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?