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Cutting back the food budget

July 20th, 2008 at 05:49 pm

First of all, thanks for all of the 'welcome' responses that I received yesterday. It feels good to know that I'm not alone in this journey, and to also know that I'll be getting some good advice and encouragement!

Someone asked a question about my career, and why I have 'writer' listed on the left-hand side of the blog but explained that my FT job is in public relations. Well, PR companies need writers, too! I write press releases, magazine articles, scripts for TV commercials, etcetera. Again, that's my job that pays the bills. On the side I'm striking up a freelance writing career and am working on a novel. Is everyone clear now?

I also wanted to comment on people suggesting that overspending can be linked to an emotional problem. I completely agree, but I also want to own up to MY mistakes ... some of it was emotional, no doubt. Some of it was poor planning and not having a clear understanding of keeping a budget. And some of it was just stupid irresponsibility and frivolous spending.

Moving on to today ... it's been quiet. I did laundry this morning and cleaned. And prepared my meals for the week.

I love to eat out. I also love to cook. But there was a time when I ate out a lot more than I stayed in. It is tough to shop and cook for one without having food spoil on you, but it *is* possible ... I admittedly chose to go out.

But I seriously am really good at setting up meal plans (at least ones that work for me), coming up with a shopping list and, most importantly, sticking to it. And now that I'm taking the first steps in turning my debt into savings, I realize that cutting back on my food budget will be important ... and eating in is the first step of that.

This is how I do it: I plan lunches and dinners six to seven days in advance. Typically lunch stays the same. This week I have three days of tuna fish sandwiches and an apple, and three days of salad and a peach planned.

My dinners this week consist of vegetarian "Sloppy Joes," homemade pizza, and chicken "fried" rice.

My advice to someone trying to come up with a meal plan and grocery list is to work a week in advance, keep most of the meals something simple that you already know how to make, and throw in a new recipe to try out every so often. Once you have your grocery list, note what you already have in the pantry or fridge to use up. If you either have an item or have something that could substitute, cross the item off the list. Then check the grocery store circulars. I'm lucky to have a Publix and Kroger within five minutes from me, so I can get the best deals from both. Make a note on your list where to go for each item. Then go through your coupons and pick out what you need. Also, go online and see if you can find any that you can print out.

And, finally, you're ready to shop! I like to go first thing Saturday morning.

(Let me just mention breakfast ... my breakfast is always the same. Cereal, 1-2 scrambled eggs, and 1 slice of turkey bacon. No planning there!)

So, that's how I do it. I pay approximately $30 a week for six days worth of meals. Sometimes it's more or less depending on whether I need paper or cleaning products, or the dog needs kibble. But I eat pretty well considering my meals average out to be $5 a day, $1.67 per meal.

I'm still learning how to be one of those people who only pays a few pennies for hundreds of dollars worth of food! Who here has advice for me on what I can do additionally, or what I can change?

5 Responses to “Cutting back the food budget”

  1. Ima saver Says:

    I missed your blog yesterday, but I want to welcome you also. I live in North Georgia; Blairsville, up in the mountains!!

  2. sounderella Says:

    I'm not exactly sure where at in Atlanta you live but Aldi's is a great place to shop for cheap food. Great deals on produce and bread products. They do have that "discount" feel but the food is not bad at all! There's one in Snellville I frequent and there's one in Lawrenceville DH goes to. I can't remember if there's one around downtown or not. You can google them and do the store locator on their website.

  3. Analise Says:

    Welcome! I really like your meal planning strategy, something I need to get better at.

  4. frugaltexan75 Says:

    How funny! Guess what I have ready to plop into my crockpot to cook tomorrow? Vegetarian Sloppy Joes! Smile
    What recipe do you use? Tomorrow will be my first time making them in a crockpot, so I'm hoping they'll turn out ok.

  5. baselle Says:

    Usually you get the paying pennies on the dollar for food if the store does double and triple coupons and will let you use coupons for loss leaders. It requires a bit of strategic thinking. I also keep a price book, but that is currently depressing. Smile Another thing I do is keep an open mind. Ethnic grocery stores often have cheaper produce, but you have to pick through it.

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