This week I am talking about food on the blog and I thought there was no better way to kick off food week than with Eat It, “Weird Al” Yankovic’s comic remake of Michael Jackson’s song Beat It. If you have never seen the video for this song, it’s a must watch, and I know I am dating myself when I say this, but I remember watching this video when it played on MTV.
I am focusing on food on the blog this week because after your rent or mortgage, food is typically the next highest cost on your monthly budget, and unlike your rent or mortgage which are fixed costs, food costs are variable and we can control them. Literally every single one of my clients has had to work on improving their food spending as part of our financial fitness regiment, and just last week I met with a couple who actually spent more on food this past quarter than they did on their rent.
My Food Spending Past
As someone who used to have a problem with food spending, I completely empathize with all of my clients. Like them, I always rationalized that because I worked I didn’t have the time to plan better, to coupon clip or to comparison shop. A typical week for my hubby and me included three to four trips to the food store, and they usually took place after work when we were making a dinner decision on the fly. As you can imagine, the combination of the lack of planning and the timing of the food trips led to years of overspending on food.
My hubby still laughs about the various food pileups I created in our pantry and refrigerator as a result of on the fly shopping. During one pantry clean out, my hubby found five boxes of oatmeal. Why so many boxes of oatmeal? I have no idea, especially because I rarely eat it, but for some reason it was the one item I felt like eating after work when I was shopping on an empty stomach.
Money and Food in the Garbage
Instead of doing like this song says and eating the food in our house, we typically purchased food without a plan and more times than not the food ended up in the garbage. We joked that instead of a crisper in our refrigerator, we had the “rotter” because most things that went in there came out rotten. I estimate that we spent close to $1,000 a month between food shopping and eating out, and we are only a family of three. It’s crazy for me to think about how much money we wasted on food over the years; however, I am happy to say that we have changed our ways and made dramatic changes to our family’s food philosophy.
On Wednesday I am going to share with you some very easy and specific steps that we took that led to our success, and one of those tips is to just eat it. If we ate more of what we purchased, we wouldn’t have experienced as much rotting as we did. It seems like a basic idea to eat the food you buy, but it’s something that took focus and practice for us. Friday on the podcast, I am drinking with Erin Chase otherwise known as the $5 Dinner Mom, and she shares some more great tips and resources to help you save money on your food.
If you haven’t made controlling food costs a focus in your home, I urge you to take the time to assess your situation and challenge yourself to make changes. No matter what your food budget looks like, I guarantee you that there is always room for improvement. We have come a long way on our spending, and I still constantly challenge myself to make smarter choices because I see the benefit to my family’s bottom line.