How much did we spend on food?

Never did we think we were living above our means when it came to food purchases. Sure, we ate out a few times a week and picked up lunch at fast food places when at school or work. But none of it was at extravagant places. We did plenty of grocery shopping—but it did always seem to add up.

So many memories of eating pizzas like this! And that was burning through our budget…

And month after month, we scraped the bottom of the bank account to pay the rent and utilities. It’s a good thing neither of us had a credit card at the time, because I’m sure we would’ve carried balances and gone down a slippery slope from there to credit card debt! (Joseph couldn’t even get approved for a credit card at the time because he had zero credit history—but that’s a story for another time.)

When the first baby came along, Danielle’s hours cut back drastically from around 25 hours/week to 10 hours/week (unplanned, but ultimately by choice to focus on raising the kids). The cut in income was tough, but it forced us be more intentional about spending.

When we were both working and/or going to school, we ate a lot of frozen pizza, frozen ravioli, refried beans out of a can, and…honestly, I don’t know what else we ate. We didn’t keep track of our budget, our groceries, and definitely had no sense of meal planning.

Change this one thing…

Not so much because of the decreased income, but more because of the increased time at home, Danielle began cooking meals from scratch. With only two people (and a breastfed infant) to feed, one casserole of a little meat and potatoes could feed our family for a week!

We intentionally packed lunches and decided not to tire of the same meal day after day (we could’ve made several casseroles and frozen them in meal sized portions if we wanted some easy variety!).

Prior to meal planning, we never thought we could cut back on our grocery budget and eating out budget.

Time was the biggest factor to this budget saving experience!

Prior to meal planning, we never thought we could cut back on our grocery budget and eating out budget. We didn’t go to expensive restaurants and we ate cheap packaged foods—but from scratch ingredients like potatoes, rice, and beans are amazing staples to stretch the grocery budget so much farther!

Not a glamorous diet, but a budget changing one!

We never would’ve guessed, especially when we hadn’t started saving, let alone investing, how much being home with time to meal plan and consciously make grocery lists would be a game changer to our monthly budget! It was only another small step in our beginning.

We’ve chosen low-stress jobs that don’t always pay a lot. We’ve chosen to have a single income (except for a small side job Danielle has to this day). We’ve chosen to grow our family with kids and our home with fur and feathered friends. Frugality is a choice and we’ve embraced it as our path to FIRE!

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