Every Day

Need To Save Up To $3365.?

Americans need money to pay for the necessities in life. Everyone knows that. If they are in a lot of debt or saving for a luxury that is extremely important to them, they need to take a good hard look at how they are spending that money. If you have been tracking your spending then it is time to assess that spending. But for those of you who don’t track, here is a pretty good assessment of how the average family is spending their money.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics released this chart last September which shows the average consumer’s spending in 2017 compared to 2015 and 2016: 

Average consumer spending

I find it a very interesting read. The highest expenses of housing, food, and transportation were not a surprise nor were the amount people are paying for social security and contributing to their retirements.

The surprise for me was what the average family consumer (they call it a unit) is paying for Food Away From Home. For 2017, that figure is $ 3365.! Am I the only one shocked by this amount? The figure for Food Eaten At Home was $ 4363.  

I know food is expensive, so the figures for food eaten at home is not surprising. But the amount spent for eating away from home seriously shocked me. You add the two figures together and you find that the average consumer unit is spending $ 7,728. on food. Holy Cow! No wonder so many people cut their food budgets when they need money for other things. Food is a huge cost!

However, I can’t even imagine spending that amount 
of money eating away from home. We like to eat out once in a while but I can’t imagine spending that much in one year. And I know that when my children were living at home, we spent nowhere near that much. If we ate out once a month, that was a lot. But when we did, we knew that we could pay for it.

So if your income is being cut or you are in debt up to your eyeballs, cut your eating out. You may not be able to save the entire average of $3365. because you will be eating those times at home. But I would bet you could save a significant amount of it without trying too hard. 

I am not saying to quit eating out. If you can afford to pay cash for your food and your eating out, then go right ahead. But if you are in debt or losing income, this is the first thing you should cut. Over the years, I have seen people who are always complaining that they are broke eating out every week, even two, or more times a week. How are they doing that, you say? Well, they just whip out their credit cards and charge it. Then they pay interest on top of their meal. Most people don’t ever consider what the real cost of that meal is.

So dust off your cooking utensils and start eating at home the majority of the time. Make a meal plan every week and only shop for what you need to make those meals. I stockpile at rock bottom prices so we eat from our stockpile. I grocery shop for the few things I might not have at home to make those meals and any rock bottom prices on items on sale that can go in my stockpile. I don’t shop every week. Sometimes it is 2 and 1/2 weeks until I need something. Just because you may have $100. per week set aside in your food budget doesn’t mean that you have to spend that $100. every week.

If we had no stockpile, we would make our meal plan by looking at our ads. If we didn’t get a newspaper, then I would look at them online or pick up an ad at the grocery store. Then I would make our meal plan for the week from the loss leaders on the front page. If hamburger or chicken is the best price, make most of your meals from either chicken or hamburger that week. Your family won’t die from eating the same meat. They will get a new variety the next week. if you have $5. or $10. more that you can spend, then buy extra hamburger or chicken and freeze it for future meals. Do this a few weeks and you will be able to make a variety of meals each week at rock bottom prices and build your stockpile at the same time.

After you pick your meat or main item for dinner, look at the back page for what produce is on sale. Only buy what is on sale which is most likely whatever is in season. If what your family will eat is not in season, then buy whatever frozen or canned vegetable is on sale. Next figure out what kind of a starch is on sale, whether that be pasta, bread, rice or some other starch. Base not only your dinner on those sales but also your breakfasts and lunch. If you have food at home to make all of these meals, then you are less likely to eat out.

I have heard over the years many excuses for why people eat out. The one that I have always hated is, I deserve it. No one deserves anything if they can’t pay cash for it. Spending your money before you earn it, is the quickest way to dig a hole that will take you years to get out of. Keep whipping out that credit card because you deserve it and eventually you will end up with no money. 

Another excuse I have heard is, I don’t know how to cook. That one makes me laugh. Get a simple cookbook or look up how to make recipes online. A great cookbook that has simple, frugal meals is:

Dining on a Dime Cookbook

Or you can go look at the recipes that the Prudent Homemaker has on her website .

Then there is I am too tired to cook. I know what that feels like. So go out to eat once in a while. But not if you can’t afford it. Make something simple like scrambled eggs and toast or jarred spaghetti sauce over pasta. Make a salad and throw a piece of meat on the grill or in the oven. Make simple meals. Not every meal has to be a gourmet meal.  

So if you need to cut your bills, start with eating away from home. Just think of all the money you could save to pay other necessities if you just cooked at home.

I hadn’t planned on posting today but when I saw this article this morning, I just had to. We are coming into a New Year. Make 2019 the best money saving year that you have ever had. Make a goal of eating the majority of your meals at home. Your wallet and possibly your body(restaurant food is calorie laden) will thank you!

Please feel free to leave a comment.  

Every Day

Our Frugal Saturday

We have been extremely busy today. Hubby hired a company to fix our stone front on the house. Three of the ledge stones had fallen off. They wanted $800. to do the job. We said okay. That was back in May. They said they would do it when they got time. They have never come or called us. With winter upon us, Hubby decided to fix it himself. He did a lot of research this week to learn how to do it. This afternoon he has been working on it. He is an engineer so he built a contraption to hold the stones against the house while they dry in place. It is ingenious and seems to be working well.

This morning I cut up all of the leftover lasagna from Hubby’s birthday dinner. I used the food saver to package in up in 2 portion meals and put them in the freezer for future dinners. Two nights in a row was enough. It’s very rich. 

Then I made my next two weeks of menu plans. I like having to do this every two weeks instead of one. Sorry about the shadows on the first week.

Next I made my prep tray for dinner tonight. I do this every morning for meals that need prepping. That way when it is time to cook all I have to do is pull the tray out of the fridge. We are having chicken stir fry with onions, red, orange, and yellow peppers, and pineapple chunks. We will use a little of the stir fry sauce. Hubby will make rice to put on it in the rice cooker.  

After that I made a little homemade blueberry and banana ice cream and it is freezing in the freezer as I write this.

Then it was time to bring all of the items for our next two weeks of dinner meals up from the chest freezer. They all reside now in the first drawer of my fridge freezer. I also keep my yeast here for making bread.

On the left side of that drawer, I keep our breakfast items like chopped onions for our omelets and hash browns, sausage, bacon, orange juice to make cranberry orange muffins, and blueberries for muffins, smoothies, and pancakes. I also have two toaster waffles left from when my granddaughter was here. West will eat them next time he is here to visit for a weekend. 

Now I am about to go watch football with Hubby before I make dinner. 

How is your Saturday going? 


Every Day

Meal Planning

I never meal planned. I would just look in the pantry or freezer and determine what meat I would cook that night and add sides to it.

But in the past 30 years, I have come to enjoy meal planning. I do it on Saturday night for the following week. Before I even think about a meal, I check my calendar to see what appointments we have for the week and when. Then I plan my meals around those things. For example, I had a long dentist appointment yesterday and a long day out of the house so we went out to dinner. We hadn’t been out in well over a month so it was a treat. When I had kids at home, we planned meals around their activities. They played sports in junior high and high school so my crock pot got used a lot.

On Saturday night, I ask Hubby if there is anything special that he would like to eat this coming week. Sometimes, he will make a suggestion and sometimes he won’t.

Then I come up with 6-7 meals for dinners that I will make during the week. Each week I try to have at least one meatless meal. Because I knew we were going out to dinner last night, I penciled that in for Tuesday night. Next I checked my pantries, refrigerator, and freezers to see if I had the ingredients for those meals. I had all the ingredients this week so I needed no food at the grocery store to make them. If I did need an ingredient, I would put it on my grocery list. However I did shop for a few things this week. I purchased the liquid dish detergent pictured above at Walmart for $ 5.96(stockpiling for the winter). It is the cheapest dish detergent that we like. So I just buy it and pour it into a smaller bottle.  I also went to Dollar Tree and picked up 6 packages of Jennifer’s Garden Spring Rolls for a $1.00 each. We rarely buy food at Dollar Tree but when I find something we really like, I stock on it. When I saw these a while ago, I purchased one package to try. They are vegetable spring rolls. I deep fry them or air fry them.  They are delicious! My store doesn’t always have them so when I see them I snag a bunch. They will make a nice snack on Sundays during football season. I also picked up 2 lbs. of butter for $ 2.36 each at Aldi’s.

Here is our menu this week:

Sunday – Homemade chicken vegetable soup, crackers with butter
Monday – A repeat of Sunday night
Tuesday – Dinner out
Wednesday – Chicken with Orange Sauce on rice, green beans
Thursday – Hubby’s meat chili on rice, tomatoes, and cucumbers
Friday – A repeat of Thursday night
Saturday – Meatless spaghetti, side salad

I find that meal planning saves us money because our leftovers get eaten and I can work food that needs(think produce) to be used into our meals. We have very little waste in this house.

We always have many choices of breakfast food in the house – cold and hot cereal, eggs, bacon, sausage, ham slices and I make pancakes, waffles, various muffins and quick breads. This week I have been eating a bowl of plain yogurt, fresh blueberries, and granola sprinkled on top for breakfast every day. It’s easy to grab what we feel like eating when we get up.  Lunches are usually sandwiches, peanut butter on English muffins, salads, fruit, cheese and crackers or leftovers. Sometimes we even skip lunch if we know that we are having a heavier meal like stew for dinner.

So if you haven’t tried to meal plan at least your dinners, give it a try. It only takes a few minutes to do. We save money not running for takeout or going out to dinner two or three nights a week because I forgot to thaw something or I don’t know what to make. I keep my menu on the side of the fridge so we always know what we are having that day.