how my brain works – food budget


See epic long entry prior to this to understand why I need the security of planning shit like this to keep me sane… even though this will sound completely insane.

Living together means eating together. He provides the cash and I provide the cooking, budgeting, and list making.

In an effort to prevent repeated meals, getting into a rut, and to save money by planning things out, we took a calendar and between the two of us we planned out 6 weeks worth of dinners. I’m not talking big descriptions, just something like “Beef Stroganoff” or “pasta night”.

The next step was to figure out how daily lunches fit into this. Then breakfasts. Then I allotted for a few nights in that time frame where other people are cooking (like Passover and Easter), where he’s bartending (random side job thats not steady) and when we’re going out with friends (going away dinner) and his birthday.

14 days with 3 meals a day is 42 meals for two people (so really 84) and of that about 10 are not coming out of our budget (my business trip is company paid, his birthday will be other people paying, bartending nights are leftovers nights, etc.)

Yes, this is how my brain works… I plan and I’m good at it, but I tend to over think it.

Breakfasts were easy – cereal for him, instant breakfast for me. Lunches were moderately challenging since we have different appetites but that was still easy and cheap. The dinners were a challenge because side dishes weren’t included in the generic calendar ideas. Fuck.

So first I made my lists of ingredients I’d need for each meal, then I thought of sides and added those ingredients in, and then went through those lists and consolidated into one very long grocery list. I mean LONG.

Today was shopping day and after a trip to Sams Club (bulk), Walmart (hello cheap!), and a pricey local grocery store for 5 measily ingredients, we got all but about $20 worth of stuff we HAVE to wait to buy for freshness sake.

Now the challenge will be to make this stuff last, but with fresh and canned fruit I can do the fresh stuff one week and canned the next, alternating snacks and alternating between sandwiches and leftovers, I think this is totally doable.

The next challenge? Making everything we bought fit in the apartment! We had to clean out the fridge, freezer, and pantry to do it, but it worked.

Yes, this is totally insane. Yes, I’m a nutball for needing to plan. No, I don’t regret it and damnit, we hit our budget! I did all of this for $250.34. 70ish meals for 2 weeks for 2 people for only $250!

Not only will we be eating healthy, but now (since we’re on a tight budget in order to save up for some things) there’s no money left which is actually a good thing because that means no trips to the grocery store for two whole weeks! No money left to splurge and regret to eat take out meals, buy junkfood, or stray off the plan. No more scrambling the last 30 minutes before the work day is over wondering “wtf am I gonna make for dinner?” and then scrambling to find groceries, a recipe, AND energy to cook. Now it’s “Oh look, i can make this this or this.” POOF! And it’s changable. After all the shopping today and the cleaning yesterday I was so fucking tired that I knew making a big dinner wasn’t happening so I picked a 30 minute meal and whipped up beef stroganoff. Easy peasy.

And damn it, I’m fucking proud of us! We did it together (the shopping part and some of the planning) and while he was all “ooooh shiny!” in the bulk store and wanted everything, I had to be the “no we’re up to $150 in this store and still need this many groceries” or “yes, I forgot that in the list so grab it.” But it still worked.

The next time I do this in two weeks, it will take half as long and pretty soon, I’ll have this down to a fine art. By the time we have kids in the picture, I’ll be a fucking professional at this shit!


4 responses »

  1. Ahh this makes more sense to me now – sounds like a plan that I have been hoping to implement myself for the last…. oh I dunno…. 5 years!

    Of course having a kid (or kids) throws a massive spanner in all the works. Especially if said child will only eat cheese on toast. Or lamb chops (the expensive kind!).

    This is making me think I should get my ass in gear. Thanks for the inspiration!

  2. I figured it out, but thanks!!!

    I think it is amazing you are able to do all this on a small budget. I had a heart attack at the grocery store on Saturday when my total was right at $500 bucks! Granted we were out of everything, shampoo, toothpaste, laundry soap, cleaning stuff, diapers… but still!

  3. Pea,

    Are you getting leftovers from your dinners? Those are always good for lunch…or even for having for dinner again a few days later. That’ll stretch the food budget a little further…


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