Project Food Budget 2.0: Getting Started

Food Budget Piggybank

I’ve signed on to a project that started with Emily Levenson at the {Custom Made} blog. A number of other bloggers are on board, too, and I’ll be linking to them at the end.

The project started Oct. 6, but since I was in the midst of planning for and traveling to my sister’s wedding, Emily gave me a pass and told me to start when I could.

That’s today.

At this point, I do not have a dollar amount that I am trying to buy to, but I plan to develop one over the next few weeks. (This is a year-long exercise.)

As well as reining in the Food Budget for the RPM household, I have some other goals I want to meet.

1. Cook more. As a mom of three who works full time, cooking meals every night of the week is simply out of my ability. However, I do want to cook more on the weekend, with the intention of serving leftovers during the week.

2. Use everything. Part of cooking more is using everything I buy. No more rotten vegetables or fruit to toss; no more moldy leftovers; no more “extra” cans of stuff (or dried goods) in my pantry.

3. Shopping better. I need to make better shopping lists, and pay more attention to what I already have to hand before I send my husband to the store. (I make meal plans and lists; he usually does the shopping. God bless that man.)

4. Bake more. I’m tired of buying “night time treats” for my children, or packing lunches full of pre-packaged goodies. I really need to find the benefits of using my oven.

5. Helping my husband lose weight. I am going to shop, cook, and bake in such a way that my husband will eat more healthfully, learn about appropriate portions, and be satisfied with homemade food and packed lunches.

I’ve been looking at many of the other blogs participating in this project. My household of five includes four ovo-lacto vegetarians, and one omnivore (my husband), with (knock on wood) no known food allergies. Along with my husband Dan (age, 42; weight, undisclosed, but on the heavy side) and myself (age, 41; weight about 130 pounds — we don’t own a scale), I prepare meals for Flora (6, about 48 pounds), Kate (4, about 40 pounds), and Michael (10 months, about 20 pounds).

Here are some things to know about my shopping and cooking habits:

1. I lean heavily on what I refer to as meat analogs, primarily from Morning Star Farms, Yves, and Quorn. I have to examine this in the weeks to come.

2. We belong to a CSA, Krestchmann Farms. We divide our standard share with my SIL. I also shop weekly at my local farmers market, primarily because it’s in the parking lot of Kate’s daycare on Mondays. My kids LOVE it.

3. There are some foods that I don’t buy: pasta sauce and lentil soup, for example. Although it takes time to cook these things, it’s much more preferable to me and to my family that I make them fresh from scratch.

4. We seldom shop weekly, more like every two weeks. We shop at Market District and Costco.

5. I use coupons as often as I can. It’s tough, because aside from the frozen “meats” I buy, we don’t buy a lot of processed food.

6. I obviously have to buy special stuff for the baby (Stage 3 foods, formula). As this project continues, that will slowly be phased out, and I expect my budget to drop accordingly. Formula is expensive, yo! I can’t wait to start weaning him to whole milk from a sippy cup rather than formula from a bottle.

7. The children and I seldom dine out. Dan, on the other hand, often grabs lunch out (I have a work cafeteria that offers free lunch, and I bring leftovers often). I will have to show him the tally of his purchases, and maybe help him rein it in. We’ve talked about it, but I don’t think we’ve seen it in black and white, so to speak.

I think that sums it up! Let’s just go to last week’s expenditures, and work from there.

Eating out total (wow, this is low this week. Dan must not have eaten out!) = $27.07
Thursday’s CSA box: cauliflower, apples, acorn squash, tomatoes, broccoli, green beans, potatoes, CSA cheeses (I am paid up on the CSA for the year. Including the annual deposit, one or two “winter” boxes, and cheese and coffee, it’s about $900 a year — which breaks down to about $32 a week for 28 weeks)
Sunday, trip to Market District: $179.51. (This was a small shopping trip — our usual amount for a big trip can be over $400.)
Sunday, trip to Costco (food total only): $217.89
Monday, farmers market: $16 (2 carving pumpkins, beets, green beans, and sweet peppers)

Other participants:

* Emily Levenson
* Dairy-Free Cooking
* Test Kitchen Tuesday
* Acquired Tastes
* Fit Flexitarian
* Warm As Pie
* Katy Rank Lev
* My Inner Healthy
* Little Blue Hen
* xox, b
* What da Health?
* Project Food Budget 2.0
* Ignition Nutrition
* A Nice Heart and a White Suit
* Because Hobbies Happen
* Primary Focus Health Coaching
* Chicken Tender
* Fresh…A New Chapter
* Whole Living Gal

Tentative weekend cooking (and tentative menu):
Marinara sauce
Lentil soup (for Soup and Grilled Cheese sandwich night)
Crockpot Applesauce
Beets (for Beet and Feta salad)

Where I Am Right Now

It’s 9:22 a.m., and I am trapped in an anxiety loop. The money issue is the biggest problem right now. Unless we get some serious co-pay action from DearDR’s patients in the next three days, something or someone is not going to get paid. There will be no shopping this weekend in any case. No shopping of any kind. If DearDR’s billing finally comes through, we’ll be fine. But I have no way of knowing if that check is even on the way.

I am looking at about three days of work piled up on my desk, and I cannot concentrate on any of it. All I keep seeing is the figure in my head after two big bills and the girls’ daycare places are paid off.

The figure is very low.

I don’t know how to talk to DearDR about this. He is working so hard, and such long hours between two offices, and 10 (or 12?) private patients, and a full-time job with mountains of paperwork. And it seems unfair because it sounds like: you are not doing enough to support our family. And he is, he is, it’s just the whole bill-pay timing sucks. Even with a budget it sucks. Why can’t I make this work?

I keep getting interrupted. And it’s hard to concentrate on what people are asking of me.

All I want to do is go outside and get in my car (my rental car, I might add, as I won’t actually have my car until Dec. 10; and don’t ask how I’m paying that bill, either; some parental assistance may be called for) and cry. And then drive home, curl up in a ball on my bed, and cry some more.

Is this why people take anti-anxiety medication?

It’s 10:09 a.m. now. I’m doing some deep breathing. And trying to focus on one positive thing: the kids and I will be able to decorate this weekend. It’s not as if we’re going to go out and do anything else. Shite, I can’t even pay a babysitter for Saturday night. I guess DearDR is going to have to go to that dinner party alone.

How do two professional people who work full-time — more than full-time in DearDR’s case — end up here? I never say this, but: WTF??