one being to eat healthier. One of the bonuses was saving money. Even my teenage son liked the idea and still says he prefers to eat meals at home.
I want to start this again, but this time, my goal is to see if we can cook and eat at home for $50 a week. With a bit of organization and planning, I think I can whittle the grocery bill down to this amount. I have always given myself a mental free pass if I have a meeting that involves a meal or I have some other plans or scheduled event that involves eating out. The goal was not to deny myself anything, but to make more of an effort to think about the money I spend and the quality of the food we eat, and to reduce stress (What’s for dinner? I’m starving, when are we eating?)
I see many helpful articles on eating healthier and cheaper, with some of them actually documenting the costs of each meal. One thing I’ve noticed is that a lot of recipes assume that you have specific things already, so it is not figured into the cost. If a recipe calls for a cup of flour and I happen to have some in my pantry, then that recipe costs me nothing extra to add the flour. However, if I’m out of flour and I have to buy a new bag of flour for $5, then the cost of that meal just increased. It breaks down to the same amount spent, but that makes a difference when you have a specific grocery budget and don’t want to immediately spend that extra $5 on flour. My goal is to be able to plan my menu so that I don’t have to rely on having things around, but to buy everything I need for the week on Sunday, and only return to the grocery store for milk, if necessary, and eventually do all that for around $50.
So basically, my goals to achieve this are:
- Create a weekly grocery list and menu;
- Cook two meals on the weekend to freeze to lessen the urge to get takeout or fast food when stressed;
- Bake at least once a week (even if it’s the breadmaker);
- Maintain the herb garden.
- Track the costs to see how close I can eventually get to $50.
- Consistently document the results.