For the New Year I decided to finally lose those pesky 25 pounds. Rather than going on any specific diet I decided to rein in my portion sizes and reduce my calorie count. So far it's working since I'm down 5 pounds. Only 20 more to go!

I was a total Starbucks junkie before changing my eating habits. Now I've been going only like once a week since I don't want to use up my daily calories on drinks. It's been helping me a lot! Not only is it helping my waistline, it's helping my budget.

Has anyone else changed their eating habits around and noticed a change to their budget? Another thing is I've been avoiding fast food and eating out, which saves me additional dollars. It's a win-win.

Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul - and sings the tunes without the words - and never stops at all.

-Emily Dickinson

Original Post

Like the Emily Dickenson quote! She's my favorite. 

I've also been trying similar to what you're doing, losing weight although I need to lose more than 25 lbs but am starting with that amount. My income is fixed & low so saving on food is something I continually try to do. I know that cutting calories in various areas would help me save money. I started by cutting out fruit juices which I love & drinking only water & did well for several weeks but then developed cravings for orange juice. Finally decided to try to drink controlled amounts & I also do what my mom did when I was young, add an extra couple cups of water per half gallon of juice to stretch it. Still tastes good, just lighter. 

    I don't eat out or fast food anyway so that hasn't changed but there are definitely ways to save in the grocery store. 

        Like you, it finally hit home that simply cutting portion sizes would go a long way towards cutting my daily calories. I live alone & tend to read while I'm eating which is a big no no. It's too easy to just keep eating beyond what's needed. My "resolution" if anything is just to stop reading while I eat. 

Thanks for your post, it is encouraging.

       

When I created a spending tracker a few years ago, I broke down grocery receipts into a few different categories, one being junk food.  It has really helped with the budget and the calories.

I did the same for my category for the grandkids. We are always taking them places so find that we grab a bite out instead of eating at home. So I track restaurant food and junk food for them as well. We seldom eat out, and I learned most of the time when we did, it was with the grands.

I agree that cutting out unnecessary food and eating out saves calories and money!

Good for you  tracking your cash flow, I've heard my friends comment on this too, but they did not do what you did and begin to monitor it. Since January arrived I have been more cautious with money.

Here's what we do to make eating out more friendly to our bank account. We use Groupon to get deals, subscribe to emails that  give you perks:

 Ruby Tuesdays, BOGO's, also they have promo's weekly

TGI Fridays has $5 cheeseburgers and ff, on Tues only

Panera-kickback gift cards buy $50 and get $10 back, they also give rewards for visits.

Red Lobster, earn points for free appetizers or dessert, they have M-TH daily specials, Mon is unlimited shrimp.

Wendy's-BK-Popeyes-all have apps and promo's

These are just a few of the what's out there if you want to eat out on a budget. Plus if you want to put a snack and a drink in a car, that's another way too.

mintjulep posted:

When I created a spending tracker a few years ago, I broke down grocery receipts into a few different categories, one being junk food.  It has really helped with the budget and the calories.

I did the same for my category for the grandkids. We are always taking them places so find that we grab a bite out instead of eating at home. So I track restaurant food and junk food for them as well. We seldom eat out, and I learned most of the time when we did, it was with the grands.

I agree that cutting out unnecessary food and eating out saves calories and money!

Failure to plan is planning to fail.  You can get Bento boxes or just plain lunch boxes.  Pack them up with nutritious meals, snacks, and drinks.  That keeps your food budget down and keeps you and the grands from eating garbage.  This way, you are helping your pocket book and your waistline!

We are working on staying out of stores, this cuts down on the gas for the car and just not buying anything. Also, planning is the key to organizing outings for shopping. We look at what we need, where we are going to got to get it, plan the day and the route so there is no doubling back. We go to the places on one side of the road and get what we need, same for the return trip. No crossovers, these are time and gas wasters.

Oh, an aside, if you want to save money on gas, start your car after you and everyone else is in it with their seat-belts buckled and ready to pull off. Starting the car before any of this wastes gas.

I totally agree! When I started tracking BOTH calories AND grocery costs, I realized how much it really costs to eat badly. Everybody says fast food is cheap, but really, it isn't at all. It is cheaper than sit-down restaurants but not at all cheaper than making your own food. I liked the responder who listed the restaurant discounts, but they are all high-calorie, fast-food restaurants, which we never go to unless we are traveling and absolutely have to. I would add that we don't eat out at all unless I have a coupon or discount, and even then, it might only be once a month, if that, and for Xmas/bday gifts, I usually ask for restaurant gift cards. Also, my teenagers consume HUGE amounts of food now (our food bill tripled), so I buy bulk bags/large amounts of brown rice, potatoes, and whole wheat pasta (for fiber to fill them up) and inexpensive proteins like canned tuna/salmon, peanuts, eggs, and whole or parts chicken/turkey on sale. Red meats and everything that is already cut up, spiced, and mixed for you costs more. Cheese is now a barely sprinkled condiment at our house. Bought a spiralizer to make cheap veggies look better and different. Presentation is everything! LOL! But I can say that, as with everything, it's a trade off in time or money. Making your own food from scratch is very cheap but very time intensive. Experimented with making my own bread (cause flour is pennies cheap), but that is massively time consuming, so I don't think it's worth the money saved. I am trying to make my own pizza dough because that is outrageously expensive for what you get, and you can make pizza healthier at home. Kroger/Smith's has a pretty good dough mix for 50 cents a package that makes a small, single-serve (for my kids) pizza. Highly recommend that! Good luck!

When there's two pieces of cheese left, I remind myself that if I eat only one, now, I'll have the other for later and I won't have to spend money on some other food at that time. The cheese is an example. I do this with desserts and other foods, too. Sometimes it works and I wait which saves money, other times temptation is great. Also, if weight is lost and clothes fit better then I won't need to buy that next size up.

If eating out, we tend to go to the fast food places that allow coupons, post specials in the window, and we receive our food at the counter rather than being served. Generally we avoid drive-through, if the order is incorrect it takes time to go back and fix it.

And while on the subject, does anyone agree with tipping for carryout?

REDCATCEC,  No, I don't agree with tipping for carryout, but Panera Bread is a favorite of mine and I go there often (when I'm NOT on this no spend challenge). They get to know you and my food has improved in size and it's healthy so it's a win-win. 

On the other hand, when some of the seasonal salads were discontinued for the year, I found I could duplicate them pretty easily for a lot cheaper, but not the baguette. 

Well, my very favorite summer salad was the Poppy seed chicken "something or other" salad. As I had been getting it often, I knew what it had in it. It was dc'd at Panera so what did I have to lose? It had lettuce, tomato, , chicken breast, blueberries, strawberries, those little orange slices, I think pecans...and a poppy seed dressing. So I duplicated the ingredients and was looking for a Panera Bread salad dressing in the store, but instead found a "Skinny Girl poppy seed fat free/sugar free dressing". It was delicious.  I've also duplicated the autumn squash soup that I LOVED dearly, but it was so high in fat and calories. I found a recipe on the internet, tweaked it a little and it has way less fat and calories...I even buy the pumpkin seeds for a topping. Yummy. 

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