A case for eating at home

Eating at home instead of eating out can save a lot of money. Or so all the “experts” tell me. I’m curious just what kinds of savings I can see and if it is worth the time and effort it takes to plan, shop, and cook all our meals.

Doing a little math I figured I averaged $18.45 a day in October feeding my family of 7. My grocery budget is $500 a month, and that includes toiletries, paper products, etc. plus any eating out. I over spent a little this month, we spent $572 to be exact. I blame eating out for going over! The surplus in other budget categories took up the slack so, no hurt there. But, for the most part we make the $500 work. (More on how we budget later…)

I was a little surprised to realize it works out to $2.64 per person per day. That’s for three full meals plus snacks! You can’t even get a premium hamburger at most fast food joints for that price. And when I take my whole family out to dinner it’s almost always over $30 for all of us.

Actually figuring out what we are spending per day on food has really opened my eyes about how costly it is to eat out. Even the dollar menu doesn’t seem all that much of a deal anymore.

Now, according to the USDA in order to provide a healthy amount of food for my family we should be spending around $900 on the “thrifty” plan. Using my brilliant math skills that still works out to $4.30 per person per day. Can you get a combo meal at a cheap fast food place for that?

I’m not saying it’s too expensive to ever eat out. Eating out can be used as a reward or special treat. Just not an every-other-day-mom’s-too-tired-to-cook event. (Ha! That’s never happened at our house.) I just know I can save a lot if we eat at home more often.

It’s not easy staying under my budget, planning and making most meals at home. It will take some strategizing and work on my part. But, it’s definitely worth it.

Looking at the cost per day we are spending is just one way to look at the issue. One of these days I’m going to calculate just how much it costs to make my family’s favorite meals and snacks. That should be an eye opener. Stay tuned!

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