Why hello there! Geez louise, am I writing an update about last month a month late?!? I’ve been a bit busy. And I’m about to get busier (psst! I’m gonna have an announcement in the near future!).
But! To refresh your memory, my family and I pledged to not go out to eat in February, with a few exceptions (coffee and a pastry allowed, in very limited amounts; we already had plans to go to Great Wolf Lodge for a night; we had one Burgerville “cheat” night to use).
The goal: To virtually eliminate our restaurant expenses (which comprises 33% of our monthly food bill) without increasing our remaining food budget by more than 10%.
The result: Overall, we reduced our total food budget by about 9%–which was disappointing, and far off the mark in terms of only increasing our grocery bill by 10%! But I was pretty sure why: while our restaurant spending went down by 70% (I did take advantage of our “cheats”), our grocery bill went up by 37%. This was mainly because of Valentine’s Day (I splurged on steak and lobster), and because we held two or three dinner parties for eight–lots of comics folks were in town for Wizard World Portland (no I’m not linking to them).
Conclusion: If we were going to realize the full benefit of cutting out restaurants, I needed to similarly tighten our grocery budget. A no brainer for most, probably, but oh well!
Plus, we did eat out a few times, using a loophole I discovered near the beginning of the month: we used our weekly cash allowance instead of our food budget. While not strictly kosher, I was grateful for this for a few reasons:
- I got super sick
- I had a week where I cooked three freakin’ four-course meals and I was exhausted
- If I can’t go out to eat occasionally life is terrible
- Cooking virtually every meal (with a few exceptions) was, overall, easier than I thought. When I made our monthly meal plan, I made sure to add in any activities/events we had, so I was better about planning something super easy the night I had book club, for example.
- While the urge to have a treat is a powerful inducement to go out to eat, I actually felt like social pressure was even more of a factor. The idea of looking cheap (or like I was no fun) made me more uncomfortable than passing up a sushi dinner.
- Using my “personal funds” (my weekly cash allowance) made me a lot more selective about going out to eat–the reality of handing over cash made it much more real!
Finally, the most interesting thing I learned during this experiment is how to make pressed sushi (pictured above)! I’ll post the technique/recipe . . . before June. I hope.