Several weeks ago, a good friend in the area started food budgeting. This is not an uncommon theme, and the New Year tends to bring out the food budgeter in all of us, I think.
Anyway, Rachel started feeding her family of 4 on $125 a week. At the time, I thought this couldn't be too hard, as I felt my weekly budget without even trying was around $150. Boy was I wrong... I looked at MasterCard statements from Sept/Oct/Nov and discovered that I spent between $700-$750 per month on food. That's alot more than the $600 I thought I was spending.
And then an article came out about how hungry Vermonters get $40 per week per person to buy food. Food stamps, I guess. In the article, the family profiled said they STILL needed to go to the food pantry at the end of the month. AND the two kids got fed breakfast and lunch at school. So these people are eating way more than $150 per week of food. And Superbudgeter Rachel could feed all her family all their meals on $125 a week. And eat well, meaning good wholesome foods.
So for the month of December, I worked hard. That is to say, I decided that I'm only shopping 2 days a week. Because if I go to the store less, I will spend less. And I need to NOT got to Price Chopper or City Market because I always blow more than the fair share somehow at those places. So Hannaford it is, twice a week. And Pay Attention to what prices are, don't waste food, and cook meals that stretch at least into one extra day of leftovers. Because I don't mind leftovers so much, especially if it means I don't have to cook.
And it worked. $600 for the month of Dec. I'm pretty happy that I was able to do this without menu planning, not that I knock it, I'm just too lazy to do it. Just by paying attention to what I buy and what's in the fridge, I saved $100 a month. Crazy. And We still ate out. And we still buy frivolous things, just not as much as before.
It feels good.
Thanks for the kick in the pants, Rach, even though I know you didn't do it for me :)
And those of you who ARE menu planning to help budget week by week.... How bout posting a couple recipes, huh? Tera? Wheatberry waldorf salad? I'm totally intrigued...