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How We Keep Our Food Expenses Low

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How we keep our food expenses lowMany people have asked, “How do you keep your food expenses so low?” That’s easy; we cook and eat most of our meals at home. We enjoy eating out, too, but we usually go out just a few times per month. In May, our grocery bill was $466. That’s about average for us in 2017 and pretty reasonable for 4 people. I got an interesting comment from a reader, though.

What?! Are you guys eating ramen every meal or something. 🙂

Heh heh, no we don’t eat ramen every meal. Fresh ramen is awesome, but I assume he meant the cheap Cup Noodle instant ramen. Those instant ramen noodles are the worst thing you can eat. The noodles are fried and have a ton of saturated fat. The seasoning packet has MSG and more than 50% of the daily recommended sodium. They are terrible snacks and nobody should eat them every day.

Actually, we eat pretty well and today I’ll share some of our meals with you. Some of my favorite personal finance bloggers have been showing off their home cooked meals so here is my entry. See the end of this post for a list of those posts. Maybe we can have a cook off at the next FinCon or something like that. I’ll also compare the cost of cooking a meal at home to a comparable dish at a restaurant. It really is much cheaper when you DIY.

On the grill

I’ll ease into it with some BBQ and then branch off into more exotic Asian dishes.

frugal food

First up is the pulled pork sandwich. The pork roast is one of the most affordable pieces of meat you can buy. The picnic roast costs less than $2 per pound at our supermarket, that’s cheaper than tofu! I got a small half roast for less than $6 and cooked it in our slow cooker. Mrs. RB40 made coleslaw and this was our dinner last Sunday. At a BBQ restaurant, a pulled pork sandwich would cost $12 each. We made 4 sandwiches and had plenty of pulled pork left. The slow cooker made this meal super easy as well.

food expense

Next are baby back ribs and sides. This is one of my favorite dishes to cook in the summer. It’s perfect for the summer holidays. Here is our dinner from Memorial Day. We had BBQ ribs, baked beans, collard greens, corns, potato salad, a local IPA, and some cherries to top it off. The ribs cost about $12 and the rest maybe $8. That was a great meal with plenty of left over for $20. This meal would cost $55 if we had gone to our favorite BBQ joint.

loco moco cost

One of RB40Jr’s favorite meals is a hamburger. I usually buy a chuck roast and ground it myself with our KitchenAid mixer. (The food grinder is an awesome attachment.) I don’t trust the ground beef from the grocery store because who knows what went into that package. This time I made an extra patty so I can have loco moco for lunch the next day. Pictured above is Joe’s special loco moco – burger patty, fried egg, caramelized onions, and pickled red onion on top of white rice. I didn’t put gravy on top because I’m not a big fan and it’s more work. This lunch costs less than $2. I could get the same dish from a local food cart for $9.50.

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On the stove

Okay, enough with the grill. Let’s move on to some interesting Asian dishes.

Bah Jang

This is Bah Jang, my mom’s specialty. It is made from sticky rice, Chinese sausage, chicken or pork, garlic, dried shitake mushroom, and sweet preserved radish. Everyone’s Bah Jang is a little different and you can find many different recipes on the internet. You’re supposed to wrap this in bamboo leaves to make sticky rice dumplings, but we never do. That’s extra work… We eat this with peanuts, sliced egg omelet, and plenty of greens. I’m not sure about the cost on this one because there are some specialty ingredients. Probably around $10 for a big Pyrex container.

bitter melon food cost

Stir fried bitter melon & chicken with black bean sauce. Yum! This is Mrs. RB40’s favorite dish, NOT! She said “So not my favorite. Would be thrilled if I never saw another bitter melon again!” Heh heh heh. Bitter melon is really good for you, but as the name suggests, it is bitter. I didn’t like the bitter melon when I was a kid, but I love it now. Mrs. RB40 grew up in the US and never had bitter melon until she married me. Unfortunately, I don’t think Mrs. RB40 will ever acquire the taste for the bitter melon. RB40Jr still has a chance so I’m forcing him to eat this dish to build up his tolerance for bitter food. I’m sure he’ll love this dish when he’s older. This diner costs around $5. We’d probably spend at least $20 at a Chinese restaurant for the same.

Most of my cooking falls into this stir fry category. It’s a simple technique and there are endless variations. I’ve made broccoli beef, long beans and chicken, Pad Thai noodles, and many other dishes. The ingredients change a bit, but the technique is the same. This is the easy way to make dinner.

Yum Canned Sardine

The Yum Canned Sardine is an unusual dish from Thailand. This is sardine salad and I’m so addicted to it. However, Mrs. RB40 doesn’t like this dish much either. She said you eat sardine with crackers and she can’t handle this concoction. Yum Sardine is made from canned sardine in tomato sauce (check the Hispanic food aisle), red onion, green onion, cilantro, lime, fish sauce, sugar, and Sriracha hot sauce. You don’t even need to warm it up. This takes less than 5 minutes to put together and it is ridiculously delicious! The sardines are loaded with healthy Omega 3 and it is very cheap. This dish cost about $2. I have to eat this for lunch because the family won’t eat it for dinner… I doubt you can find this in a restaurant. So good..!

lemongrass beef salad roll

This one is Vietnamese lemongrass beef salad roll. First, I marinated a flat iron steak in minced lemongrass, garlic, brown sugar, fish sauce, olive oil, and ground pepper. While the meat marinated, I went to pick some mints and lettuces from the garden. I also cut up a cucumber, carrot, and green onion. Once I cooked the beef and boiled the noodles, it was time to wrap it up… This one was quite delicious and everyone liked it. I’m not sure how much this would cost in a restaurant. Maybe around $8 for 2 rolls? We ate about 12 rolls so it’s definitely a lot cheaper to make at home.

Keep your food expense low

It’s simple. To keep your food expense low, you need to cook at home. I usually cook Asian food and Mrs. RB40 cooks Mexican and Italian, such as enchiladas and lasagna. We have plenty of variety and we have become pretty good cooks over the years. Cooking is a skill that you can learn and it will serve you for a lifetime. It’s cheaper to eat at home and a lot healthier to boot. It’s even easier today because the internet is an awesome resource for home cooks. You can find a ton of recipes and cooking videos online. Everyone can become a good cook if they keep at it.

tamale food cost

Some PF blogger chefs

These PF home cooks always make me hungry. Check them out! Bloggers, send me your post with mouth watering pictures and I’ll add them here.

What about you? Do you cook at home or eat out all the time? Home cooked meals really are much healthier.

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{ 72 comments… add one }
  • Grant @ Life Prep Couple June 22, 2017, 2:05 am

    Man those memorial day ribs look amazing. We have started working hard at trimming our grocery bill and have got it down quite a bit. Our goal is under $400 a month for two adults and a baby. I am always amazed when I hear people talking about spending $800-$1000 a month on groceries while also eating out for lunch several times a day.

    I will search through my Google photos to see if I have any “mouth watering” meals 🙂

    • retirebyforty June 22, 2017, 7:11 am

      Thanks! I love ribs, but we don’t make them that often anymore. Too much red meat. 🙂
      Great job cutting down your grocery bills. Our grocery used to be $200 when there were just two of us. Inflation is pretty high in the grocery store as well.

      • Counting Quarters June 26, 2017, 1:17 pm

        I wish we could get our bill down to $200 for the two of us. Typically we are around $350-$400. It was even more until Costco showed up and now we save about $50 a month on various proteins. We love trying new food at restaurants and then trying to replicate it at home. It keeps things interesting and we get to add new recipes to our repertoire.

  • Lazy Man and Money June 22, 2017, 3:43 am

    I eat those fried ramen noodles more often that I’d like to admit. I like how they taste and they are cheap and easy. That checks of 3 of the 4 boxes. Unfortunately, the last box, health, fails.

    At least the sodium isn’t as bad, as I had accidentally been making them by putting the seasoning in the water as they cook and then draining it. I’m guessing most of the sodium goes down the drain. I can’t do anything about the saturated fat though. Maybe my home-made smoothies make up for it ;-)?

    I find that most of the time we go out to dinner, it’s more “to get out of the house.” Like you, I work from home. Some days outside is just shuttling the kids to/from school and walking the dog. It’s easier in the summer because the days are longer and there are a lot of outdoor concerts and things suitable for picnics. The rest of the year is difficult.

    • retirebyforty June 22, 2017, 7:12 am

      I like certain brand of ramen too, but I try not to eat it very often now. The sodium is really high. Maybe I need to pour off the soup too.
      We have many choices here in Portland so eating out is an enjoyable experience. We could try food we haven’t cooked before. It’s fun.

  • Justin June 22, 2017, 4:00 am

    Looks a lot like the stuff we cook 🙂

    Like LazyMan, I like the cheapo 6/$1 ramen too. I rarely eat it though (partially because of the unhealthiness and partially because we have soooo much other, better food to eat). The most common way I eat regular ramen is to cook almost done, drain the water off and use a half pack of seasoning per pack of noodles. Instant lo mein. The trick is to not cook it too long or the noodles are too soft and squishy and they fall apart.

    We spend so little on good, relatively healthy from scratch meals that ramen doesn’t look all that cheap next to what we cook. We average out to about a buck per meal, so that’s actually about the same price as eating 2 of those cup o noodles (which honestly wouldn’t keep me full all day).

    • retirebyforty June 22, 2017, 7:14 am

      Your cooking always look great. I’m going to copy you and put a few food pictures in our monthly financial updates too. 🙂
      Wow, 2 cup o noodles. That’s double the sodium… Cooking from scratch is so much better especially when you have time.

  • Mrs. Adventure Rich June 22, 2017, 4:18 am

    I suddenly got very hungry…

    It is amazing how much we save when we focus on eating at home. And to be honest, we find way more satisfaction eating a delicious home cooked meal that we put time and effort into!

    • retirebyforty June 22, 2017, 7:15 am

      We also enjoy eating at home because we can be a bit messier too. Mrs. RB40 can tear into the ribs instead of taking dainty bites. She is so self conscious. 🙂

    • It’s true!

      I love homecooked meals and the money I save from cooking them.

      I see my co-workers buying food every day but they don’t know how much money each year they could save if they prepared their meals from home.

      Saving a little here and a little there adds up to quite a bit in the long run.

  • Al June 22, 2017, 4:23 am

    We cook at home quite a bit but eat out whenever we want. We have a $400 budget for groceries but typically we are closer to $500.

    Our favorites meals are won ton soup, salmon or cod fish and veggies. Not meat eaters per se but love lean pork medallions and in special occasions we get lobster tails.

    There is a fresh fish market Saturday’s AM at the harbor so we might go and pick the local catch from the fisherman there.

    We found out that a simple grittle works for us. No need to use the stove that much.

    Also we have a small over the counter oven. No need to use the big oven either.

    Recently we bought a slicer and use it for ham, chese, and vegetables. Works great with snacks and easy to carry meals. We have a farmers market but mostly pick our bulk items at Costco.

    We have struggled with our relationship with food so now we prioritise quality over quantity and are cautious about our choices.

    Quality food cost more but in the right quantity is comparable. Cheap food such as hot dogs and hamburgers might be less but the health cost much higher.

    Food is one place where less is more and cost should not be bargain with as health is the most important aspect in life.

    • retirebyforty June 22, 2017, 7:17 am

      Thanks for sharing. We eat a bit too much meat and should cut down a bit. More fish would be better.
      We should move to quality over quantity too. Although, I hamburgers aren’t bad. It’s the fries that has all the fat and junk.

  • Matt @ Optimize Your Life June 22, 2017, 4:38 am

    I’m always jealous when you post pictures of your cooking. Looks delicious! I have not taken the time to develop those skills much. It has always been on the “some day” list. Looks like I should get going, though, if I want to save more on my food budget!

    • retirebyforty June 22, 2017, 7:17 am

      It takes time to build up your cooking skill. You should cook more. Maybe on the weekend?

  • Vivianne June 22, 2017, 4:40 am

    The bitter melon dish looks great!
    When I was eating strictly vegetarian diet, I prepared a lot of bitter melon dishes – soup, stir fried, stew, pickle, etc. It contains a vitamin B complex – B3, B5 and B6, that’s why it’s bitter. Vit B is bitter. Cooking at home save tons of money and a lot healthier as I’d use a fraction of what restaurants and food cart would have used.

    NPR was saying that we have more access to recipe than ever, but this is not the prime years of home-cooking because people just want to read and watch video about cooking. LOL 🙂

    • retirebyforty June 22, 2017, 7:20 am

      You must be Chinese descent. 🙂 Most people just don’t like the taste of bitter melon. It is so healthy!
      That’s interesting about the NPR story. It is fun to look at cooking video, but I wouldn’t bother if I don’t cook.

  • FullTimeFinance June 22, 2017, 4:45 am

    My wife is the cook of the household. We do occasionally go out for convienence but it’s easy to see making your own food is the key to keeping costs down. Another way to keep it down is to do casseroles and other things where you don’t have a segregated meat, starch, and veggie. Those type of meals tend to be less expensive to buy the ingredients, especially in my case with two meat eater young boys in the household.

    • retirebyforty June 22, 2017, 7:21 am

      Mrs. RB40 likes making casseroles too. I cook mostly on the grill and stove top. Not really an oven guy. 🙂

  • Mrs. Groovy June 22, 2017, 4:47 am

    Great job, Joe. Those dishes look amazing, especially the pulled pork. You said you buy picnic roast. Is that how the package is marked? The only time I made pulled pork I was told to buy pork butt (shoulder). It came out OK but not as good as I’ve had in restaurants. Perhaps I’m a bit spoiled by NC BBQ.

    We’re averaging around $350 a month this year for two — mostly by shopping at Aldi. I supplement that with occasional trips to another market for fresh fish.

    • retirebyforty June 22, 2017, 7:24 am

      Yes, the package is marked picnic. Pork butt should be about the same, though. Maybe you need to get a more fatty piece. Don’t cut out the fats. 🙂
      The pull pork is hit and miss at the restaurants here. At a BBQ joint, it’s usually pretty good because they are a bit smokey. Often the pull pork is too dry, though. I think it doesn’t reheat well.

  • Mr. Freaky Frugal June 22, 2017, 5:11 am

    Oh man, I love Pulled Pork and Ribs. Mrs. Freaky Frugal and I make regular trips to Austin and the Texas BBQ restaurants there are great!

    • retirebyforty June 22, 2017, 7:24 am

      Yumm.. Texas BBQ. We have a few good BBQ restaurants here, but they are very expensive…

  • Ms. Frugal Asian Finance June 22, 2017, 5:32 am

    Ahh so yummy!!! The food looks amazingly delicious. I have to say you have great photography skills too! Mr. FAF and I usually cook Chinese food since Mr. FAF is Chinese and he’s the main chef in the house. I love some variety too, but hubby is not so adventurous when it comes to food @_@

    • retirebyforty June 22, 2017, 7:25 am

      Thanks! I like Chinese food too, but we also like Mexican, Italian, and other Asian food. I love trying new food. It’s an affordable luxury. 🙂

  • FromUSA June 22, 2017, 5:38 am

    “Heh heh, no we don’t eat ramen every meal. Fresh ramen is awesome, but I assume he meant the cheap Cup Noodle instant ramen.”

    Yes. I meant those precooked instant noodle squares from the grocery store. Haha. Actually, I still kind of love those. But I usually just throw away the seasoning packet and flavor it with my own ingredients and sauces.

    I love stir-fried bitter melons, too (and stir-fried food in general). It is one of my all time favorites. I’ll have to look into trying your version of it. I don’t get why it is labelled as “bitter” though. My taste buds certainly don’t register it as such at all. I always find it somewhat fascinating and surprising that many people consider it to be bitter and unpleasant. I just don’t get it. Those people are so strange. No? 🙂

    BTW, if you don’t mind my asking, where did you grow up?

    • retirebyforty June 22, 2017, 7:27 am

      You must be Chinese descent! 🙂 I assume most Americans don’t like bitter melon. The taste is too strange for Mrs. RB40. I don’t find it bitter now. I didn’t like it when I was a kid, though. Must be one of those acquired taste thing. I moved to California from Thailand when I was 12.

  • Friendly Russian June 22, 2017, 5:56 am

    We cook at home all the time. Our eating out budget is $40-50 per month. But, we still spend much more on groceries than you.
    And we don’t but at all these fancy stores like WholeCheck or “Buy Organic for a Leg”.
    No, we buy at Costco and a local Mexican and Indian stores.
    Maybe it’s because we eat a lot, I don’t know 😀

    • retirebyforty June 22, 2017, 7:28 am

      $40-$50? That’s cheap! You must have missed a zero. 🙂
      Yeap, you probably eat more. RB40Jr and my mom don’t eat much at all. Mrs. RB40 also eat modestly.

  • Nicoleandmaggie June 22, 2017, 6:13 am

    The frugal girl posts meal pictures every Friday.

    I think another important thing is to eat what you buy and not let things go bad first. That seems to be the main difference between people with grocery bills higher than ours these days since we do not at all scrimp and save at the grocery store.

    • retirebyforty June 22, 2017, 7:29 am

      Thanks for letting me know. I will check it out.
      We rarely have things go bad on us. Our fridge is small so we can’t buy a ton of food. That’s probably one factor.

  • Mrs. Picky Pincher June 22, 2017, 6:33 am

    Ohmahlawd, these dishes look amazing! I really do think the key to saving money on food is cooking great stuff in your own kitchen. It just goes to show that you don’t need takeout to be well-fed. Thanks for sharing!

    • retirebyforty June 22, 2017, 7:30 am

      Thanks! I enjoy cooking. It’s a great way to save and eat the food just the way you like it.

  • The Grounded Engineer June 22, 2017, 6:35 am

    Now I am hungry, Joe! Thanks for the write-up – it is motivating and I will share this post with my wife to see if we can cut down on our grocery bill. Currently, we hit between $800-$1,000/month on groceries.

    • retirebyforty June 22, 2017, 7:31 am

      Your bill is pretty high. How many people are you feeding?
      Some grocery stores are really expensive around here and we rarely frequent those stores. Maybe when we need a nice cheese…

  • Physician on FIRE June 22, 2017, 7:07 am

    Costco and Aldi have been good to us, but we don’t cook quite as well or fancy as you guys do!

    I think the biggest “budget buster” for us is the quantity of fresh fruit we buy. Well worth it of course, but even at the bargain stores, berries and melons cost a pretty penny.

    Cheers!
    -PoF

    • retirebyforty June 22, 2017, 8:15 am

      Fresh fruit is an issue. We usually make do with apples and oranges in the winter. It’s great now, though. Fresh fruits are much more affordable in season.

  • Dads Dollars Debts June 22, 2017, 7:13 am

    All this article did was make me hungry. Can you come over and cook for me?

    Our food expenses are surprisingly high despite being a family of 3. We don’t waste any of it (I love left overs) and we rarely eat out. I even pack my lunch most days. Still we are spending twice what you are. Thanks for some tips on cooking!

    • retirebyforty June 22, 2017, 8:16 am

      Heh heh, sure thing. Our kid doesn’t eat much at all. I’m sure our bill will increase once he’s older and eat more than both of us put together.

  • Darren June 22, 2017, 7:17 am

    Joe,

    Keeping your monthly grocery bill under $500 is quite an accomplishment. I’m curious to see how well you’ll do as RB40Jr gets older and starts eating up the house!

    My wife has finally started cooking regularly, so we’re finally starting to save a little money on food. I’m ashamed to say that we’ve easily averaged $1500 to $2000 a month eating out and buying groceries for a family of four (wife, me, 8yr old girl, 4yr old girl). My goal next year is to stay under $1000 for groceries and eating out.

    • retirebyforty June 22, 2017, 8:17 am

      I don’t mind spending more if the kid will eat more. He is so skinny now.
      Wow, that’s a lot of money on food. I’m sure you will get better with more practice.

  • Dividend Growth Investor June 22, 2017, 7:21 am

    That looks very appetizing. Cooking at home is definitely a big money saver. We recently started buying organic fruits and vegetables, which increased the budget a little.

    • retirebyforty June 22, 2017, 8:18 am

      We probably should buy organic fruits and vegetables too. I’ll take a closer look next time. Previously, they have been a lot more expensive.

  • Financial Coach Brad June 22, 2017, 7:58 am

    This is a constant work in progress for us. Our food spend for 2 people is about $600/month. We eat paleo so no rice, pasta, or other low-cost filler foods. Lots of veggies and (grass-fed non-GMO) meats, which can be costly. They are planning to open a Costco near us within the next year and I’m hoping we can save some money using that as an option.

    • retirebyforty June 22, 2017, 8:19 am

      That’s not too bad if you can’t eat grains. We really need to cut back on carb as well. I’ll work on that…

  • Mr. Tako June 22, 2017, 8:19 am

    Thanks for the mention in your post Joe! Great food pics! I have a food post coming up this weekend you might enjoy. 😉

    For us, eating great food is just part of having a good life. There’s absolutely no way we could eat so much great food if we ate-out. We’d easily be into the thousands of dollars a month!

    Our family averages roughly $500/month for food expenses, but that also includes paper and cleaning supplies too! (so, roughly similar to your costs Joe)

  • Mr. Tako June 22, 2017, 8:24 am

    Also Joe — I want to make that lemongrass beef salad roll. Can you recommend a recipe?

  • nc June 22, 2017, 8:25 am

    can you share the bah jang recipe?

    • retirebyforty June 22, 2017, 12:09 pm

      This one is kind of hard because everyone has a different recipe. Here is one that looks good, but more complicated that what we make.
      https://highheelgourmet.com/2012/06/24/bahjang/
      The one we made is simpler. You can look at the recipe I listed in the main post and adapt. No need to wrap if you don’t have time or proper bamboo leaves. We cook the garlic, then meat, then Chinese sausage. Mix everything with uncooked sticky rice. Season it and steam the whole thing.

  • Mr Crazy Kicks June 22, 2017, 9:21 am

    Oh man, you guys are eating well! Your memorial day feast has my mouth watering. I’m sure that went well with a nice local IPA! Good thing it’s almost lunchtime here, because this post is making me hungry…

    I did make some ribs the other day too. Like you said, meat like that only costs $2/lb at the local grocery. I don’t grind my own beef, but I do get it from a local farm. It’s super high quality and still way cheaper than going out to eat. Now that it’s summer we are also getting a lot of nice veggies in from the garden. I’ll be having a fresh picked salad for lunch 🙂

    Great food pics, and thanks for the shout out!

    • retirebyforty June 22, 2017, 5:34 pm

      The BBQ was great! We’ll do it again for Independence Day. Ribs are awesome, but not really cheap. The bones weight a lot. 🙂 Our garden is doing very well too. Now we have endless salad. It will take a while longer for the other veggies.

      • Joe June 23, 2017, 5:29 pm

        Hi Joe, how do you protect the garden in the winter?

        • retirebyforty June 23, 2017, 9:09 pm

          We have a community garden and we plant clovers in the winter. Then just till it in when it’s spring.

  • Tim Kim @ Tub of Cash June 22, 2017, 11:05 am

    Joe, your food looks good. And it’s making me hungry =) The ability to cook is a common theme I’m finding, among the FIRE cohort. Makes sense since it saves so much money. My wife and I are really bad cooks. We can stir fry chicken and we can make some korean soups and stews, but that’s about it. We have ramen at home too. The spicy Korean ones in the square packages (not the microwavable cups, those are nasty). And we put Kimchi, pork, and red pepper paste in it to make it even spicier and tastier. That’s roughly the extent we can manage. Pretty sad.

    • retirebyforty June 22, 2017, 5:36 pm

      I’m sure if you keep working on it, you’ll be better cooks. Korean food seems pretty intricate, though. All the banchan are awesome, but looks like a lot of work.

  • Tawcan June 22, 2017, 11:18 am

    Looks like some delicious dishes!

    Should check our my wife and I’s food blog here:
    http://www.threemorebites.com/

    • retirebyforty June 22, 2017, 5:36 pm

      Great site! I’ll add it this evening.

  • Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life June 22, 2017, 5:56 pm

    Good luck with the bittermelon indoctrination! I grew up with it, grew it, and still hate it 😀 Bitter’s just a taste that hasn’t grown on me.

    But now you’ve made me paranoid about ground beef. We don’t eat red meat often but you’ve planted the seed that maybe we might want to start buying and grinding our own some day. We’ll need a food grinder, though … what else do you use it for?

    I have a deep love for ramen but can’t justify feeding my family that as much as I would eat it. 🙂 I cook most nights and maybe get take out 3-4 times a month. I don’t know what our food budget is off the top of my head, but we have plans to add a deep freezer to the house so that I can stock up when protein goes on sales. A breadmaker might also be on the list someday if my numbers show that it’ll be more economical in the long term.

    I share some of my recipes on Fridays but always forget to take pictures before I demolish the food 🙂

    • retirebyforty June 22, 2017, 9:57 pm

      We have the food grinder attachment for our KitchenAid mixer. It’s the attachment I use the most. Mrs. RB40 uses the mixer a lot more than me.
      Sometime I think a freezer would be nice, but we haven’t really needed one yet. I don’t know if the saving will be worth the hassle and the cost. We usually eat our food before I could take a picture too. 🙂

  • Martin Stone June 22, 2017, 9:17 pm

    Great photographs and explanation of how to save money cooking at home. The good thing about cooking at home is that you can also splurge on more expensive items to make the meal even better. This evening I cooked shrimp in butter and garlic and added cream at the end to make a rich sauce, that was paired with some simple spaghetti and asparagus. The splurge was buying some really nice large shrimp and being able to have so many of them on the plate!

  • SMM June 23, 2017, 7:56 am

    A very valuable thing we’ve done is keep a list on our fridge. That way we are focused when we go to the grocery store. But every now and then, temptation does kick in and we buy one or two things outside of the list too, but at the same time are aware of when and how we will use that product. Diggin the BBQ by the way 🙂

  • Tom June 23, 2017, 8:59 am

    Thanks for sharing your favorite meals with readers. They look delicious. In our neck of the woods, Aldi and Trader Joe sell organic vegetables at reasonable price.

  • Dividend Diplomats June 23, 2017, 3:50 pm

    RB40 –

    When is the cook book coming out? Think you can make a screamer – Kitchen Friendly Budget Minded Meals! Or something like that. Looks delicious and now I am starving. Love my PB sandwiches, forever and always.

    -Lanny

  • Lily He-Prudhomme June 24, 2017, 12:20 am

    This makes me so happy! That loco moco looks great. And wow your good budget average is the near same! But well, you guys make it last for 4 but we’re only 2.5 (hubby eats half his meals at work.) Pull pork is definitely my go to too. $1.99/lb and its just a long & slow bake. I do think its easier to eat cheaper when you eat Asian cuisine.

    • retirebyforty June 26, 2017, 7:49 am

      Our kid and my mom don’t eat much at all. I think Asian cuisine is definitely cheaper. It’s less centered on meat.

  • Dividend Portfolio June 24, 2017, 11:38 am

    Well, I’m officially jealous. My food expense is a huge part of my budget, which I should do a better job of tracking. In fact, I don’t track it because I’m afraid of how much the overall number is.

    My biggest problem is that I EAT OUT EVERY SINGLE DAY. I don’t cook. I guess I could cook to save my life, but I don’t. I rotate between fast food like McDonalds and Taco Bell to fast Chinese food and then the occasional buffet. In fact, I’m heading out to a buffet right now. It’s kind of sad, but as a single guy living with roommates, it’s what I’m used to. It’s really said that I’m close to age 40. My mom and friends have been trying to get me to cook for years, but it hasn’t happened. Maybe when I get married, but we’ll see.

    Thanks for the post, and I definitely agree with you that the best way to save on food expenses is to cook and eat most of your meals at home. I’m just a creature of a very bad habit.

    • retirebyforty June 26, 2017, 7:52 am

      That’s not healthy at all. You should try to eat healthier especially as you get older. It’s tough to maintain your weight past 40. 🙂 Good luck!

  • Adriana @MoneyJourney June 25, 2017, 11:04 am

    We rarely, rarely eat out. Rarely!
    It’s not necessarily because we can’t afford it or are aggressive savers. It’s simply because cooking at home is much healthier than eating out all the time. Plus, I love cooking so that’s a big plus!

    Frankly, if we ate out all the time, I’d probably end up overweight. I doubt restaurants, let alone food joints, are careful about the calories on your plate.

    Not only that, but who knows if your piece meat in your hamburger hasn’t been handled by the chef who might or might not have picked his nose 😀 (I’m sorry, but had to mention it!)

    Also, eating at home is so much cheaper! Earlier today, I saw an advertisement in a food joint’s window near our home: 1 slice of watermelon, $3. We can buy a whole watermelon for less!

  • Andreas June 27, 2017, 7:12 am

    What do people buy for food? We are two adults and one child and we eat whatever we want. Not enough vegetarian and too much meat but we are improving every month!

    Our food costs a max of €500 (sometimes almost below €400)..and that includes diapers, toiletpapers and stuff like that. And also buy organic when available. We cook our own food, eat out maybe twice a month, and that is usually pizza or something else that is crappy. Oh and I live in Sweden, and we are supposed to have the highest foodprices…but when I compare to others my family pays almost nothing for food. I think “the others” are throwing way to much away or eating out once a day.

    Thanks for sharing your recepies, I will try some of those and I think it will actually help to cut our costs some more.

    • retirebyforty June 28, 2017, 5:58 pm

      I think some people shop at organic stores and health food stores. Those are probably twice as expensive as regular grocery store. Eating out is a lot more expensive than cooking at home.
      Enjoy! If you need more help, just check the internet for those recipes and try different ones.

  • Ying-NavigatingAdulthood July 1, 2017, 1:28 am

    I found you via Ms. FAF’s Asian Personal Finance blogger roundup! I’m so glad to see that there’s someone else who also keeps their monthly food expenses low! [Me and my husband try to keep it under $275 in the Boston area] And lolol at the bitter melon, I married a tall white guy and although he can tolerate preserved duck egg, he doesn’t like bitter melon.

    • retirebyforty July 3, 2017, 8:30 am

      Welcome! Your food expense is great. Nice job. Bitter melon isn’t that bitter. I think it just taste strange to people who didn’t grow up with them. 🙂

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