I’ve been putting off this post for a while. It’s embarrassing to have to confront my food issues, and this is the area where I have the least desire to change my habits because, let’s face it, food is tasty. But here we go…
I spend way too much money on food – especially eating out. After completing my mini food challenge last week, I realized just how much of a problem it’s become. Thanks to my dutiful categorizing of purchases on Mint, I have this unfortunate graph to show me my faults in glorious, living color.
As you can see, groceries make up a woeful 40% of my food purchases. Restaurants + fast food makes up a whopping 50% on their own. This is upsetting and not good for my financial goals. One of the other things I’m noting is that 7% of my food budget goes to coffee that I can make at home. I drink my coffee black so this 7% is essentially all lattes, a.k.a. a huge waste of money and secret sugar-bomb for my diet. The worst figure though? I’ve spent $703 on just Chipotle in 2 years.
So, what am I going to do to slay the food demons? I’ve got a 5-step plan to help me out.
- Weekly meal prep/batch cooking on Sundays – This one is probably how everyone else makes it through the week food-wise, but hey, I’m new to restricting my food purchases. I plan on prepping all of my breakfasts, lunches, and half my dinners on Sundays. I’ll cook the other 3 dinners half-way through to mix things up.
- Bring lunch to work 4 times a week – I have a pretty stressful job, and most days, all I want to do when I get out of court is pick up something tasty from a food cart or local deli. Because of this, and my current habit of buying all of my lunches, I’m giving myself one day a week to buy myself lunch. The bought lunch must be under $10 total, otherwise I’m brown-baggin’ it.
- Eat dinner out only once a week – This goes with the lunches. I have a serious eating-out habit to break so I’m giving myself a little leeway. Plus, I’ve got a long-distance boyfriend so cooking all our meals together on visits is sometimes impossible. My weekly dinner out must be under $20 if it’s just me, or under $40 if it’s the two of us. We do get an exception for date-nights, since we don’t do those too often, and also any meals paid for by other people don’t count (lucky me!).
- Limit snack/fancy coffee purchases to 1 treat per week or less – Honestly, there’s no reason I should be spending any money on fancy coffees. I drink my coffee black, lattes are a waste of calories, and I don’t actually like most of the pastries at Starbucks. Plus, I have a serious sugar addiction I am trying to curb, so it’d be nice if I could cut out those afternoon cookies. I get one treat per week and that’s it. I’m including alcoholic beverages in this category too. I don’t buy drinks often (at bars – I’m more of an at-home, wine drinker), so I’ll include any happy hour drinks as my treat.
- Start a friendly home-chef ‘competition’ with the boyfriend – Since we both need to work on cooking more often (and we tend to eat out a TON when we’re together), I’m thinking we can each cook a meal each weekend, that way it doesn’t feel like we’re always cooking – and we can tease each other about who is a better chef. We’ll make a grocery list together for both meals & go buy them together too.
I’m starting this plan today (although I’m going to restart Sunday so that my meal prepping works out). Here goes nothing!