Ok, I’ll admit it — I have a weakness for food. Contrary to my relatively thrifty nature, I tend to spend between $500 and $600 on the stuff every month. This is a crazy amount for a single guy without a family to feed. When I read on other blogs what others in the financial indepence movement are spending on food per month, I quickly realized that I needed to get this monthly expense under control. Fast. But where to start?
Part of my problem is that I’m lazy and prefer going out to restaurants than staying at home to make my own food. It doesn’t help that I’m a horrible cook and am a bit of a foodie (living in Montréal for 5+ years will do that to you). Why eat boring oatmeal for breakfast when you can have delicious panko covered french toast topped with real maple syrup and fresh gooseberries instead? On top of that, going to the restaurant means someone else has the pleasure of washing your dishes.
On the flip side, my decision to become a vegetarian in early 2014 has cut back my restaurant options considerably. Not surprisingly, this has helped me save quite a bit of money. Those restaurants that have vegetarian dishes usually only offer the basics (pastas, soups, salads, etc), which granted are usually much cheaper than their omnivorous counterparts — another bonus! Speciality vegetarian/vegan restaurants, on the other hand, are usually crazy expensive. What, you want $25 for your baby spinach salad covered with nuts and olive oil!?? No thanks…
To get myself out of this out-of-control food spending cycle, I recently devised a simple plan: each Sunday I will spend an hour or two making a week’s worth of food, separated into daily portions, and store it in my fridge for future consumption. Since I’m no Gordon Ramsey or Julia Child, I also decided to focus on meals that required little to no prep work. Here’s the menu I’ve created:
- 1 1/2 cups of minute oatmeal mixed with berries (usually blueberries or raspberries)
- 1/2 cup cottage cheese
- 1 banana
- 1 reusable drinking container of Almond Milk (usually vanilla or coconut flavoured)
- 2-3 eggs
- 1/2 cup of cottage cheese
- 1 fruit
- 2 slices of whole wheat toast
- 1 glass of orange juice
- 1 bagel sandwich with tomatoes, brie cheese (guilty pleasure), spinach leaves and various condiments
- 1 bowl of soup (lentil soup, cream of asparagus, etc)
- 1 cup of vanilla flavoured greek yogourt mixed with berries
- 1/4 cup of mixed nuts
- 1 can of V8 vegetable/tomato juice
(I often skip this meal)
- 1-3 veggie dogs/burgers
- or 1-2 whole wheat sandwiches (usually tomato/cucumber with mayo)
- or 1 bowl of stir fry (if I’m feeling really adventurous)
- 1 fruit (usually a pear or an apple)
- 2-3 pre-cut cheddar cheese slices
- homemade chocolate chip cookies (in embarrassing quantities)
I’ve been following this menu for a few weeks now, and my weekly groceries bill has been costing me around $80 (which includes some non food stuffs as well). Multiply this amount by four weeks, and I get a monthly food bill of 320$, which is better than before, but still relatively high. In the future I could cut out things like the Brie cheese and the mixed nuts, since these tend to be fairly expensive. I could probably afford to eat less dairy and eat more veggies as well.
On the restaurant side of things, I’m happy to report that I’ve been going out much less. Whereas before I was easily spending around $15/day on lunch while at work, I’m spending around the same amount, but every week. Idealy I’d like to reduce my restaurant spending to as little as $20-30/month — a figure which actually kind of scares me!
I’ll write more in a couple months to report a little more on how I’m doing.
In the meantime, thanks for reading,