Intentional Spending And Your Food Budget

Hi there,

My name is Morag McIntosh and I am the head coach of Positive Net Worth, which is a coaching practice dedicated to helping women take control of their personal financial journeys. I love talking to women about how their money beliefs can support or hinder their financial goals.

I’m writing this guest blog because I feel really strongly that when women become intentional in spending and saving their money, they can achieve financial goals that seem impossible. Case in point, what health goals are you holding back on financially committing to right now? Have you taken the time to really think about how much is “too much” to spend on your health and well-being? What specific goal would you feel more comfortable committing to if you had the money set aside for it?


What if you could take a positive action today, which would allow you to save for your future health related financial goals?


Food is one of the top 3 budget categories for most Canadians, but the good news is it’s also one of the categories we have the most control over. As Canadians we spend on average 15% of our monthly budget on food, making it a big part of our spending and a great place to look for savings.

As women we also tend to have greater control over food spending, but just how intentional are we being in using that control?

Setting a food budget is key to saving money, but sticking to that budget can take some planning. Everyone dreads the ‘What’s for dinner?’ question when they are tired after a long day. That is when it can seem easier just to go out for dinner or order that pizza or Chinese food. But is that decision really in your higher interest?

It’s no secret that food plays an important role in maintaining and improving your health. We are told to eat less processed foods, more fruits and vegetables, more fibre, cleaner foods, more protein, less sugar… It can seem overwhelming at times to make healthy choices while not blowing your whole pay cheque and/or spending hours in the kitchen. This is where meal planning comes in…

Meal planning is a proven way to eat healthier, reduce your food waste, cut back on restaurant spending, and eat a larger variety of foods that are less processed and are tailored to your likes and dislikes.


Meal planning combined with savvy grocery shopping has the potential to free up a lot of money so that you can spend it intentionally on achieving other goals.


I’ll be the first to admit I love a good spending breakdown (it makes me VERY popular at parties!). So I’ve taken a recipe supplied by Tracy to show how using a meal planning service can help.

Tracy’s Salmon, Rice and Arugula recipe is very close to a similar dish offered by a large, Canadian chain restaurant. At the restaurant the dish is offered for $21.99 before tax and tip. For my pricing I have used prices from Fortino’s for the raw ingredients and chosen the most expensive options in each case to demonstrate that this is the high end of the spectrum.


To make Tracy’s version (for one person) the break down would be as follows.

Ingredients Cost per serving  
Atlantic Salmon Filet $4.48  
Lundberg Jasmine Rice $0.42  
Maldon Sea Salt $0.03  
Planeta Extra Virgin Olive Oil $0.37  
Lemon $0.12  
Good Leaf Micro Arugula $2.00  
PC Vegetable Medley $1.25  
   Home Cooked Vs. Restaurant
Grand Total $8.67 $21.99


That is a difference of $13.32 for one person for one meal! For a family of four that is $53.29, not including a tip which would conservatively run another $10.00. And it can help avoid the temptations of table bread, “Natural Disaster by chocolate” desserts or over-priced drinks!

Keep in mind that the other thing that you are supporting is your health goals. I did a quick look up of the calories, fat and sodium for the restaurant meal versus the home cooked meal and the differences are startling. Making your own salmon saves you 453 calories, 39 g of fat and a whopping 1,347 mg of sodium.

So you save money and eat healthier. That’s an amazingly positive outcome. And it has the potential to add up quickly. If you cut out even two restaurant meals a week you could pay for the meal planning service and still be putting away $40.00-$50.00 a month.

Let’s assume that you intentionally commit to saving that $40.00 a month in a high interest savings account with an interest rate of 2.3%. You would then be essentially building up your own flex-spending health account. Forty bucks doesn’t sound like much money, when you take in to account your food budget, but it adds up. After one year you would have just over $540.00 saved up!


What goals could you support with that money?


It’s amazingly easy to set up a free, on-line account and if you commit to an intention of saving a specific amount of money towards a specific goal you might be surprised at how quickly you can achieve your goals. Saving all that money, while eating healthier and avoiding the dreaded ‘What’s for dinner’ question? Sounds like a win-win to me.

If you are interested in learning more about me, or how I coach women to help them achieve financial freedom feel free to pop over to my website. I have blog posts on financial topics like saving money, free, fun things you can do and a great guide to getting out of debt the easy way. I also offer free one hour calls to discuss any financial concerns you may have that I can help with.


I hope you enjoyed this guest post from Morag. If you’d like to download the Salmon, Rice and Arugula recipe, click here.

In good health and mind,

Tracy 🙂  

P.S. If you want help with meal planning, click here.

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