How I reduced spending on food – Part 1

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You’ve probably heard it before, the three  things that most people spend money on each month are home expenses, transportation, and dining out.  In this three part series – I’ll talk about my struggle with spending too much money on food, the challenges, and adjustments I’m making along the way. 


Current Factors


Without looking at numbers just yet there’s an important factor to note and that’s the  global pandemic.  I’ll admit it’s a little bit easier for me to keep track of my spending on food.  Nowadays, I usually order groceries to be delivered.  The assumption was that the amount of money I spend on dining out is less than what I was spending pre-pandemic. Well, because it’s a lot more challenging to go dine out with friends, given the situation.  I’m also considering ordering take out as part of the same category. The other social aspect of dining out, is pretty much non-existent during this time, and that’s with co-workers.  I’m lucky enough to be able to work at home during this time. Also being at home for most of the time makes for a pretty good control group for food spending. At least I think so.


I’ve been a little more serious about my diet in the last couple months.  I’ve been keeping a daily log of everything I eat each day and making sure I don’t go over my calorie/macro goals target numbers.  I want to make sure I’m healthy, my immune system is strong, and I have more energy to get me through my day.  Generally, I eat at home and have one cheat meal a day where I go out to eat or pick up take out.


Lastly, I’ve been staying in Hawaii for about half the year and have been slowly moving from California.  It’s probably the last of the mini experiments I’ve done over the years.  So, this is it!  I’m actually going to move here.   Since, I’ve been in both states this year, the thing I wanted to note is that some food products are more available in either state and/or there’s a cost difference in these items.


Looking at the Numbers

Now, let’s look at the numbers.  Keep in mind, the numbers presented here are just for me and how much I spend on food.   Main point, we’re keeping track now so we can start to manage the numbers going forward.

Wow! I spend more on food than I had thought.  According to an article published by Business Insider, the average total food spend in San Francisco is $845.50 a month, and $915.41 per month in Honolulu.     I’ve been way over the average spend per month, as you can see.  I knew I spent a lot of money on food but this is eye-opening.  So now that I’m tracking my food spending a little closer, and I have some target numbers to aim for, it’s time to make some adjustments.


Looks like the peak of my food spending was in March.  I definitely did some stocking up on food, especially non-perishables, since that is when we shifted to working from home. I believe things started trending downward once I settled in to working from home and got a new routine down.


For fun, let’s check a few more sources.  This article from mint.com has a grocery budget calculator based on the USDA’s monthly food plan.  Even if I choose the generous spender type, the monthly grocery cost is $349.61/month.  Wow. I can’t even imagine how much my diet would change if I only spent that much.  So to put it in perspective, this calculator is saying I eat as much as a family of 6-7 people.  Yikes!


Ok, last one.  Per fox business, “The average cost of groceries each month for one person ranges between $165 and $345″.  Aye yaye yaye. 


Let’s break it up into two categories:  Grocery and Dining out.

Well, the percentage of what I spend on dining out (also including take out/delivery meals) is kind of hit or miss. I think the lower percentages of 15% seems like a logical choice for a target number each month. Surprisingly, the percentage of total food spent was about the same amount in March and in August. For both of those months, I was in California. Let’s add “i eat too much takeout in California” to the list of reasons for me to move to Hawaii lol.


Brah, Stay tuned

Tune in next week, to part 2 – where we take a little bit of a deeper dive in to my spending habits when it comes to food. I’ll talk about some the adjustments I’ve made. In the final article (part 3) of the series, I’ll provide some tips on how you can reduce the amount you spend on food.   Please leave any comments or questions you may have below.  I’d love to hear from you.

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