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Welcome to our November food expense report!
After experiencing a $487.9 food budget in October, I was ecstatic and hoped that we would continue to spend less than $500 in groceries in November.
However, as you will see below, my hope and dreams didn’t come true. In November, we had two major events that caused our food budget to be higher than what we’d like:
— We hosted a Thanksgiving hotpot at our home and invited some of our good friends.
— Mr. FAF and I celebrated our 4th anniversary at our favorite steak house that happens to be almost an hour away from our house.
Mr. FAF was responsible for most of the eating out expenses.
His favorite fun activity with his friends is eating.
I decided to let that go but also reminded him often not to go to an expensive restaurant.
The most expensive meal he had in November was $29.
Our family finally reunited in July this year. Since then, we’ve seen our grocery bills fluctuate widely.
But after a couple of months, I can more confidently say that our average food budget is around $700 so far.
We’d like to keep it under $500, however, and we’re trying to work at it.
If you missed my previous food expense reports, you can check them out below:
October 2017 Food Expense Report – $487.9
September 2017 Food Expense Report – $1,106.2
August 2017 Food Expense Report – $844.26
April 2017 Food Expense Report – $80.39
March 2017 Food Expense Report – $87.52
October 2017 Food Expenses: $744.67
WEEK 1 (Nov 1-5) – $100.88
GROCERIES – $83.94
Vietnamese grocery store – $54.52
We continued to shop at our favorite Vietnamese grocery store in November where prices are lower than at other Asian stores.
Tofu skin, tofu, chicken broth seasoning, cilantro, green onions, ginger, carrots, mandarins, apples, plums, pork bones, ground pork, and shrimp
Wegmans – $4.97
My MIL went to Wegmans with a neighbor for fun and bought some grocery items.
Eggs & bananas
Shoppers eggs and bananas – $12.59
We discovered that some items at Shoppers are much cheaper than at other grocery stores, including Costco. The milk was $2.55/gallon. Bananas are $0.48/lb. And when eggs are on sale, they are $3.79/30 eggs (original price: $6.48).
Whole milk, eggs, and bananas
Giant strawberry and milk – $11.86
Mr. FAF made a quick run to Giant to get some milk and accidentally bought some overpriced strawberries. I think it’s because the strawberries are not in season this time of year. It was $3.69 a box (ouch!). I told Mr. FAF not to get strawberries until they’re cheaper.
Strawberries & whole milk
WHAT WE ATE AT HOME
I came home from work to a dining table full of delicious-looking dishes.
Steamed squash, pork bone soup, braised pork, fish balls & taro, mushrooms & bok choy, and tofu skin & napa cabbage soup
EATING OUT – $16.94
Vietnamese restaurant – $0
We hung out with two of our Vietnamese friends (they’re a couple). The total bill came out to be roughly $100, including tip. However, our friends insisted to pay since we treated them to Beijing roasted duck a while back. Their nice gesture artificially kept our budget lower by $50 this month.
Lotus salad with pork and shrimp & Vietnamese pancake
Crab noodles, beef noodles, and fried noodles with shrimp, pork, and veggies
Vermicelli with shrimp and beef (my photography skills really shine in this photo.)
Taiwanese restaurant – $12
I went on a hiking trip with a couple of friends. We finished the trip at 2 PM that day and decided to get some food together.
Fried chicken, green beans, and fried rice
Dumplings & noodles
WEEK 2 (Nov 6-12) – $304.87
GROCERIES – $216.04
Vietnamese grocery store – $82.71
Bean sprouts, seaweed, mandarins, broccoli, spinach, Vietnamese chrysanthemum, mustard green, Chinese okra, Chinese roots, persimmons, cucumber, zucchini, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, taro, and carrots
Ground pork, mackerel, pork stomach, fish balls, jelly fish, and pork liver
Great Wall – $38.18
Shrimp noodles, clear noodles, chestnuts, chili, ginger, garlic, strawberries, and pork bones
Costco – $95.15
Heineken beer (for the Mr.), whole milk, eggs, roasted peanuts, apples, almonds, almond dark chocolate cookies (for Grandma FAF), rice, croissant, and dinner rolls
WHAT WE ATE AT HOME
Pepper & spiced tofu, steamed sweet potatoes, pork stomach & clear noodles, braised mackerel, tofu skin stir-fried with cabbage and mushrooms, and pork & zucchini soup
EATING OUT – $88.83
Vietnamese restaurant – $43
We hung out with two Vietnamese friends and spent almost $50. The food was fine. We enjoyed the company more. After dinner, our friends wanted to get bubble tea, so we agreed. We weren’t so thrilled about the tea, but the conversation was great.
Braised pork and jelly fish salad
Honey tea – $7
Chinese restaurant – $29
Mr. FAF had a lunch date with his friend and spent more than I had expected. I wasn’t really happy about it, but I decided to let it go.
Twice cooked pork (I’m not sure what this means, but that’s what this dish is called.)
Steamed pork ribs
WEEK 3 (Nov 13-19) – $100.74
GROCERIES – $77.75
Vietnamese grocery store – $42.82
Salted duck eggs, Chinese herbs, bokchoy, sweet potatoes, zucchini, and eggplant
Vietnamese grocery store – $22.43
Brown rice & celery
Shoppers – $7.45
Bananas & eggs
Aldi – $5.05
Pineapple & bananas
WHAT WE EAT AT HOME
Pickle, tofu skin stir-fried with cabbage, eggplant, shrimp, and mackerel
EATING OUT – $22.99
Sushi – $12.49
I went to the mall one day and decided to treat myself to salmon and avocado sushi.
Salmon & avocado sushi
Chinese buffet (Mr. FAF) – $10.5
Mr. FAF had his usual lunch date with his friend.
WEEK 4 (Nov 20-26) – $220.68
GROCERIES – $151.68
Vietnamese grocery store – $58.6
Mackerel, shrimp, sesame oil, pears, mandarins, green onions, frozen seaweed, and frozen dumplings
Vietnamese grocery store – $53.95
The food below was what we used for our Thanksgiving hotpot. We had a total of 7 adults ($7.7/person). It’s a fraction of what we could have spent at a restaurant which usually charges $25-$30/person.
One time Mr. FAF and I went to a hotpot restaurant and spent $60 on the meal. We now have hotpot at home instead.
(Left to right) Sweet tea, aloe vera juice, noodles, spicy hotpot broth base, dipping sauce, frozen seaweed, tofu skin, fish balls, tofu, enoki mushrooms, lamb, beef, pork, napa caggage, cilantro, taro, and bokchoy
Fresh world – $17.61
Pork bones & smoked Chinese pork
Shoppers – $21.52
We bought 2 gallons of milk, 90 eggs (on sale for $3.79/30 eggs – original price: $6.48), and sweet potatoes.
Dollar tree – $1
We stopped by the Dollar Tree to pick up some items. Mr. FAF gave in to an impulse purchase: a bottle of Diet Pepsi. I tried to talk him out of it, but Mr. FAF insisted he wanted some soda (sigh).
WHAT WE EAT AT HOME
Cabbage, napa cabbage, pork, lamb, beef, noodles, cilantro, enoki mushrooms, seaweed, fish balls, green onions, radish, taro, tofu, fish dumplings, tofu skin, hotpot broth base, hotpot seasoning, sweet tea, and aloe vera juice
Our friend gave us a 14-pound raw turkey for Thanksgiving. We decided to roast it for our hotpot party. It was our very first time cooking turkey.
Mr. FAF estimated the cooking time to be 4 hours. He started at 2 PM, and the turkey wasn’t done until 9:30 PM (Mr. FAF forgot to defrost it). We finished the hotpot at 8:30 PM, so we couldn’t share the turkey with our friends.
I ended up freezing the meat to make soup in the future. Lesson learned!
EATING OUT – $69
Chinese restaurant (Mr. FAF) – $20
Mr. FAF went to dinner with his colleague. The hands shown in the photos are Mr. FAF’s colleague’s.
4th anniversary celebration – $38
Mr. FAF and I celebrated our 4th anniversary at a steak house. Seeing that our food expenses were exceeding $700, I suggested we stay at home. But Mr. FAF wanted to make it a tradition that we celebrate our wedding anniversary at our favorite steak house.
We saw the $20 twin lobster tails dish on the menu and had high hopes for it. The lobster was fine. But it was a bit too tiny for the two of us.
We finished the dinner still feeling a bit hungry but didn’t want to order more. We went home and ended up eating leftovers while watching Madagascar 2 at 11:30 PM.
Twin lobster tails, French fries, and fried mozzarella. Not shown in the photos: sweet tea & cold slaw.
WEEK 5 (Nov 27-30) – $17.5
GROCERIES – $0
Week 5 is a short week that started on a Monday (27th) and ends on a Thursday (30th), so we didn’t buy any groceries for the week.
WHAT WE EAT AT HOME
EATING OUT – $17.5
Chinese restaurant – $17.5
Mr. FAF had a weekly lunch date with his colleague. I suggested that he go to the regular $10.5 Chinese buffet, but I guess they picked a more fancy restaurant this time.
That wraps up our November food expense report. Our food budget is likely to be much higher in December for four main reasons.
First, we’re going to Mr. FAF’s graduation ceremony in another city and will stay there for three days. We plan to travel a lot and eat out for all of the meals (except for breakfast).
Second, we plan to invite our friends to our house for a Christmas hotpot (yes, another holiday hotpot!), so it will add to our food expenses.
Third, Mr. FAF’s cousin is planning to visit us for the holidays, so we will buy more food than usual and probably take him out for lunch or dinner.
Forth, we plan to go to a steak house to celebrate Grandma FAF’s birthday. She has never been to an American restaurant before, and we want to give her (and us) a break from cooking. I was the one who came up with the idea despite the resistance from Mr. FAF and Grandma FAF. I’m super excited about this party.
I wouldn’t be surprised if our food expenses in December reach $1,000. For November, however, $$744.67 was our number. And I’m not sure if I should feel happy or sad about it.
Did your food expenses go up significantly in November? Do you expect it to remain the same or go up in December due to the holidays?