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How to keep food costs down?

VacationForever

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Our groceries, food and restaurant bills run at $5K per month for 2.5 persons.... .5 is because when we cook at home and my son is in we cover his food cost too. I am struggling to reduce this amount for my retirement planning. Our breakfast is cheap and simple, restaurant one weekend a week and the rest of the time peanut butter on toast. Lunches are typically out as we are working. Cook 2 dinners at home per week, leftovers a couple of nights and eat out the rest of the time. We don't do cold meals - no deli meat sandwiches for us. 5K per month includes household items - toiletries etc. My health is not good and I cannot be on my feet for extended period and I am constantly exhausted, hence I don't cook as much as I would like to. But cooking at home is not cheap too. :shrug:

I am trying to get the number down to 3K a per month and I thinking that I am not being realistic. Suggestions?
 

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That really does seem excessive. Do you shop in bulk at the warehouse clubs. Costco, Sams. Have you clipped coupons? Fruits and vegetables tend to be cheaper than most meats. Not saying you should be a vegeatrian but if you filled in more with fruits and vegs then that would begin to reduce your meat spend. Lets not forget about grains, and legumes as well. Split peas...MMMmmm.

Again I need to understand how 2.5 people get to 5K food and prep spend.
 
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Passepartout

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$5,000 seems pretty rich to me. That's about $150 a day on average. By contrast, my DW and I put $2000 in a joint account at the beginning of the month, all the groceries, the utilities, meals out, pet boarding when we travel comes out of that. Occasionally we have to put more in the kitty, but that is seldom more than a couple hundred bucks toward the end of the month if a bill is expected to be presented before the usual deposits.

With your spending habits and reluctance to cook in, your goal of cutting 40% out of your food bill is unlikely. That would call for a major lifestyle change. Good Luck. It isn't easy.

Jim
 

Jason245

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Our groceries, food and restaurant bills run at $5K per month for 2.5 persons.... .5 is because when we cook at home and my son is in we cover his food cost too. I am struggling to reduce this amount for my retirement planning. Our breakfast is cheap and simple, restaurant one weekend a week and the rest of the time peanut butter on toast. Lunches are typically out as we are working. Cook 2 dinners at home per week, leftovers a couple of nights and eat out the rest of the time. We don't do cold meals - no deli meat sandwiches for us. 5K per month includes household items - toiletries etc. My health is not good and I cannot be on my feet for extended period and I am constantly exhausted, hence I don't cook as much as I would like to. But cooking at home is not cheap too. :shrug:

I am trying to get the number down to 3K a per month and I thinking that I am not being realistic. Suggestions?
What the heck are you eating. Fillet every night? Brown bag lunches 3-4 days a week and cut out soda and alcohol. If you go to a restaurant, put half the food aside for a second meal (most American restaurant serve way to much food).

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VacationForever

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Spending habits is an issue but we try to eat healthy too plus we have food restrictions. One needs to be gluten free and the other diabetic, so we eat more meat protein and less grain/carb than most families. We should eat more vegetables but we don't like vegetables and we don't cook as often as we should.. It is a struggle to keep cost down.
 

Jason245

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Spending habits is an issue but we try to eat healthy too plus we have food restrictions. One needs to be gluten free and the other diabetic, so we eat more meat protein and less grain/carb than most families. We should eat more vegetables but we don't like vegetables and we don't cook as often as we should.. It is a struggle to keep cost down.
Cook All meals at home. Eat vegetables. .. Maybe it isn't that you don't like them but instead you don't know how to prepare them. Invest some time in researching how to cook..and save a fortune.

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spirits

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alcohol

When my husband and I decided to eliminate alcohol for health reasons....it is amazing how cheap it is to eat out. I am not sure if you drink at lunch...but even 1 glass of wine or a bottle of beer can add up.

In my opinion....try bagging lunches and going for walks.....most restaurant meals are not healthy and you can make some amazing lunches with the information out there on the internet.

Good luck...minimizing expenses before retirement is a good strategy.
 

VacationForever

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What the heck are you eating. Fillet every night? Brown bag lunches 3-4 days a week and cut out soda and alcohol. If you go to a restaurant, put half the food aside for a second meal (most American restaurant serve way to much food).

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We eat everything and don't restrict what we order. I don't drink alcohol but my husband does, enough for the 2 of us. I keep thinking it will get cheaper when we retire because we will have some simple lunches at home.
 

Jason245

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We eat everything and don't restrict what we order. I don't drink alcohol but my husband does, enough for the 2 of us. I keep thinking it will get cheaper when we retire because we will have some simple lunches at home.
Don't count on it.. expect to have a lot of free time and unless you find something productive to do you will spend it spending money. . Many retirees actually spend more then they should first few years of retirement and find themselves with too little after those years. . Maybe take small steps, like stop using credit cards, figuring put your budget and start living by it now.. if you can't then either delay retirement or get second jobs and save more.

5K/Month equals $60k/year. That is more than most families in USA make.

Factor in Housing costs and medical costs and you will need to be generating somewhere in range of $100-130k/year in retirement.



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VacationForever

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I have serious foot problems and cannot stand or walk for more than a few minutes. Podiatrists, plural, have said they have not come across a case like mine and they have not been able to resolve. So cooking all meals is not going to happen. I am constantly reminded that I am a very good cook, and I roast vegetables etc to make them interesting. What do you all cook and eat?
 

VacationForever

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Don't count on it.. expect to have a lot of free time and unless you find something productive to do you will spend it spending money. . Many retirees actually spend more then they should first few years of retirement and find themselves with too little after those years. . Maybe take small steps, like stop using credit cards, figuring put your budget and start living by it now.. if you can't then either delay retirement or get second jobs and save more.

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We do not have any debt and have a good amount of retirement savings. But I like to budget and spend within the budget. If we can spend 3K instead of 5K on food, then why not? My husband's golf budget is 20K a year unless we get rid of the private club membership and play on public golf courses only, and our travel budget is 12K a year. I am trying to come up with a budget that will incorporate all expenses.
 

VacationForever

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Factor in Housing costs and medical costs and you will need to be generating somewhere in range of $100-130k/year in retirement.

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I think you got a good estimate there. I am looking at 105K after taxes if we keep food down to 3K and travel to 5K, or 130K if we continue to spend 5K a month on food.
 
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am1

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Seems like a lot. I would suggest maybe having more lunches at quick service places or even grocery stores. Sit down places are expensive and on the most part not healthy. Are you sure you really need to cut what you spend?
 

rickandcindy23

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I feel like a total cheapskate when I read this thread. I don't spend anywhere near that much on food each month, and we eat out a lot. I am the one who goes to Carrabba's and Outback for the meal deal that includes dessert, and I never buy pop (soda) or alcohol either. Actually, both of us just order plain ol' water. We need more water, anyway, and pop is now $3.49 at all of my favorite restaurants. They will give dessert with a meal for a nominal extra charge in those meal deals, but pop is $3.49???? How nuts is that? I could buy 4-5 2-liter bottles for that.
 

Jason245

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My husband's golf budget is 20K a year unless we get rid of the private club membership and play on public golf courses only,

If you can afford this, you can afford a fee based financial planner. I recommend you consult with one.

They can help you with all these questions, because your current income is (by my rough guestamate) hitting in the 300+k/year at a minimum and most common answers will not apply to you.
 

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I'm still trying to wrap my head around $5k per month in food. I'd guess we spend about $1k per month to feed a family of 5 and we eat out more than we should. In general, we pack lunches and we cook 4-5 dinners a week. Typically one dinner a week out, and order pizza or stop and get chicken or similar from the grocery deli once a week. $5k per month equates to $22 per person per meal assuming 2.5 people and 3 meals per day. That ridiculously high, IMO.

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Jason245

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I feel like a total cheapskate when I read this thread. I don't spend anywhere near that much on food each month, and we eat out a lot. I am the one who goes to Carrabba's and Outback for the meal deal that includes dessert, and I never buy pop (soda) or alcohol either. Actually, both of us just order plain ol' water. We need more water, anyway, and pop is now $3.49 at all of my favorite restaurants. They will give dessert with a meal for a nominal extra charge in those meal deals, but pop is $3.49???? How nuts is that? I could buy 4-5 2-liter bottles for that.
I was at a timeshare with a icecream happy hour where it cost 4 bucks a person for 1 scoop. . I told dw that we will have our own happy hour.. 15 minutes later I came back with a tub from the grocery store that cost me 2.50.. I told her we could do the same thing every day if she wanted. 1 tub lasted us our whole stay and we threw out about a third of it in garbag on our last day.

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VacationForever

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If you can afford this, you can afford a fee based financial planner. I recommend you consult with one.

I already have a financial advisor with a large firm that manages our savings. He asked us how much income we would lIke to have in our retirement. I threw out the amount 105K and he said not a problem. I do not want to bump it higher than that as I believe expenses fill income.
 

Jason245

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I already have a financial advisor with a large firm that manages our savings. He asked us how much income we would lIke to have in our retirement. I threw out the amount 105K and he said not a problem. I do not want to bump it higher than that as I believe expenses fill income.
Like to have.. what kind of a question is that...

He should be telling you that you have investable assets of x which should generate income of z... let's say your assets can generate 200k.. you say 105k..does he keep the 95k?

Is he fee based or earn money on comission? I would recommend shopping around and making sure you are dealing with a certified financial planner who is fee based. They should help you figure out what your needs are not the other way around. .

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spirits

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105K not a problem

I think we should be asking you for your advice.......good luck with your plans



ps. heads up on that comment you made...."he drinks for the 2 of us" I wish you a lot of luck with that one....I am not being sarcastic but my spidey senses are up.
 

VacationForever

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It is my problem. We should be more "cheapskate" but hard to change 2 people who grew up in different families and yet are similar in the way we spend and eat for the last 40 years. The one fast food that we both enjoy is In n Out, so maybe we should do it more often.
 

jlp879

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I feel that to truly bring your food costs down, you are going to have to do more meal planning and preparation at home. If you plan right, you might not have to cook any more than you do now, but you could use the two times you do cook for big batch cooking and get multiple meals out of a bit of preparation.

Since you don't like cold lunches, plan your dinners to be big enough to include leftovers for lunch.

Make things that freeze well like soups, chilis, casseroles and make two each time you cook. One for now, and one for the freezer. The work is the same, but now you have a dinner that you don't have to cook for.

Take a meal idea and plan more around it. Roast a whole chicken for dinner one night, eat it with sides. The next night take the chicken and turn it into chicken fajitas. Then take the carcass and make a chicken soup from it for another dinner.

I found a website called Saving Dinner that helps people plan meals out in advance. There is a cost for the subscription, but there is also lots of free information on the website that helps with the idea of planning and advance meal preparation.

Where I live in the Bay Area, there are dinner preparation places that you go into, spend a couple of hours assembling dinners and leave with six dinners that you can freeze for later use. The one near me is called Dream Dinners. Yes, it is more expensive than cooking everything yourself, but it is cheaper than eating out.

Planning is the key. It takes some time up front, but worth it in the end. (Kind of like understanding and planning timeshare travel!) A good time to plan out a week's worth of meals is when the grocery store flyers arrive, that way you can shop the sales.
 

rickandcindy23

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ps. heads up on that comment you made...."he drinks for the 2 of us" I wish you a lot of luck with that one....I am not being sarcastic but my spidey senses are up.

Yes, I was thinking that too, but I have no spidey senses. :p Love that phrase, by the way.

Don't we all worry about our various relatives who drink too much? I always think of my brother-in-law who shot himself while intoxicated beyond anything I knew was even possible. His blood alcohol was like 3.2 or something. Crazy high. He was so depressed. He was working more than ever, but he was worn out, I think. His wife was oblivious to his needs. She is and will always be an idiot, and she was 20 years younger than he was.
 

vacationhopeful

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If you can afford this, you can afford a fee based financial planner. I recommend you consult with one.

They can help you with all these questions, because your current income is (by my rough guestamate) hitting in the 300+k/year at a minimum and most common answers will not apply to you.

Plus 1 to Jason for his summary above.

My suggestion to YOU ==> Hired a good PERSONAL TRAINER at a top notch gym. When my sister became a widow (he dropped dead on the bathroom floor on a Saturday) and she took her "planned for retirement" 4 months later ... she lost the center of both her "worlds" = work and home. She hired a shrink and went to grief meetings. And then decided to start going to the gym and working out ... as her clothes started to NOT fit. Hired 2 different personal trainers - 3 days a week for each ... and got into what I call "HUNTING MODE".

The PTs got on her as to WHAT she was eating, pushed her to do more (endurance and strength) goals and then surprise, surprise ... her depression got better, met new people, skin glowed and she LOST several dress sizes.

She has a new friend - 12+ years younger, travels with her HS best girlfriend, play golf for sport and holds her own at the sports bar.
 
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VacationForever

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ps. heads up on that comment you made...."he drinks for the 2 of us" I wish you a lot of luck with that one....I am not being sarcastic but my spidey senses are up.

I hear you. Thank you for your concern. His cardiologist told him to incorporate red wine into his diet. His drinking is definitely not out of control but since I do not drink, I consider anything more than 1 serving as too much.
 
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