If you are a longtime reader here you already know that I track the money we spend on groceries and toiletries every year at Chez Sluggy.
I've ben tracking our food budget monies for well over 7 years now here on this blog. In those years I've fed between 5 and 2 people on our grocery money and if I don't say so myself I've done a bang up job at both the feeding and the money watching. ;-)
In order to be more transparent on what is spent on food I have started a page(link on the tab at the top of the blog)to track what I spend on "Eating Out" too.
Because unless you are a hermit and never go out and cook every single item you put into your mouth, you are going to have some meals at restaurants or as take-out from a restaurant.
And this spending adds up too!
While I don't include our Eating Out costs in my Grocery Budget, Eating Out does take a hit on the overall family budget. I cubbyhole Eating Out in our Entertainment category in the Household Budget.
We enjoy dining out(though not as much as we use to as I find many restaurant foods overly salted)and experiencing new and interesting dishes we don't/can't make ourselves both locally and when we travel. We also like a good hunk of steak now and again.....
As a category I like to keep the eating out costs around $100 per month, unless we are traveling(in which case eating out is mostly ALL one does!)or there is a special event/occasion(like a birthday meal out, a holiday meal out or company comes to visit).
When all the kids were still living at home, eating out could be very costly. During any given month, just 1 night of Chinese take-out, 1 night of take-out pizza(2-3 pies required with 3 teens at home) and heaven forbid we all went out to dine that month(ack!) and that $100 limit was blown to bits! lolz
With only 2 of the family eating at home these days(sometimes 3), $100 seems much more ample, even as the cost of restaurant food has risen every year since I started tracking our spending in 2008.
If you take a look at our Eating Out spending for this year we have been pretty good at keeping it under $100 in months where we had no travel/special events happen.
Unfortunately for our budget we have gone on trips 5 out of the last 10 months so here aren't many under $100 months this year.
Having to eat while living away from home and having no access to cooking facilities(a mini-fridge and a microwave in your motel room don't count in my book as "cooking facilities")isn't very conducive to eating cheaply AND well when traveling.
If you are going to travel(unless you are living in an accommodation with a full kitchen or going in a motor home)you need to account for increased spending on food.
Heck in February we only made one trip to Subway for sammiches to bring home for dinner so our Eating Out totaled $18. For most people it's totally unrealistic to NOT budget for any eating out whatsoever in a month.
Unless your income is so restricted(in which case you really shouldn't' be splurging on eating out anyway)people are going to be spending money on meals made by someone else, aren't they?
So to all you readers who think I only spend $300 or whatever the spending was that particular month on food, here is the "whole" picture.
Year-to-date spending on Groceries/Toiletries....$3,723.41
Year-to-date spending on Eating Out...................$2,746.57
Total Spending on both Categories......................$6,469.98
Monthly Average Spending on Both Categories....$646.99
Seeing that I "spent" $646.99 a month on all food/toiletries related categories so far this year should make all you folks, who think my food spending was too low and could never be replicate by anyone else, feel better. ;-)
Of course including meals out also includes tips paid at real sit-down restaurants if we eat at those. Tips while part of the experience of dining out aren't actually spent on "food" technically but on service, they are part of the bill.
The fact is, if you can't afford eating out on your income level you shouldn't do it. It is NOT a necessity of life but a luxury. But if you are human(and who isn't?)it's very difficult to never EVER go out to eat/get take-out food even on a poverty level income. I'd be hard pressed to find someone in our Modern Society who never eats out, ever.
For us Eating Out is a luxury that we enjoy and/or a hazard of traveling(which we also enjoy). Sure we could eat out less or not at all but if we have a level of income that gives us excess monies in our budget and we are debt-free and saving tons of cash for retirement too, why not use some of that extra income to enjoy ourselves along the journey?
So do you keep track of your Eating Out spending?
When added to your food/grocery spending how does that combined total spending make you feel?