Want to save money? Just don’t eat out! Easy, right?
When Jake and I went through our finances, one of the biggest spending areas was eating out. While we did cook at home on occasion, we also splurged. A lot. A night out for two with a couple drinks can easily run over $70. And take out or delivery isn’t cheap either. $30 to $40 for a meal for two really adds up a couple times a week. And that’s just dinner! We were also in the habit of buying lunch several times a week, and I would buy coffee on the way to work most mornings. See where this is going?
Jake and I both enjoy cooking, but on weeknights after work, we are usually too tired and just can’t be bothered.
So, what do we do? We knew that if we wanted to leave by our goal date, we had to make some serious lifestyle changes.
And to be honest…it kinda sucks.
We still go out on occasion, but it’s much less now. Instead of happy hour with friends, we invite them over to our place for wine or out for a walk. Lunches are packed and my coffee is made at home or at the office. Breakfast is usually a smoothie for each of us and hard boiled eggs to take on the road.
We have struggled with staying on track in the past, but over the last few months, I think we’ve started to find our groove. Of course, we still slip up, but when we have a plan it’s much easier to get back on track.
Either Saturday or Sunday can be dedicated to shopping and meal prep. Ideally, we have three recipes we make for the week and one dish is made in the crock pot.
We also eat fairly healthy when at home, so we factor in some higher costs with our shopping as we buy very little, if any processed, packaged foods.
We spend about $150-$170 a week on groceries. This is for breakfast, lunch, and dinner for 6 days for two people. That averages out to about $4 a meal. Not too bad! And weeks we have leftovers that we’ve frozen, that number comes down even more.
So, what does this look like in practice?
Breakfast: Smoothies (recipe below!) and boiled eggs to go
Lunch: Whatever we choose for ourselves. Either sandwiches with chopped up veggies, tuna salad, meats and cheeses, etc.. Really it’s a hodgepodge of whatever we’re feeling like that week. We try our best to prep as much of our lunches in advance as well. Something as simple as slicing up peppers can make the difference between taking a vegetable that day or not. We’re really lazy in the morning. And that’s OK, as long as we can plan for it.
Dinner: What we have prepared the weekend before. We typically plan out what days we’ll eat what as it helps us use up our leftovers more efficiently.
DnJ’s Morning Smoothie
Big handful of spinach – usually 1.5 – 2 cups
A few frozen berries – maybe 1/4 cup not many- We keep frozen blueberries on hand
Unsweetened Almond or Coconut Milk
1-2 tbsp Chia Seeds
1 tbsp Whey protein powder (although we tend to skip this on days we don’t workout)
2 tbsp Coconut Oil
2 tbsp Plain Greek Yogurt
A dash of vanilla if you’re feelin’ fancy
Jake also adds a spoonful of Almond Butter, a little Cinnamon, and Nutmeg
And a little ice to thicken it up a bit
Blend, drink, start your kickass day!
A typical weekend.. don’t be jealous.
So there ya have it. What our life looks like when we’re on track. It can get old at times, but it’s also incredibly satisfying when we make all of our own meals.
And not having to cook when we get home from work? Priceless.
Have any great time-saving – money saving recipes? Please share! We’re always on the hunt for good, fast, and cheap meal options.