|Average Australian home||$4000 a year*|
|Smart renter||$2000 or less a year|
|Very smart renter||$1000 or less a year|
*We have taken figures from the 2015/2016 Australian Bereau of Statistics data presented across different income groups, averaged it out and multiplied it to reflect the average household occupancy to give you an idea.
$4000 a year? Where’s it all going?
- Australians spend roughly a third of their food expenditure on eating out.
- Most of this goes into buying take away, eating at restaurants and cafes, buying lunch at work and buying convenience food/snacks.
- Usually, the same meals can be cooked at home for a fraction of the price and with little effort (e.g. $25 for a plate of pasta and tomato sauce vs $2.50 at home).
Eating in or at interesting third places is like the Airbnb of dining; it can be a really unique experience beyond what a restaurant or café can offer. Here’s some easy ways to eat in style without spending a fortune:
Savour a good meal at home
- Most restaurant meals can be easily made as good (if not better) at home even if you spend a little extra on some special ingredients you wouldn’t normally buy.
- It’s nice not to have the feeling of being rushed like you do in some restaurants or cafés.
- For us, we’d rather have a lazy Sunday breakfast in the garden (or a hearty winter’s meal in a cosy lounge room) than at a hectic café.
Find free or cheap third places
- Sometimes the desire to eat out is not about the food, it’s about the experience of being in a different location.
- A third place is anywhere that makes a great seperate social location to your home .
- Parks, beaches, town squares and the like are great places to bring a camp stove, cook up a simple meal (or bring a picnic) and watch life go by.
- There are no rules: if it’s a public space and it’s appealing, sit down and enjoy a meal there.
Have some easy meals on standby
- Keep some simple meals available for the occasional times when you can’t be bothered cooking.
- For example, pasta/ravioli and a decent sauce or a store bought gozleme with a homemade salad can be made in no time, is delicious and costs very little.
- If you have a freezer, prepare some meals or sauces that freeze well and can be reheated easily. For those without a freezer, you can also make and bottle homemade pasta sauces.
- These meals may not always be super healthy but are preferable to takeaway.
Meet friends at home or in cheap or free third places
- We noticed in Germany that our friends and family there mostly preferred to meet at each other’s homes or in public areas (like the park, riverside areas, etc.).
- This can be a lot of fun; not only is it cheaper but you get to experience each other’s cooking, a beautiful homely or outdoor location and can have a relaxed conversation without feeling the need to buy something.
Take a packed lunch and a packed snack
- Last night’s leftovers make a great lunch and we cook enough the night before for lunch the next day.
- If you don’t have a fridge or microwave at work, make a meal that tastes great cold and can store out of the fridge for a few hours.
- A packed lunch enables you to have a peaceful lunchbreak rather than dashing around looking for something to eat and then scoffing it down.
- Keep a snack or two handy (like some nuts and fruit) for when you’re on the go to avoid overpriced (and mostly unhealthy) convenience food.
A note on buying drinks
- A drink is usually around a third to half the cost of a meal (including bottled water!) which can be quite a rip off.
- It’s perfectly ok to decline to buy one when eating out if you don’t feel like it.
- Always carry a bottle of water on you.
 Here you can get a better idea of what the average is per person for a household like yours:
 See Chapters 14 and 15 in The Art of Frugal Hedonism by Annie Raser-Rowland and Adam Grubb for a great write up on third places and this topic in general.