Our food spending this year was astronomical.
That is, in some ways, surprising.
I eat a lot less than before. No stress eating either. You’d think that’d reduce food costs somewhat but it really didn’t matter: PiC more than makes up for my here again, gone again appetite. While I skip meals when flying solo, being with him means at least one meal will happen a day. And if I’m Chef, even if I’m not hungry, I’m still compelled to make a real meal. Maybe to avoid the judgment when it’s looking like the five KitKats and a mini Snickers bar style dinner but also because cooking’s therapeutic. Besides, for someone that loves every single thing I try my hand at, even the things I think suck? Who would mind?
Anyway, the point is: this year’s food budget? Mostly for two people? Was, in a word: dammmnnn.
We spent nearly the exact same amount on Groceries as on Eating Out. Groceries included frozen meals, convenience foods, snack foods, fresh food, canned food.
With so many 12-14 hour days, there was just no time or energy to do fancy or creative meals on the weekdays. Instead, we’d make up big meals on weekends, freeze portions for later, experimented with new “quick” recipes. Not all of the experiments were successful, not in my opinion, but I evidently married a man who’d eat anything I make. Super helpful when you have a complex about food waste!
When I cook, I do a fair amount from scratch. Lots revolves around chicken, the affordable protein we love. I make stew, pot pies, roast our own chickens, and once every several months, put up chicken broth. We try different grains in bulk, and avoid red meat*. All of this nets pretty minor savings, but I enjoy the cooking and we both like simple healthy meals at home. Bonus: It keeps my roasting skills polished. No horrific dried out turkey for Thanksgiving for us, my favorite meal of the year. Can you imagine ruining 20 lbs of turkey?
*I love steak but have an irrational fear of ruining it so I refuse to cook it. PiC does not love it like I do.
We had convenience and frozen foods as patches for no-cooking days, and traveling weekends when no cooking would happen. Pretty sure we also paid for groceries for other people on occasion. That’d be included in here. Couponing is an as-and-when activity instead of a weekly past-time.
Eating Out included: fine dining, treating friends to meals or snacks or anything food, special occasion meals, casual dining, fast food, drinks.
For day to day life, where we used to have a cap on the number of times we’d eat out or order in, this year has been rough enough that I finally just stopped fussing about sticking to an artificial number. Yes, it’s more expensive, yes, it’s not always the healthy choice and no, I’m not going to sweat it. Bottom line, we needed to eat, our working weekdays were far too long some days to do anything but come home and forage, and we could afford it.
Food, all kinds of it, both “high-end” and the remarkably pedestrian stuff we enjoy, was a spending priority for us, a clear trade of money for time or mental health, clocking in at about $6500.
It’ll be interesting to see this coming year’s spending. I have more opportunity to make time to cook on weeknights now, and if we eat out, it’s on weekends instead. Will it balance out or stay the same?