#9 – How to Take a Bite Out of Your Food Costs

Food, Savings

In this episode, the Mechanic, the Accountant, and the Economist discuss how to take a bite out of your monthly food costs. We’ll sample a few new beers as usual too. If you found this podcast you’re probably familiar with the FI/RE movement that has grown in popularity recently. Here at the FI Garage, we’re all on the path to FI, however, we consider the RE part optional.

Beer #1 – Magic Hour Grapefruit Gose – Brewed & Bottled in Victoria, BC by Vancouver Island Brewing [0:47]

Interesting Article [3:11]

A lot of Canadians seem to have stopped investing to pay down their debts by Rob Carrick of the Globe and Mail

How to Save on Food Costs [6:40]

  • Meal prepping and having quick to prepare homemade food available [7:39 & 23:47]
    • Some go-tos: Chili, Chickpea Curry, Pasta or rice dishes, Thai Red Curry
    • Leftovers and freezering
  • Buying in bulk [11:18]
    • Costco
  • Knowing what you are buying costs [12:40]
  • Shopping with a list [12:55]
  • Per meal costs [14:00]
  • Time savings of cooking [15:02]
  • Having staples in the house and making a one-off meal in a hurry [15:30]
    • Some go-tos: Tuna melt, Breakfast for dinner, Salad, Mini-Pizza [16:55]
  • Growing fruit/vegetables/herbs [19:15]
  • Being conscious of your food waste [22:26, 24:47, & 49:45]
    • Planning to reduce waste – using recipes with similar ingredients
    • Using the whole vegetable
    • Proper food storage
  • Avoiding pre-packaged food [25:33]
  • Meal Prep delivery services – pros and cons (the one the Economist tried) [26:40]
    • Expensive
    • Lower-cost alternative to eating out
    • Building a habit of cooking at home
    • Expand your recipe base
    • Reduces food waste
    • Expensive Add-ons
  • Not buying meals out, delivery, take-out, and convenience foods [30:04]
  • Food delivery services – Marketplace Video [33:20]
  • Shopping for deals [45:20]

Beer #2 – Twisted Stalk Blackberry Helles – Brewed & Bottled in Victoria, BC by Vancouver Island Brewing [35:12]

Deep Dive [38:18]

  • How much does it cost you to eat out for lunch every day at work? Let say you buy lunch out for $10 per day every day and that bringing your lunch each day would cost you $5.
    • In most cases, people spend more than this and would be able to make lunch at home for less but we will use these numbers to keep it simple.
  • This means that by not bringing your own packed lunch it is costing you an extra $5 per day or $25 per week. Assuming you work 50 weeks a year this means you’re spending an extra $1,250 per year because you choose not to pack your own lunch for work.
  • This may not seem like a lot but let’s take an investment of $1,250 per year over a 30-year career earning a modest 5% per year return. When we plug this into a compound interest calculator we get an ending value of $84,725. Looks like those lunches out are costing you a little more than you thought.
  • With 9% return instead (closer to the annual return of the S&P 500 over the past 90 years) this increases to $183,963.
  • Now for something more realistic: we make lunch for an average cost of about $2.50 per day and the most people in our city spend closer to $15 a day on lunch the real cost of lunch may be closer to $12.50 per day or $62.5 per week. This would be $3,125 a year and would hold a future value in 30 years at 9% of $457,408. It’s amazing how something as simple as deciding to pack your own lunch can have such a significant impact on your future financial situation.
    • The value of $457,408 in hours at a $40 wage rate is 11,435 hours of working time, 1,429 work days, or 5.5 work years.
  • Is this the Latte Factor? [42:17]

Stupid Money Move [47:22]

How Much Money Are You Throwing Away Each Year

Reading List


  1. Of course I was listening! LOL. Great show guys. Lots of useful tips.

    Re: kids and food, they don’t eat all that much when they’re little. So you’ll barely notice any extra cost until they’re maybe 3.

    After that, their appetites gradually increase as they grow, but balancing that is the fact that you can buy more in bulk. So your cost per serving will be less, even if you’re cooking up more servings.

    Our family of four (with two boys aged 11 and 13) spends about $550/month in groceries and $150/month on eating out. (But our grocery line item should be lower—I don’t break out things like cleaning supplies and toiletries that we also buy at the grocery store.)

    We meal plan around sales and rarely buy anything at full price. But we also don’t deprive ourselves. We mostly eat what we want, and we eat well!

    One way we save compared to most families is by avoiding prepackaged snacks. They’re not only pricey but bad for the environment and their health. Instead, we try to feed our kids fruit and homemade snacks.

    If we do buy the occasional snack foods, we’ll buy them in bulk and dole out servings in plastic containers. Way cheaper that way!

    So yeah, kids do increase your food budget, but not exponentially. There are lots of ways to economize without going to extremes.

  2. Meal planning will help reducing the food cost. Making a big pot of food and eat that over a few days also is a great idea. Food cost definitely increased once we have kids but it didn’t grow exponentially. Staying away from packaged snacks and foods and eating less meat will help too.

    1. I agree, any kind of convenience food or pre-packaged snacks really add cost to the food budget. Basically just try and avoid 3 of the middle aisles in the store. Just about every grocery store has the cracker and cookie aisle, the candy and chip aisle, and the frozen junk food aisle. Oh, and the pop/soda aisle. Shop the outsides, fresh food. Totally agree too that a vegetarian diet is a substantial cost reduction without buying meat. I’d say we are very light meat eaters, but we do like our eggs and cheese. We’re always conscious of price and shop the sales.

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