Eating Out Challenge

After taking a closer look at our grocery budget and doing pretty well with making changes at the grocery store and reducing our monthly total, we have decided to take a look at our “dining” budget. I know that some people lump groceries and eating out into one category, but we have it separated out to help track and keep tabs on how much we are eating out versus eating in.

So, with the grocery challenge I was able to reduce spending from $425-$450 per month to $300 per month during the challenge, and now after the challenge, we are still right around $300 per month but our budget is $350 to account for additional items that we will eventually have to start buying again once our pantry and freezer stash is depleted. i.e. meat, pantry staples like flour, sugar, etc.

Our current eating out budget is $275.


When I heard that number, my exact response, was “seriously, we spend that much money on eating out each month?”

Scott’s response was “if I’m lying, I’m dying.” <—back off ladies, he’s mine. Winking smile 

And then, I asked, why is it so high?

And he said, Caribou.


uh oh. that is trouble. And the end. No challenge. Coffee is #necessary.

Ok, maybe we can at least look at the budget. . . but I have already told Scott, no promises on success for this one! Smile 

I think our numbers add up because while we don’t go out to eat that much, we do order pizza, eat on the road while traveling to the Lake, get ice cream, cupcakes etc. And it all adds up.


So, I am going to attempt another 3 month challenge for September, October, and November to take a closer look and keep tabs on our eating out budget. My goal will be to spend less than our current $275 budget. We have been actually going over that number fairly routinely for the past few months, anywhere from a few dollars to $50 or more. So, I don’t want to go over our budget number o f$275, and then I want to try to spend less. .. all while keeping our grocery budget at it’s current level. 


I obviously need lots of help for this challenge, so if you have any tips, please please please send them my way. #savethecoffee


Filed under Challenge, Goals

30 Responses to Eating Out Challenge

  1. Way

    We our planning on taking you two out to dinner in October to Axel’s for an ice dinner so that should help some!

  2. I have no tips 🙁 Scott (my hubby) and I are super bad at this also. My worst, which I have gotten better at, is stopping on my way home from work for something. We need to look at how much we spend out… I bet it’s more then $275.
    As for the caribou runs… Ever thought of getting a keurig? My parents have one, they are really nice and work even has one so just need to bring k cups.
    I totally understand your love of caribou so it will be hard!!
    Alex recently posted..Weekend Update 8/26/13My Profile

    • KT

      I don’t have a kurig but I have a Nespresso machine at home that I make my lattes in 4-5 times during the week, so that does help cut on cost. . .

  3. Once all my Dunkin gift cards are empty I make my own coffee at home, a penny saved and all that jazz….

    Until chritmas when I ask for the dunkin giftcards again!
    Jackie recently posted..In honor of my favorite breakfast….My Profile

  4. good for you for tackling another challenge! What drink do you get at Caribou usually? Maybe you could attempt to make it at home during the week and only allow 1 or 2 times out. That could save a bundle of money if you get a pricier drink. I think I am going to do a big budget overhaul for fall but still figuring out the details since I will be at HLS which will be more meals out than normal.
    Casey @ Salted Plates recently posted..Summer CSA Pick Up #13My Profile

    • KT

      Caramel skim latte is my usual. I do have a Nespresso machine at home that I make my lattes in 4-5 times during the week, so that does help cut on cost. . . And I just realized that I will be at HLS too during my challenge – which will be hard!! I would love to hear more about your budget overhaul too. 🙂

  5. “If I’m lying, I’m dying” 🙂 Mater fans too? Our toddler is only mildly obsessed w/Mater! Using coupons may help (ie Papa Murphy’s). Also do the same thing that you did with your grocery budget if you’re not already & put cash in an envelope…if it’s not there, you can’t spend it! It’s nice to have it build up a little too and then you can anticipate future events like we’re going out to a nice restaurant tonight w/friends and then have a Twins Game coming up; we lump dining/liquor store/entertainment together:-) It makes us plan ahead! Also if you spend $5 on a cup of coffee, you might stop when you equate it with how much that buys at the grocery store & it might become more of a treat than a daily habit (not knowing your current habits of course). Good luck! Look forward to reading along:-)
    Gina recently posted..Holiday Weekend Break/Diet BetMy Profile

  6. I love my caribou too, but I’ve found it’s smarter to stick to regular coffee. You can ask for a small coffee in a medium cup and then add the milk of your choice, which is a lot cheaper! I also order iced coffee with a splash of skim. Although in the long run, a keurig and/or brewing your own is far cheaper, and if you buy a syrup at the grocery store, still delicious!
    Katie recently posted..Monday Moment: Heat!My Profile

  7. Getting food out does add up a lot! I keep a coffee pot in my office at work so I don’t have to pay for it every day. I save a ton of money that way! I also trying to bring lunch to work with me instead of eating out, but that’s not always easy!
    Kelly @ Kelly Runs For Food recently posted..How to Roast Spaghetti SquashMy Profile

    • KT

      I bring my lunch to work with me 95% of the time too – that helps save a lot. It also helps that I work in a small town with very limited food options.

  8. I feel your pain. Caribou is tough to replace. Try buying a bag of caribou coffee at the grocery store and gradually start replacing the caribou runs… Maybe opt for the smallest size when do you go Caribou.. Good Luck!
    Shannon recently posted..Oven-Roasted CauliflowerMy Profile

    • KT

      I only like caramel skim lattes! Not plain coffee. . . I do have a Nespresso machine at home that I make my lattes in 4-5 times during the week, so that does help cut on cost. . . Thanks for the ideas.

  9. Haha love the coffee picture! Great challenge!

  10. OMG, I was LOLing at Scott’s quote AND your face – it’s priceless! Hahahahha!! I’m not even going to tell you what our eating out budget is – thank goodness we don’t keep track but I’m fairly certain it’s triple yours :/ Bad Becky… At least Kyle’s company pays for some of our dinners out since he’s technically a consultant!
    Becky @ Olives n Wine recently posted..Treat Yourself Tuesday?My Profile

    • KT

      That’s totally how I look when someone is trying to take away my coffee!! 😉 I’m glad it made you laugh today!!

  11. That’s a great idea! I don’t have any really good tips because we just try to avoid it altogether (we have a very small budget in general). We do tend to ask family members for restaurant gift cards for birthdays or xmas. We save them and use them when we really feel like a night out but don’t want to splurge.

    Good luck!!
    Courtney @ Don’t Blink. Just Run. recently posted..Social anxiety and runningMy Profile

  12. “If I’m lying I’m dying” hahaha Love it!

    Johnny and I do a “check up” every few months on this, because, honestly we’re terrible at sticking to our budget too! We also tend to slip the further between checking up we go.

    My tips that work for us: Make coffee at home and try to only get a “fancy” once every week or two. Take out cash to to go out to eat so you only spend what you agree on ahead of time (makes us order less drinks, cheaper meals, etc), and pack our lunches. We’re a rarity at both our offices because we pack everyday but I know how much we save, not to mention eat healthier.

    Excited for this challenge!
    Emily @ The Good Era recently posted..Quick and Easy: Creamy Roasted Veggie & White Bean SoupMy Profile

  13. How in the world do you spend only $300 for groceries a month? I spend $300 every time I go to Costco–which is at least 2x a month!
    Maybe I get to add more money because I have more kids :)????
    Amy @ crazysweatymommy recently posted..Sorry to DisappointMy Profile

    • KT

      It’s tough and that’s why I did my 3 month grocery challenge (check it out for some tips on how to save $$). . . but you totally should plan to spend more with more and older kids!!

  14. We’ve been taking a closer look at our food budget lately, too – both groceries and eating out.
    Since we cut back out eating out budget (to $100), we did increase our monthly grocery budget as well – we get more bang for our buck that way anyway, so the tradeoff made sense to us (that budget is about $425). The summer months are always more difficult because since there’s so much local produce to buy AND we’re out of town more often, we just spend more, overall, on food.
    I guess my biggest tip would be to meal plan and be specific with grocery lists!
    Danica @ It’s Progression recently posted..Friday FiveMy Profile

    • KT

      Yes I totally agree – meal planning has been key – and not making impulse buys at the store helps a lot too.

  15. I really should take part in this challenge too! I need to tighten my budget a bit while i’m getting certified as a yoga teacher. You have made SUCH progress with your grocery budget!

    xx Kait
    Kait @ ChickadeeSays recently posted..Diamond Candles: Review and Giveaway!My Profile