This month, I absolutely destroyed the budgeted dollar amount for eating out, spending a whopping $327 – with almost a week still left to go before the 1st. Looks like I will be eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for a few days! I try to keep the dining out budget to under $100 a month at a maximum, which is about 3 or 4 halfway decent meals each month. But this month I had a friends’ family come visit for 4 days, and then this past weekend I had a good friend from Los Angeles come into town, which meant that I spent a lot more time and money at restaurants than I normally do. I did my best to buy enough groceries for all my visitors, but as it always is when people come to visit you in a new town, you rarely find yourself at home.
We would often leave in the morning and not return until it was dark out, meaning that we ate at least 2 meals out per day. Sometimes I paid the full bill, sometimes they did, and sometimes we split it – but no matter how you slice it, I WAY overspent this month on eating out. I guess I should have seen this coming and planned ahead, but I didn’t – so I have some major catching up to do in the next month or two.
There was a time and place where I didn’t pay any attention to the money I spent on dining out, back when I was in my twenties and pretended to live the high-life. Those days are long gone now! Now I try to budget as much as I can, take advantage of specials at local restaurants, and just be glad I can afford to eat out even as much as I do. Back when we lived in California, I even took advantage of dining out coupons from Restaurant.com, where I could get $25 restaurant gift certificates for only $10. (Right now they are only $2 for every $25 Gift Certificate if you use code TASTE until 8/31/09.) We used them all over Santa Monica to try out different places – it was quite cool to try places we otherwise wouldn’t go to if we had to pay full price. However, I cannot use them here, as there are no restaurants in my area that offer the gift certificates. Ah, the difficulties of small-town living. While most bigger cities offer deals at Restaurant.com, most smaller towns don’t. So if you live in a town bigger than mine, you might want to check them out.
The good news? I have enough groceries to last me a few weeks now, since we didn’t really eat much of the stuff I bought! And for the last couple of weeks I have been getting all the fresh produce I need from my neighbor’s greenhouse that I am taking care of, so I should be all set for a little bit. I might have spent a fortune eating out, but it looks like I won’t have to buy groceries until the second week of September!
Does this kind of thing ever happen to you when you have people come visit? You have the best intentions to eat at home so you buy tons of groceries…and then you eat out for every meal. I hope I am not the only one!