WIAW (1) & Meal Budgeting

I have never done one of these before, but I always sometimes take photos of my food and so all I needed to do was get on the ball and take everything in one day and then remember to post them! (I didn't know it was green month, but oh well).

I know that some people get tired of food photos; everything looks so gross. So, my post is twofold. I have recently been doing a little meal planning. Not so much that I am changing any buying habits, but I made a goal to do a couple of things. 1) Try/Cook a new meal each month. This has actually turned out to be more like one a week**, but I didn't want to overload myself at first. And 2) Figure out how much this is costing me.

One of the reasons I decided to do this was that a friend of mine, who goes to Starbucks EVERY day, eats lunch out probably 3-5 days a week and eats dinner out probably 1-3 times a week, was saying how she wanted to get on track with her spending. She also wants to lose weight in time for a late summer wedding. She asked for my help.

So, on top of trying a few fun new recipes**, I decided to both price out some of my meals and do a calorie count for certain meals, so I could give her a good idea of what to make for herself. It's easy for me to tell her to just stop eating processed foods, but it's hard when you work long hours, don't really like to cook, and have kids. It's easy to buy things that you can nuke or throw in a pan. So, one step at a time. First, a few easy meals. Next, the world.

So, here, without further ado, is my first What I Ate Wednesday, hosted by Jenn at Peas and Crayons. And my first Meal Budgeting post, with both dollars and calories per meal sited. I tried to keep it short, so I wouldn't bore anyone to death. To me, crunching numbers is fun. I like to be aware and this helps me.

Quinoa/Craisins/Sunflower&Pumpkin Seeds/Almond Milk (**adapted from THIS recipe) - $0.85 /254
 Coffee (x 5 with creamer) - $0.60 /100 
{total breakfast:$1.45 / 354}

Brussels - $0.25 / 66
Greek Salad (goat cheese, tomatoes, cucumber, corn) - $1.04 / 201 
{total lunch: $1.29 / 247}

Mac n Cheese (**adapted from THIS recipe) -$1.58 / 220  
Brussels - $0.25 / 66 
{total-$1.83 / 286}

Orange-$1.02 / 62
The whole bag of 1/2 cup Dried Apples - $0.72 / 220
12 Chocolate Covered Gummy Bears - $0.50 / 134 
{total-$2.24 / 416}
TOTAL: $6.81 / 1303  

(note: these totals may be off. I am not a mathematician, nor a dietician, nor an excel mastermind. I apologize in advance for any rounding errors. Calorie info taken from Loseit) **this week I also made THESE. See, Pinterest isn't a waste of time after all. 

So, what did I learn? One, even though I hear that some people spend less than $200/month on groceries, clearly I am not one of them. Not with my snack habits the way they were today ($6.81 x 31 days = $211/mo) Two, eating out is expensive. Whether your habit is a latte ($5/day) or lunch out (easily $10/day), it not only can add up, but is more than an entire day's worth of home cooked food! Now, obviously I am not making gourmet meals over here, but even with a nice piece of fish ($2-$3 per serving) or meat or a fancy sauce or dessert, you can still spend less for an entire day than you can for one meal out!

Now, having said that, next week I am going to be traveling, so will be eating out a lot. Hey, you win some, you lose some. But today I am saving my money for next week's meat with fancy sauce and  dessert!

Have you ever broken down the cost of your food by the month/week/day? How much do you spend on groceries per month?Do you ever eat only one food group or one food as an entire meal (see above lunch)?


  1. I track how much we spend on food as a whole in a budget but have never broken it down by meal - that is interesting! I'm amazed at how much I spend on food, it seems like an outrageous amount and we don't really eat out that often!

  2. Welcome to the wiaw party! :) We spend too much on groceries-- I try to be a smart shopper, but we go through a lot of produce, and I prefer organic options... it really adds up!

  3. I tried to link up this week but couldn't...boo! I love the way you tracked how much each meal cost. I have never done it this way! Chocolate covered gummy bears...yes please!!

  4. We spend far more than that on groceries and we eat a signficant amount more food than that per day. It is much cheaper to eat at home but sometimes the convienence of someone else doing it wins out! I love my crockpot.

  5. I track what we spend at the grocery store and for eating out, so I have a pretty good idea of where all my "food money" goes. It's definitely a bit more work to plan on meals and make them at home, but I've found that if I make it part of my daily habit it soon becomes routine and doesn't seem like any extra work at all. I think reserving eating out/buying coffee out as an extra special treat makes a big difference too. It's not built in to your day, it's something you look forward to every once in a while.

  6. Welcome to WIAW madness! No it's fun, I swear. I have never done food budgeting and I'm sure I spend a ton. But we rarely eat out and I cook almost always so no guilt. Good for you for crunching the numbers though!

  7. glad you joined us for wiaw! you just can't lose in my book having two meals of brussles sprouts in one day!

  8. Wow I couldn't survive off those calories been trying to track my meals lately... My food budget has been great with just me now! That is the hardest part for me about lots of travel is the eating out especially since I'm vegetarian and I'll admit can be a little picky so I just always carry around clif bars!

  9. Yum..those brussel sprouts looks delish! I dont care about food spending here...its the only thing I do get to spend money on these days! lol

    xoxo from trinidad

  10. Your food choices all look great. I'm going to check out that quinoa recipe.

    I think I would be shocked if I broke down my food budget. But I will say that I eat 90% to 90% of my meals at home, so that does help. Fun post!

  11. Yum! That all looks really good! I have never broken down the cost/meal, but I do pay attention to how much I spend on food. On average, I spend about $180-200 on groceries each month. I have 1 latte a week and 1 lunch out a week, so that's $12/week there x 4 = $48 in meals out (I rarely have dinners out).

    I sort of meal plan, but my meals are so basic, they would not work for most people! I try to cook one big meal on Sat or Sun night to have as leftovers for lunches during the week and then on week nights, I live on things like baked potatoes or rice & salad or something like that!

  12. We spend oodles on food because I eat a lot! And we eat out about once a week - not much, but generally we go somewhere nice so it does add up. I don't think I've ever had a day under 2000 calories, I've got to admit! I have such a gigantic appetite! Good thing I run or I'd be a blimp.

  13. Your breakfast looks a lot like what we put in something called a breakfast. Same ingredients basically but it's a baked soft cookie. They are really good and filling which I'm sure yours is as well.

  14. Your breakfast looks a lot like what we put in something called a breakfast. Same ingredients basically but it's a baked soft cookie. They are really good and filling which I'm sure yours is as well.

  15. the salad you had for lunch looks DELISH! xo


Thanks for commenting! Any suggestions, tips or praise you have is always welcome!