Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The Eating Out

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?




  1. I have a misc budget for myself of $150 a week which sounds like a lot but I don't always spend it all. It covers all entertainment like eating out, movies, buying books/music and even things for the house. Whatever is left at the end of the month goes into savings.

  2. I forget to eat all the time and I am a special kind of stupid. I really like that. I want a t-shirt with that on the front. I just love you!

  3. I like that you keep T and E as a separate expense item. We eat out 1 time a month at a very nice restaurant, but it is in our budget and plan. It is something we both enjoy and counts as both our meal and entertainment that night. We go out weekly in addition to that at small inexpensive joints. TheHub never ate out when he was growing up and it is one of his "things" now. Again these are planned and budgeted We generally don't do a monthly accounting of our T and E account, but do it annually. Unless we are traveling we spend roughly the same thing each month.

  4. We track both, although separately. We are generally pretty good (although we track dining out when traveling under travel, not dining out), but lately have gotten caught up in more eating out as our schedules get crazier, we've had milestone events, etc. Must get it back in check!

  5. First off, I love saying at the top of the post. I've never forgotten to eat a meal in my entire life...and no one who lives under my roof has missed a meal, either. That being said, I was super frugal for the first 20 yrs of marriage. We ate pretty well at home, but seldom went to an expensive restaurant unless it was a special occasion. Hub and I stayed focused on getting out of debt, totally, and that kept us motivated. The family never went without anything. Heck, we even took nice big vacations, but we watched our spending. Now that I'm in my 60s, I still love a bargain, but if we're craving something, by gosh, we have it. I'm guessing we spend $150 to $200 per week on groceries and eating out. I know I could do better, but I'm a lot more lax than I used to be. At least I know that I could live lean if it's absolutely necessary, and that's a good skill to have.

  6. Really, at one point in my life, I would forget to eat. My friend and I would stop to get a burger since I was starving and had not eaten all day, not even breakfast. I would start eating at the counter. My girl friend was shocked the first time, and just laughed and rolled her eyes after that time.

    Well, that was 35 years ago. Now, I never forget to eat. I wish I could.

    I love all the cartoons today, especially the sad lady not wanting to fix her own salad.

  7. We are frugal in some areas so we have money to spend in other areas. You can well afford to eat out, so you should when you want to. We can better afford it than when we had kids living at home, so we do. Some months we eat our more and some less, but we never do it more than we can afford. And we don't go into debt to do it.


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