Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Food budget(ing)

At the beginning of January, I switched to an envelope system for my food spending.  I had planned to do this in the fall, but never got around to it.  I had given myself a $200/month budget for groceries and the farmer's market, and I figured I was probably in the ballpark.  At any rate, after my once-a-month grocery trip was complete I parceled out the remainder of the $200 for January into an envelope and tacked it to the wall.

And by halfway through January, I was below $20.  Oops.

I can say that I basically made it through that month without spending much more, but that's because I went on a ski trip with some other graduate students and paid for food there, not out of my 'grocery' budget.  I did commandeer all of the leftovers because no one else wanted to haul them home, but that's a small blessing.

I cut back in February and March, with ~$70-80 left over at the end of each month.  I only went to 4th St Food CoOp in February, and only to Trader Joe's in March.  Usually I go to 4th St and either TJ's or Whole Foods at the beginning of every month.  I also started out saying that I would be more careful at the market, and avoid some of the inherently expensive foods like baby spinach.

It worked, but almost too well.  The leftover budget from February and March will last me until May.  This despite buying greens frequently.  My overall market spending has gotten cut way back, which is promising from a budgetary standpoint and less-so from a health standpoint.  I really haven't been getting enough fruits and veggies.  It's getting better now as spring greens are coming in and there's a new, less-expensive greens stand at the market, but I wasn't able to motivate myself to spend a lot of time cooking winter dishes from the market. 

I got lazy about eating out, which I need to rein in for reasons both monetary and sustainable.  I also skipped meals a couple of times.  Unintentionally, but I'm still not really happy with that.  Hopefully as spring (slowly) gets in gear, I can get out of this food funk and back on the right track. 

Thursday, April 18, 2013


I posted a couple months ago about waffling over joining a CSA.  After talking with a couple other women in my department and doing some research, I decided that I will be part of a CSA this summer.  It's not the one I thought I'd be part of - I chose a slightly more expensive one that supposedly has better quality food.  I also joined with a friend from church - so in the end I'm paying $12/week and I figure it will even out. 

The CSA I joined is run by the New York City Coalition Against Hunger.  They run several CSA sites around the city with sliding-scale membership fees based on household income.  I signed us up according to our combined stipends, which actually puts us at the top of 4 income categories.  They also offer a level for people buying shares with food stamps.

Part of the cost of membership is 4 hours of volunteer time.  I signed up to work two weeks of distribution, which will fulfill that.

The one thing that was disappointing about this CSA is that a half share means the full amount of food, delivered every other week.  You don't choose which set of weeks you're on - it's assigned by last name - and if you miss your week you can't just go the next week.  

That's actually why I scouted out a friend to split a share with.  In the end, I think it will be more fun to split with someone and share the experience.  And I think she's a better cook than me, so hopefully I'll get to learn from her too :)

Now when does my food get here?* ;)

*the first week of June. I'm just impatient ;)

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

I have to go shopping

For the record, this is not an I-love-shopping, closet-full-of-clothes-but-nothing-to-wear, fashionista 'have to'.  This is an oh-crap-I-don't-fit-in-my-clothes-anymore 'have to'.

Over spring break I went back to my parents house, and I cleaned out nearly everything that I had left in my closet.  I brought a few old summer clothes that still fit back to NYC, but nearly everything in the closet was dressy/business casual clothes or summer clothes.  Then, on Saturday, I partially went through my closet here.  And lo and behold, I filled another big bag with pants, sweaters, and skirts that don't fit me because I've lost 25+ pounds since the last time I wore them.  There are probably at least a dozen more items that should go, and they will when I lose a little more weight.

There's no option here - I can't just wear something a little loose or a little tight, and go on with my time.  This is skirts with waistbands that just fall from where they're supposed to sit, even with elastic.  It's shirts that hang loose where they used to skim curves.  I know enough about fashion to be embarrassed about wandering out looking baggy. 



I don't like shopping.  Fashion is mostly a mystery to me.  I feel awkward being the jeans-and-tshirts/sweaters girl everywhere I go, and I'd like to fix that, but that requires money, time, and clothing sense.

My closet is forcing me into spending that money and time.  And to spend wisely, I've somehow got to gain some clothing sense. 

I'm looking into a capsule/minimalist wardrobe.  Both for time/money/space reasons and because city living seems to have an affect on my waistline without a lot of effort on my part.  I foresee some more weight loss coming this summer and I don't want to buy a whole new wardrobe now that I might have to toss out in 6 months.  Plus, since I'm going to try to do most of the shopping at thrift stores, the fewer items I need to hunt for, the better.

So right now I'm trying to come up with an outline for my personal style (!?!) and a list of items to make up a summer wardrobe.

Then I just need to find a patient friend to keep me sane while shopping.  Hoo boy.