Sunday, February 1, 2015

What I could have done with $28.02 instead

My little family has officially gone out to eat this year. It took a whole month before it happened and for that I'm pretty excited but we paid $28.02 for three burgers (one was just a patty with cheese/ no bun), two small fries and two small pops. We went to a new burger place in town. It's one of those where you order at the counter so there's no tip involved and we still spent almost $30. It was nice to get out with my boys. We enjoyed the time away from home together. Unlike when we used to go out all the time it was a treat to be dining out. But $28.02!?!?! Am I losing my mind or is that obscene?

I just can't help but consider what I could have done with $28.02 instead of spending it on one greasy meal away from home. I'm using sale prices on everything for these examples because this is about how much I end up paying for these particular items that I do generally purchase on sale.

Scenario one: Let's start with dinner. I could have bought a cheap frozen pizza, none the less one that we really like ($3) and we usually top it with some extra mozzarella so I'd pick up 2 cups of shredded cheese for the pizza pie ($2). Since we don't ever buy pop but my boys are big guzzlers I'll get a gallon of milk ($3) and a bottle of apple juice ($2) to go with the pizza. That's a cheap but pretty sufficient dinner and I've only spent $10 so let's also pick up some supplies for lunch. Maybe hot dogs ($2) and buns ($1) and a bag of organic baby carrots ($1). Moving on, now that we've hit $14, how about breakfast too, a carton of eggs ($1.79), some bread ($1.79) for toast or even to make french toast with the eggs and milk I bought earlier in this scenario and a bag of apples ($2.50). Well we've $7.94 left to spend so how about I buy a box of organic kids yogurt ($3). We freeze it and my little guy eats yogurt popsicles regularly. I'll get a box of granola bars for another snack ($2) and since I've still some money left over how about I pick up a box of dog treats too ($2.50).

I've now spent $27.58 on an entire day's food, I came in under the $28.02 budget AND apart from the frozen pizza we started out with I've got cheese, milk, apple juice, additional hot dogs, buns, carrots, apples, eggs, bread, yogurt, granola bars, and a ton of dog treats left.

Scenario two: How bought I just stick with dinner this time? We'll try and eat what we did at the restaurant. I'll pick up two pounds of ground beef ($6.18) and two bags of hamburger buns ($3) two 2 liters of pop ($2), maybe a coke and a vernors. A 3 pound bag of potatoes ($2.69) and a box of butter ($2,50). I'll grab a 2 cup bag of shredded cheese so I can make cheese burgers ($2). And how about I make cookies for dessert? I'll get a bag of flour ($1.69), a bag of sugar ($2.50), two cups of chocolate chips ($2.50), and a carton of eggs ($1.79). I've already purchased the butter to fry up the potatoes earlier in the scenario.

I've now spent $26.85 on enough meat, cheese, buns, pop, potatoes, and cookie supplies to feed a pretty large group of people or make this same meal for ourselves several times. I've a $1.17 left in the budget but let's just say that's how much we spent on condiments for the burgers because I've plenty of ketchup, mustard, pickles, hot sauce, miracle whip, mushrooms and onions in the fridge right now anyhow.

In conclusion I don't think I'm losing my mind. I think $28.02 is an obscene amount of money for three people to spend on dinner out at a burger place. But we weren't the only people there. I mean there were at least six other tables filled with people dining out and spending similar, and in reality more money than we did. Do I want to stop eating out... uh... no. I don't. But it's not as fun as it used to be. And definitely not as enjoyable. Those burgers and the experience out weren't worth the $28.02 for me. We won't be going back there. And I don't think we'll be eating out much this month either.

Average daily spending for 2015: $19.26
The average did not jump this much just from eating out. I just bought a load of groceries and two more gifts as well; one more for my kiddo's birthday and a birthday gift for a nephew (I have lots of nieces and nephews). I'm taking full advantage of the clearance toys right now.


  1. It sounds like, although the price was rather high for the meal you had, you guys did have a nice enjoyable time out together. Once upon a time we used to go to a local diner and we could get away with spending a little over $10 for 3 of us to eat, plus the tip. Now that same diner, although it serves the same things it did 6 years ago, a meal for 3 people would cost at least what you spent on your meal out. And I am not talking gourmet cooking here- we would get things like omelets or grilled cheese sandwiches. Eating out has gotten to be very expensive in recent years, which is one of the reasons we rarely go out at all. I do get tired of cooking at home so often but then I count the cost of eating out and I figure it much like you did in your post above- you can do much more with the money. I like the way you broke down the expenses above- it really makes you stop and think.
    But all in all, I wouldn't regret it too much. It's not like you do that every day and I think the quality family time you got out of it was priceless. :)

    1. I can't say I regret it, totally, but I will be more careful about where we go out to eat next; in other words I'd rather go to some place that I'll enjoy more than a hamburger joint. Even my husband didn't think the food was worth the price. It was good but to us it wasn't worth that much money. Like you said though, getting away from home and having an experience out and about as a family is pretty valuable. I certainly won't be giving up eating out but I really am having a difficult time justifying how very expensive that last outing was. Yikes, it was so much money :(

      One thing I do need to think about though is making "experiences" at home for the whole family. Like how you post about family movie nights and the like. We need to do more stuff like that. I think it will be a little easier once the kiddo is a bit older. My husband isn't as into little guy fun as I am but there's only so much you can do as a family that includes everyone... brainstorm time.

  2. We have always played board games quite a bit as a family, even now that they are grown we like to play when we get together.

    Where are you getting eggs for $1.79 - they are almost $5 a dozen here right now, I'm assuming from the drought! CRAZY prices at the grocery store!!!

    On the bright side......we haven't eaten out at ALL this month - yes, I know it is only the 1st, but like you said, baby steps :)

    Sue :)

    1. You are so great! Baby steps indeed :D Great job not eating out at all this month.

      I was buying eggs from a farm but they didn't want to winter their chickens so I can't get them their any longer. When the cheap eggs at the grocery store are on sale they're $1.79 for a dozen. They are normally $1.99. I could pay $5 for a dozen if I bought cage free organic eggs from the grocery store though.