What if I said you can afford to eat out more?

Published on April 8, 2015 10:33 am, by

Would you believe me? Would you be willing to try a few things to make it happen?

The truth of it is, you don’t need to be earning the mega bucks to afford to eat out more often, but you do need to be smarter about how you’re spending the money you do have for food.

How many of us are throwing out food each week because we impulsively decided to go to dinner after work instead of making it at home? What if were real about how our week was likely to go and plan around that instead of trying to be perfect?

Here’s a familiar story being played out each week (and hands up if you’ve done this too)!

‘I’m going on a health kick (It’s Paleo, It’s Michelle Bridges, It’s Vegan etc).
I go out on Sunday night and buy everything I need to make this lifestyle change (even the expensive ‘organic stuff’ because I’m going to be saving money on eating out right!)   Woah! Being healthy just cost me $250. But it’s worth it, I’m not going to spend money on food anywhere else. Am I?

Then this happens…. I forgot my need to be social, (birthdays, leaving do’s etc), that life is busy and my energy levels may not want to spend that hour preparing my dinner.   All of a sudden, there are about 5 meals that I have bought that are going to waste, and I’m paying to have those meals somewhere else. DOH. Double the money. Equals wasting money. Not to mention, double the calories.

So, what can we do about it?
With a bit of planning and flexibility around your lifestyle – you can start to save on the money you’re spending on food and free it up to spend on something else.

1. What is your lifestyle really like?
How often do you like to cook a week?
Realistically, how many social events do you have?
What’s your worst food habit that is costing you money?

2. How much are you spending on food today?
Split your spending into three categories.
1. Groceries
2. Takeaway Meals/Snacks (Coffee included)
3. Social Eating (parties, dinners etc)

How much are you really spending? Are you shocked?
The average person should be spending between $150 and $250 a month on food.

3. Plan your week
I know, I know, planning out your weekly food doesn’t sound that spontaneous, but it helps. Successful dieters have mastered their food planning, and successful budgeters do too.

Depending on your style –you could be more flexible or rigid in your approach.
Eg. Aim to cook 5 dinners, 5 breakfasts, 5 lunches each week. You can mix and match those according to the days. Or, be more specific if you know your schedule and allocate meals to each day.

4. Make a list and stick to it
Now you know what you’re eating, make a list of all the ingredients you need to make that happen. And, only buy what was on that list.
After a few weeks, you should start to see your food budget come down – have spare cash to eat out more, or if you’re on the road to being MoneyBrilliant, you may want to put that aside to grow your savings.

MoneyBrilliant Tip:
Shop your pantry before you make that list – chances are you have some of that stuff already. Better still, plan your menu around what you already have and reduce the amount of food going to waste.
Happy eating!

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Jen is an experienced banking professional who loves wine, coffee, finding a bargain and of course her three beautiful children. Since Jen's first budget led her to buy a home at 20, Jen has passionately helped others to make better decisions with their money.

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