Part two of my Food Budget Challenge flew by! I managed to stay under budget on all counts and as long as I don’t have parties to attend, I think this is a stable food budget I can stick by. I definitely have to add into my budget a wiggle room for events but maybe I can bundle this with a monetary amount for gifts/events. Some months I have a lot some I have less so overall it might balance out.
That is what is different about a food budget, looking for one budget that works every month for all seasons. In the summer I eat out more than the winter, but in the winter I order in more – so is it a fair trade? I guess I could be more precise and break it down to staples, proteins and veggies but for now that’s a bit overkill for me (but not out of the question).
I learned that it takes time to figure out what to purchase where. For example, mushrooms are much cheaper in supermarkets than farmers markets; lettuce is cheaper at farmers markets than supermarkets; Fresh cheese is practically the same price in both the supermarket and farmers market. So this is something I’ll prob keep a small journal on to keep track of until it becomes second nature to me. You definitely get more bang for your buck at farmers markets quality wise, but not necessarily quantity wise. To this I say it is how you use those ingredients that make the difference. Also farmers market produce goes bad quicker than supermarket produce, so you must always remember to purchase is small quantities. You also have to plan your week around visiting farmers markets. (Not the easiest thing to do during the workweek.)
What are my next steps?
- There’s an App for That. Give Mint.com a whirl and see if I have enough time to truly use it. Hopefully the app will help me remember to do so. This should help me not only with my food budget but to put away money for all those vacations I want to take! …and maybe even a cooking class or two.
- Shop Local. Local produce just tastes that much better and I really enjoy talking to the people I’m purchasing from – hearing about their farms, what they grow each season, it once again adds to that sense of community I have been searching. So when I can I plan to do so but I recognize that I cannot always do this, and sometimes monetarily it just doesn’t make sense. On a side note, I’m glad the shop local fad has started to move from a fad to just normal.
- Limit Processed Foods. I will never cut tofu out of my life, but there are definitely other processed foods I could cut out and I can limit my tofu intake monthly. Something else I’ve learned is how easy it is to make beans rather than canned heavily salted beans.
- Be Adventurous. Just because I’m on a budget doesn’t mean I have to eat the same thing all the time. Speak of processed foods, just the other day I tried Soy Chorizo. It was a fail. I few bits in I found it pleasant, but the more I ate the sweeter it got. I’d rather stick to normal crumbles or tofu. I’m also looking forward to trying new fruits and veggies. I have this weird texture thing where I hate the texture of eggplant and watermelon, which has made me limit me fruits and veggies palate, but worst-case scenario I don’t like it. At least I tried!
- Balanced Diet. I’ve enjoyed eating a fruit and veggie daily, and would like to keep this up. I’d also like to sub veggies in for grains – for example, making a cauliflower crust pizza!
- Hydrate. While sitting at my desk at work, it’s easy to get into a task and forget that I haven’t taken a sip of water in 2 hours. When I was backpacking in Thailand I felt the healthiest I had ever been. I was drinking at least 4 large water bottles of water a day because it was so hot. I need to get back into this habit.
- Planning. Planning has not only helped me stay on budget but has increased my happiness level. Knowing what I was going to cook or coming home and having my meal already ready, rather than last minute cooking after a long day at work has been a perk I didn’t see coming.
- Failing isn’t Failure. I have to remind myself if I cheat once, the world will not end. I shouldn’t feel guilty for splurging on my fave cashew ice cream during this heat wave or getting a yummy cup of hot cocoa in the winter.
Overall I’m very glad I did this and thank you all for your awesome feedback! It’s been great receiving tips from all of you and hearing how some of you have started a food budget as well. I look forward to seeing how the budget transitions into fall and winter.