More frugal relativism courtesy of Wendys

by Rocket Finance

One of the reasons that I took a new job that moved us several states to the west was that the job change allowed for more family time. And so far, I have had more time to spend with the family. Actually, might be home too much now and I suspect that Mrs. Rocket might be getting a little weary of having daddy home every night . . .

Last Friday night, I was home and we are still exploring our new area, so we decided to eat out as a family. In our pursuit of the cheapest meal possible, we succumbed to the siren song of the Wendy’s Dollar Menu. Here is what we ordered: 3 hamburgers, 3 orders of chicken nuggets, 2 orders of fries, and 2 orders of mandarin oranges. We shared the various items and everyone in the family drank water – except for my five year old who refuses to drink water – until she gets really, really thirsty or the water is in some kind of “princess” water bottle.

We were able to feed our entire family of five on 10 bucks plus tax. A pretty cheap meal all things considered. If we had ordered beverages, we would have increased our costs by 50%. If we had ordered kids meals for our three children, we would have spent 60% more. If we had ordered from the restaurant across the street, our costs would have increased by at least 200%.

We felt pretty frugal until I started to do some more math. If we spent $10 on every meal that our family eats, our food budget would be over $900 per month! There is no way that we could afford to spend that much of our monthly budget on food. I developed a new appreciation for the fact that Mrs. Rocket successfully feeds (judging by my size) our family of five for less than $200 per month.

This also means that when our stimulus check arrives, we will be turning it into a grocery store gift card that comes with a 10% bonus. Our stimulus rebate might feed the Rocket household for the next seven months.

Or we might just eat from the Wendy’s Dollar Menu for a month and half.

  1. 13 Responses to “More frugal relativism courtesy of Wendys”

  2. By Lynnae on May 6, 2008 | Reply

    A family of 5 on $200 a month? I need shopping lessons from Mrs. Rocket! Way to go!

  3. By LittleSis on May 7, 2008 | Reply

    You learned from the best. I still remember when Mom went in to McD’s with SIX free hamburger coupons and ordered . . . . SIX hamburgers. Even Dad was a little embarassed that time. 🙂

  4. By Mrs. Micah on May 7, 2008 | Reply

    That’s awesome. Your wife gets mega-points.

    And that’s a great way to think about it. I’ll remember that next time I think that fast food is cheap.

  5. By Dana on May 7, 2008 | Reply

    I already knew my little family was eating way too much takeout and that it was costing serious money, but you have really put the cost into perspective.

    I did want to point out, though, that for some segments of the population it can be really hard to buy food in advance to make this stuff at home, and that’s when they *have* homes. I don’t think that most people who have time to read a lot of blogs will have that problem, but some people do, and it’s just one more way that it is expensive to be poor: economy of scale really is beyond their means.

    That sure isn’t our problem around here, though, and I’ve got half a mind that if we’re going to eat junk anyway, to go out and get the ground beef, buns, and potatoes and make this crap at home. Even if we got the preformed raw patties it would be cheaper than Wendy’s.

  6. By Funny about Money on May 7, 2008 | Reply

    Hm. Could I hire Mrs. Rocket to shop for me? At the rate she’s going, she could save so much I could afford to pay her union wages and still come out to the good! 🙂

    Fast food has always seemed like a retro-bargain to me: one that looks like it’s cheap but isn’t. Eating out is always pricey compared to dining at home–but come ON! Sometimes a person gets to eat out.

    However, look at what the family ate: greasy hamburgers, greasy fried chicken, and greasy fried potatoes. This isn’t going to do any harm once in a while. But if a person ate like that all the time (as apparently many folks do), what you save in restaurant bills you’ll spend many times over in medical bills. It might have been more economical–in the long term–to have gone across the street and spent twice as much on healthier food…if that’s what they were selling.

  7. By Elizabeth on May 10, 2008 | Reply

    I agree, fast food is NOT a bargain. It is a luxury that comes at a cost. Our weekly grocery bill is $80-120/week depending on what we buy… dinner at Wendy’s (which we ate last night, dh went out and picked it up) costs us about $15, not counting gas. That ain’t cheap, it’s really not! And the fries were over-salted to boot.

    I honestly don’t know why we eat fast food. It’s a habit I despise and I cringe when we spend that money on it. But there are nights when it’s the path of “least resistance.” Which means I need to do a better job planning. I was thinking that we could have had a steak dinner, grilled by dh, for the cost of a trip to Wendy’s!

    I think I could cook quite a few really nice meals, with “extras” for the cost of a meal at Wendy’s and have leftovers to boot. And it would save us from our apathetic decision-making process where we go back and forth and don’t really have any enthusiasm for the “cheap meal” that we’re trying to decide on. My family would be so much better off if I could eliminate the occassional fast-food from our meal plan. It’s something I’m working towards!

  8. By rocketc on May 10, 2008 | Reply

    There is something about the smell of fast-food before you eat it that is addictive. That Big Mac, Whopper or Spicy Chicken from Wendy’s sounds so good when your stomach is empty.

    Plus the fact that your belly knows that you can have the meal in about a minute in a half . . .

    It is a temptation that I try to resist – many times unsuccessfully.

  9. By Aaron Stroud on May 12, 2008 | Reply

    I believe kudos are in order for sticking to such small portions!

  10. By rocketc on May 12, 2008 | Reply

    Yeah. . . well that is not always the case . . . I still manage to be overweight.

  11. By Journeyer on May 15, 2008 | Reply

    What a great reality check. It’s easy to get fooled by false economies of “cheap” meals. And what a fabulous way to use your stimulus rebate.

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