Minimising Your largest Expense- Food

OK, so you’re doing something wrong if food is your largest expense. It does usually come in at a respectable second. Well at least in our household.

And for a good reason- we all need food to survive. As the saying goes, you only get out what you put in. So you should spend money on good food. And good food is delicious.

So how can you minimize this expense?

I’m not going to bang on about how you can save money on not getting those daily coffees. But you should definitely do that. Nor, is this going to be a rant about different frugal food tips. Food is about the only thing I don’t mind spending more on.

For the last 5 years, we have averaged $350 per month on food. That is a total of $21,000! Even worse, in recent months, we have hit an average of $600 per month.

This is going to be a rant about a thought I had the other night. See, when my partner goes away for work or a social trip with the girls, I get lazy. I am normally the cook around the house. But when she’s gone. I tend to get take-aways. I don’t know why. And I shouldn’t.

We commonly hear that takeaways and fast food are not only bad for you. But they are also expensive. At least they are in New Zealand. I’ve always taken this at face value. The expensive thing. I know they aren’t the healthiest things to eat.

So how expensive is fast food?

Once my partner returned, I decided to do an audit on how much one home-cooked meal would cost. And then compare that to how much the takeaway pizza cost me the other night.

The dinner I was going to make is Pesto Pasta with Sun-dried Tomatoes and Capsicums. Pretty fancy, I know.

So for the home-cooked meal to win. It has to beat about $8.25 per serve. The pizza was more than this, at $11.50. No $5 pizza hut pizzas for me! The $8.25 is based on an Indian takeaway curry price, which cost $16.50 total. But we share it. We aren’t total fatties.

The ingredients

The usual ingredients go into making Pesto Pasta. There’s Pesto and Pasta…..

Cooking a home meal is cheaper than getting take out passive income nz

The prices for all the ingredient are tabled below.

Chicken Pesto Pasta

IngredientTotal PricePrice per Receipt
Pesto$8.00 a jar$4.00
Pasta$0.95 a bag$0.47
Red Onion$6.99 per kg$0.76
Garlic$21.00 per kg$0.13
Chicken Breast$11.99 per kg$2.06
Sun Dried Tomatoes$5.99 a jar$1.66
Parmesan Cheese$6.50 a block$0.80
Frozen Corn$2.80 a bag$0.56
Chicken Pesto Pasta with sun dried tomatoes and capsicums. Total cost for the ingredients- $10.44. Makes 5 servings. Cost per serving- $2.09

So the total price to cook this meal is $10.44.

And guess what- I get at least five servings out of this. Giving us some lunches to take to work!

So in total cooking, this expensive home-cooked meal comes to $2.09 per serving.  Compare that to the takeout at $8.25!

Take out is nearly 4 times more expensive.

That is not a cheap home-cooked meal by the way. You can definitively get the price per serve lower than this for different meals. I made a carrot soup the other day with only carrots, coconut cream sweet chilli source and some herbs. Add a bit of toasted bread, and I think you will find that a meal will cost less than $1 per serve. We made so much there is even extra in the freezer for when I feel lazy and don’t want to cook.

Cooking a home meal is cheaper than getting take out passive income nz

So if you want to minimize your monthly expenses- I would suggest that you cook your own meals. Getting the price of a single serving down to 1-2 dollars, compared to nearly $10 for taking out will help you immensely since you have to eat every day! Even if you get it down to $3 per serve, you will save $2,555 per year!

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6 thoughts on “Minimising Your largest Expense- Food”

  1. Food is my weakness for sure (I consider myself a foodie for sure). Luckily I don’t eat out all the time otherwise my waistline would be suffering. Food made at home is not only better for you but has the added bonus of being healthier.

    I’m not sure if you have heard of sous vide cooking but it sounds like something that would be great for you when your partner is out. Absolutely no way to mess up cooking and to be honest very simple to make chef quality food. So much so that my girlfriend prefers the way I cook salmon to the way restaurants do it.

    Anyway I did write a post on sous vide and its health benefits if you want to learn more about it:

  2. We’ve recently cut down on eating out ourselves. Down to about 1 time per month at the most.

    We’ve found that compared to cooking for yourself, eating out is massively more expensive and number crunching blogs like this really helps.

    What we’ve found useful for deciding what to eat is to follow a basic framework of protein, starch, and veg. And stuff that can be mixed and matched.

    So cooking 3 proteins, prepping veges, and buying rice/noodles/bread in the weekend allows us to quickly decide what to eat during the week.

    Like for example a curry, a roast, and some grilled chicken, are flexible enough to be used with rice, in a pasta dish, or in a wrap. 😀

    • Nice. Versatile ingredients are the best. We do the same. Buy a range of veg and carbs and decide on the fly throughout the week. Often we do one or two weeks without any meat protein as well. Instead substituting some beans. Meat proteins is by far the most expensive item in our shopping list.

  3. The food looks delicious and I’m totally a fan of this approach as I believe over the long term this saved me a ton of money. The best thing is, you may eat more for less, but also devour more nutrients too. I find the food i make to be more nutritious than shop bought food.

    • Thanks mate. I have started working out what most of my meals cost me to make. and it has been surprising. I don’t know why this myth that fast food is cheap is still around. It clearly isn’t. Your defiantly right on the more nutritious part!


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