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To be annoyed that DH cannot/will not stick to our food budget.

(110 Posts)
WatchingToyStoryAgain Sat 20-Apr-13 15:45:39

We are a family of 5; DH and I, a 12 year old, a 6 year old and a 4 year old. We budget £100 - £120 per week for food, which I think is a generous budget. DH works full time, I work part time, so whilst we both earn money (just in case anyone says he earns the money he can spend it as he sees fit), I am obviously at home more and I do all the meal planning, food shopping/ordering, and 95% of the cooking. DH never wants any input into the food ordering, or into what we are having for dinner that night. If I ask for suggestions for meals he just shrugs and says he has no idea.

So, what I'm finding at the moment is quite often now, despite not wanting to have any input into what we're having for tea each night, I'll be cooking and DH will turn his nose up at whatever is on offer that night, disappear to the local shop, and spend more money on something he does fancy, such as a ready meal. I know we all have nights where we fancy something different, but surely if you are living on a budget there are some nights you have to compromise. I'd love steak, and nice ready meals each night, but I often end up having something I don't fancy, because the kids have requested it, or I know it's something they'll eat. It's just par for the course in a family.

Also, on any nights that he's planning on cooking, he'll again disappear to the shop and maybe spend an extra £20 - £30 on things for a meal. He can never use things already in the fridge/cupboard/freezer. And also he can never have 'just' what is on offer at a meal. If I do a fry up (eggs, bacon, baked beans, grilled tomatoes, hash browns) he will again go to the shop and get a pack of Tesco finest sausages to have with it. If I make homemade soup for lunch with rolls, he'll start digging out other things to have with his, that I've put in the meal plan to use at another meal. He also won't take packed lunches to work and so spends £5+ each lunchtime on nice goodies.

I know some will say he's entitled to eat what he wants etc, but I feel I am a good cook, our budget is generous, and I try to cook nice, balanced, healthy meals for us all. We have treats, we have a takeaway once a week or fortnight.

In theory we can afford to spend the extra but it seems like a terrible waste, when the money could be used elsewhere (ie saved for a holiday, or used to enable the kids to do extra activities), and also seems grossly unfair when I'm making, planning and preparing family meals to suit us all and he's waltzing off all the time, eating what he likes, spending extra money, and generally making sure he is better catered for than we are!

AIBU to be annoyed and frustrated?

comingintomyown Sun 21-Apr-13 14:37:26

XH was like this drove me mad even though we had plenty of money , in fact eating as I please without trying to accomodate him remains a daily blessing

FredFredGeorge Sun 21-Apr-13 13:58:51

OP you've avoided every question about how the budget was decided. So I'm going to say YABU based on the idea that he seemingly never bought into it in the first place and you don't actually need to budget.

maddening Sat 20-Apr-13 22:06:55

Does he see and agree that you need to budget? Could you suggest he takes his portion of the budget and caters for himself without breaching that budget?

Then your budget and cooking is just for you and dc?

If he doesn't agree to budget I don't see how you can work it as you are pulling in different directions.

Loveiswhereitfalls Sat 20-Apr-13 21:56:54

£120 is being tight !!!shock
Im having steak tonight and Torbay sole tomorrow married, on a "tight" budget of £120 a week.
The issues are not the budget - which sounds reasonable but the lack of a team approach. I find the fact her DH wont involve himself in the shopping choices and then undermining the OP irritating.
I mealplan,do a general " what do you all fancy" and also buy things I know my family like but Im not keen on and dont consider myself controlling. The menu is generally something we all agree on .
Is your relationship happy generally OP? - for a partner in a relationship to express disgust at carefully planned meals would have alarm bells ringing for me .

wonderingagain Sat 20-Apr-13 20:33:01

Now I love being cooked for - but to have someone else prepare my meals every night I would actually find claustrophobic. It may be that your DP needs a lot more autonomy when it comes to food but can't get that to work within the family unit. I think it might help if you hand him complete responsibility to cook a meal once or twice a week including doing the shopping for it. It may make him feel as though he has more control.

It took me 5 years to get DP to cook meals on his own without asking me 'where's the salt' etc, or sabotaging it by not starting to cook until 7.30. Now he gets it, finally, and enjoys buying and cooking the food the way he likes to. It's difficult when they don't have the same ethics as you, some people throw everything away if it's not eaten on the day, others don't. It's largely cultural I think. Mine does spend more than I would, and he won't do the Free Range thing that I do but at least he saves me an hour or so of grief a week.

MooMooSkit Sat 20-Apr-13 20:30:52

I don't think YABU but could you not reduce the food budget to make extra for his little demands? I'm shocked at how much people spend at supermarkets :O Is it not worth checking out local butchers to make savings? I was spending TONS on meat alone and found my local butchers do a deal where i get 500grams of beef mince, 500grams diced beef, five chicken breasts, 500grams diced chicken, 5 pork chops, 10 eggs and 5 rump steaks and it lasts us ages and cut down my food budget, also i find fruit is a lot cheaper in markets rather than supermarkets. I only tend to ever use supermarkets like tesco expresses for quick top up slike bread and milk in the week otherwise they are so dear!

mercibucket Sat 20-Apr-13 20:22:21

I have re-read your op, and I have to say that I kind of side with your dh. A fry up with no sausages? And why not 'tesco finest' instead of horrible cheap ones? Unless you are quite hard up, it sounds like you both have issues around food. You say you hate waste and freeze leftover veg for soup, he seems to go to the opposite extreme. In my family, we wouldn't raise an eyebrow at the other doing this. If dh wants to make his own meal, that is fine by me, and next time I might not prepare anything for him. Equally, sometimes I don't fancy what is on offer and make my own. Noone is offended.
Is the money an issue, in that you are short every month?

LyingWitchInTheWardrobe Sat 20-Apr-13 20:13:32

Perhaps, the food budget should be reduced to £70-80 for the week and the surplus given to DH to buy nice food and treats BUT for everybody in the family? If he wants it, he can have it, but so can everybody else.

marriedinwhiteagain Sat 20-Apr-13 20:10:42

I haven't read all of this but DH's mum had a tight food budget. His dad was a chief engineer and she was a deputy head. All extra money went into the building society. DH and his sister's all remember being hungry, all remember a cake for four being shared around five, all remember food being counted. DH's sisters grew up with issues around food and greed and an inability to know when they had had enough because when given the opportunithy to help themselves made little pigs of themselves.

MIL could have afforded better food and more food. Personally I think it was disgusting that she was too mean to buy it and it had a marked inflence on all her children and their general enjoyment of food, enjoyment of life and also their basic good manners at the table.

If you can afford good food then I'm afraid you should buy it. It is one thing being on a very tight budger and quite another to be mean and tight with food which should be one of life's social pleasures.

margaritathatcher Sat 20-Apr-13 20:07:22

Crikey, I wish someone would cook dinner for me every night!

Money aside, I would just stop bothering to cook for him and tell him to sort himself out when he gets in. He's being really disrespectful and I wouldn't have the energy or the patience to put up with it. He might start to appreciate what you do for him a few weeks down the line when he has to get home from work every night and work out what to eat/cook.

sweetestcup Sat 20-Apr-13 20:05:41

It would annoy me but I guess its all to do with communication about the budget, it does sound as if its not just food he does this with to but other things? And why does it have to be the finest range, why not the ordinary range for him?

MadBusLady Sat 20-Apr-13 20:03:05

I think it's to do with emotional reward as well. DP & I eat a bit like this. We do weekly shops but we top up and we don't stint, and the food budget ends up as embarrassingly lavish. We can afford it, it's one of the areas of the budget we really feel we'd like to treat ourselves (whereas we are quite modest in some other areas).

I'm NOT defending it in your DH's case, because (a) the budget is an issue and (b) he's doing it just for himself, which is very thoughtless. But I do think he sees food as something where he must have exactly what he wants at that moment or he feels deprived.

No helpful suggestions to add, I'm afraid, I just have a slightly blush recognition of the problem.

Unami Sat 20-Apr-13 19:51:20

Are you sure you're a good cook? Oh, I'm sorry, that sounds awful. Are you sure that your weekly meal plans are nice enough? Just that you mentioned in your OP that you would also like to have "nice ready meals" occasionally. In some houses ready meals are seen as treats, and in others poor substitutes for a proper meal, so that made me wonder if even you feel that what you're eating isn't totally satisfying. I don't think you should pander to your partner here (his behaviour is insensitive at best) but it sounds like there are a few issues here which need to be teased out from each other: control; finances; and food.

Food: Is food the real issue here? Others have suggested that he simply might not like the food you make, and feels the need to make substitutions or additions of his own, without upsetting what the rest of the family gets. I would hate this. I strongly feel that the whole family should eat together and share the same food - there are emotional/sentimental reasons for this, but also important practical ones. Imagine what hell it would be if your kids also demanded something different - maybe try and get this point across to him? Are the ready meals and extra treats he buys typically quite different to the food you prepare? Are they richer, spicier, more exotic, creamier, fattier? Can you two work together to ensure that more of what he enjoys is part of your regular shop? Does it have a deeper basis? Does he emotionally reward himself with 'treat' foods? If so, this whole behaviour might not really have much to do with you or the meal plans, but could have a very personal basis - even so, he's being really inconsiderate, and it still has to change - but you really need to have a long conversation about it.

Control: On the subject of your regular shop - the fact that he won't take part in the meal planning but clearly has strong preferences about what to eat must be maddening. Is this an aspect of your family life that he feels he has no control over - or is he controlling it by making these last minute changes against your wishes? It seems to me that this aspect of things annoys you just as much as the extra cost. If I were in your shoes, I'd want to have a serious conversation about how much time and effort you put into planning meals and meal preparation with a view to him taking full responsibility for all food shopping and cooking for one week - preferably not as a one off. I know he is working full time, but lots of people work full time and still have to take responsibility for family meals. It seems reasonable if you are working part time and in control of the kitchen the rest of the time. That way he wouldn't be able to wriggle out of the responsibility of budgeting and planning meals for the whole family.

Finances: A whole other issue. I agree in part with other posters who suggest that you should match his personal treat food budget with a treat budget of your own, but doing things in a tit for tat way can escalate and become very stressful - especially if your priority is saving whereas he wouldn't give a toss if you spent lots more on personal treats for yourself...I'm guessing that there may be a more fundamental mis-match between what you both think your financial priorities should be in terms of day to day spending and long term financial goals - that's an issue worth thrashing out in its own right, even without regards to this dinner time issue.

I agree that YANBU and that this situation can't go on. It's disrespectful to you and sets an incredibly bad example to your children, but I think that you have to explore each of these three issues with your DP in order to work out the best solution, rather than treating it as a 'stand-alone' problem.

WorrySighWorrySigh Sat 20-Apr-13 19:47:54

I think some of the replies on this thread are very childish, naughty man doesnt want what the OP cooks and should be punished.

What I see is a lack of communication between OP and her DH. This will not be resolved by putting the DH on the naughty step and not letting him go on a family holiday.

Inertia Sat 20-Apr-13 19:37:12

You could plan a holiday with the children and tell DH that there is no money in the family budget for him to come because he spends three grand a year on food treats for himself...

WTFisABooyhoo Sat 20-Apr-13 19:30:05

Havent read the entire thread but OP i would play him at his own game. i know you say the budget wont stand up to it but u think for a short while you eat what you want when you want. let the dcs choose whatever ready meal they fancy, dont cook anyhing for him, and use the account that hes spending out of to pay for it all so that he sees how quickly the money runs out when every member of the family does as they please.

StealthOfficialCrispTester Sat 20-Apr-13 19:27:46

Surely this is about overall families values and priorities. The op wants to budget and meal plan. Her dh ,ay say he does, but in reality he doesn't want to. Which is fine, but when finances are shared these fundamental things need to be agreed.
The fact that its on food is a red herring (sorry). The op cannot dictate what or how he should eat. But if they jointly want to meal plan and budget she's right to be pissed off. If he was spending seventy pounds a week on computer games the principle would be the same.

shewhowines Sat 20-Apr-13 19:22:16


you need to sit down and agree priorities. Does Dh think it's more important to eat the extras and does he see the sacrifice of the holiday. Is he ok with this?

WorrySighWorrySigh Sat 20-Apr-13 19:20:50

Not everyone likes to decide what they are having for dinner on Thursday at some random earlier time. I'm sorry to say OP but your worthy domestic economies would have me running to the shop for a ready meal. Possibly doesnt help that I loathe soup in all its forms!

Do you look at what he is buying? Are there meals you make which he does like? Is the problem the meal planning and the knowing on Tuesday what you are going to eat on Thursday?

My DS loves the certainty and reassurance. I hate it. My DH knows this but doesnt insist that I make a huge contribution to meal planning. On the other hand he doesnt use this as an excuse to cook food I dont like.

Laquitar Sat 20-Apr-13 19:15:34

Sorry i meant to add we have some alternates for our cravings. For example if we crave an expensive dessert then we treat ourselves to sweet crepes which only costs few pence and we put 3 pounds into the jar, if we crave take away we make one or have a supermarket one and put 10 pounds in the jar, and so one.

Laquitar Sat 20-Apr-13 19:08:47

Can you make the holiday saving a family target? The eldest ones can be involved and this will help them to learn about budget and saving. We do this, we have a holiday jar. So sit down and make a food budget all together and everytime you fancy pizza or a fancy cheesecake you put a tenner in the jar instead. Make it a glass jar, when you see it getting fuller it motivates you. Also stick a picture of a holiday destination on it.

WatchingToyStoryAgain Sat 20-Apr-13 19:06:00

I've just had a read through some replies; I don't meal plan to be controlling, and I don't budget to be controlling either. I think the weekly budget that we have is ample, for 5 of us, to eat healthily and to have plenty to eat. I don't think it's a good idea to spend an endless amount of money on food each week, when we're not rich and the money could be put to better use elsewhere. I'm not dictating to DH, nor am I treating him like a child. After all, he's been behaving in this way for quite a while.

I don't expect him to do as I say, and I don't expect him to like everything I cook or buy. However I expect him to take a little responsibilty and see beyond his needs occasionally.

PistachioTruffle Sat 20-Apr-13 19:01:35

But surely the point of meal planning is that food isn't wasted or thrown away?

YANBU, you have given your DH opportunities to get involved with shopping and choosing meals, and he has chosen not to. I think it is selfish of him to spend £3500 a year on food just for himself, when there is plenty of food on offer that he just 'doesn't fancy'. I'll bet the op doesn't get £3500 a year to herself to spend I. Whatever she likes.

WatchingToyStoryAgain Sat 20-Apr-13 19:00:18

There is plenty of food to eat. If anything I over-cater at a meal rather than under cater. We have two dogs that will often eat DH's portion when he doesn't eat it. Or it gets frozen (for me to have for lunch) if it's freezable. Leftover veg gets made into soup and then frozen (again for me to have for lunches). I hate wasting food so I try to minimise wastage.

RedHelenB Sat 20-Apr-13 18:59:31

Let him cook & shop & then after a couple of weeks have a mature conversation about food budgets that you BOTH can agree on.

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