The biggest and hardest change for our family has been cutting back on our restaurant spending. I am a huge foodie so I loved to go out and try new foods and we had developed an expensive habit of eating out for convenience regularly. This was a big challenge for us but I’ve changed my thinking about these mindless purchases as well. Instead of using restaurants as an end of the week or date night treat, we pick up something nice to cook at home. The price is much lower and we have a lot more quality time together. We talk while we cook and we don’t have to share the dining room with the other patrons at the restaurant. And instead of thinking of eating out as a convenience we realize that it’s actually faster to cook up a simple meal at home than to drive to the restaurant and wait to order and be served and then drive back. For us- it’s actually much faster than fast food even. This way we save time, we save money, and we cut back on our driving time (great for us and the environment). We also cut back on our wasted food because we are home to cook everything we buy.
When we cook at home, we eat much healthier as well. We eat smaller portions, less meat, more veggies, and a lot less fried food too. Luckily, I am a pretty great home cook so most of the time we are eating better tasting food than when we eat out as well. Since we started cooking at home most of the time, I’ve gotten even better. We haven’t eaten out in a two months. That’s a huge change for us since when we first started cutting back on our restaurant spending we struggled with limiting it to once per week. Meanwhile, this change is saving us a ton of money and we are super stoked to be investing all these savings!
Update: Check out our Instagram to see what $200/ person/ month grocery budget in Hawaii can look like https://www.instagram.com/msfirenerd/.
Mr. Nerd’s work is a mix of work-from-home, in person meetings, and visits to clients. Often he will leave around 9 for a meeting and stuff will come up and he won’t get back home until late morning or early afternoon. This means he’ll often be out of the house when hunger strikes. In our pre-FIRE life, he would swing by the nearest drive thru and drop a cool $20 on a number 5 with a large frosty beverage. To combat these regrettable purchases we keep a snack pack in the car and Mr. Nerd brings a water bottle along when he leaves the house. So instead of eating a low quality and overpriced fast food burger with a side of ice-cold corn syrup, he snacks on the nuts and crackers in the car. And when he gets home, we have real food, sans corn syrup.