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. 


  1. Maybe you should join that CSA-- it will force you to eat healthy veggies and make it difficult to eat out (unless you want to waste food).

    1. I did end up joining a CSA - this was one of the major factors in making that decision, trying to keep myself from just being picky - food will be there, and it will need to be eaten, and I will need to get creative.

      Thanks, by the way, for recommending the Victory Garden Cookbook a while back. I have made a few recipes out of it already and I plan to keep a copy around this summer

    2. That sounds great!