Broke Ass Financial Coaching: Dine Out or Cook at Home?

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While being young, broke and beautiful is all well and good, some people’s finances are more jacked than others.  That’s why we’ve invited Betsy Crouch (aka Coach $izzle) to come onboard and dole out some much needed advice.  She is a professional financial coach after all.  If you’ve got a question you’d like answered please email her  Maybe your question will be the next one answered.

“Is it less expensive to dine out or to cook at home?”  – b and f

Most people would say cooking at home is less expensive, and I don’t think it is that simple.

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This article from the Christian Science Monitor argues that it is not necessarily less expensive to cook at home.

Our culture values time and money over health and wellness.  Do you?

So we want to save money and spend less on “everything” including food. Unfortunately we assume that eating healthy foods is more time consuming and more expensive.  In many cases it is.  Several years ago I lived alone and traveled a lot.  I was sure that I could save money by dining out because I wasted so many groceries.  At that time I was eating a lot of fast food, maybe 5-7 times per week or more.  I saved some money for sure and I also felt like s%$!  I made some major changes and now I place healthy food as the priority over money, although I always work hard for the best deal.  I also understand that I have access that many people don’t have.

We are currently facing a crisis of a lack of access to affordable healthy food options in many of our urban areas.  In many of these areas there are not many fresh food options and even the low quality food options are expensive.  Cases of type two diabetes and obesity are skyrocketing.  So..

If you have the means and the desire: grow your own, and share.

Do you have a yard?  Or a window to hang a planters box from?  Are you at all curious about growing food?

Support organizations and farmers’ markets that are working to create access to affordable healthy foods.

Ive never seen anyone so elated by coupons before

I've never seen anyone so elated by coupons before

Have a “family” dinner.

What about having dinner with roommates and friends 1-2 nights a week, or more?  You buy the groceries on your night and prepare the meal.

Live with people who eat many of the same foods.

Split the groceries’ expense.  Share!  You’ll be more efficient.

Accept your personality.

*Plan ahead:  Are you willing to plan ahead and follow through?  Grocery shop and plan your meals in advance.  If you do this along with buy in bulk you will very likely be able to save money and still eat healthy foods.

*Seat of your pants:  Do you know that you like to fly by the seat of your pants?  Don’t know what you are going to do until the day of?  Well, you are likely going to spend more money doing it this way (Unless you buy Stuart’s book and follow the free and inexpensive food trail..).  When you grocery shop, buy few things and just go more often to avoid wasting food.

    Last but not least…

    How much do you spend on food per month?  Dining out?  Groceries?

    I’m bangin’ the same drum.. it is hard to make a decision on something when you don’t know where you currently stand.  Track your food expenses for 30 days, then make some decisions.

    What are YOUR favorite affordable food options and strategies?  Please share below!

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    Betsy Crouch - Coach $izzle

    Betsy Crouch - Coach $izzle

    Betsy hates to brag, but she grew up in Michigan. An unhappy materialist/rabid consumer turned minimalist, Betsy feels right at home in the warm socially responsible arms of San Francisco. With an Economics degree, a basic financial certification, and a range of personal experience, she has developed a unique financial coaching philosophy. She wants you to feel a sense of serenity with your finances and she shares what she has learned from coaching almost 200 people one on one. Betsy wants you to embrace your "sizzle," and for you to become a more confident and empowered Broke Ass.


    1. Jaime
      December 8, 2009 at 11:51 am

      The trick to not spending a lot on food as a single person is to prevent spoilage. Individually shrinkwrapped (and thus easily freezable and defrostable) chicken, fish and steaks are ideal for this purpose. And for fresh produce, only buy for 3 days ahead of time. Otherwise you will unexpectedly end up with too much. Also starches (except for potatoes) keep virtually forever. I find that a little $12 contraption called “fasta pasta” is really useful for adding pasta or rice to a meal without really thinking about it too much. (The fact that both require babysitting sometimes is offputting!). I think $2 a meal is easily achievable with the right freezer. (Also cooking fish and meat from frozen also works just fine, especially when stirfrying or making a curry dish– when you can microwave thaw enough (30-60sec?) to get the fish/chicken to be cutable using your trusty santoku knife!)

      -Jaime, unemployed attorney (6 months unemployed, not eligible for unemployment as former independent contractor…)

    2. Joann
      December 8, 2009 at 1:16 pm

      some good tips from a professional chef that eats alone often

      cook a batch of basics on your day off that will last a week i.e….i make 1 cup (dry) of brown rice, pasta, black beans and a couple baked potatoes or yams. these are all versatile and are great sides with many kinds of cuisine. especially the rice. on a day i have a hangover i mix up a little of that rice, hot sauce, beans and some sheep cheese, throw it on a tortilla, and i gots me a burrito!! easy and saved me from having to walk to the taqueria and spending 3 bucks. and it also saved me about 80 million calories to boot!

    3. December 8, 2009 at 4:02 pm

      Yeah many things can be made in bulk and stored, like rice, yoghurt, salad, even entrees…the microwave is a helluva invention. You are earning/saving money per hour by making it in your home, plus you already paid rent….why not use it? Even fresher food, like pasta sauce…it costs the same to buy a jar or make your own, but when you make it yourself you get about twice as much. I suppose cooking in bulk makes for repetition, but you know what starving people call a boring food routine? AWESOME.

      Back to the basics, winter ’09 I can taste it.
      Make it from scratch, even grow it, I’m patient.