With a baby on the way, its important for our family to be aware of our spending habits. We have a budget in place and our student loans in order. I believe Nicole has blogged about emealz.com before, but I wanted to mention it again. It has really saved us a lot of time and money. Nicole and I are both planners. However, when it came to planning meals the old fashioned way (i.e. opening up a cookbook and picking meals), we simply could not plan efficiently, or in any effective and coherent manner. I mean, we'd pick a few things and then have to buy all the ingredients for that meal, but then have a ton of leftovers and useless ingredients that would spoil. Or, we'd head to the store without a plan, and buy pizza, chicken nuggets and hamburger helper, and a ton of other junk - depending on how hungry we were. We spent way too much money on groceries for little return. During school we also ate out a lot because there simply wasn't time to prepare meals. During an exercise for my Bankruptcy class in law school, we closely tracked our food and beverage spending for a month, and we spent a combine $900 a month of food and beverages that month! Yikes! That is simply unsustainable. So, with the help of emealz, our dinners are planned for us 5 nights a week. The nice thing is the meals all overlap somewhat so there is no wasted food. And, instead of buying lunch food, we decided to eat the leftovers for lunch when we can. Our food and beverage bill has plummeted by more than half, not only because we're cutting our grocery bill, but because we're eating out less. Plus, its saved us hours in shopping and fighting over what to eat for dinner. It's the planners dream. On a side note, unless things are truly dire, there's no way most people can cut out eating out all together. Nicole and I laugh whenever we're watching HGTV and some couple wants to buy a house that's way to expensive for their budget, but they really want the house so they look at each other and say: "I guess no more eating out for us." I see foreclosure in their future.
Sort of related, I figured I'd make a sales pitch for the Target Red Card. No, I am not getting paid to say this. But if you shop at Target a lot, it will pay to get a Target Red Card now because you save 5% on every purchase. You don't even have to sign up for the credit card, you can simply do the debit card. We do almost all our shopping at Target, and with a Red Card, we'll save hundreds of dollars this year. I think its worth while looking into.