007 - Americas Food Obsession

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Time Speaker Text Tags
0 - 2 Jonathan Mendonsa With me today is Brad welcome Brad.
2 - 3 Brad Barrett Hey Jonathan.
3 - 12 Jonathan Mendonsa All right so today we're going to be discussing America's food obsession. Specifically what's wrong and what to do about it.
12 - 16 Brad Barrett Yes so we were a little sensationalist our in our intro there.
16 - 18 Jonathan Mendonsa Very click bait but.
18 - 39 Brad Barrett But fat and broke is a perfect way to describe the scenario here in America. Right. People eat out all the time. Eating out is one of the worst things you can possibly do for your health and for your finances. Right. You're going to be broke and pretty Tubby right. I mean that's just the way it works.
39 - 45 Jonathan Mendonsa Hey man everything comes around. Back in the 1500s overweight was a fashion. It's coming I can feel it.
45 - 103 Brad Barrett Thirty year lifespans were in vogue. And again we hear at ChooseFI we are not dogmatic about anything. If you want to eat out every so often if you value that and you find you know you get pleasure and satisfaction from eating out and meeting friends and doing that kind of stuff go for it. I mean we're not going to tell you don't ever eat out. That's ridiculous. You know we're not we're not into depriving ourselves. But there are people who are just lazy. They don't want to cook. They don't want to plan. And they pick up take out or they go out to eat and have drinks and do all these kind of things. And it adds up both in the bottom line and adds up in the waistline and it doesn't take much to look I mean a walk walk through any mall in America and realize how overweight people are. This is not rocket science. People are eating like garbage and they're impoverishing themselves at the same time. I mean it's the worst possible combination.
103 - 141 Jonathan Mendonsa Yeah. No absolutely. I really don't have a lot out of that specific thought but there does seem there has to be you know a simpler way than the millions of different fat things that are out there. And I think that if you can figure out the food situation if you can figure out specifically the food and the budget situation so many other things fall in line. So today we just want to have a conversation about our own personal philosophies what we think. And then specifically how we take some of our philosophies and apply that to what we actually do and maybe give you some actionable tips that you can use in your own home.
141 - 156 Brad Barrett Jonathan and I are going to learn a lot about how how we live our own lives and we don't. We didn't talk about this before we started recording this. This is truly a conversation I expect to learn a heck of a lot from him and hopefully vice versa. And we'd love to hear from you as always.
156 - 261 Jonathan Mendonsa And is it OK for me to do a sidebar here and just pivot and do something else just I want to share with you kind of what our thought processes. Have you ever been to a coffee shop in your and you're drinking your coffee and you notice that maybe there's you know two people behind you having a conversation and that conversation is really interesting and so you see a lean back and see if you can catch it. You couldn't quite hear it all both the little bit you got was you know was really cool and that's the way that I envisioned this podcast. I actually met Brad for the first time six to eight months ago and we had this just fantastic conversation just hashing out ideas. And it it's fun to think about this stuff with someone who's in the same space. That's the sort of conversation that I enjoy listening to. And it's also the premise for this podcast to bring you along for this you know fireside chat where you the audience can experience what we're talking about and you can live it with us and we can live it with you. This isn't you know forced for us if we didn't have this podcast we would be doing the same thing. But if I'm going to be honest we we ran out of people in our immediate social circle to talk to about this. You become that weird guy that's always talking about financial life hacks and it's unfortunate but you know that's just what it is. So we want you to engage with us and enjoy talking about this material with us. And we're going to make this show very interactive it's been our goal from the very beginning to find a way to crowdsource this whole project. And you know there's one or two other shows that are in a similar space is us and that are discussing similar topics but their interview based and I think that's usually due to geographic limitations. But Brad and I are both we live in Richmond Virginia and we can schedule these weekly or biweekly podcast and we can build on each other's idea. So these are these are fireside chats. This is a live mastermind group and we're sharing it with you.
261 - 278 Brad Barrett Yeah we're literally sitting right next to each other. One foot away and just chatting about it and we are not the world's foremost experts in saving money on food. You know as we're talking about in this particular podcast we're just two guys who are trying to figure it out on our path to financial independence.
278 - 284 Jonathan Mendonsa So Brad this was your idea for the soap box today so when you started off when you tell us a little bit about what you do.
284 - 409 Brad Barrett Sure. So OK. My wife Laura loves to cook. It's one of her true passions. She's constantly reading food magazines sharing recipes with her friends and her sisters who you know many of them like to cook. And we were always experimenting with new food but we do it in the house so we look at this as as a luxury on some level that she's not. We're not eating mac and cheese every night or peanut butter sandwiches. If we wanted to do that to save money like crazy and spend 30 cents per person per meal we would each have three eggs at every meal and that would be it. There are certainly ways to be ultra ultra frugal but there are ways to be smart and still save a whole lot of money at the same time. We we do the math. You know my wife and I are both CPA so we're kind of a geeky accounts and we we generally come out to dinners being about $2 per person per meal that's over over the average. Obviously if we are doing sometimes our spices included that we try to average. We're not sitting there crunching the numbers on every meal but generally $2. Two dollars and fifty cents and that's for gourmet home cooked meals that are fabulous. I very recall. Yeah I mean it's fantastic and we're just a little bit smarter about the ingredients. OK. So that means if I like asparagus if asparagus is out of season and it's I mean I'm making the subaverage $6 per bushel. We're not going to buy that. Just simple. We're going to buy something in season that's cheaper. And when asparagus is back in season. OK maybe I'll buy that again. I find that the money really starts adding up on these kind of you know vegetables and side dishes. And you can be smart about it you know you can get a bag of carrots for a dollar and sure maybe carrots might not be my number one choice but they're pretty darn good for you. And it's a nice sort of side dish if you put it with hummus or whatever I even eat you know peanut butter and carrots for breakfast sometimes. That's like my little breakfast this is a quest bar and carrots and peanut butter. That's that's pretty much what I eat every single day for breakfast.
Brad_Catchphrases, cooking, mealplan
409 - 411 Jonathan Mendonsa I found quest bars last year. They're Pretty good.
411 - 414 Brad Barrett Yeah they are good. And you know honestly they're a little more expensive than you know.
414 - 415 Jonathan Mendonsa $2 a bar.
415 - 437 Brad Barrett Yeah they're $2 per pop. And I recently actually you know since we're we're talking about food as Laura and I sat down and said you know we're each having a quest bar every single morning is $4 a day that's $120 per month on Quest bars. That's crazy when you can get at our local Wegmans you can get a dozen eggs for I think it's 59 cents you know so you're talking five cents per egg.
437 - 441 Jonathan Mendonsa When you start to grab your second or third one throughout the day you realize you need to come back a little bit.
441 - 465 Brad Barrett Yeah. Yeah. And I mean they're delicious and very good for you obviously. But $2 a pop. I mean as silly as that sounds because you know we are in a fortunate financial position but that's the kind of thing we think about. Do I really want to be spending 120 hours a month on quest bars when maybe I can eat eggs three days a week and eggs are phenomenal for you and do it at ten cents per morning for two eggs.
465 - 474 Jonathan Mendonsa OK so let's let's turn this into a little bit more of a hot seat interview here. I am curious when is the last time you went out to eat at a restaurant or Chipotle or anything you know anything like that.
474 - 490 Brad Barrett Wow that's a good question. So we were just up in New York visiting our family and friends were from Long Island and we were there over the Christmas holidays so we actually did go out to eat one time with our friends for Mexican food.
490 - 494 Jonathan Mendonsa Ok but what about what about a normal course of life you're at home as part of y'all weekend.
494 - 615 Brad Barrett We do not go out to eat essentially ever. Yeah I mean in fairness we have two young daughters. We. So this is not like oh look at how great we are type scenario. You know we don't have a babysitter. We don't have grandparents right down the road and restaurants are so expensive as it is. We're not going to spend 30 bucks for two hours of babysitting or percent to add to the $60 dinner at that. That's crazy talk so. So we do every now and again eat out. I would say but eat out in an intelligent way. So we know that lunch is significantly cheaper to eat out than dinner. OK. So you know for us it's about getting that extravagance because you know we do like eating out. You know we're normal human beings getting new different food is really interesting and fun. So we have this fantastic Chinese restaurant here in Richmond called Peter Cheng's. OK this is a guy that people travel essentially all over the country to find where this guy is opening up new restaurants and he randomly opened up in a strip mall here in Richmond Virginia. It's like two miles down the road from us in Walmart shopping center of all things I mean this is like a gourmet chef written up in the New Yorker and The Washington Post New York Times two miles down the road in a Wal-Mart. Now dinner at Peter Chang's is expensive it's $20 $20 a meal. But lunch there is I think they might have just raised the price. I want to say it's like $8 so for $8 you get full delicious entree you get a spring roll you get rice you get soup that's extravagant as far as we're concerned. And we don't need to go out for dinner. It doesn't. There's no marginal benefit for us to go out to dinner as opposed to lunch because it's just that the fun of going out as a couple and just having a meal out. So if we can do that for a third of the price at lunch and most cases we were bringing home leftovers and having it the next day. So I mean that essentially cuts that 8 dollar per person per meal into $4 per person per meal. This is kind of how we think about it right.
Brad_Catchphrases, mealplan, travel
616 - 617 Jonathan Mendonsa I think the same way so I am with you.
617 - 681 Brad Barrett Ok cool. So that's not too bad. I mean that's an extravagance and after you throw in tip maybe it's $5 per person per meal. That's not too shabby. And we're getting this fantastic meal two days in a row . So that's how we think about it. Even something like Trader Joe's one of our favorite little things is Trader Joe's has this frozen thing called I think it's orange chicken. And we keep a couple of them in our freezer. We have an extra freezer actually out in our garage just so we have some extra storage space because we'd like to stock up on things when we find good deals. You know that's kind of like another little benefit of having money is you don't have to worry about cash flow. It's not about how much money do I have this month it's what do I want to spend money on. So I always tell Laura and she my wife or she she honestly fights with us. She has an issue I think in terms of pure absolutes and a lot of sense. So if I know we're going to use and I'm not a hoarder I'm not a crazy person but if I'm here we're going to use four rolls of aluminum foil and a year and aluminum foil is half off buy four rolls buy 8 rolls you know long.
681 - 685 Jonathan Mendonsa As you don't have three years worth of mustard at your home you'll get no complaints from me.
685 - 733 Brad Barrett We're not doing anything crazy. So I just like to be a little smart. So this orange chicken right. Perfect example we like has had we just drove back from vacation. We got back. The traffic was terrible. We got back at five o'clock at night. Now what are most people doing when they get home at 5:00 o'clock. They just got back from vacation take out. They're going to Wendy's or they're going to their local Chinese place and getting two $10. Combination meals right. That's just obvious. What we did was we went into the freezer grabbed this $5 bag of delicious orange chicken from Trader Joe's cooked up some rice and the meal was probably five dollars and 20 cents for the two of us. And it was simple. We didn't have to rush around. I mean that's just like a simple life hack that like just a tiny little bit of planning ahead. And we had this fantastic meal.
lifeoptimization, mealplan
733 - 750 Jonathan Mendonsa Yeah it's cool man. So I'm interested. One of the things that we'll get to when we get to me is I also I'm very interested in the staples of your diet. What are the things that you guys give me some patterns. What are that. You know maybe top 10 things that you find yourself purchasing every week or two or whenever you know whatever frequency to use.
750 - 757 Brad Barrett Yeah that's that's a very good question. Unfortunately I am not the person who shops. So I wish we had Laura here.
757 - 759 Jonathan Mendonsa Why don't we have her here.
759 - 770 Brad Barrett Yeah we definitely you know that would actually be great. She'd love to come on I'm sure. And you know she can talk about how she's food shops. She's fantastic. I mean she has like the unit price of every single thing memorized.
770 - 776 Jonathan Mendonsa Oh yeah we need her. We will have to stagger through this without her. Going to it. We'll get her on for the next one.
776 - 804 Brad Barrett But I do want to answer your question. I mean our staples are what Laura does basically is she food shops. We try to be more efficient. So life is not about making everything uber efficient and you know being a machine but it's just being smart. Everybody complains about being busy. How many times you hear people either complain or you know half brag about oh I'm so busy. You're busy because you don't plan. I don't mean in a jerky way but like you're not thinking about your week if you're busy. Just be smart.
804 - 810 Jonathan Mendonsa And how much TV Did you watch last night. You know I got to look at. Are you busy and you watched you got through the whole season of.
810 - 811 Brad Barrett Grey's Anatomy as you said Grey's Anatomy.
811 - 816 Jonathan Mendonsa I don't know where I come from I've actually never watch Grey's Anatomy but that's what I came up with.
816 - 863 Brad Barrett So you know what we do now is and you know in fairness this was this was something we've worked on. Laura used to have four different stores that she went to once a week or once every other week. That's crazy talk. That's a lot of visits to the food store. And that's a lot of hours. So even if let's say she bought a couple of things at Wal-Mart. If we have this new wonderful Wegmans that opened up and maybe a couple of these items are maybe 20 cents more expensive. It's not worth it to waste your time going to another store for those couple of things. Just buy it at Wegmans. Do it in one fell swoop. So she goes to the food store once a week now and she goes with some plan. We sit down and just say OK let's plan out the two or three meals that we want to cook this week and what we always do one of our biggest tips is if you're going to cook something cook it for two nights.
Brad_Catchphrases, cooking
863 - 865 Jonathan Mendonsa OK. Oh wow that's good.
865 - 873 Brad Barrett I mean this is huge for us so some people are like psychologically averse to leftovers. My response is. Come on man what are you doing.
873 - 879 Jonathan Mendonsa Yeah I eat leftovers like five days a week I've no problem it can be seven days old and chicken and I have complete confidence in my Constitution.
880 - 934 Brad Barrett Yeah. I mean leftovers are perfectly healthy. I mean it's not we're not living in the stone ages they're sitting in a refrigerator. And second. Who the heck are you a King. I mean like that you're getting waited on and getting new food every day. Like if you want to just somehow cut out the oh I'm busy or just stop wasting money it's buy something and have a plan. So Laura might cook. Let's say she has this chicken that she puts in the slow cooker that is like this Mexican chicken we call it and she'll have a plan for two to three nights for it and maybe she'll make enough that she'll freeze half of it. So we'll have two or three nights that week and then she has chicken in the freezer for two weeks later because you know I mean we're not going eat the same thing every week but just by taking no time at all or just throwing things in a slow cooker we have five dinners worth. Right. I mean think about think about how valuable that is just from a time perspective.
cooking, health
934 - 1038 Jonathan Mendonsa You know I think we're on the same page. You know I really would like to with Laura just dig into some of the details and see you know kind of what recipes have worked for you all. I think that we're doing a lot of the stuff the same. I haven't completely figured it out and to be honest with you. Part of me says oh well you can discount Brad because he's financially independent and isn't working and doing this at the same time. But I've you know I've been in the dual income family and I think maybe some of our audience might do that too because they're kind of in that space. It is that time component. But you know I think we all have different challenges that we face for different reasons like Brad's two kids. I don't have two kids. And there's reasons that you may not feel that you can do something, but I guess I would encourage you the audience you know don't write something off just because they don't have the exact same situation as you. Instead I would encourage you to look for what is usable from that. How can I use it. So you know I completely agree with Brad America has food obsession we have we have grocery stores at every major intersections restaurant in every corner. Fast food chains to fill the gaps in between. And I'm glad we're talking about this because I've talked to all my neighbors and family members and those conversations mirror the statistics that I read on line which is that most of middle class America's disposable income goes to you know food and grocery bill or restaurants and those the food budget outside of the mortgage probably takes up the biggest piece you know anywhere from five hundred to upwards of twelve hundred dollars a month when you add in restaurants and alcohol. You know if you just want to take one piece from that and they cut out the restaurants and alcohol you can probably And if that's where you're spending your money that is then you could probably save $300 a month just from that for some people that I know that don't have that money. But that's where that's where they spend it.
1038 - 1157 Brad Barrett Yeah I completely agree with Jonathan. And you know I don't want to ever have a holier than thou attitude. That's not where I'm coming from at all. You know I understand many or most people are working nine to 5 or even longer and commuting and they have to pick up their kids and run and do this. And the reflexive answer is oh we'll just pick up takeout. It's simple but I reject that. I think I think that actually causes more harm it causes more time to be wasted because you think of it as oh I'm just going to go pick up take out. But I mean realistically it's going to take you 20 minutes roundtrip at minimum to do that. I mean that's if the place is close by. And that's every single night. You know that's seven days a week. You're talking a couple of hours out of your of your life at minimum. Whereas for us it's just five minutes of planning. Jonathan talked about you know recipes and things and we'll talk to Laura about that but we have just a little index of like our top 50 recipes as I call it. And we're always experimenting with new things and we don't want to make stuff that's garbage. So we're constantly just kind of testing and iterating and if there's something brand new that we try that's like you know as I joke like an A-plus plus that immediately goes on that top 50 recipe and then maybe something comes off and we'll just sit down on a Sunday and say What are the two things we want to make this week and that's four meals. Because like I mentioned we're always making for at least two nights. So and in all likelihood out of those two meals there is going to be enough left over for a fifth person meal. So you know the way that we do that is there's that leftover. And you know let's say I'll eat that the third night and Laura will eat a slice of pizza out of the freezer. So this is this is literally you know we're getting down to the nitty gritty here. Like this is what we do. We buy one pizza. Laura she doesn't want to sit there and chow down on multiple slices of pizza. She has one slice of pizza and you know a side dish of a salad.
commuting, mealplan
1157 - 1166 Jonathan Mendonsa Wow I could not walk away from one piece of pizza. Physically would be and I would try but I'm like four man and I think that's what's going to my waistline. I just can't walk away from that one piece.
1166 - 1167 Brad Barrett Yeah. Now it's.
1167 - 1174 Jonathan Mendonsa I don't self control. Right. Right. She's like mastered Zen or Buddhism. She's found that inner peace that's incredible.
1174 - 1180 Brad Barrett And I mean we're from we're from New York where you know pizza is king. I mean there's pizza pizza places on every corner. But you know I mean this is.
1180 - 1184 Jonathan Mendonsa It doesn't even have to be good pizza I just can't walk away from it till it's gone.
1184 - 1224 Brad Barrett So I mean simply it's you we need two meals. Right. So that's good enough for five nights of dinner because each of those meals are good for two. So that gets us up to four. And then there's one there's some leftovers invariably and I'll eat anything I'll eat Chinese food with cold pizza with lobster. I don't know I don't care. I'll eat anything that's put in front of me. So we have enough for that fifth night. And then Laura grabs a slice of pizza and just for cooking two meals and in most cases they're pretty simple to make. We have five nights of dinner. I mean how is that for planning. I mean that that just works for us and we think honestly that it'll work for everybody and it's going to save you so much money because it's so much more efficient.
1224 - 1233 Jonathan Mendonsa We need to build this out into something that is like a PDF that just you can take with you and this is the game plan there's got to be a way that we can just package this just a little bit better.
1233 - 1234 Brad Barrett Yeah yeah I agree.
1234 - 1262 Jonathan Mendonsa Let me tell you where I'm at I'm not haven't quite finished yet but this was my my kind of where I was coming from a completely different direction. But I think we're ending up very close to the same place I think we can probably take some of these thoughts and really package it well. So I don't have time. I have a full time job. My wife has a full time job. We don't have any kids so you know we've got that going for us right now in terms of time but we have one on the way which is which is fantastic I'm super excited but that's going to be a another component. Right.
1262 - 1268 Brad Barrett And congratulations obviously just broke some news here. Hopefully our audience I'm sure is congratulating you out there.
1268 - 1329 Jonathan Mendonsa Yes thank you you due in April it's a baby boy we're very excited. So I am thinking you know I'm not financially independent yet. I will be working for the foreseeable future and I have to make judgment calls every single day on how I can get the most bang for my bucks I've already come to the same conclusion that as Brad and that I can never cook for just one day it has to provide multiple days multiple meals. I have no problem with that my child will never know anything else. And because we're also living on a budget we also can't afford to waste food. So I think there's probably two tests that that are very simple that you could look at to establish whether or not you are being efficient from both a waste perspective and a health perspective. One is the mirror and the waist test if you have a lot of stored energy. I'm very proud of you from an efficiency perspective but that's probably a good sign that you're consuming more than you need to. And then two is the fridge test just go open up your fridge. And is it filled to the brim. That is probably a sign of waste. Now Brad has seen my fridge.
cooking, health, mealplan
1329 - 1330 Brad Barrett Yeah it's pretty bare.
1330 - 1463 Jonathan Mendonsa It's pretty bare. And and part of that is that my wife and I decided you know in the last year or so that we were throwing out massive amounts of food. You know we didn't have five kids or four kids so we didn't have this huge tribe that we are. We are feeding. And so for us to have a completely stocked fridge is just crazy because we can't eat it all before it goes bad and we try not to eat a lot of stuff that requires preservatives I guess you know I don't have any issue with organic versus not. I'm just not one of those people. But in general I don't eat a lot of canned foods that sort of thing. It's mostly you know fresh things that will go off in a natural course of time over a week or two. And we couldn't eat a full fridge where so we were throwing stuff out. And that's a wasted money every single time you throw something in the trash can. That is a dollar or at least a dollar that has been wasted. And so we really focused on are we buying it and then throwing it out or thrown it out. Let's not buy it and focus on getting something else that we'll actually use. And so I've tried a bunch of different things in that vein. You know I tried once a month meals. I signed up for probably three to four of those food budget programs and they gave you the shopping list and all your meals and there's three websites I'm going to mention the ones that I actually tried. One was e-meals. One was once a month meals and one was Don't waste the crumbs and they work you know exactly as advertised if you follow it you're going to save thousands of dollars each year on groceries with these programs you typically make all of the food for the entire month split up over two to three days. So what's the problem. So I liked all these programs and for the first month I was a rock star. But you know by the end of the second or the third month I've stopped using the service now. Now they work as advertised but I found it to be mentally exhausting always having to learn new recipes each new recipe adds a small amount of stress to my life. Most of these meals seem to be tailored to the stay at home husband or wife who has time to insource most of the work and you know my wife and I we both work and it just didn't feel sustainable. And by the time one of us has a day off you know it's time to do laundry. And since I work every other weekend I really don't want to sacrifice my free remaining weekend cooking all week. So that's the problem. Is that something that was relatable I guess for most people you think Brad.
1463 - 1481 Brad Barrett Yeah I mean without a doubt just hearing about this for the first time if you're doing all of your cooking for a month over two to three days I mean the mental hurdle of that I have to imagine is as hugely significant So for me it's all about just making this easy right. I mean that's that's the name of the game as far as I'm concerned.
1481 - 1578 Jonathan Mendonsa That's the solution I came to as well. Repetition. I needed a meal plan that simple. I needed a plan that only required me to put in 30 to 60 minutes twice a week and would provide meals that were 1 are healthy two delicious and three repeatable so they can be eaten again and again without growing old simplicity that is a common theme that you'll hear with Brand. Simplicity is the key. The meal plan. It could not take up all of my time and it couldn't be too exhausting to think about. I didn't want to make fresh yeast rolls three times a week and things that took four to five hours just to make one product. I don't mind eating a lot of the same things and I think that most families have patterns that they stick with whether they realize it. So why not just use that to your advantage. So if you can crush your food expenses and you can reduce it from whatever that bloated original number was you know maybe eight hundred a thousand twelve hundred dollars a month if you could reduce that down to $300 a month. The money you could save can easily offset the cost of you know maybe debt maybe a car payment that could speed up your journey to financial independence. So I really wanted to focus on how can I actually just decrease my food bill and I ran some math equations on my website I did a whole blog article about this and you can take a look at it and it's pretty interesting but it's not really the focus of what we're doing today. So what I did is I actually just focused on what are the ingredients that I'm actually using every single time that are going to form the basis of my meal plan. And I came up with a title and it's a little bit click bait but it works for me and it was the ultimate Casco meal plan. So the idea the premise is simple. Cheap and repeatable right.
debt, families, health, mealplan
1578 - 1578 Brad Barrett Makes sense.
1578 - 1581 Jonathan Mendonsa Is this my are you following me Brad any to add.
1581 - 1586 Brad Barrett No it's great. It's great. And where we're big Costco shoppers So I'm curious to learn more from you.
1586 - 1758 Jonathan Mendonsa So I'm going to talk about the 10 items that I buy every single month on a regular basis that I get from Costco and they form the basis of this of this meal plan and to be honest this is a growing list. I haven't quite had the energy to completely finish it yet but the idea is when Brad talked about price per meal the important word that he used there was the average. It's not so much that every meal costs 30 cents per meal or you know 50 cents but the average hits a certain amount that's what really makes it. So if you have a couple of two people and every meal costs you know $2 meal that means your automatic cost is $4 per meal and then you eat three meals a day. So that's $12 a day you multiply that times 30 at 360 bucks a month right. So that's kind of where we're starting. And we're just we're looking at the cost for food. We're looking at simplicity repetition and how can we use buying in bulk discount prices to really achieve that goal. So what I am trying to do is come up with a plan where you tailor 80 percent of your meals around what you can buy in bulk at Costco and then you fill in the blanks with special deals like Brad was mentioning with the orange chicken or on pre-made dishes or specialty cuts of meat. You know many grocery staples are very cheap like oatmeal and rice. Super super cheap whereas steak and fish you know that's going to be pretty expensive. So 20 cents a serving versus $10 a serving. And the key of what I'm saying is not to convince you to eat only oatmeal or steak but it's just to find a balance something that provides maximal satisfaction for the most efficient cost with a little bit of healthiness built in. So if you're going to eat lobster every day like Brad was talking about at some point you know it's going to start tasting like soap. And if you have smoothies everyday at some point you're going to stop enjoying it. So how can we minimize our time in the kitchen maximize the money in our wallet and still have a great time enjoying all the options that we are blessed to have the. The. Here's my here's what I came up with right now currently as it is from my top 10 items your ready for this Brad. One. A 25 pound bag of flour. You can get that at Costco for 5:59 if you go to your local grocery store a five pound bag of flour is going to cost you 3:59 or $4 or something like that. I have a breadmaker and I highly encourage all of you to buy a breadmaker. And the reason for this is that while you can make bread from scratch and do not need one time is part of this plan. I did not have time to spend six hours whether or not it's passively involved being surrounding it. I don't have time for two rises and a bake. I just don't. And a breadmaker while it is not going to give me the same quality loaf as doing it the old fashioned way. It'll get me 80 percent and I'm happy with that. So Brad and I have talked about Pareto's principle before. We'll come back to that but this is one of those 80:20 choices and the bread maker gets me efficiency and what I can do if I do that so my total cost for this bag of flour five dollars and 59 cents it will make me I think it's 31 Loaf's. So total cost per loaf 18 cents.
1758 - 1760 Brad Barrett Right. And you're going through one of those per month.
1760 - 1771 Jonathan Mendonsa I haven't quite figured it out yet I just kind of started with that. I think I'm almost done with that first bag and you know my consumption of bread usually follows my waistline. So you know as I start to see it started to go up my god I need to cut back on the bread.
1771 - 1773 Brad Barrett Put disclaimers on this episode.
1773 - 1794 Jonathan Mendonsa Yeah. No absolutely. You got to use bounce. But you know what bread isn't just bread I mean I use bread for Panini's we make Panini's at home they're excellent really gourmet stuff. Obviously you can use it in toast sandwhiches you can make desserts I mean lots of really really neat stuff and I make whole wheat bread white bread Rosemary cheese bread. I mean there's some really good options there but if you do it from that base line you can make it very very cheaply.
1794 - 1799 Brad Barrett You know that's incredible I mean obviously from a per loaf standpoint that's that's phenomenal.
1799 - 1801 Jonathan Mendonsa That bread will cost you three hours to buy.
1801 - 1806 Brad Barrett Wow that's amazing. You know I know nothing about bread makers so I will say.
1806 - 1809 Jonathan Mendonsa So easy You just throw like eight ingredients and walk away. See what happens it's.
1809 - 1820 Brad Barrett Yeah. Well we'll try to make a post on that and we'll also put a link to the breadmaker that Jonathan uses in the show notes just so I know nothing about it so I'd love to learn and hopefully you guys do too.
1820 - 1856 Jonathan Mendonsa If you ever visit me you will find very quickly that once I find something and I find it to be useful I immediately want to show everybody how it's improving my life in some small way. And essentially when you're listening to this podcast you're getting the exact same thing though maybe you're mostly a couple of cities away. So welcome alright so number two is oats. We also start pretty much every single morning with oatmeal you know sometimes we'll dress them up with some banana or raisins sentiments something like that but oats they're super inexpensive and very versatile. You can do a lot of things with them you can get a massive container of it for seven ninety nine so the cost per serving would be seven cents.
1856 - 1857 Brad Barrett Sounds pretty good.
1857 - 1916 Jonathan Mendonsa We you know add bananas cranberry raisins some sweetener or something like that. So you know you bring the cost will go up but the average costs per meal 25 cents. Number three I consume a lot of yogurt. Greek yogurt plain Greek yogurt high protein very good for you. We do the plane you know and we usually add that to smoothies and sometimes oatmeal. I actually at one point went back and was making yogurt from scratch. And you can do that. It's easy it's good taste but the time component again and it's not time where I'm actively standing in front of it. But the process to make it required more of it than I was really enjoying. And so when I looked at the cost to make two jugs of yogurt you have to start with a gallon of milk. That's what you start with. And plus something some sort of starter culture so if you're paying 379 for the milk and it's taking you 24 hours of passive time to build the yogurt and then you got to strain it and all this other stuff. If I can get two really nice sized greek yogurts really 579. That's another 80:20 thing and I just I buy that I buy the other.
1916 - 1923 Brad Barrett Yeah that's that's a no brainer. You should have seen my head take over here when my head nearly exploded when I heard Jonathan made his own yogurt.
1923 - 2273 Jonathan Mendonsa I will do anything once. I will try it. That's when you know we talk about in our intro we're going to go to the edge. Find out what works and then come back and give you the sweet spot. This is what I'm giving you this is an example. It's awesome. I tried it for you guys maybe for myself a little bit. I tried it and it wasn't efficient. So a lot of people were talking about making yogurt and that's very nice and cute but I don't think you need to do it to save a dollar. All right. Number four berries. We use a ton of berries. This is one of the things that we splurge on so we will get the frozen mango when it's available. We'll get the triple berries. We use them in all of our smoothies. And you can get 20 to 25 servings per bag so that's that's a no brainer for us. Number five kale or spinach. We purchased these you know range from $3 to $4 you can get one to two cup per serving and 15 servings easily. We use those in salads or if you really want to up the ante on the antioxidants smoothies you can put them in there and if at this point you're thinking wow. He came up with bread and kale. Well go to my Web site. I've got some really cool pictures there. I mean bread and kale can be delicious if you dress them up the right way I promise you. And this is the guy that wouldn't eat a salad as a kid. So other list items. Number six. Black beans. Lot of amazing things you do with black beans. And then when you pair that with rice which would be number seven you've got a complete protein. Number eight will be cereal. They have some really good prices on cereal products. Number nine eggs eggs are a staple protein for our diet. And number 10 would be probably a combination of potatoes and onions that we use for our various combo combos so those are I have more there. But when I go to the grocery store almost every single time that I go those end up in my shopping cart and those aren't particularly expensive I mean you're getting really bargain discounts the big thing you got to figure out if you make the commitment to buy those you need to eat it. That should be the challenge. If you find yourself throwing stuff out then you've done something wrong you're buying too much you should buy less. But by forcing yourself to stick with this basic template and you know those are healthy meals your body will your body is evidence of that though the fuel that you're providing it. So if you're providing it a combination of the things that I just told you with maybe the exception of the bread but everything else in there is going to produce a healthy fit body. And no one overdoes it on salad. You're just not going to stop it and at some point. So I buy meat just a little bit differently. So sometimes we do go ahead and we buy the chicken in bulk at Costco but they don't have the lowest prices on them on everything including chicken and so there's there's a life back there and actionable tip first. You know when you have 20 things that you're purchasing on a regular basis find out your price per unit. So figure out what the unit of measure is is an ounce or pound and then make sure that you're getting the most competitive price. That'll let you know when somebody is sneaking one by you which grocers grocery stores. That's what they do. They give you low prices on some stuff and high prices on others and they're not beyond changing the price on you know what a good price per unit is. So for chicken maybe to £99 something like that. My current method to make sure I'm getting a good deal is to comb a website called deals to meals it's a $5 month subscription service. I do this once a week. They actually will collate the ads for major grocery stores nationwide and tell you who has the best deals. Then I will plan to meals around that specific deal using either their website or budget bites which is a fantastic Web site on the internet that has pre-measured out everything in the cost per serving fantastic Web site and we use that for maybe new and creative meals so you know actually know the cost per unit. So when you're buying your meat fresh I don't like buying it in bulk. I like buying it a little bit fresher. It's going to have better taste and it's going to inject some variety into our diet. I don't always do chicken I don't always do pork I don't always do steak but by basing it around the weekly ads you're going to make sure that you don't wreck your budget on the meats because you could easily spend 25 $30 a pound on meat if you're not watching what you're doing. And that'll get you 90 percent they're just those 10 items that I mentioned plus the means you're getting a great deal on. But you do have to fill in the gaps and this is what Brad is talking about. Sometimes you want something different you don't want to make it. Well historically and to some degree we still do the only eating out my wife and I do especially while we're paying down debt right now as we do chipotle and panera. That is the only thing that makes it on our list in around $7 is serving with two people and we don't have to worry about a babysitter. If you notice a pattern we do not spend money on tips. I don't go to restaurants where I have to leave a tip. I'm not going to pay an extra 15 percent right now it just doesn't make sense in my life. So you know eight bucks a meal $16. I am going to go check out Peter Changs. By the way that sounds really it's amazing. Yeah. But what I found is that by buying a few pre-made meals at Costco we can really cut down our food costs in this area as well so if I shop at Costco we usually try to find which products have manufacturer rebates that's one of the things that Costco really markets they want it to be a discovery to find new items that you haven't seen before so they routinely bring in stuff that you haven't seen before and so you know this past week we had Rosemary mint lamb shanks which were delicious and they want to manufacturer where they gave you $5 off you got to Rosemary lamb shakes for seven bucks. So it's kind of a challenge if you can lock down 90 percent of your diet and just get used to the rapid repetition you like the meals. It gets rid of that decision fatigue right. And then if you fill in the basis with some some splurges that don't wreck your budget it's very simple to come up with a program that avoids decision fatigue. It gets rid of all the barriers that you have with your time. And you know you will get leaner on it you'll get healthier on it and it is sustainable over time. So that's kind of my process over the last four years how I've moved from going to the extreme whatever I wanted to the once a month meals and how I brought it back to where we're at currently. And you know you can if you're tracking it if you want to if you're in a place where you're need to you can very easily live off of $300 a month. I suspect that you could feed your two kids and some pets with that budget if you did it the way that I just suggested.
debt, health, mealplan
2273 - 2321 Brad Barrett Yeah. One thing I kind of wanted to tieback just real quick on when when I was mentioning how how we go about our food because it ties directly into health which is overeating. I think you know I grew up in a family and this is not to denigrate my family here throw them under the bus but we're eaters. We come from a long line of eaters and people are you know somewhat overweight. And one of the many things that Laura has done to improve my life is to make me realize that I don't need to eat that much to be satisfied and to be healthy most importantly. And one of the great things that that we do where you know if Laura is making one particular dish Let's say you know Chicken Marsala and we've decided that that pot of chicken marsala is good for two nights for the two of us. It almost invariably causes us to not over yet on the first night.
families, health, weightloss
2322 - 2324 Jonathan Mendonsa Portion it out ahead of time. That's a great tip.
2324 - 2466 Brad Barrett Exactly. And it's weird looking at that pot and we could easily just split it in half and just say OK this is for the other night. This is for this night. But in some level that actually might even cause you to eat more than you would. So what we do is we just kind of eyeball it. We take a normal human serving and that's our dinner if we want a little second sometimes just psychologically you want you want seconds right. You take a tiny little scoop of rice a tiny little scoop a couple of pieces of chicken and a little bit of sauce and that's seconds. And you're satisfied then right. Whereas like before or if we said oh we don't need leftovers or we're just going to throw it out we would eat a whole heck of a lot more. But psychologically we're looking at them and saying like OK this is going to ruin having this for a second night and that means Laura has to cook again. She has to maybe go food shopping and I mean that's not desirable. Right. Like that's a multi hour decision to take that extra serving just to you know be a pig one day. You know Laura has to go to the food store and she has to cook again because I decided to eat a little bit more. I mean that's that's a real simple decision not to do that. And then the wonderful benefit is I don't get fat. Right. Like I mean that is as positive of a thing as you can do. I mean you're getting ultra inexpensive meals you're not having to be busy all the time cooking and food shopping and you don't get large. Right. I mean that's win win win. And you know I'm not saying this from the perspective of someone that has it all figured out. I have issues with food. I've always had issues with food. I have a lot of discipline but I do not have a lot of self-control. So one of the tips that I've had to learn and just I have to realize this because this is just the place on that is that if it is in my house I'm going to eat it and then I'm going to tell myself Well if you eat it now then you don't have to worry about it later. I mean that is just on repeat throughout my life. So you just don't find sugar in my house unless it is the intent is that it will be consumed over the next day or so we don't there's no sweet stored in the cupboard somewhere and I'm not telling you you need to do that. I think have issues with food I think it's been documented. But if you are that person just like every other problem that we talk about you need to come up with a solution for it so my solution is you know what. That's my problem. Don't have it in the house if you only have healthy options in your house. You're only going to eat healthy food and then that's one less thing that you need to figure out every single day.
Brad_Catchphrases, cooking, health
2466 - 2487 Brad Barrett Yeah you really want to take willpower out of your decision making. You don't want it to be oh there's all this delicious you know potato chips and sweets in the cupboard but I can't eat it right. I mean that's crazy talk me. Any time you have to. You walk by the kitchen and you say oh I don't want to eat those Oreos because it's going to make me fat. I mean eventually you're going to just give it up.
2487 - 2490 Jonathan Mendonsa So don't buy candy at Costco. Well just don't do it.
2490 - 2620 Brad Barrett Right. Seriously. So it's just like Jonathan said which is so important. We're not coming at this from the position of experts. We're just regular guys who have figured out something that works for each of our families and that's not to say we're not going to have 10 new tweaks in the next year and we're going to be you know I suspect we'll each be smarter for bouncing these ideas off of each other and at the beginning of 2018 we'll have like I said 10 extra tweaks that will just make this so much more efficient. Yeah we can revisit this one next year. Yeah for sure. And just the final word from from my perspective is this is a process right. I mean if you would have seen me and Laura eating when we were single 10 years ago or 12 years ago whatever we look back and were like what was wrong with us. I mean we would make this pasta dish with an entire loaf of garlic bread and just house the whole thing. I mean like what kind of normal human being eats a half a loaf of garlic bread. It's crazy talk like you're going to be 400 pounds. Right. But you know we just decided OK we still like garlic bread. So let's make a third of a loaf. Right. You still get that delicious hit of the garlic bread but you're having one sixth of a of a loaf in that case and you save money right. Not to be stupid because you know we're not worrying about a 99 cents low for garlic bread but we would buy this you know a loaf of Italian bread at the store immediately cut it into thirds. Put them in aluminum foil the two thirds and then you don't need to shop again. Right. You have that bread whenever you need it. And I mean now many many years later we've pretty much cut that out of our diet entirely. But that was many many steps you know and it's just we try to just just get better in life. I mean that's kind of how we live is just coming up with these little little tweaks as we get new information. Right. We're not geniuses. We don't have it all figured out. We probably do hundreds of things wrong if you will now. But our lives are so much better than they were 10 years ago because and not just in food in every aspect of life. We just tried to learn. It's a constant learning process and just making little tweaks just to make yourself healthier more financially stable and less busy and less stressed.
families, health
2620 - 2658 Jonathan Mendonsa And when you're not spending all that money on food you have it available to spend on other projects so it's not you know there are wins involved with getting this aspect down. And when you get your weight under control because you figure it is that there are savings there their savings from a medical insurance perspective which is preventative. Their savings from actually needing to use your health insurance now you don't worry about diabetes and hypertension and all the things that come with doctor's visits. I mean the cheapest health care plan is just living a healthy lifestyle. Now there are things that happened there obviously you can't control and I can't for that but there are plenty that are including diabetes and hypertension. And I'm saying that now as a pharmacist.
health, healthinsurance, savings, weightloss
2658 - 2734 Brad Barrett Yeah and what I think is cool about this episode for me personally as a listener even though I'm obviously very involved in this is you know we sat down and just hit record and we were kind of all over the place in this episode but I think that's awesome. I think we gave so many actionable tips and not only very specific granular ones but just the theory also of how you think about this. Right. Like what works for us is not necessarily going to work for you. You might not have a Costco nearby you might not have a Wegmans nearby but it doesn't matter. It's the thought process it's how do I sit back and come up with a plan that's going to make my life easier. And it can make my life healthier and more financially stable. Right. I mean that is the trifecta. And hopefully this is it is the first. I suspect it's going to be the first of many because I mean this is these type of podcasts about food because it really is essential. I mean food is such a huge line item in most people's budgets and it doesn't have to be. You can save money you can save on that waistline and you can save time if you're just a little bit smarter about it and have just some planning put into this so I am extremely excited about this. I love how this conversation went and I suspect you guys enjoyed it too. And yeah we'd love to hear about it feedback leave us comments so I'll throw it over to Jonathan for his thoughts.
2734 - 2765 Jonathan Mendonsa I really don't have anything to add. This was a lot of fun. I found myself when Brad was talking just leaning into it almost because I wanted to hear what are other people doing that's working. And specifically you know not everything he does is going to work for me. But is there anything that I can grab and incorporate into my puzzle I don't have it all figured out. I'm still building this but I want this idea of something that two people that are in debt and they're trying to keep it lean and they're trying to stay healthy and they don't want to spend a lot of time working on it. What does that look like. Who's talking about that. Who has that figured out. And hopefully this was helpful for you.
debt, health

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