ETT Budget Breakdown with YNAB – Food

I love seeing how other people budget, getting down to the nitty-gritty of their categories and numbers, but I don’t feel it is fair to gain value out of what others are contributing without contributing something ourselves. As promised, here is the sixth Budget Breakdown for the Enough Time Machine. This represents how much we budget per month, not necessarily how much we spend. This week we are looking at Food.

YNAB Food Category
YNAB Food Category


The food category in our budget is our Achilles heel. We spend totally ridiculous amounts on food; I feel so ashamed, I don’t really want to put this post on the Internet. It’s like losing weight – we know exactly what we should do to reduce spending, but we don’t. I think we might need a kick up the bum.

We seem to need a kick up the bum!
We seem to need a kick up the bum!

Did you know that the average 2 person household spends $281Ref on food and alcohol per week? We are spending nearly twice that amount!

The categories are very granular, because I wanted a true picture of where the money is being consumed. Literally. I think next year after we have done the analysis, I will broaden the categories, probably just down to eating out, groceries need/want and alcohol.


$100; Capped. This is for takeaway coffees or cakes, or buying the fundraising chocolates at work.

Takeaway Breakfast

$150; Capped. Mr. ETT buys breakfast before work, although this has dropped in the second half of the year when we looked at the price of good store-bought yoghurt compared to the takeaway yoghurt from the café he was purchasing. He also buys smoothies after a gym session.

Takeaway Lunch

$150; Not really Capped because it goes over quite significantly every single month. I should have adjusted this to $250; instead, we move money from the other food categories to cover it. Mr. ETT buys his lunch every single day. I took advantage of a change in workplace nearly 2 years ago, using it as a trigger to stop buying lunch. We weren’t budgeting then, but I know I saved a lot of money by doing so, as well as eating smaller portion sizes, and healthier foods.

Takeaway Dinner

$50 Capped; oh, who am I kidding – we don’t cap any of these. As a couple, we are doing way, way better with this category than we were last year. We used to almost live on takeaway before I woke up to myself, decided I didn’t like the cost or the taste any more, and began meal planning, grocery shopping, and home cooking. However, it seems that if I am not home of an evening, Mr. ETT has a good chance of ordering takeaway dinner.


$150; We do like to go out for breakfast/brunch together on a weekend, and Mr. ETT will meet with friends or family on his Fridays off, or his group motorbike rides will stop in at a café or pub somewhere.


$100; Most of these are from group rides, or workplace get-togethers.


$150; we’ve pretty much managed to stay within this one for the year – it’s generous, but restaurant meals aren’t cheap, and if we are going out for something special, we will look for good restaurants.

Groceries Need

$500; This is for all grocery staples (basically any ingredient that is needed for planned meals, lunches, breakfast, fruit, along with items like cleaning products, toilet paper and so on).

Groceries Want

$100; This is for the junk! Biscuits, lollies, snacks, drinks other than juice or milk etc. I like to record this separately, as it is one category that could easily and instantly be cut if we needed to. I thought we were doing OK with this, but no, no we aren’t. We go over every month – we either need to get serious about staying within the budget for this, or we need to increase it to $150. I am happy to work on staying within the budget, because not only is his category costing us money, it’s making us unhealthy!


$150; Again, another one where we consistently go over, even considering it doesn’t give a good picture of the amount we actually purchase, because if we buy drinks with a meal at a pub or restaurant, that will be included in the eating category. I have subscribed to Naked Wines for $40/month; while I enjoy the model and think supporting the growers/vintners directly is a fantastic way to buy wine (and we have found some excellent wines), I have decided that I don’t value it as much as I value saving for my freedom, so I am going to cancel my subscription at the end of the year. Writing this, I don’t really want to do it, but I know it will be better for me, and I won’t miss it once it is gone.

Reference: ASIC MoneySmart Australian Spending Habits, based on the 2010 ABS Household Expenditure Survey, adjusted for inflation using the ABS Consumer Price Index Inflation Calculator.

All up, food represents 21.3% of our total budget, the largest category by quite some way. Watch and see how this graph changes as we investigate other Budget Categories.

ETT Budget Breakdown Tableau Bubble Graph Food
ETT Budget Breakdown Tableau Bubble Graph Food

12 thoughts on “ETT Budget Breakdown with YNAB – Food

  1. Dividends Down Under says:

    That statistic about the average 2 person household spending $281 on food and alcohol per week is really interesting, I’m kind of surprised that it’s so high. Tristan and I have made a lot of conscious choices to buy more fresh produce, which ends up being more expensive than buying things in packets.. Our weekly food spend has definitely gone up from this choice but we’re still only around $150-$200 a week in total on food, sometimes I feel bad when we have a $200 week, it seems so expensive!

    I applaud you for sharing these costs with us, especially with how ashamed you said you were. Money is a tool, if you want to use that tool on convenience and tasty food then the money is doing it’s job exactly how it would best add to your lifestyle 🙂


    • Mrs. ETT says:

      Hi Jasmin,

      I was disappointed that I couldn’t find any more recent statistics, because even adjusting for inflation, it wouldn’t surprise me if spending habits have changed. Still, I doubt they would have risen to the levels that we are at, even if they have increased!

      There is definitely an element of convenience in our spending, but it is the health aspect I’m really concerned about. It would require an experiment, but I feel that simply by reducing our spending on food, we would see some sort of reduction in weight. We’ll have to sit down and have a good long hard look at ourselves, and decide what we want to do.

  2. Martin - Get FIRE'd asap says:

    In the Get FIRE’d household we spend around $100 a week on our grocery shopping. I’d add in another $20 or so for miscellaneous bits and pieces during the week and $40 every 6 weeks for Nespresso refills and that’s about it for the 2 of us.

    We don’t spend a lot on take home booze as I make my own delicious cider from Aldi clear apple juice at around $1.20 a litre and Ms MM doesn’t drink much anyway.

    Your food bill does seem a lot for 2 people and I see a bunch of things you could cut back on if you wanted to but it’s all about choice isn’t it.

    Maybe, if you want to cut down some of the costs you could just address one item at a time rather than wholesale slash and burn. That would probably hurt too much.

    • Mrs. ETT says:

      Wow, Martin. We did the groceries today, and didn’t overdo it on junk – even then we came in at $130; alcohol would be on top of that. We apparently have a local Aldi coming, that might make a difference (everyone says it does, I just don’t want to go out of my way to shop at the Aldi that already exists – it’s a trip to one, and impossible to park at another).

      I think Mr. ETT will really appreciate your suggestion to address one item at a time. I’m a slash and burn type woman, but I can appreciate that too much change at once just isn’t sustainable.

      We love cider – have you ever posted on making it? Weenie from Quietly Saving in the UK has done some posts on her home-brew.

      • Martin - Get FIRE'd asap says:

        Aldi is worth trying when they open one near you. It’s a case of try their brand and if you like it, then good. If not, buy that item at one of the other two. Many of the Aldi brand products are good but some are pretty ordinary.

        I did a post on my cider making a while back. Go to the Get FIRE’d asap website, click on ‘complete list of all posts’ and look for the one titled “Start your own cider factory”. It’s not bad and the price is right.

        Yeah, I think slash and burn may cause too much disruption and sacrifice all in one hit.

  3. Mustard Seed Money says:

    I’m all about value spending. If you value what you are spending your money on…enjoy it.

    I eat out lunch just about every day at work because I like to get out and recharge. It allows me to think about the rest of my day without getting burned out by eating at my desk.

    My wife though has been able to offset some of the spending on do on food by shopping at ALDI.

    So since I’ve been married my food expenses have actually gone down 🙂

    • Mr. ETT says:

      Thanks for this, I too like/need to get out of the work place at lunch time. Too often if I eat at work, people see me and think it’s a good time to dump more problems on me always for “when you’ve finished your lunch of course”. It’s draining and frustrating so I prefer to vanish for awhile and get some fresh air, have a chat with a barista and try to chill. If that costs me a cup of coffee and a sandwich, it’s worth it just to get an actual break. As Woody H said in Zombieland, “you gotta enjoy the little things” 🙂

  4. J @ Hey, It's Just Money! says:

    We don’t like setting a budget for food, because it’s one thing we’d rather not skimp on, but we do get conscious after calculating how much we’ve spend the previous month. We are heaps better after we moved into our own rental (no housemates), since we don’t mind spending more time at home (and I don’t have to share the kitchen). We also try not to do the grocery shopping when we’re hungry, this is very cliche but so very effective. The moment we step in a supermarket hungry, we each get whatever we see and as soon as we have food and sort the stuff we bought at home, we’d both we ‘why the f did we get this?’ And I love chips, I can finish a big bag of Doritos by myself when I’m craving. So, we do all my time-of-the-month-stash shopping before I get the cravings, otherwise, if I go to the shops when I’m PMS-ing, I’d buy enough junk food to open a Milk Bar.

    This post is so refreshing to read, so raw and honest! Thanks for sharing! (Also, I finally had enough time to read and comment on other people’s blogs. See what I did there?)

    • Mrs. ETT says:

      I second you on no shopping while you are hungry, J. We’ve definitely seen a difference when we don’t go just before lunchtime. Another little-known (but not easily controlled) trick is to go shopping when you are busting to go to the loo! Believe me, you only grab what you really need and race out of the shops … OK, not really a recommended strategy, but it totally works. Big thanks for commenting (but totally no pressure ;-))

  5. Adventures with Poopsie says:

    Apologies for commenting a bit late, I am a bit behind in my blog reading.

    I cannot emphasise enough (briefly mentioned in comments above) how much a difference shopping at Aldi makes. Seriously. An enormous difference. Such a difference that I would suggest driving to the one you mentioned is a bit far makes it well worth it. From memory, your transport costs aren’t too bad, so add a little bit of petrol to that to see significant savings in your groceries. We shop almost exclusively at Aldi. There are one or two products we buy regularly that they don’t stock (Pad Thai Noodles being the main one) and one or two products I have a brand preference for (toothpaste and deodorant being the main two), but other than that, we buy everything at Aldi. We spend roughly $100 a week on groceries and that usually includes $15 on soft drink (usually bought at Big W).

    We have a goal of only eating out on our birthdays and anniversary. As you’ll see from our expense reports, we don’t achieve this but we aspire to. And when we do eat out, it’s usually a real treat. If Mr ETT is buying his lunch every day, I’m sure it doesn’t feel like a treat. Maybe he could cut this back. I think setting a stricter goal is really helpful in this category. Sure, you may not achieve it, but I can almost bet you’ll save some money along the way!

    • Mrs. ETT says:

      There is no pressure! J and I have been discussing that it can be really difficult to keep up, so there are no expectations here. It’s OK to let posts go without a comment 😉

      You really do post a strong argument regarding the grocery shopping, AwP! I’ve just made a snap decision that we will try it this weekend, although I really can’t wait for the new one to open near us.

      I think Mr. ETT buying lunch comes down more to wanting to get out of the place. If he stays in, he gets the whole “I know you’re at lunch, but…” This happens literally. every. single. day. He is also very social, and likes to build relationships with staff where he visits. We might try to start small next year, maybe just taking lunch once a fortnight, and see how we go.

  6. Kayla @ Shoeaholicnomore says:

    I’m so glad another blogger is a sucker for eating out! Quite a bit of my spending is on eating out as that’s a big part of my “entertainment” when I spend time with friends and family too – we always go out for a meal.

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