Lifestyle Assessment Series: Foodstuff

As part of the Uber Frugal Month Challenge, I've been scrutinizing our expenses to see what parts of our household budget we can improve on. My main goal in participating in the UFMC is to minimize spending and throw all that extra cash towards building up our savings and investments which have been decimated because of life and its sick humor.

A second goal, although no less important, is to reset my mindset by being deliberate with my spending and thinking over each purchase before I open my wallet. Hopefully, by doing it often enough, a month to be exact, this will become second nature and my purchases will end up aligning with my goals (i.e. build up savings and investments).

First up for scrutiny is our food expenses. 

There are three adults (me, my husband and our yaya) and one child in our household. I honestly don't know if our grocery/market expenses are average or above-average for a similar household, but what embarasses me is how our eating out expenses is usually just equal to what we spend on foodstuff from the grocery or market. Aside from that, we're also guilty of throwing out food at times because they've gone bad in the fridge.

Right now, I'm taking down the prices of our commonly bought foodstuff, logging them in a notebook together with where and when they were bought for easy price comparison. I'll present my findings in a future post.

I've also enlisted the help of our laundrywoman who comes in once a week and have asked her to buy our food staples (i.e. tomatoes, potatoes, onions, garlic etc) at the market before she goes to our condo, since she passes by it on her commute. I want to see if this will bring down our grocery expenses. After a few weeks, I plan on going to the wet market with my food notebook to compare prices. My husband claims that the price difference between wet markets and groceries when it comes to foodstuff is negligible, but I want to see that for myself.

Going back to eating out. Our habit is to grab a quick bite before shopping for groceries. We rarely eat out anywhere fancy and our usual pre-grocery bites cost us between Php200-Php300 per person, but since we hit the grocery 1-2 times a week, those tend to add up.

My husband and I also watch a movie once or twice a month and we also eat out before entering the cinema. Again, we don't go anywhere fancy but the bill usually ends up at around Php300-Php400 per person.

There was a time when my son would go to his cousin's house after school and my husband and I would pick him up in the evening. Of course, we would eat out somewhere first before picking him up.

Eating out has become a habit for us. It's not a treat that we look forward to only on special occasions, but something that's become part and parcel of our weekly chores. And I think we're not alone with this because restaurants and malls are usually packed on Sundays, with most families trekking to restaurants post-Sunday mass as part of their family tradition.

Eating out is also a welcome respite for me from the repetitive food we have at home. I really, really miss our first yaya and her magnificent cooking.

I don't intend to drastically shift our diet in order to save money, but I would like to see a significant decrease in our eating out expenses vis-a-vis our grocery expenses. One of the ways I can think of to reduce eating out is to go grocery shopping by myself, or in the alternative, to eat at home first before hitting the grocery with my brood. This will take some re-training not only for myself, but also for my household, but hopefully by doing it often enough, we develop a new habit.

Another way to limit eating out or ordering in, is to lose the desire to eat outside of the house simply because your home cooking beats those at restaurants by a mile. Sadly though, we're nowhere near that standard and again, let me reiterate just how much I miss Yaya Sheila and her fabulous cooking.

Anyway, let's see how this month's eating out expenses will pan out. Wish me luck!


Simplelivingpinoy said…
Suggest you buy a lot of staples. It helps if you know you dont have to go out for food for cravings. I keep some popcorn, yogurt, and a few drinks (beer and wine). Also some chocolates and a cake in the fridge (and slice off a portion when needed). I tend to keep track of the food in there and make sure we eat the food before they go bad(we like different cheeses and spreads). I havent felt the need to eat due to convenience for some time now. We only eat out purposefully, when there is an occasion or when theres a new place we want to try out. Hope that helps!
Jillsabs said…
Hi Jun!

I'm actually thinking of getting a membership with S&R because I want to buy our staples in bulk. Have you done this?
Jun said…
Hi Jill,

Yes we have been a member for maybe 5 years now (since S&R opened in Cebu). Some Cons include annual fee (700 pesos, I think), many, many temptations (specially when they still had Bluebell icecream, lol). Personally, I think its still a good idea we do purchase some of the "temptations" as they still cost less than if you eat out (think the occasional pan fried steak at home, or the home grilled burgers or the cheesecake slice). Pros at shopping at S&R are the bulk items are cheaper (soap by 10 bars a pack, toothpaste, shampoo, vitamins, and tissue paper for example) than if you purchase from your suking grocery. Overall, I think you need to buy a lot (at least 5k per trip) to offset the annual fee and the gas expense to drive over versus just to the nearest supermarket. It might be different for you though.

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