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The Cost of Eating Reality Check :-{ OR ;-]

Friday, October 05, 2012

I posted a response very similar to a SparkCafe question. A SparkMember was asking how to eat healthy on a small budget. She thinks eating healthy will cost her more and push outside of her budget.

When I go on a diet I find my budget for eating decreases substantially on a monthly basis. I can eat well on simplistic staple foods. When I am not on a diet I tend to shop for items that are not healthy and costly. (Lots of Junk-Food...you know what I mean) Coupled with the fact I am eating a lot of fast foods. I find I can buy a lot of good nutritious food that will last 2 or 3 meals for the cost of one Carl's Jr. $6.00 burger combo meal (combo meal $8.00) or a couple of Costco Pizza's @ $20. eating at a "local" restaurant with my wife the minimum bill with tip is close to $17-$20. A higher end restaurant like Stanford's is closer to $40+ and Claim Jumper is $75.

My typical week for eating:

Restaurants 2 times/week 2 people $30
Fast foods 7 Times/week $56
Starbucks 1Times/week $2 (Black coffee)
Costco Pizza 2 whole pizzas $20
Deli Market $16

It is almost frightening when I calculate this on my calculator. $537/month!! That is over $6400/year! And this is a semi-conservative estimate since some weeks are higher. Just think about the cost of gas going to get the food, the cases of Pepsi's, and the cost shoots even higher!

If a person really wants to give themselves a reality-check, just keep track of what you spend on fast foods and other pre-prepared dinners from the frozen food section in the market. If you work for a living, take a hard look at how many times you go out to eat instead of brown-bagging it.

When I go on a diet I estimate I save over $350+/month with food alone. If I calculate my wife expenses for eating out/Starbucks (designer coffees) the number is more staggering, where our combined total shoots up over $650. Our food bill, for a family of 3, when eating at home, with nutritious foods, prepared meals and brown-bagging it is around $250/month. Between fast foods and home food bill our food budget is around $900/month. I estimate when going on a diet and substantially cutting down on fast-foods and junk-foods I will save $550/month or a total of $6600. Saving this amount of money will buy several years membership at a good gym, make payments on a good car or even buy a good used car.

Tracking your expenses is like tracking nutrition and fitness on a daily basis. It gives you a snapshot of how you spend your money, and in this case food.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
  • XME501
    One of the things we have discovered is that we are so much more satisfied when we eat healthy! How often after a meal of hamburgers and fries from Dairy Queen do we want something else?? A healthy meal of fish and rice is so much more satisfying!!

    Thanks for the reminder. Great blog!
    2666 days ago
    I too was amazed when I started really shopping the perimeter of the grocery store for whole foods and stayed away from the processed stuff that my grocery bill did not go up. My regular eating habits used to be eating out for lunch and many times for dinner as well. Now I make more at dinner and have healthy leftovers for lunch most days. I look at the times that I go to restaurants as treats and since I am eating in a healthy manner all the other time if I want a burger and fries I have it and don't feel guilty. I also find now that my eating habits have changed that I am more apt to WANT the foods that are better for me when I go out to eat.
    2684 days ago
    Absolutely right. Plus, when tracking the nutrition a person realizes that eating at home is much, much better. Between the two points (money and nutrition) a person who is able to make the choice would be picking the eating at home.
    2696 days ago
    I know many people who eat out much more often than I. For working people this is only 1 meal a day for lunch and a couple of restaurants. and a Pozza night once a week.
    2696 days ago
    That is quite staggering! and for only 3 of you! That's why, with the size of our family,we rarely go out. It costs us $50-60 just to walk into McD's or Burger King! This surely will be an eye opener for those looking for excuses to NOT eat right!
    2697 days ago
  • DEBANNE1124
    Wow! That's a lotta junk food you eat.
    Don't you eat at home anymore? :-)
    2697 days ago
    Great blog Chuck! I might spend a bit more buying fresh fruits and veggies but I rarely fast food or buy designer coffee or eat out at resturants. I do buy expensive beans (around $12. a pound) that last me several weeks. I also eat very little meat but when I do it's locally raised w/ no harmones. I feel it's important for me to eat quality, healthfull foods. I should track for a month to see what I really spend.
    2697 days ago
    Absolutely!!! Buying fresh or frozen fruits and veggies will save you money, stock up the fridge with salad makings, the weight comes off and the food bill goes down.
    2697 days ago
  • no profile photo CD10691323
    I totally agree, your dollar amount should reduce. You are not eating out as much, not going to get those high calorie coffees etc. You can also eat relative inexpensively. Frozen veggies are really cheap. Everything in moderation too.
    2697 days ago
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