Budgeting Bliss

Numbers soothe me, their artful predictability offers easy manipulation. In American culture, we are taught that numbers define us. Your salary, your lawsuit/divorce settlement, your weight, your dress size, your mortage/rent, how many cars you own, miles you’ve run in what time frame, how many votes you scored, how many sexual partners you’ve had, number of time you’ve moved.

A culture crazy about counting…I know this strength is  also a weakness so I attempt to dampen my numerical worshipping by 1) not wearing a watch, time will go on without my monitoring 2) not owning a scale, which belong one fishes 3) not following a budget.

With an exception: When in college and grad school, I spent around $30 a week on groceries, and today, I probably spend about $40 or so, and a total of $50-$60 in a week for food (which counts for eating out, wine or treats). I guess I have a “natural budget” after all. “No wonder why you’re skinny,” a colleague chirped, (not in a complimentary way). Although “thrifty” (aka a tightwad, I seriously consider the “worth” of everything I “spend”) but when it comes to groceries, my cup overfloweth. Some of you asked, so here’s my budgeting tip list (skip to the bottom if you don’t care!)

Here’s what I usually do bi-annually: take $125 in cash and stock up my pantry. In goes: Spices (staples are garlic, onion FLAKES, cinnamon, nutmeg, cayenne pepper, italian, curry, pepper, sea salt) About $20 worth. Then a good olive oil and vinegar. Around $15. A bag of organic sugar (I like sucanut) and flour WW. Around $10. Canned Beans, a selection around $10 worth, Canned diced tomatoes, $10 worth, Pasta (SPLURGE HERE AND BUY THE $5 bag…it is so worth it) $15, $10 for sauces: Sirachi Sauce, Soy, Miso. I also spend about $10 on Oatmeal/Rye/Barley mix to get me going. $10 on coffee beans/tea, and finally, around $10 for my nut butters.

Here’s my grocery goods, separated by type rather than aisle. 

Dairy: bi-monthly: Eggs,  large container of European style yogurt, large cottage cheese. Weekly: $3 worth of good cheese, soy/almond/1%milk depending on my mood

Veggies: about $3 on frozen (saves money…it serves 4 meals usually!) and $10 on fresh, what’s in season. Fruit: Every month, frozen $3, and every week, $5 on what’s in season.  

Bread: Monthly around $10! fresh TJ’s pizza dough, splitting it up into 4 servings and freezing them for individual pizzas ($1), frozen waffles ($2), One loaf of bread (I was told never to refridgerate, always freeze by a professional bread maker and to this day, I follow this sage adfvice) ($5), ww wraps/tortillas (again, I freeze them) ($3).

Grains: From the bulk section, usually I try a different things each week, but spend around $5, in smaller amounts (keeps my variety up) Buy some WW couscous, quinoa, brown rice blends, winter wheat, orzo. Dried Beans, $1-2.  

Pantry: Weekly: In the bulk section, I buy small amounts of flours (spelt, corn) $2, oatmeal/oatbran $2, sometimes whole corn kernals for popping, dried fruits $2, $2 nuts/seeds. Cereal (I am addicted!) around $3-4 each week! $2-3 on crackers/ricechips/pretzel slims. $3 to restock staples.  

Proteins: around $5 per week: Tofu (I cut up a package into 3 servings a freeze them all…I think frozen tofu cooks up better) edamame (I heart TJs frozen) Veggie Products, Seafood Blends (again, I go for the frozen stuff) or fresh meat on sale (cook it up, and freeze into single portions usually). Monthly: $20 on protein powder.

Treats: Around $5-15 (am I buying wine at TJs???) weekly Diet Sodas, Pudding (I buy the box and make my own), new things to try that look yummy like Rachel’s yogurts, brown rice bars, ingredients to make a special dish, ultra nice jams/sauces/spreads.

Things that I will ALWAYS choose to spend my money on and would sacrifice for (not going to the movies, no tootsie action, no clothes for a month) Cereal, Nut Butters, Coffee Beans/Tea, Sirachi Sauce, Oatmeal, Veggies, yogurt…wine.

Do you budget/count/calculate? What items are crucial to you?


12 thoughts on “Budgeting Bliss

  1. Since my day job is being an accountant, I guess ‘budgeting’ is pretty instinctive for me. That is also why I tend to do anything to avoid numbers when I’m not at work. I find that reading and writing are a great antidote to my career.

  2. “Do you budget/count/calculate? What items are crucial to you?”

    Not really. I would say that coffee may be a staple in my diet though.

    Organic sugar? Who would have thunk it? 🙂

  3. I’m all about budgets. I don’t ever spend money an anything unless I really need it (Nick is the opposite..). Living with Nick, I spend about 70 dollars a week on groceries, so I don’t think your 30-40 is too strange! You’re good with your money, you know what you really need, good for you!

  4. With seven children, we live by a budget. I spend about $200 – $225 a week on groceries, and I think that’s probably pretty good for a family of nine.

    We also stock up when things are on sale, as well as on bulk items like flour, rice, bread, potatoes, etc.

    This is a great post – thanks for sharing your strategies.

  5. So I assume you had to measure beliefs in your project? What model did you use? Any? I used the Theory of Planned Behavior..have you heard of that?

  6. I don’t budget but I certainly prioritize groceries. Things like produce come first then bulk nuts and grains, tempeh, tofu, nut butter, and then the remainder is partitioned out on.

  7. I know this isn’t on topic, but…

    “No wonder why you’re skinny,” a colleague chirped, (not in a complimentary way).

    Gah! What is this??? Why do people tiptoe around weight issues when someone is overweight but feel entitled to say whatever comes to mind to someone they think is “too skinny”? As someone who is also naturally thin, I’ve been hearing comments like this my whole life, and they’re actually really hurtful, along with those “real women have curves” kind of comments. (So I’m a “fake” woman then?) If anyone out there is reading this and has made these kinds of comments to other people, please remember next time that it’s just as hurtful as if someone called you fat.

    {stepping off soapbox and looking around sheepishly}

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