Reader Alex asks,
Well, Alex, we are on a strict food budget each month, and I have it finely tuned, as it helped us pay off over $77k in debt to be so “strict”. (I like to call it disciplined. “strict” sounds so, I don’t know… mean. harsh. constricting.)
I, too, have concerns about this new way of dining making our food budget creep up, just to keep up! I allay my fears with a few simple facts:
- If you are putting better stuff in your body, you will need LESS of it. I made Mac and “Cheese” last night and a Split Pea Soup and none of us could finish the small portions I served, not because we didn’t enjoy it, but because I was FULL. And I was STILL full at 9pm, which is nearly unheard of.
- I will no longer be spending money on the “big ticket items” on my staples list:
- 4 gallons of milk/week ($3.19/gallon x 4 = 12.76/wk or over $50/month!)
- 2 loaves of cheddar cheese (we like the “good stuff”, Tillamook, all the way. Cheaply bought at Costco is $7.89/loaf = $15.78/mo)
- String Cheese for the kids ($10.99 at Costco, sometimes twice a month)
- SODA (I try to stock up when Safeway has their $5 Friday sales, but I typically spend about $20 on soda/mo for the Hubby)
- 5 dozen eggs ($6.59 @ Costco, sometimes twice a month. Eggs are relatively cheap, easy to prepare a variety of ways, and my family actually eats them)
- MEAT (I *try* to buy at the lowest possible price, but I’m usually still paying $2/lb (at least), and my family eats about 1.5-2 lbs each meal. I’d estimate I spend roughly $50 in meat in a month.)
- “Snackies”: Oreos (Double-Stuf, please), candy bars, and various cakes and cookies are semi-regular at out house. I’d estimate I spend $10/month on “snackies”
If you do the math on those few items (and I know there are more, but these are the biggies), I’m spending at the minimum $165 on “junk”. As I see it, I have $165 now to spend on the foods that we are transitioning to.
Now, I’m NOT shopping at Whole Paycheck. I’m shopping at a small health food store, with a glorious number of bulk bins. I can get a small amount of, say, medjool dates, to try out in a recipe for $1.39/lb instead of having to buy the $3.99 package at Trader Joes. Until I know my family will enjoy them, I like being able to buy in small quantities at a good price.
So, Alex, I hope this clear up some stuff for you. I’d love to hear about the changes you are making and how you are fitting those into your budget!
(and as an aside, did you know that the amount of grain used to feed cows to then send to slaughter to feed 1/2 of the world’s mouths could feed EVERY hungry mouth on.the.planet. Meat is the expensive stuff. The grains are filling, nutritious, and CHEAP. I learned that from Forks over Knives. Seriously. Watch it.)