Paycheck Chronicles

How Pizza Friday Saved Our Food Budget

Like many families, our lives are busy.  Four kids with about 600 activities and two jobs, plus two adults with full-time jobs.  At dinner time, we're tired.  And the temptation to just order a pizza, or Chinese food, is strong.  Thankfully, we somehow fell into a solution that has saved us for many, many years.

Pizza Friday.

When we had just one small child, we realized how easy it would be to turn into one of those families who goes to restaurants or gets takeout a lot.  We had friends who had pizza three days a week, and we didn't want to fall into that habit.  We were pretty sure that wasn't a great idea, for our waists or our wallets.  And so we decided that we would have pizza on Fridays, and only Fridays.  Our family grew, and it became a tradition.  (Also, Cookie Friday.  Same concept, different food group.)  Sometimes, Pizza Friday was takeout, sometimes it was frozen pizza, and sometimes it was homemade.  But we never* ordered pizza on any other day of the week.

*By never, I mean "maybe once a year."  And if Pizza Friday becomes Pizza Thursday, then we skip Pizza Friday that week.

Over the years, we've tired of pizza every week, and so we've adapted to Takeout Friday.  It might be Chinese, or burgers, or whatever is available wherever we are living, but we still only get takeout on Fridays.  And we only go to restaurants when we are traveling or celebrating something like a birthday.

Today, I was wondering how much money we've saved due to our Pizza Friday rule, so I did a little math.  Let's estimate that we refrained from ordering pizza or other takeout, or going to a restaurant, once a week, 52 weeks per year, for the last 18 years.  Let's also estimate that each pizza order costs $20 (a rough estimate of all the places we've lived) and just disregard the higher cost of other meals because I want to estimate low.

Twenty dollars a week times 52 weeks a year is $1,040 per year, times 18 years equals $18,720.  Now, whether we'd have actually spent that much is pure speculation, but observation of my friends and family suggests that we'd have spent much more.  The Bureau of Labor Statistics says that the average American family spent $2,787 on restaurant meals and takeout in 2014.  Our estimated annual spending of $1,040 is $1,747 less than that figure - that's quite a savings.

Pizza Friday is an important tactic in our family's food spending strategy.  Something similar might work for you!

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