Added to the menu: Smarter food decisions
As we’ve been participating in Summit Credit Union’s Project Money to monitor our spending and work to save money and reduce debt, there has been something eating at us: our food budget.
While we adopted a good strategy for those weekends we’re out of town for our kids’ sporting events, the rest of this topic has continued to leave a sour taste in our mouths. The budget lines for groceries, meal delivery and eating out take up a good amount of money. Side note: Did you know there is a word for spending too much money on food and drink?
Anyway, we decided that with some strong encouragement from our financial coach, Aidan, we’ve reached the expiration date on our current setup when it comes to food. We know that we need to be more purposeful in our culinary decision-making, and we’ve implemented a new plan that not only should improve the budget, but hopefully also the family dynamic in our home.
For starters, we’re pausing our meal delivery service. Truthfully, this service has been great for us – having tasty, fresh food available in properly portioned sizes with minimal preparation needed means that we’ve had several meals a week ready to go in relatively quick fashion. But that convenience comes at a cost, and it’s time to figure out if it’s worth it.
As we’ve mentioned in previous posts, everyone in our house is often on the go. This has led to us rarely eating meals together as a family, unless it’s food that has been ordered out, we’re out at a restaurant or it’s a special occasion. We’re changing that: We’ll find at least two times per week where the five of us will eat dinner together. We discussed this with the kids and asked them to help us identify those evenings and what we should eat on those nights.
That dinner chart is part of our new weekly meal planning. For the first time on Sunday, we sat down and sketched out the week of what we’ll do for dinner each night. We took inventory of all the food we already have in the house, looking through the refrigerators and freezers – a reminder of potential meals we already have but might have forgotten about.
All of those things will inform our next grocery shopping experience, where we’ll be looking to trim the fat off our regular order, and dollars off those costs. Our goal will be to buy groceries once a week, targeting just the ingredients we need to make meals for the coming week.
With more planning, we’re also trying to reduce how often we eat out, ideally leading to being able to reduce that line in the budget. This is a pretty drastic, and needed, change to the way we’ve operated for years. But we’re pretty sure we haven’t bitten off more than we can chew.