Financial and Physical Fitness: The Wife’s Perspective

My Old Cook Book

If you’ve read Carl’s blog, you know that our family is doing a one-month experiment during the month of September:  no fast food and banking money each day.

In the month of August, our family of 3 spent approximately $165 on fast food.  I’ve listed the totals at the end of the article.   This was actually lower than normal because we were planning to do the No Fast Food Challenge in September and we had budget on the brain.  Normally, I’d say a month of quick serve food would run us about $200.  But even at a mindful $165 a month, that’s still $1,979.76 a year for eating basically at the Costco food court and a Deep Dish at Little Caesars.  (At $200 per month, it would have been $2,400!)

While it’s true that eating this food out meant that I didn’t spend money by eating the groceries that I had at home, there are very few examples in Augusts’ purchases where eating out was less expensive or more healthy.  The closest example of our eating out that cost about the same as eating at home are the $8 Costco hot dog lunches and the $7.99 Albertson’s Monday Chicken Meal Deal (7 pieces of chicken, grilled or fried, 4 rolls, potato salad and coleslaw.)  For that reason, we’re not counting Costco hot dog lunches or Albertson’s Monday Chicken Meal Deal as fast food, but even then, we’re going to try to avoid it.

From the Wife’s Perspective, the key to making this work are the following key points:

Plan ahead:

  • Plan to have the food on hand
  • Plan a week long menu
  • Plan to defrost the needed food the night before
  • Plan to preprogram whatever rice cooker or slow cooker I can!
  • Plan events so that we eat before we head out and don’t get “caught” hungry for lunch in the middle of 5 errands.


  • Prepare a cooler for the car that contains drinks and snacks, ready to go
  • Prepare ready-to-go snacks in the fridge so that at a moment’s notice, I can grab them, put them in the cooler bag and be ready.
  • Prepare a list of food ideas to go to instead of fast food and post it on the refrigerator.

Recruit help early.  This is not an exercise to increase my (or any family member’s) workload.  So, each family member has been informed that if I ask for help, it is to come freely and cheerfully.  I firmly believe that the NUMBER ONE REASON that we as a society eat out so often is because we’re tired from work and the last thing we want to do is put on the chef hat after a long day at work.  I work.  I love my work.  But I can fess up that if I didn’t work, I’d probably have a lot more time to plan meals and a lot more energy to cook (and clean up from) them.

Day One turned out okay and we’ll post the results of each day the following morning.  I feel encouraged about this when I look at the money I can save and the more prepared and in control I feel.  Tomorrow, I’ll post a list of 10 items that $165 a month can buy you.  That should keep me motivated!

*August Fast Food for Our Family of Three:


$11         Costco hotdogs, sodas, slice of pizza, yogurt

$8           Costco hotdogs, sodas, slice of pizza

$8           Costco hotdogs, sodas, slice of pizza

Albertson’s Chicken Dinner



Jack in the Box

$18         Deli Trio combo, 3 taco combo, Jumbo Jack combo

$12         2x 3 taco combo, Jumbo Jack

Little Caesars

$9           $8.99     Hot n’ Ready Deep Dish

$13         $8.99     Hot n’ Ready Deep Dish with Crazy Bread


$12         Two Big Breakfast platters

$12         Two Big Breakfast platters


$8           Coffee, pastry x2

$6           Sandwich, bottle of water


$32         Sandwiches for 4 prior to Padre Game (trying to be cheaper than catching food at the game).

Total:  $164.98

Image credit: The Marmot

Lisa Starrett

I am a bankruptcy paralegal in El Cajon, California, working with my husband Carl to bring the hope of a fresh start to debtors facing mounting bills. Through this blog, I’ll share ideas about dealing with financial stress, budgeting and hopefully provide a little humor along the way.

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