Monday, September 22, 2008

Food Cost Savings #1 - Limit the number of trips & Pack lunch

When we first got married early this year, the food cost for the first two months came out close to $450 a month. After taking a close look into our grocery shopping habits, cooking habits, and eating habits, we realized how wasteful we had been!

Going out to stores three or four times a week, cooking too much or too little, letting food go bad and eventually into the garbage, not knowing what's in the freezer, buying lunch everyday... So we set out to strip ourselves of bad habits and replace them with new, good habits.

I. Set A Budget
First of all, we set our monthly food budget at $200-$250, which means, each day, we have $6.60-$8.30 to spend for food for both of us. Once we set our food budget, we logged in all spendings on food on our paper spending log and kept track of it using spreadsheet. In this way, at a specific time of a month, we know how much we have left to be spent for food for the month and can stay within the budget at the next grocery shopping. Since we started implementing this budget in June, our food cost has stayed consistently at around average $250 a month, and according to my husband, we are still eating like a royal family!

II. Limit Trips To Grocery Stores
One of the very first habits we changed was limiting grocery shopping to three or four times a month. As we used to run out to stores whenever we need a little thing here and there, this was not an easy change to tackle. We now go to CostCo every two weeks for daily staples such as milk, bread, egg, pasta, and meat. We also go to smaller local stores once or twice a month for fresh vegetables and fruits. This means we have to plan for the next two weeks' meals beforehand, and it turned out this saves us from a lot of headache of daily meal planning and those hectic last minute trips to stores.

III. Pack Lunch
Another major step we took was packing lunch. We have been packing our lunch & snack & drink everyday since June, and this means we are saving at least $10 each day, which is more than $2500 a year! What are we packing for lunch? Pasta with sausage or meatballs, fried rice, and stirfry dishes are our favorite lunch menu. For snacks, we throw in PBJ, banana, apple, homemade cookies, or nuts.