Tuesday, June 10, 2008


One of my main vices for over spending is on eating out. Not nice sit -down, enjoy yourself, enjoy the atmosphere type meals, but rather the quick and dirty, often greasy take-out fast food variety. Those fatty deep fried morsels just taste so good on the tongue that it is often hard for me to resist the neon signs and 2 for $6 burger deals.

So I made a pact to myself: For the month of June I will not buy/eat this so-called food in the efforts to improve my health and also my wallet.

It shames me to say, but I spent over $100 on eating out last month. Not all of those dollars went towards fast food. No sir. Incldued in that 3-digit figure is a coffee here, a coffee there, here a pop, there a pop, a bag of chips sounds good type items. Those little things, which would be considered under the category of the Latte factor, really do add a significant drain on the pocketbook.

I would like to say that things are going very well thus far. I've cooked big batches of food including barley-chicken soup, chili, cornbread, and barley-lemon Tabbouleh (recipes and cost analysis to follow), so I don't have the often-used excuse that there is nothing to eat at home. So far for the month of June I have not indulged in any of my culinary vices.

I almost, possibly, kind-of slipped today though.

I didn't have a large lunch today and as I drove my fiance to work, I felt a familiar pain in my stomach saying "FEED ME". Rather than drive back home to get something to eat, my last month self would have swung into Wendy's or A&W and called it Good Eats. I was sorely tempted to purchase a premade $3.99 sandwich at Superstore today to feed my hunger. I know for a fact that if I did so, a $2 pop and a $1.50 bag of chips would have tagged along with it. This would have represented a $7.49 meal before any applicable taxes. I'm pretty sure that the chips would have been taxed and the pop price is with tax, but for the purposes of this analysis I think taxes will be inconsequential.

I did not take this option.

What I did instead was as follows:

1. I moseyed on over to the discount baked goods section and picked up a 50% off loaf of in-store baked European 12-grain bread. Cost after discount $1.25.
2. I sauntered to the produce section and took hold of an especially firm, medium sized tomato. Cost: $0.80.
3. I wandered to the deli counter and ordered 2 slices of Vermont style Ham and 2 slices of Roast Beef. Cost: $1.89 and $2.40 respectively.
4. I strolled to the condiment aisle and snatched a small bottle of mustard as the deli counter did not have small fast-food type packets. Cost: $0.89.
5. I side-stepped in the condiment aisle and secured a jar of deli-style bread and butter pickles. Cost $1.99.

Total price of the goods here: $9.22 and these items are tax-exempt.

I then drove to work, spent 5-10 minutes constructing two, 1 meat slice sandwiches, grabbed a free leftover bleuberry-bran muffin and a cup of free leftover Vanilla-Hazlenut coffee from the cafeteria, and had a delicious and nutritious meal.

Going the non-last-month-me-way provided the means to create 4 sandwiches with ample leftovers for other delicious things. Based on the total price of $9.22, this works out to be $2.31/sandwich. 42% cheaper than buying the premade one.

One could argue that since I had two sandwiches I really spent $4.62 on sandwich food, more than what would have been had with Superstore's convenience item. However, the calculation above ignores the fact that I have most of a tomato, a nearly full bottle of mustard, a jar packed with pickles, a good many future pieces of toast, and two more slices of meat leftover, all of which will be used. It also ignores that I had a free beverage and muffin rather than the pop and bag of chips. A deeper analysis could be performed to get the price of each pickle and slice of bread based on the number of each in the package/container, but that's a bit too anal even for me.

Thus ended my almost slip-up of not eating junk food. It was a good choice I think both for my health and my wallet and will think about options like this in the future if I feel myself craving those convenience foods.

[Edit 06/11/08: Turns out I am that anal. As a per item cost the breakdown is as follows:

1. The loaf of bread had 16 slices that were suitable for sandwiches.
Unit cost:$0.078 per slice.

2. The jar of pickles had 16 large pickle slices.
Unit cost: $0.124 per pickle.

3. I figure I could get 12 tomato slices out of the tomato I got.
Unit cost: $0.067 per slice.

4. The bottle of mustard had 250 mL in it and I'm guessing that each sandwich can have 25 mL in it.
Unit cost: $0.089 per 25 mL serving.

5. The ham was
$0.945 per slice and the roast beef was $1.20 per slice.

Thus as a total cost for each sandwich:
Ham sandwich: $0.945 + $0.078x2 + $0.124 + $0.067 + $0.089 = $1.38 per ham sandwich.
Roast Beef sandwich: $1.20 + $0.078x2 + $0.124 + $0.067 + $0.089 = $1.64 per roast beef sandwich.

Total cost of sandwich goodness for this one meal: $3.02. Again, cheaper than the pre-made variety.


Anonymous said...

Good for you! Eating out has definitely been one of my biggest expenses, almost as much as (sometimes more than) my rent or monthly car leases. Because we're trying to be healthier, we'd often skip the greasy fast food and opt for healthier, but pricier food like Thai food or sushi. Meal-planning is definitely worth the extra effort. I'm saving at least $60/week! Good luck!

schaef said...

Oh yeah, my constant eating out is a real drain on the ol' pocketbook, even when compared to my stupid car. Well done, sir.

In Calgary, I'd say the weekly average savings of not eating out regularly for both lunch and supper would be at least $70, but probably closer to $80. Supper is just me being lazy, but it's nice to have a change of pace at lunch. Oh well.

/just one spray and you're south of the border

Scholarly Warrior said...

Guy: All that cost $35?
John: *shakes BK bag*

Come on John, give in. Those burgers won't judge you. They love you just the way you are.

You should factor in the labour it takes you to make those sandwiches. That is, unless you're working pro-boner.

My eating out budget (and Dan's) when we lived in Halifax was crazy high. I'd like to think that's a lot better now.

/Two buckets of chicken and a drive to the liquor store