Do you know how much you spend on food?  This is one of the most common spending categories that people need help with.  Why? Well, we all need to eat to live, and your food budget is directly linked to your eating habits.

I’m not here to tell you how much you “should” spend on food, or how you “should” be eating.  I’m here today to share how you can approach your food budget and eating habits mindfully, as it relates to your values.  

This is a practice about consciously spending on food in a way that aligns with how you’d like to be fueling your body with food – aligning your belly with your budget!

So what does this practice look like?  I’m going to walk you through the steps I take in this practice, and provide personal examples, so that you can take this framework and personalize it to yourself.

 

Track your current food spending by category.

I like to track my food spending in different categories.  I track groceries, dining out, takeout/delivery, and meals I eat out for business (meetings with clients, colleagues, etc.)

I pulled together an average monthly cost in each category over the last 3 years (yup, I’m that nerdy).

Since 2015, I’ve been  living with my boyfriend, now husband, but we didn’t have a joint account in that year, or share as many expenses, so I think those numbers mostly represent me as a single person.

2016 and 2017 represent food spending for both my husband and I together.

Also, any spending in my husband’s personal or business account is not reflected here, but this is a pretty accurate picture, since most food spending goes through our joint account.

Category 2015 2016 2017
Delivery or Take Out $94.11 $72.72 $60.72
Groceries $144.83 $353.10 $350.51
Dining Out $202.12 $120.08 $72.25
Meals Out for Business $21.57 $167.84 $126.29
TOTAL $441.06 $713.73 $609.77


How much do you spend in different categories of food?  You can track this weekly or monthly in a google drive, spreadsheet, an app, or with good old pen and paper.

 

Review your food spending with curiosity and mindfulness.

Ahhh I just shared numbers!  Before you run and hide, I’m going to talk through how I interpret these numbers.

Let’s talk general trends.  I’ve been able to decrease delivery and dining out, while increasing grocery shopping.  My meals out for business have fluctuated up and down.

Do you notice categories that look really high or really low?

Category 2015 2016 2017
Delivery or Take Out Happening a lot Happening less Happening even less
Groceries Not grocery shopping More grocery shopping Grocery shopping stayed the same
Dining Out Did this as a “date night” activity a lot Started doing this less Have decreased this even more
Meals out for business Packed lunch a lot Got lazy and ate out a lot Used this as a networking tool – coffee dates


The next question to ask yourself – what is happening in your daily life to cause spending in each category?

Delivery – well, that happens when I’m done work for the day, I’m starving, and there’s no food in my fridge.  I also order delivery a lot on the weekends.

Dining out – my husband and I would do a weekly date night by going to a restaurant.  Recently, our date nights are “free” and we watch a show together, or do an outdoor activity.

Groceries – I went from minimal grocery shopping to doing that a lot more.

Meals out for business – I went from packing a lunch, to eating out a lot, to still eating out but using it as a networking tool by having coffee or lunch dates.

What eating habits do you have that cause your food spending to look the way it does?  Think about an average week or day – what does eating look like?

 

Consider your values as it relates to food

The next step is to think about where you’d like your food spending and eating habits to be.

This has evolved over the years, but currently, my ideal eating habits are fresh, home cooked meals, organic, and vegetarian.  I also really value variety – I’m not a fan of leftovers (luckily my husband takes care of that for us!)

I don’t really love cooking, nor am I a fan of grocery shopping.  I value my time and not spending too much time doing these tasks.

I do like to grab coffees and lunches out for business meetings every now and again.  I also enjoy going to restaurants for date night. Philadelphia is a city with soooo much amazing food, it’s hard to resist!

I’d love to have my meals planned out for the week on Sunday, and make sure my fridge has the ingredients I need, when I need them.

This is me and my journey, yours may be similar or look totally different.  There’s no right or wrong way to eat, it’s all about what feels good and fuels your body.  What’s your ideal food situation look like?!

Think about lifestyle changes you may want to make to closer align your food and your values.

You may already be at a place where you feel good about your food spending and eating habits.  If that’s the case, brava!

If you’re like me, you may not be totally in alignment.  For me, dining out and delivery was too high. I never had a plan for the week.  My fridge was empty a lot of the time. I found myself ordering pizza and chinese food a lot.  That does not align with healthy, organic meals.

 

Tools that help me align my food budget with my values

I’m going to share some tools I use personally (as someone who hates cooking but loves freshly cooked meals).  These may or may not resonate with you and your food values, so take what you like, leave what you don’t. I share this as a way to help you think about what this could look like for you.

Grocery Delivery

In order to make sure I’m actually grocery shopping, I use Instacart.  It’s a grocery delivery service. I pick a local grocery store, shop online, and the groceries come to my door.

There’s an annual membership fee and I tip the driver, but I save a ton of time (time that earns more money in my business then I spend using this service).  It’s also helpful if you’re a spontaneous shopper and end up spending more at the grocery store because you see something you like and toss it in your cart.

If you want to try it, I’ll share my referral link.  If you use it, we each get $10 towards our next order!

Meal Delivery Services

I use Sun Basket for this.  We get 3 meals, 2 servings each, delivered every week on Tuesday.  This service is organic, and we can also choose vegetarian meals, which is how we like to eat at home.  It’s $12 per serving, which comes out to about $70 per week. The non-organic meal delivery services, like Hello Fresh, are a bit cheaper.

If you’d like to try it, you can use my referral link, and we each get $40 off our next order.

Meal Planning

This is probably the area I need the most help on.  I just hired a nutritionist and integrative health coach for help in this area because I haven’t been able to figure it out on my own.  

A friend told me about a service called Fresh 20, which gives you recipes for the week, 20 ingredients for your grocery list, it takes 1 hour of prep time (that I would probably do on Sunday), and quick cook times during the week.

Eating Out Purposefully

You don’t have to stop eating out, at all!  For me, I like to eat out because I’ve consciously chosen to, not because I’m hangry and scrambling for food.

Recently, I’ve been going to the local grocery store and buying some of their store made sushi for lunch 1 day per week, and every now and then, I order a pizza on Sunday’s.

I also buy coffee or lunch out a few times a month when I’m doing in person “coffee dates” with fellow women business owners or potential clients.

We still do date night at restaurants sometimes, but we’ve been doing more outdoor activities since it’s summer, and it’s much more budget friendly.  We also will watch a movie or do other free activities for date nights because we value money flowing other places right now.

 

Takeaways

I shared a lot about my journey, which may or may not resonate with you.  Your journey could look totally different – and that’s okay! There’s no right or wrong way to do this.  The point is to practice being more mindful about your food budget and your eating habits, so that you can create sustainable lifestyle change, slowly over time, and align your belly and your budget with your values.
If you want support or a girlfriend to talk about this with, who won’t judge you, I’m here for you.  Schedule a free 30 minute money chat with me and let’s talk this through!