Our Food Expenses Increased Again! – $744.67 (Nov 2017)

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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

July 2017 Food Expense Report – $511.93

June 2017 Food Expense Report – $467.21

May 2017 Food Expense Report – $777.26

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


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


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

Honey tea

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.

Fish soup

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


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).


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!

Thanksgiving turkey


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.

Hot fish

Smoked pork

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


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.


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?


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23 thoughts on “Our Food Expenses Increased Again! – $744.67 (Nov 2017)”

  • Honestly I just kind of let November and December slide. 🙂 Our food expenses were a bit more than normal just from eating at restaurants, but that’s okay.

    I’m anticipating that our December grocery spend will be pretty high as well since we’re hosting 8 for Christmas. We typically do Surf & Turf (my dad’s specialty) and that’s pricey, plus a ton of wine for the long weekend. I started budgeting for it months ago though haha!

    • Wow that sounds like an exciting December for you and your family! I love getting together with family and friends every once in a while since it’s so much fun. I think I will take your advice and let Nov and Dec slide too. Time to enjoy life whoo hoo!

  • Very interesting. Expenses for food are bound to fluctuate due to holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, etc. But half the battle is being cognizant as to how much you are spending.

    • That’s so true. That’s one of the main reasons why I want to keep the food expense report series. Otherwise, I’ll just let everything slide >_<

  • Your food looks great as always! Splurging to host the hot pot looks fun! After three years of suggesting going hiking or crafting together, my friends now rarely suggest going out to eat as an activity, which my frugal self loves! We still go out with friends at least once per month though and it is worth spending money to spend time with friends!

    • I went hiking with a Meetup group too! I thought it was a frugal event since we didn’t spend any money on the hike. And then everyone suggested going out to eat afterwards @_@

  • Happy anniversary! When I saw your blog title I said “Yikes!” Then I read further and understood. We look at groceries and dining out as totally separate categories. I would put food bought for hosting a holiday dinner or a party in another category as well.

    Since most of our family is 3+ hours away we travel for holidays. I prepare sides or buy alcohol but we usually spend under thirty bucks. That will change when we relocate! We hope to host Thanksgiving next year.

    • Thank you, Mrs. Groovy! I thought about separating the food expenses into different categories. But then I gave up since it got a bit complicated. However, it would make my food expenses look lower, which would be a big plus! 😀

  • Wow, this is the first time I have seen one of your food budget posts. Very thorough to say the least. I am impressed with how many photos you have to keep track of every time you shop or go out. Food is such a tough category to control. Each time you eat out it can really count against your budget and of course, hosting parties or holidays can really add up as well. We are now a single income family so we really have to watch our food budget or else we will run a deficit each month. We really have to limit going out to around 2 times a month.

    • Going out 2 times a month sounds perfect to me! Mr. FAF eats out more often than I do, but I really wish he would agree to eating out less often.

      Thanks for your kind words. I have to admit that it can be a pain to keep track of every little purchase and take pictures of them. But it’s the only way I can accurately document what food we bought and ate. 🙂

  • I don’t host holiday meals, so my expenses tend to go down during the end of the year. I certainly wouldn’t feel bad though. You are doing very well for feeding 3 adults and a kid in a high cost of living area.

  • “Sweet team & cold slaw.”
    Sweet Potato?

    I don’t host holiday meals either, not because of the money but I don’t like people (it happens). A hot pot meal would cost $100 to host here which is pretty big chunk of $700. I’ve started separating going out from eating in expenses and that gave me more perspective to the budget.

  • Oh yes, traveling always means more spending on food. Eating out drives up the food bill so fast.

    But I figure, we don’t travel every week, and it’s not a huge deal to eat out while we travel.

  • My uncle came to visit me after thanksgiving and his family stayed for four days and we ate out every day. I got fatter and my wallet for thinner. Don’t feel too bad about your food budget, you worked hard and there is nothing wrong with over spending a little on food.

  • Your home cooked food looks SO good, if I could cook like that I probably wouldn’t need to go out to eat ever. But alas, I’m way too lazy and uncreative to make food that good at home. Most of the dishes I make at home looks like something halfassedly thrown together with the least amount of ingredients possible. Yeah, I hate cooking.

    Your grocery bill makes me hang my head in shame. We regularly go over $500 a month on our food budget. Most months it’s double that. The only time I’ve been able to keep it within the $600/month is when we’re in South East Asia. I love eating out all the time and spending almost no money in SE Asia. So awesome.

    Man, those pictures look so good, I have to go eat something now…

  • Seems like you’re making good compromises, however I don’t think it is too unreasonable.

    For a family of four when I grew up we spent $130 increasing to $200-$250/week! When me and my brother started growing and eating everything in the house. ?

    You have 3 adults and 1 infant, and expenses in Washington are fairly high from what we experienced in holiday.

    Keep an eye on them, but I don’t think it won’t hurt you in the long run if it increases a small amount. Potentially your husband can eat out a little less, or he can compromise on another area.

  • I think you need to relax and enjoy your husband’s wish to eat out more. He earns a good wage, I imagine, and so do you. This is important to him. Don’t share your monthly food bill if it embarrasses you. No, your net worth will not go up as fast, but his happiness is worth something, too.

  • $38 for an anniversary dinner is pretty good including tip! We spent $110 on our anniversary dinner.
    Lovely pictures as always, that hot pot looks elaborate and delicious!

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