Saturday, January 15, 2011


If you've been reading my blog long, you know that I'm rather fascinated by food budgets, and that I periodically set a budget to reset my spending. The longest running "budget" I made was in 2009, where I aimed to alternate months $160 one month, and $320 the next month (CSA not included). I made it all the way to September before I got tired.

What you may not know is that I watch a lot of reality TV. I love the Canadian shows (high quality), and one of my favorite shows is "Til Debt to Us Part", where Gail Vaz-Oxlade counsels couples up to their eyeballs in debt on how to get out of it. She generally takes away their credit cards and ATM cards, and they live on cash, in jars. Now, this is not a new concept - financial gurus often recommend this method. This kind of renewed my inspiration to set a budget on groceries and use cash. It's hard for me to use cash. It's hard for me to GET cash.

In any event, last week I decided to set a budget of $50/week for groceries (food only). And long I can do it. I'm not going to set a goal for how long. I am just going to try. I will have a different budget for "entertainment" (eating out). Haven't set a goal for that. Maybe $40/week.

Week 1 I had $15 left out of that $50. (Uh, maybe only $14.16, but I rounded up because I had a $10 and a $5 in my wallet.)

Before you think I am insane to try this or wonder how I did that, note:
1. My CSA started last week. We pre-paid this at the end of last year. It's approximately $20 a week, and we get a good deal of veggies from it.

2. My freezer is PACKED. And the spare freezer too. I'm not sure what I've got in there. So I figure the $50 budget will force me to plan my meals around what I have. I know there is salmon (from the neighbor), a little turkey (from Thanksgiving), and some stew.

3. My husband was on business travel for 4 days this week. He eats half of our food. It stretches a lot further when he's gone. And he has two more business trips coming up.

4. I get free food from friends. My friend Kelly has chickens, so I get eggs once in awhile (pretty green ones!) My boss has avocado and clementine trees galore, and he brings piles of them to work. My neighbor brings salmon on occasion. My office has office lunches when people are in town for business. And sometimes, there are leftovers. Like last week, when there was leftover pizza. 2010 Marcia would have chowed down a slice even though I'd eaten lunch. 2011 Marcia wrapped it up for lunch the next day. And like yesterday, when I brought home Thai chicken curry and we ate it for dinner. There were also donuts, which I SHOULD have stayed away from, but I have PMS. So sue me. Earlier this week I missed out on a free lunch from a vendor because I ate what I brought, then 15 minutes later he said "hey, lunch time, I'm buying!" Ah well.

5. I have no long term goal. So I can quit when I get tired of the budget. Which might be the first time I run out of milk on Weds and don't have money until Saturday.

Also, the money rolls over (in the past, I might not do that). So last week's $15 is in an old sour cream container (my "jar"), and I can pull it out when I need it, like when I might want to have friends over for dinner and fork out $12 to $14 for a chicken at the farmer's market. Or when I run out of milk. Or have a desparate craving for fresh raspberries.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Marcia, love the new look of your blog! that is such a challenge. though i am sure the csa helps as well as the stocked freezer! let's hike soon? what weekend is good for you?