What To Do When Food Eats Your Budget

What the heck is she talking about you ask. I’m talking about the outrageous amount of money my family spends on food. Anytime we break the budget it is due to eating out, buying Redbulls or other food and beverage splurges.

Typically I budget $500 a month for groceries and we typically spend about $400 but the remaining $100 goes to eating out. Last pay period we ate into about $200 of what I had set aside for our summer camping trips. When I say ate into I literally mean that! In ONE day we went to Jack in the Box and McDonald’s. (Don’t judge, now you see why I challenged myself to a Fast Food Free February)


Enough rehashing on what I have been doing wrong and more about what I am going to do to fix it. So payday came and I set a very strict budget. I budgeted $130 for groceries for 2 weeks. I already spent half. :/

So what is someone to do when food eats their budget? Reevaluate their habits and go on a spending diet! That is what we are doing in our household. We have to. If we want to be able to go on all these camping trips we have planned over the next 2 months we are going to have to give up cutback on eating out, follow a budget friendly meal plan, buy less “snacky” foods and stay away from convenient stores.

Here was my game plan.

1. I took inventory of what we had in our Freezers- I knew we had some extra meats in our freezers so my goal was to meal plan around what we already had on hand.

2. I also took inventory of my pantry- This allows me to eat through some of my stock pile without spending a lot at the grocery store.

3. I sat down and made a meal plan for one week- I didn’t just plan dinners I planned breakfast and lunch to. If I have a meal plan on my refrigerator I am 10x more likely to cook at home. My meal plan was based mainly off what I could use that I already had on hand so I would not have to buy a lot of extras at the grocery store. When I made my meal plan I had my local grocery store sales ad sitting right next to me so I could take advantage of weekly specials when planning my meals.

4. Next, I made a grocery list from my meal plan I make a list of all the items I needed to buy. This list was very simple, there weren’t things like crackers and candy.

5. Of course I checked for coupons- Last thing I did before I hit the grocery store was check to see if I had any coupons for things I was planning on buying.

That whole process probably took me about 45 minutes. That 45 minutes is well worth the time investment if we can stick to the plan and not spend any extra money. When I went to the grocery store and spent $65, only about $50 of it was for my weekly meals. The other $15 was stocking up on a few items we use regularly and were on sale and I had coupons. I went to the grocery store planning on buying those items.

Here is my weekly meal plan. The meals are quite simple but delicious.


One thing I am going to make sure to do this week is bake a little more. I always have the basic baking supplies on hand and my kids love snacking on muffins and cookies. Not to mention my oldest really enjoys helping out when I bake so it will be a nice way to entertain him. So instead of making trips into town I will be baking in the kitchen! I will be posting updates of my baking adventures on facebook, hope to see you there!

What tips do you have to share when it comes to not breaking the bank when eating out and grocery shopping?

❤ Sarah




9 thoughts on “What To Do When Food Eats Your Budget

  1. My number 1 tips is budget down to $0.00 and don’t budget anything for eating out. We have been HORRIBLE about nickel and diming ourselves lately though.

    This month, to get ready for the no spend challenge, I am going to buy and stock up on some of the items that we tend to regularly splurge on like ice cream (hello I have a machine to make it at home) and small sweet treats, if we have it at home we won’t feel the need to go and buy it!

    • See when I am wanting to eat out and I didn’t budget for it I steal money from the grocery envelope. That is why this pay period I budgeted so low so now there is absolutely no room for stealing. 🙂

      I love idea of stocking up because then you have less reasons to go shopping and get tempted into buying other things or if your me driving through McDonald’s on the way home. lol. Make some ice cream!! It’s so fun and tasty!

  2. Great job taking inventory and planning your menu around it! I think planning and making use of what you have are really your keys to success. Oh, and lots of willpower! 🙂

  3. I’ve switched to cereal with fresh bananas every morning for breakfast (need to lose the muffin top), instead of dinner leftovers, which could be saved for lunch. Taking inventory of your pantry is extremely important, that way I don’t buy another of something at full price that I already have (like grated cheese, taco seasoning packet, etc.). We try not to spend more than $100/wk. on groceries, and it is doable, but only if you cut out all the extras, like soda, snacks, candy, etc. That stuff adds up! I won’t even buy some items at full-price because I know they might be on sale the next week or the week after that. The meal plan is a lot easier now, now that I just have to plan for one meal a day (lunch is leftovers from the night before, and then dinner). Simplification is key.

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