Archives For Food

By Eric on October 7, 2014 17

In preparation for the big job transition, we decided to trim our budget from some of the “luxuries” that we had become accustomed to over the years with a steady paycheck.

It’s amazing how “must-haves” in the budget can melt away when faced with a new goal and new circumstances.

Let me begin with telling you that our food budget is almost sacred territory. It’s fluctuated over the years, but it’s the first category to get an increase when we’ve gotten raises or cut back in other areas.

There are a few reasons for this…

  1. We are trying to eat healthier, which usually means a bigger grocery bill. (Organic fruits and veggies can be nearly twice the price of regular)
  2. We added a toddler to our dinner table and when the expense for formula went away, that money was moved to the food category.
  3. We like to eat, and we like to eat out when we can.

How Our Food Budget Works

Before I tell you about our food budget, let’s talk about the rest of our budget. I’m not going to get into all the numbers, but just know that before the month starts we set our budget based on our monthly bills, non-monthly bills, and savings categories. These fluctuate a little bit from month to month based on what we have going on in the month ahead, but stay fairly consistent.

If you want to start your own budget, pick up a copy of my free budget spreadsheet.

Our food budget

  • We withdraw cash from the bank on the first of the month and the 15th. We keep our food budget in $20 increments so it’s easy to pull it out from the ATM. (Our bank is right on the way to Kelsey’s work, so she does this most of the time, and then Rooney likes to say… “bye bye bank!”)
  • The cash is then split into two envelopes. Half for the first eight days, and half for the second seven days which covers us for the first half of the month. (We split the money into weeks so that we can better keep track of how we are doing throughout the week. When the money is getting low, we eat leftovers and scrounge around the house for things to eat to make the cash last until the next week.)
  • Groceries and eating out is all kept in the same pile of cash. This works for us, because we have overcome impulse spending at the grocery store (for the most part), and keep track of what we need, know how much it is going to cost, and then eat out if there is money left over. (Bottom line, we make the cash we have work. There have been several months that we have run out of cash. We don’t go hungry, and have survived every single time)

I should also say that we do have a separate category for organic grass fed beef that we order from a farm. We love Wallace Farms and fund a separate category for buying ground beef, burgers, steaks, and Nick-sticks throughout the year. We order/pay online and pick up at a church near our house.

Chopping the Food Budget

After being set in our ways with the same $600 food budget for the past year or so, Kelsey and I were both concerned with how we would handle cutting back on our food budget.

In September we cut our budget back from $600 to $500. A 17% cut… and I’m happy to report that we had just enough money in the food envelope to order Applebee’s curbside to go on the last day of the month, which also happens to be Kelsey’s birthday. Whew!

I honestly thought we would be panicking the last few weeks of the month, but again, because we separate our money out on a weekly basis, it’s easier to stay disciplined with our food budget throughout the month. Of course that lesson was learned after blowing through all our cash a few times and really having to scrimp for food in the cupboards a few times.

Sometimes we solidify numbers in our head and convince ourselves that there is no way we could ever live on less, spend less, or save more. It’s been a long time since we’ve had to squeeze our budget like the last few months, and it makes me wonder what more we could have done over the years if we hadn’t been so comfortable…

When was the last time you tried to trim something from your budget?
Was it harder or easier than expected?

By Kelsey on March 28, 2014 5

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Exploring a new city is so much fun! Eric and I loved our weekend stay in Omaha a couple weeks ago for the FamilyLife Weekend to Remember conference (read Eric’s recap here). We had never been to Omaha besides flying out of there a couple times. When we visit a new city, we love to tentatively plan our meals before we go, and this time got a lot of great recommendations on our Facebook page, so thanks!

So here we go…the best food in Omaha according to two people who have only been there once for a very short weekend!

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By Kelsey on January 31, 2014 24

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I bought my first jar of coconut oil a couple months ago and now I’m obsessed. I really think it is a miracle product. I’ve already given eight jars away as gifts, I love it so much. There are so many uses and it’s so good for you!

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By Kelsey on October 2, 2013 13

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September was an experiment in eating out a little less than we did in August. This doesn’t include our trip to Minneapolis or meals out when someone else paid. Let’s see how we did!

  • Sept. 2: Hy-Vee Chinese Express – $14.00 (had a coupon; lots of leftovers)
  • Sept. 7: Panera – $28.35
  • Sept. 8: Buffalo Wild Wings – $36.00
  • Sept. 9: Chipotle – $18.07 (wasn’t planned but we both had a stressful day)
  • Sept. 11: Dominos – $11.64
  • Sept. 12: Los Tres Amigos – $22.00
  • Sept. 14: Sam & Louie’s Pizza – $11.00 (had a coupon)
  • Sept. 15: Smashburger – $23.90
  • Sept. 17: Panera – $10.51 (had a gift card + MyPanera rewards)
  • Sept. 18: Godfather’s Pizza – $14.29 (had a coupon)
  • Sept. 19: Monterrey – $8.97 (my Lunch Bunch at work)
  • Sept. 22: Hy-Vee – $9.89
  • Sept. 23: Jimmy John’s – $10.00 (Eric lunch)
  • Sept. 23: Chipotle – $18.07
  • Sept. 24: Applebee’s – $40.00 (we got dessert)
  • Sept. 25: Gusto Pizza – $22.79 (new place by our house; we rode bikes)
  • Sept. 26: Noodles & Co. – $19.30
  • Sept. 27: Applebee’s – $20.00 (celebrating my birthday with my coworkers)
  • Sept. 27: Wendy’s – $6.?? (quick meal on our way to family photos)
  • Sept. 28: Des Moines Farmers’ Market – $7.00
  • Sept. 30: The Cheesecake Factory – $4.00

Total: $355.78
(Last month’s total: $363.82)

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By Eric on September 16, 2013 24

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There is something both scary and refreshing about accountability, no? Two weeks ago we shared three very personal posts about our budget, including where we ate out and how much we spent, our entire budget, and why we don’t use credit cards. While we typically don’t have any fear of sharing the truth, it’s sometimes easier to hold back on some of the raw details.

Some things seem too personal on the surface. But really, as we try to help others understand the power behind budgeting, the raw details might be just the thing someone needs to understand how to apply budgeting to their life. Not to mention the wise council this community provides in the comments.

So, we’re trying harder not to take for granted the details that have either held us back or brought us success over the past few years when it comes to budgeting.

There was so much great discussion in the comments of those posts linked above, it was confirmation for us that it’s the type of conversation this community wants to read and talk about.

Now that we’re halfway through September, I thought I would shift the conversation to give a look ahead at what we’re working on this month. Hopefully it will provide some context for when we post how we did at the end of the month.

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