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

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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. 

I relate to this so much! 

We made the decision in July 2019 to transition to a whole foods, plant based diet for health reasons. This has impacted my grocery budget enormously! I no longer buy meats, cheeses, & dairy items, the most expensive items I was buying before. I generally try to only buy in-season fruits & veggies. Combine that with the base staples of this lifestyle being some of the most budget friendly items (rice, potatoes, quinoa, pasta), & my grocery budget has literally been chopped in half. Plus, although WFPB eating is technically vegan, we do not eat the "vegan" meats or cheeses due to them not being considered "whole food," which are the top price items for many vegans. I also pack my & my son's lunches every single day. This is for budget -- his hot lunch at school STARTS at $2.30 a day & I could easily spend upwards of $8 every day -- that adds up! -- & for the WFPB aspect -- his school's hot lunches have few, if any, vegan/ WFPB options to choose from, & I like to avoid being THAT person at a restaurant who has to ask about the ingredients in every dish so that acts as a big deterrent..! 

We are certainly not fanatical vegans (we are a lot more flexible around the holidays & even cave to our cravings for a cheese pizza now & then), but on an overarching theme, I have been so pleased with my weight loss, my & my husband's health gains, my son's passion for healthy eating, & my drastically reduced grocery budget. 

(If y'all are more interested in this lifestyle & its health benefits, check out the documentary Forks Over Knives on Netflix or their website -- they have a bunch of free recipes & articles about these benefits, or visit one of my favorite WFPB proponents on his website: .... this is no ad, I really do just love the guy's stuff!)

I work in a restaurant and a hotel, so I frequently have access to free food and free quality coffee.  My job is very physically demanding, so while I haven't lost weight due to putting on muscle, I have slimmed down.  I managed to save up enough for a trip to Iceland by taking the money I saved on food and coffee and putting it in an investment savings account--I leave in November!

I have to watch what I eat before going to the store, if I eat fruit, I am literally instantly hungry no matter where I am. No idea why, just have noticed this.

I am sure I have a well balanced meal before leaving the house, rarely buy junk food. But as we all know there are exceptions!

Shortly before the new year began, I stopped eating anything with any form of sweetener in it. This led to a primarily plant-based diet since around 80% of food in grocery stores contains some form of sweetener and the switch caused me to lose interest in eating much meat.

I generally make a big pot of soup and one other multi-meal item every weekend. Those last most of the week. In between, I eat a lot of eggs with sauteed vegetables. I snack on fruit or nuts.

Since almost everything has sweeteners in it, eating out doesn't happen. I go out for coffee once a week at most. Yet another cost savings.

I wasn't specifically tracking food costs so it's hard to calculate my savings, but this, in addition to being in the middle of a no-buy year, is substantial. I increased my 401K contributions to 19%, increased my corporate stock purchase plan to 10%, eliminated my credit card debt and doubled what I was putting towards mortgage principal payments.

Eating this way was a lifestyle change that wasn't nearly as difficult as I thought it would be. To me, it's an extension to the minimalist lifestyle change that I've been working towards for a couple of years.

I love the minimalist style of thinking and doing, it is great to see the refrig & freezer have space in it and the pantry without all the frills of this and that which never seem to be used or go away. I look at all the spices that will never be used up in at least 5 years, let alone their shelf life!

Junk food is rarely bought by me, it is my husband who wants cookies, crackers, and candy and is pretty unstoppable about it. What I do is leave the snacks alone that he has bought. We would be spending a lot less money if he eliminated all these snack bargains. Gotta admit he hits the clearance section frequently for his treats.

So we are at an impasse.

I'm definitely going to try the plant based diet and see if I see a difference in my grocery bill as well.  I do think ordering my groceries and doing curbside pickup saves me from the random purchases I hadn't intended on making as does having a weeklong meal plan...only buy for what I'm making that week.

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