June 2017 Food Expense Report – $467.21

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 – June 2017: $467.21

WEEK 1 (June 1-9)

GROCERIES

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.

EATING OUT

I didn’t eat out at all this week.

WEEK 2 (June 10-16)

GROCERIES

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!

EATING OUT

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)

GROCERIES

Shoppers: $39.88

The cereal and snacks were mainly for Baby FAF. Mr. FAF and I don’t usually snack in between meals.

EATING OUT

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)

GROCERIES

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

EATING OUT

Grandma FAF and I didn’t eat out at all in week 4.

Conclusion

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?



32 thoughts on “June 2017 Food Expense Report – $467.21”

    • Haha thank you, Lance. Hubby doesn’t always see eye to eye with me on blogging, but I want to stick with what I’m passionate about.

      I’m so happy you think the groceries are a lot compared to how much we spent. That’s always my goal 😀

  • Our food budget always hovers around $400-500, but last month we for sure destroyed it – but to be fair we were in California for our wedding and then Seattle for our minimoon, so ate out at restaurants for two straight weeks. It was less than we’d budgeted for, but still much more than normal!

    Your budget for two people in a non-traditional living arrangement is awesome. And it includes wine to boot!!

    • Haha the wine is totally for Mr. FAF. It’s much cheaper than drinking at a restaurant or bar. 😀

      Don’t worry too much about last month. We all splurge every once in a while, especially when traveling is calling! 😉

  • OMG, when I think about how much we spend every month on groceries and eating out, I … I don’t think about it because when I do it’s painful. You, Mrs. FAF, have inspired me to track all of our grocery and eating-out expenses.

  • I’m glad we’re not the only ones who eat a ton of eggs! I get some funny looks when people see 5 dozen eggs in my fridge. They usually ask “how long will that last you?!?” and my response is “2 weeks if we are lucky…”. Thank goodness they are so cheap!

    • Eggs are totally nature’s perfect frugal food. Packed with nutrition and protein, and only 12.5 cents per serving. Let ’em look at you funny… as you laugh all the way to the bank 🙂

  • This is such a fun idea! Me and Mr. NA track our food expenses via spreadsheets [we’re super nerdy so we have data for the last 36 months, haha] because we try to keep our yearly average below $270. Maybe I’ll “steal” this post idea- although I’ll have to remember to take pictures of each grocery haul

    It’s impressive that you guys spent that little considering you live apart for a portion of the month.

  • I wish I had a MIL to teach me to cook delicious Chinese dishes! My Jewish upbringing only taught me how to make matzoh ball soup… and reservations. Yesterday I learned how to soak tofu skins and blanche cabbage for a stir fry, so I’m making progress!

    Which buffet did you go to in New York? My favorite one is in the Bronx, all you can eat for $8.50/person. It’s a bit out of the way from the airport though. Do you ever go to Flushing, Queens? It’s NYC’s secret Asiatown, mostly Chinese and Korean but lots of delicious Malaysian, Vietnamese, Japanese, Indian, Thai, and Indonesian food can be found there too, and quite inexpensively in the food courts ($5-10 for a big plate). It’s the real cause of my unwillingness to quit eating out…!

    • OMG $8.5 for a Chinese buffet sounds awesome! I would LOVE to check it out. We just stopped by a random Chinese buffet on the way back to DC. I think it’s called East Oriental buffet? The food wasn’t that great though. I’ve heard SOOO much about Flushing and all the delicacies that place has. Can’t wait to check it out one day! 😀

  • Your food pictures look great. You probably just need a nicer camera to get much better.
    I wouldn’t worry too much about Mr. FAF’s reluctant to keep track of food expenses. It will be much easier once you guys live together.

    • Thank you, Joe! I have an Amazon Fire phonr. The not so great quality camera and my “amazing” photography skills contribute to the beauty of my photos ^.^

      Yes! Once Mr. FAF is here, I will watch him and his food receipts like a hawk j/k haha.

  • You guys ate like kings! I wish I had a Costco near me for bulk drumsticks, that looks so tempting. How was the Chinese buffet? I’ve sworn off them because I haven’t had any good ones pop up in a while.

    I agree with Joe, your food pictures are great!!!

    • haha thanks, Lily! The Chinese buffet was meh. But we were all hungry, so we just ate as much as we could and headed home afterwards 😀 Where do you guys usually do grocery shopping?

  • The only thing on your list of foods that I haven’t tried is frog legs. You can buy that stuff here? Didn’t even know. I remember watching on youtube (FYI this is a bit explicit), a guy who grabbed a frog out of this aquarium and just start chowing down on the live frog! And it was a huge frog. I’ve never seen anything like it. After that, I never wanted to try frog. I’m sure it’s tasty, but yeah, I have that vivid thought every time I think about frogs. It goes to show, be careful if you’re bored and browsing videos on youtube because you always end up in a weird place. You’re looking at cute puppies and kittens in one moment, and the next you’re watching crazy ish like eating live frogs. Back to the food budget. It’s been a while since we had a budget for anything. It would be good to do, but once we started making a ton of money; given that we’re still able to stash away $7-8K a month (sometimes more), at some point you stop looking at receipts. It feels good not having to stress over every little itemized detail.

    • LOL @ your comment about the frog legs videos. I once saw someone eating a live squid. I was like @_@, but then I wanted to try it too haha (still do!). One time I was watching mukbang videos (Korean eating show) on Youtube and then somehow end up watching someone washing makeup off of their face (?!).

      Having $7-8k in saving each month is AWESOME! Mr. FAF and I are def not there yet. Prior to me blogging, we rarely tallied up how much we spent on food and just estimated it in our heads. I agree with you it’s such a hassle sometimes keeping all of those receipts. -_-

  • You buy Cheerios too! I love them! At times, it’s all I want for breakfast for weeks on end! 😀

    Our food expenses used to be a lot higher before we decided I should go shopping on my own. It’s not just because we save (I’m a frugal freak, my boyfriend – not so much), but I’m less tired since I spend my days in front of the computer, as opposed to doing tiresome work from Monday to Friday!

    So last month our food budget was about $250. More or less. I usually shop once a week and rarely exceed $50-$60 when buying groceries. We also don’t eat out often. In fact, last month we didn’t eat out at all.

    • WOW $250 is impressive! I do want to lower our food expenses and are working on that. Mr. FAF and I like doing grocery shopping too! It’s so relaxing. We think of it as our weekly date hehe. 😀

  • Cheerios is our snack for the baby. He loves eating it all the time. I’m guessing Baby FAF is the same way?
    Me and my wife always buy the ling-ling dumplings whenever its on sale @ Costco. Its really good boiled as well👍
    We usually spent around $250 on groceries a month. A couple of reasons why its low for us 2 and our baby. First is that we have family dinner every monday night in which my father in law cooks for us and if theirs any leftovers we pack it for lunch. Secondly i have complimentary breakfast and lunch at work. Its cafeteria style food but it will do and plus if i dont like the food that day i will just bring lunch from home. It’s fortunate we spend below the norm on groceries which is why we kind of freaked out that we spent $350 on groceries in May, it felt too high for us.

    • Yes, Baby FAF also likes cheerios as snacks. I’ll try boiling the ling ling dumplings to see if it tastes any different from the fried ones. $250 is AWESOME for a monthly food budget! It’s great your employer provides breakfast and lunch. I wish mine did the same, but our budget is tight @_@.

      No matter the reason is, I think keeping the food expenses at around $250 is a conscious effort. It’s very easy to think that we can spend our disposable income on expensive restaurant meals because the employer provides food. 😉

  • I’m always so impressed by how low you keep your food costs! Thanks for the pictures. It’s always so interesting to see what other people buy at the grocery store. Wow–the eggs! They are nature’s perfect food and that’s great that you eat boiled eggs for breakfast. Do you boil fresh ones each day or a big batch that lasts awhile? I’ve always wondered about that for people who eat hard-boiled eggs for breakfast.

    • Thank you, Laurie! I know many families keep their grocery budgets even lower, so I still try to find ways to cut costs hehe.

      I usually boil one batch for the whole week when I live by myself. But now that my MIL is here, she likes boiling fresh eggs every morning. She usually gets up earlier than the rest of us (Baby FAF and me) and starts her day by boiling eggs for the family. 😀

  • We have started limiting our eating out expenses as well. With Mr BKLA’s drop in work hours, we have now reduced the number of ‘eat out’ meals allowed to just 1 a week. Or if we opt to ‘save’ it for the week, then we can combine 2 or even 3 weeks worth of eating out meals for a really good meal in a good upmarket restaurant (not fine-dining!)

  • I’m so glad you posted this! I’ve just started reading your blogs and completely agree that it’s hard to compare budgets and meal planning when Asian cuisine is considered.

  • I personally love food expense reports. I just love seeing what other people eat! That is so cool that you have an opportunity to learn to cook from MIL! I have had frog legs. I’m not Asian, just grew up in rural FL and my uncles used to gig frogs. I remember they would fry up the legs and make them jump in the pan.

    • Oh wow I never saw people cook frogs. That sounds really interesting (and a bit scary too!). I’m so happy you enjoyed the post! 😀

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