Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Do you "Bust or Boom" on a food budget?

I don't mind staying within a budget, it is the pre-planning for the budget that is tough to get me to do. Deciding how much to spend and writing out menus for the week is an ominous task, likely because that is what I do for many of my clients. It's easier for me to plan other people's meals and food budgets and harder for me to set my mind to my own families. The realization that I really needed to work on my own families food budget came to fruition after I reflected on the vastly different food shopping experiences I had over the weekend.
I had a general idea of what I wanted to make for dinner. Friday's we usually grill and so I knew I wanted to get steaks and vegetables. Having recently gone back to eating meat, over the past year, I only like to purchase beef, chicken and fish that are grass fed, without hormones and not farmed respectively. That being said, I know up front that I will have to pay more. I decided to go to my local "healthier" (aka more expensive) grocery store and ended up purchasing steaks, vegetables, crackers, mozzarella cheese, sea salt and wine. My end food related grocery bill was $65. After a slight heart attack I decided that maybe premium steaks were not really that much better than Herford steaks which is the question that the butcher asked me. I had no idea but decided that that was the price that I would pay (about $8 difference for premium over Herford) for not researching what I was buying and of course pre-planning my menu.
I purchased artichoke hearts, an avocado, a tomato and pre-made veggie kabobs. We grilled steaks, veggie kabobs and steamed the artichoke hearts. I also made a Caprese salad with the tomato, mozzarella cheese and fresh basil from my garden. It was delicious but in the end, I think I could have done a lot better with my food budget.
I went to a Community garden and spent $7 on the fruits and vegetables that are pictured below. I will be able to turn this purchase into 2-3 different meals. I will still have to purchase chicken and fish but expect that to not cost more than $15. A much better deal.
After reflecting on why I spend too much money on food I came to a realization that I view grocery shopping as an adventure and love to find new foods and recipes on a whim. I don't think this is a bad trait to have but I think that in the future it will be beneficial to become more of a frugal shopper.

Here are 5 things I could work on to improve my food budget:
1. I did not pre-plan very well.
2. I purchased conveniently cut up vegetables which cost a little more.
3. I purchased some vegetables (mainly artichokes) that were not necessarily in season.
4. I did not use any coupons (sometimes I get produce coupons for Super Target, which can really add up).
5. I did not buy anything in bulk, which in some things like carrots and potatoes can save money.
 I may have some work to do in the area of food budgeting but I know that it is always a work in progress and always room for improvement! How do  you do with your families meal planning and food budget? If you need a little help email me or Facebook message me for more information.
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The Dietitians Husband Unrefined

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