Recently, some friends and I visited a local restaurant. I had a tasty rigatoni with vodka sauce and sausage dish. The cost for that alone was $16, not including tax, tip, drinks, etc. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that even if I cheat and buy off the shelf stuff, I could easily make this for a lot less at home. So, last night I did. Here’s the breakdown. Note that this was meant to be fast and using current pricing. Sales and making the sauce myself might have saved a bit more. I’ve rounded all values up to the nearest dollar.
- Box of Rigatoni (on sale) – $1
- Jar of Classico Vodka Sauce – $3
- Package of 6 links of poultry sausage – $5 (pork sausage in a club pack would have been about 40% cheaper)
So, total cost for the above items is $9. Now, I’ll admit my idea of portion size is probably a bit bigger than those they expect. But realistically, the above items give me three servings. That means my cost per serving is $3. That’s… astounding. A $16 meal for $3 at home. Yes, I really do need to cook at home more often.
In addition to this one example, I really need to start bringing lunch with me more often. I’ve been buying lunch way too often, and it adds up. For the typical “lunch special” here at work you pay around $6 (plus tax). Add to that a large coffee and dessert, and it’s another $3. For a lot less than that (say $2-3), I could bring a sandwich or left over dinner if I’d just cook more often. I also have an old single-serve coffeemaker in my office, so I could easily make my own coffee for another 40 cents. So say lunch made by me was $4/day, that’s a $5 savings per workday. Multiply that by an average of around 22 work days per calendar month, and that’s $110 per month. Wow! That’s significant.
In short, times are tough, and a lot of us have to watch our budgets. By making some simple changes to my lifestyle, I can easily save hundreds of dollars per month. Now I just need to force myself to stick to the plan. This post isn’t meant to bash any restaurants. They deserve to make money, and I’m not saying you should stop visiting them — heck, I’ll probably still eat out on occasion. That said, this is a bit of an eye-opener when you’re trying to stick to a budget.
I’m going to try and post on this next month to see how I’m making out, and for some before and after numbers comparing March (an average month) with April (a month where I’m trying to cook at home more often). Stay tuned.