Hello again, sorry about the long hiatus! The “Holiday Season” being what it is, we just didn’t seem to get around to updating on here. Welcome to 2017, in which a bunch of people seem to believe that one particular midnight is going to erase all the insanity of 2016, and we will all be born anew in the magical arms of 2017-ness… 👀 😑
Part one of the New Year’s Resolution binge is to post more content on here! Part two, for me at least, is to spend less money on food. My husband Matt is avoiding sugary drinks, which is going to be a tough one for him, so I figured I should put aside my annual cynicism and try my own resolution. The new year, at the very least, marks a very easy-to-remember point in time that makes trying new things measurable. So, let’s give it a try.
Since I had, until this morning, assumed that I would not be having a Resolution (with a capital R), I hadn’t really planned anything out. While out to lunch with Matt, I stumbled upon what is probably the resolution that could end up having the most possible long-term impact if I stick to it. The incentive is not weight loss or muscle tone, it’s money saving. And it could be saving me a ton of money. 💰💰💰
The plan is to limit my spending on food to $80 a week, including going out to eat and groceries. I am building in an extra $20 a week for Matt’s work lunches and him inevitably being less strict about the spending since it’s technically my own resolution, so the total weekly is $100. The $80 would include any time both of us go out to eat or when we buy groceries of any kind. This is the household budget, not just for me, so Matt will be suffering right along with me (although his palate is tends to accept cheaper food and less variety so he’ll be fine). So even if I stick to this budget I’m still spending $5,200 a year on food, which seems like a lot of money up front right? Maybe, but let’s put it into perspective for me.
According to the Mint app, I spent just over $11,000 on “Food & Dining” in 2016. That’s probably not including most trips to Wawa which tend to code as gas, nor would it be coding any food purchased from somewhere like Target. The amount I spend on food is making up a solid 17% of my total expenditure. I spent more on food than on my student loans in 2016, and I regularly hail my loan payments as the reason I can’t save money/hate my life. If I can even stay within $15 a week of the $100 budget, I’ll still be saving $6,000 compared to last year’s food spending. $6,000 will be really useful to get my credit card under control. And to be honest with you, a large part of the problem, I suspect, is I have absolutely no idea how I ended up spending this much on food. Like what the hell did I buy? Gold leaf covered truffle-infused wagyu beef?
I also think $100 a week is completely do-able if I can have any semblance of self-control. I can still go out to eat with Matt a couple times a week if I eat modest grocery food the rest of the time. If I’m being honest with myself, I only eat vegetables out of obligation to “be healthy,” even though I truly don’t like them for the most part, so a couple bags of frozen peas or broccoli should do me, I don’t need to spend a ton on fresh produce I’m not actually going to eat. I also will not be signing up for a farm share again this year, since I now know for a fact that simply having vegetables to eat will not make me eat them. So I’ll eat cereal and whole wheat pasta and yogurt and cheese and the odd frozen veggie and I will survive between restaurant trips.
The current plan is to track my spending on a spreadsheet on my phone or tablet, although Matt suggested taking out cash at the beginning of the week and just using that, which I hate the idea of because it limits my access to mobile orders and also means I have to actually carry and use cash. And, for some reason, I’m always terrified of being mugged when I’m carrying cash because it’s not like you can just call your bank and be like “oh yeah someone totally spent my cash in an unauthorized manner can you guys cancel that?” like you can do with a stolen credit or debit card. Not that I have literally ever been mugged or even lost any kind of reasonable sum of cash to be legitimately worried about that. But I’m worried about it okay? The spreadsheet is going to include columns for amount spent, location, tip if applicable, and other notes (that’s where I wrote that I spent $11 on laundry detergent during my $32 grocery trip – I’m not counting home supplies like detergent/toilet paper/tissues/etc as food because I can’t eat them). I built in an extra $15 a week for tips (which will discourage me from going to too many restaurants and should also keep me within the $6,000 buffer zone).
I will also be starting my “week” on Saturday, because I know myself and I know that weekends are my weak time, so if I spend all my money on the weekend, I’m more likely to behave during the workweek than I am to actually control myself on a Saturday.
I will post semi-regular updates on my progress, to keep myself honest and share any tips I learn to eat satisfying food on a budget. Hopefully some of you will find this useful if you, like me, have found yourself having trouble budgeting for food for a couple (it’s easy to think you can keep going out when you used to just have to pay for yourself!).
Feel free to share your comments or let us know what your capital R Resolutions are! We’d love to hear from you.
PLUS I think Emily may still be looking for suggestions on a vegan food related resolution, so if anyone has any tips for her to try please send them our way!!