Friday, May 6, 2011

Food budgeting

I love food, and I love to cook. Both have gotten me into trouble with my waistline and my budget. Before I became very conscious about spending and budgeting, I was able to spend upwards of 800 or 900 dollars per month on food at the grocery store. That didn't even count money spent eating out. It was just too much.

Just this month, I've spent $211 on groceries. My previous budget was $600 per month for groceries. My plan was to get this down to $500 now that I'm not working. I was hoping to do this through a combination of cooking more from scratch and watching sales and using coupons. I'm still hopeful that I can do this. I've purchased enough turkey and chicken meat to last the month. That means that I have almost $100 per work to cover everything else for the rest of the month.

As I've been thinking about food and budgeting, I'm trying to come to terms with what I can cover in my budget for food realistically. One of my favorite Jane Austen novels is Sense and Sensibility. In the film version, the family, reduced to penury after the father's death and transfer of his estate to the eldest son of his first wife, finds that they can no longer afford such things as sugar or beef. The eldest daughter says, "we must learn to economize". I haven't yet cut sugar out of my budget. But beef is eaten only rarely now in my house. Part of the reason is the health and environmental costs of beef, the other is the price. The cuts of beef that are comparable in price to chicken are far from desirable.

What else will find that it no longer has a place in my shopping cart? I think it would be beneficial to reduce the amount of dairy that we eat. We go through a gallon or two of milk per week, butter is used liberally, and we always have a block of cheddar around. There aren't cheaper substitutes so it would be a matter of cutting these out of our diet or at least reducing how much we use. I'm working on cutting down the number of prepared foods that we eat such as snack foods. I'm also considering baking my own bread. I already bake muffins, cookies and other baked goods.

I'll have to revisit this at the end of the month to see how I do with my grocery budget. If I'm not able to keep it in check, I may have to consider some more drastic cuts to help keep my spending in check.

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