Mr. FAF and I have been living in different cities as a married couple for almost four years. That makes it difficult for us to have a “normal” food budget like other couples and for me to keep track of all of our food expenses.
Since starting the “Food Expense Report” series in March, I have gotten better at keeping track of what we buy and eat.
This whole process of keeping receipts and taking pictures of our food has been a bit challenging at times. It even caused some tension between Mr. FAF and me.
If it weren’t for blogging, I’d rarely take photos of anything except for those of Baby FAF.
For example, Mr. FAF usually stays in DC for a week or two and then leaves. I asked him to keep track of his receipts for when he’s not in DC so that the reader can have a full picture of how much we spend on food.
That request didn’t sound appealing to him, and he found every excuse to object to that idea.
Part of me felt upset because he refused to help me. I want everything I do to be organized, systematic, and consistent. The thought of having an incomplete food expense report bothers me to no end.
However, part of me also understands why Mr. FAF said no: taking pictures of every single receipt and what he eats to send to me is time-consuming and simply not fun.
I have thought about giving up on the series a couple of times, especially when Mr. FAF asked me “Why do you want to publish our food expenses?” (Translation: why do you think people care what we eat?). We have actually gotten into two fights about the food expense reports.
I remember looking up food expense reports from Asian personal finance bloggers prior to launching my own but didn’t find much. When I started Frugal Asian Finance, I told myself I’d need to fill that gap.
And the reader do show an interest in this series. Food Expense Report – May 2017 – $777.26 ranked #4 among my top 10 most popular posts in June. If you missed my previous food expense reports, you can check them out below:
Food Expense Report – May 2017 – $777.26
Food Expense Report – Apr 2017 – $80.39
Food Expense Report – Mar 2017 – $87.52
Baby FAF came back to DC in mid-June with my mother-in-law (MIL) after spending a year in China. Mr. FAF spent 6 days in DC last month to help me pick them up from the airport. Our June food budget was primarily for two adults (my MIL and me) and a two-year-old (Baby FAF).
Mr. FAF drove to DC and flew back to his city. But a friend of ours needed to go to that city and drove our car there. Without a car, I bought more groceries than my MIL and I actually needed for June to stock up for July. If we really need some grocery items, I will need to walk to the nearby grocery store which is about 20 minutes away from our house.
Food Expenses – May 2017: $467.21
WEEK 1 (June 1-9)
Shoppers – $7.84
Mr. FAF and I spent $777.26 on food in May. We stocked up on a lot of groceries for me before Mr. FAF headed back to school since I don’t have a car in DC.
I didn’t really do much grocery shopping in the first two weeks of June. I just got a big jug of milk for breakfast and bananas for dessert. I grew up in a low-income family, so my mom rarely bought snacks. We needed to save money for the real groceries.
I have 3 main meals a day (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) and usually don’t eat snacks in between meals.
I bought the generic brand snack mix for our trip to New York City to pick up Grandma and Baby FAF. We ended up not eating it at all. Grandma FAF said it was too salty.
What I ate at home
Proof that I have great photography skills (not)
I made braised pork ribs, fried tofu (dipped in fish sauce) – a Vietnamese delicacy, and stir-fried radish one weekend. I have been learning how to cook from Mr. FAF and my MIL. Although I am Vietnamese and do try to make Vietnamese dishes sometimes, my cooking is heavily influenced by Chinese cuisine.
I didn’t eat out at all this week.
WEEK 2 (June 10-16)
Costco: $172.42 (June 15)
— Ling Ling potstickers (dumplings): These are perfect for potlucks. You can fry some dumplings easily and quickly for a get-together. Dumplings are also easy to portion and carry around.
— Mini wonton: We got a bag of frozen wontons from Great Wall for $4. We want to give this huge bag of Costco wonton a try before committing ourselves to the expensive one at Great Wall.
— Ice-cream cones: Summer is finally here in DC, and we love us some ice-cream. These are much cheaper than the ones at grocery stores.
— Red wine: Mr. FAF doesn’t go to bars or clubs. He goes to a pub to watch soccer games sometimes. He likes drinking wine or beer at home while watching a documentary (nerd alarm!) and eating leftovers (frugal drunk foods). When we don’t have any leftovers from dinner, he will make some instant noodles (without the soup) as his drunk food.
— Dinner bread rolls & Croissant: We usually have these for breakfast.
— Pork: Mr. FAF told me the pork at Costco is fresher than that at the grocery stores, so we just stock up on it whenever we go to Costco.
— Chicken drumsticks: I like using these to make chicken soup. I love dark meat!
Chinese takeout: $59.59
Mr. FAF brought some Chinese takeout from his city like last time. We were busy preparing for Baby FAF and Grandma FAF to come back to DC, so we didn’t have time to cook or take pictures of what he brought. I think he bought:
— Breaded frog legs (we are Asian, so we eat everything.)
— Roasted duck (a Chinese delicacy)
— Pork stir-friend with Chinese cabbage
— Slow-cooked chicken with potatoes, flat noodles, and chili
WEEK 3 (June 17-23)
The cereal and snacks were mainly for Baby FAF. Mr. FAF and I don’t usually snack in between meals.
Chinese buffet (for 3 people): $54
We went to a Chinese buffet after picking up Grandma and Baby FAF from JFK Airport in New York (there’s no direct flight from China to DC). Mr. FAF and I prepared lunch and ate in our car on our way to the city.
We had thought about all of us eating at home that day. However, because of the flight delay and traffic, we wouldn’t be able to get home until 11 PM.
We want to be frugal when we can. But having all of us, especially Grandma FAF after her 16-hour flight, starving for a couple of hours to save on food wasn’t something we wanted to do.
Clams, breaded wings, breaded frog legs, breaded squid, and crawfish
WEEK 4 (June 24-30)
Shoppers – $29.10
— Eggs: We eat boiled eggs every morning. My MIL also uses eggs to make soup and a lot of delicious dishes.
Great Wall – $104.38
2 lbs of pork ribs, 2 lbs of shrimp, 2 Tapila fish, and dry noodles
Tofu, green onions, Shanghai bokchoy, eggplant, bell pepper, garlic, ginger, tomatoes, cocumbers, onions, cabbage, and green beans
What we ate at home
After my MIL came back to DC, she’s taken over the chef role in the FAF family. I am trying learn how to cook as much from her as possible before she goes back to China.
Pork stir-fried with green beans, braised fish, and shrimp
Grandma FAF and I didn’t eat out at all in week 4.
Our food expenses for June ($467.21) was lower than May ($777.26), which I am very happy about. It’s mainly because we didn’t eat out much last month. We also stocked up on a lot of groceries for July, so I expect our July food expenses to be lower.
What about you? How did your food expenses look like last month?