One of the lines in my budget that gets the most attention is food. If only because most of the other line items are set amounts which get paid every month. Don't get me wrong I put a good deal of thought into them before signing up for my cell or internet. But the fact is that I have already decided what is the best choice for me right now and I don't review the decision every week.
Food on the other hand is always closely monitored. During the month to make sure that I have enough allocated to get me through and then every month I take another look at it. Can I get away with less? Should I loosen up and add a bit more? While I would love to see my food numbers drop a bit more (I am so having a garden this summer) I've decided to take a look at how I've done so far.
As an omnivore I could just make it on a $150 a month. Since I eat three meals a day plus three snacks (which combine to make four meals total) that means I eat 120 meals a month. So I spend an average of $1.25 a meal. Not a big number for a nutritious (99% of the time) home cooked meal. While I've never been big on eating out I was curious how much it would cost to eat all my meals out. From my perusal of various fast food web sites it looks like the minimum that you can get an adult size meal for is $5.
In other words eating out would drive my food budget up to $600/month, four times what I currently pay. Don't even get me started on what all that eating out will do to your health.
Since I switched over to being a casual vegetarian (I eat meat maybe once a week) my food bill has dropped to $120 a month. Or $1.00 per meal. That's it? I hear the grousing. You gave up meat to save a dollar a day? Well for one I didn't give up meat because it saves money. I gave it up because it is healthy, ecologically sustainable, and promotes food equality. Not to mention the happy side effect of freeing up $365 a year, every year for the rest of my life.
Of course I'm curious (always), can I drop it a bit more. I'm new in town and haven't had the time yet to scope out good places to buy in bulk. Not to mention that lovely garden that will help feed me this summer. The possibilities are endless.