Last month (February):
P =$954.07, I = $260.34, Escrow = 613.58
This month (March):
P =$962.48, I =$251.92, Escrow = 613.58
One month’s prepayment savings: $4.64
So how did we do with the challenge month? As predicted, it’s more fun to do a saving money challenge when you don’t have to than when you sorta do have to. Especially when you can “cheat” by going out for lunch a few times (or dinner when there’s a speaker or job candidate!)
The first week our grocery bill was crazy low (for us), something like $70. But then the second week it was more like $200 (which is average/high for us since DC2 started us with hir no wheat thing). Third week, $90.65. Fourth week we went into the city and that doesn’t count. :) So eating nothing but cheap meals does seem to have an impact on our bottom line.
Other than the arepas and the fresh spring rolls, most of what we made was stuff we ate a lot in graduate school– and most of that was stuff my parents taught me how to make as a kid. If we had to permanently lower our food budget, I think I’d get bored of mostly the same American/Mexican fare. For a month, it’s comfy-cozy, but after that I’d need to do a better job with our quick and easy ethnic cookbooks. There’s a lot of cheap quick healthy ethnic food out there, it just needs to get worked into our repertoire.
I was also reminded how important it is to know what’s in season and to have flexibility at the grocery store when you’re eating on a budget if you want fresh veggies. I didn’t exercise this option because we’re pressed for time more than we’re pressed for money, but I would be much more careful about the kinds of soups and stirfries and so on that I do make.
And, of course, it’s seriously difficult to eat cheap food when you’re trying to balance not eating refined carbs (because of the PCOS) with trying to avoid gluten (because of the diaper rash). Mostly we’ve been going the refined carbs route (as you’ve seen), but as DC2 weans (and my metabolism returns to sucking), we’ll probably go the other extreme. Fruits and veggies, of course, are always good, and it’s nice to be price insensitive to them.
[Update: On Saturday we hit a sushi place and dropped $73 for comfortably full with no leftovers. I am reminded that even when we eat out on the cheap, ~$30, the price of one meal is generally about the price of 4 meals from scratch from the grocery store. I'm still not used to having enough money to drop $73 on a meal out with the kids, but we do have enough and it was really good! I don't think we'll be making sushi-from-the-good-sushi-place a weekly thing though.]
Most of all, I’m reminded that it’s nice to not spend time thinking about the price of things, and focusing on what looks fun, interesting, and quick and easy to make. Being semi-mindful cuts our grocery budget a third to a half, but we’re willing to spend more to just not have to think about the monetary aspects of our eating, and to occasionally splurge without guilt. (Plus, free reign at the grocery store may cut down on our restaurant expenditures!)
How do you balance money and time with food?