When you’re in your 20’s, it seems the imposing foodie culture is quite hard to escape. You must always plan to spend $30 on bottomless brunch when you know you probably won’t make beyond the first packed plate. If you make it to your dinner plans, you’ve probably shot your budget once again. The truth of the matter can be summed into a post I saw on Facebook last week.
The average American spends $15 a day eating out. That’s $450 a month. If you include drinks, $600 a month. In two months, you can buy a ticket to anywhere in the world.
You can afford to travel. You’re just too lazy to cook.
Ouch, right? I admit it’s a little harsh and I can’t quite find reliable statistics for a young demographic but from conversations with friends about this very thought, it seems surprisingly accurate within my circle. If eating out isn’t your thing, let’s take a look at average coffee budgets. ABC News reported that Americans typically spend over $1,000 on coffee and this does not include the cost for coffee brewed at home. In the past, when I have been asked how I afford travel, I never could boil down an answer since there were so many factors contributing to my frequent travel and experiences. These stats open up a unique avenue to save for travel that I had not seen before. With my out-of-house coffee budget alone, I could plan a trip to a National Park for two. This is a decision every wanderlust-hearted person must face.
Immediately upon hearing the words ‘cook at home,’ people begin to shake in their boots and remember that time they tried to make hard boiled eggs and came home to yolk splattered across a kitchen and a stench that wouldn’t let up for three days. Maybe that’s just my story. However, we have to completely revisit the idea of cooking at home. Cooking at home does not take hours of preparation (unless you want it to), is not more expensive than you assume, and is not difficult to do. It requires a few staple recipes, a grocery budget, and streaming Netflix. If it comes down to saving thousands of dollars annually so you can go on the trip of your dreams, there’s no doubt it’s worth it.
What To Cook
If you’re new to cooking, my piece of advice is to eat as clean as possible. My husband and I did a little experiment to see if we could eat clean without inflating our grocery budget and with a little knowledge, we very rarely go over budget and we eat delicious meals two to three times a day that we have prepared nearly from scratch. Eating healthy food at home does not cost more than what we spend eating out at all. If budget is a concern, look for simple ingredient recipes that don’t require a long list of items to purchase at your local grocer but rather are items you often already have in stock.
The Next Step To Life & Travel
Imagine someone handed you a couple thousand dollars on the first of the year and asked, “what will you do with it?” If vacation, tuition, debt, or life experiences come to mind, this is your chance. Create a tangible goal and budget so you can see your progress as you kindly suggest brunch at your place rather than at the over-priced hipster spot down the street. You’ll be amazed how many of your peers are more impressed with your concise plans to do something worthwhile and probably even want in on it too! My goal is to go to NOLA and Seattle for weekend trips with my husband and we are getting there with the help of a morning french press instead of fighting the packed morning cafe lines.