Healthy Food Budget – Jan 2015

January was an excellent month for my food budget!

We continued with the effort to reduce dining out & junk food, and we made a commitment to cook and eat healthier at home instead of resorting to take-out on the weekends, or during the week when I got busy.

January 2015 Food Total: $400.28

Groceries: $342.50 (Meat $27.98)
Dining Out: $40.98 (10.2% of total food)

Market Basket had a sale on Kind Bar cases for $12 ea, I purchased three.

There were a couple of visits to the Winchester (Mahoney’s) Winter Farmer’s Market, I found a great farm for eggs, along with another for meat and veggies. Continue reading “Healthy Food Budget – Jan 2015”

Healthy Food Budget: Nov & Dec, 2014

November was a little higher than I wanted, but December made up for it. DH and I started making a true effort to reduce take-out and other junk. December’s numbers really proved that dining out, even when cheap take-out, really puts a strain on the budget.

November 2014 Food Total: $464.77

Groceries: $275.66 (Meat $78.12)
Dining Out: $189.11 (40.7% of total food)

December 2014 Food Total: $358.33

Groceries: $298.81 (Meat $33.76)
Dining Out: $59.52 (16.6% of total food)

I’m so proud that we kept our dining-out costs way under the goal of 25%. It was a little easier due to the holidays, but I made a commitment and it worked.

About My Healthy Budget

My healthy budget goal is to eat seasonal (local if possible,) home-cooked meals while sticking to a $400-$450 monthly budget for all food including groceries, dining out, entertaining, vitamins/supplements, and gardening.

There’s two of us eating (mostly) 3 meals per day. DH occasionally eats take-out lunch at work, & that $ comes out of his personal cash stash.

Healthy Food Budget Update: Sept & Oct 2014 – Year End

Well this is it. The end of my 2013-14 budget year. November 1st starts a brand new year, with brand new challenges. A clean slate!

September went very well, but October was a little higher than expected. Well, a lot higher than expected, but not out of budget-sight.

September Total Food $365.36

I’m happy with my totals for September.

$252.58 groceries – $28 for meat purchases and $35 for canning projects: (tomatoes, peaches, apples)
$117.53 for dining out/convenience foods (31.76% of total food)

October Total Food $470.38

$318.25 groceries – $32 for meat purchases and $20 for canning projects: (apples)
$152.13 for dining out/convenience foods (32.34% of total food)

I was really trying hard to make my October much lower, but there were Amazon Subscribe & Save orders, hmm, are they really making me “save” I wonder? $25 for two cases of Lara Bars. Yes, it’s a great deal, but do I really need it?

And there were extra (unnecessary) take-out meals. Even though, I’ve been working at my current job for almost a year now, I’m still having a difficulty with time-management. I’m struggling to juggle the extra hours I’m working with homelife & chores, like baking bread. This month, I got sidetracked with a canning project (lots of applesauce one week) and I just resorted to take-out, instead of planning ahead and/or making adjustments.

I’m so afraid that November and December are going to be more of the same.

Holiday season is here and I’m nervous that I won’t find time to do all that needs to be done, as well as cook healthy meals.

I’ve gained 15+ pounds and it’s been impossible to re-lose the weight since I’m sitting behind a desk for 5-6 hours per day. My metabolism has plummeted since starting this job.

And that, also relates to my spending. I want to do better, but I binge on take-out food and that makes me spend more! I’m not using the wonderful lessons I’ve learned over the past 3 years; lessons in weight loss, exercise, and budgeting.

My commitment has plummeted as low as my metabolism!

But again, it’s a brand new year. A clean slate. Release the negativity and accept the challenge to do better.

God grant me the serenity to accept the people I cannot change, the courage to change the one I can, and the wisdom to know it’s me.

A Year in Spending: Nov 2013 to Oct 2014

$5,389.53 Total – $449.13/avg per month
$3,861.45 groceries – $321/Avg per month with canning $92.98, gardening $41.28, Meat $532.71 (14% of total groceries)
$1,503.51 dining out/convenience foods – $125/Avg per month (27.90% of total spending)

Where I Spent My Grocery Dollars: $3,861.45

Total farm purchases this year: $1174.96 (30%) – Whoo hoo! Wow, almost a third of my groceries are bought from local farms! Awesomeness! I know the $400+ spent for the spring veggie CSA had a lot to do with my high total, and it’s also a big culprit in my monthly overages this year, but it’s nice to see that my overspending went to a good cause!

It’s also exciting to see my spending at Whole Foods, and other conventional grocery stores, is lower compared to last year, even though my grocery total was higher.

I’m not planning on joining any CSAs this year, but I really need to step it up and spend spend spend at the local winter farmers markets!

Whole Foods 898.92 (23%)
Market Basket 796.31 (20%)
Trader Joe’s 514.98 (13%)
Spring veggie CSA 426.80 (11%)
Farm 204.58 (5%)
Amazon.com 200.47 (5%)
Open Meadow Farm (meat) 167.18 (4%)
Billerica Farmers Market 155.89 (4%)
Wilson Farm 92.26 (2%)
Ocean State Job Lot 77.31 (2%)
Seven Acres Farm 58.25 (2%)
Mann Orchards 42.50 (1%)
iHerb.com 38.01 (1%)
Hannaford 32.78 (1%)
Herring Brothers (meat) 32.31 (1%)
Pamona’s Pectin (canning) 31.50 (1%)
Oakdale Liquors 20.00 (1%)
Tewksbury Farmers Market 17.50
Penzeys Spices 14.48
Stop & Shop 13.59
Shaw’s 12.77
Mahoney’s 9.94
BJ’s Wholesale Club 7.28
Lexington Community Farm 5.00
Price Farm 5.00
MISCELLANEOUS credits: (14.16)
Grand Total $3,861.45

Here’s how spending looked last year: total $3,523.40
Total farm purchases: $937.52 (26%)

Whole Foods 924.70 (26%)
Market Basket 774.74 (22%)
Trader Joe’s 575.36 (16%)
Open Meadow Farm 260.89 (7%)
Wilson Farm 215.49 (6%)
Farm 199.09 (6%)
Ocean State Job Lot 93.26 (3%)
Seven Acres Farm 91.75 (3%)
Amazon.com 90.92 (3%)
Tropical Traditions 58.92 (2%)
Mann Orchards 43.80 (1%)
Hannaford 43.20 (1%)
Winchester Winter Farmers Market 30.65 (1%)
Brookline Farmers Market 21.70
Penzeys Spices 19.53
Newburyport Farmers Market 16.80
Four Star Farms 15.00
Wilmington Farmers Market 14.25
iHerb.com 13.27
Salem NH Farmers Market 12.50
Tewksbury Farmers Market 10.00
Target 9.56
Jones Farm 5.60
Vitacost 4.94
Aubut’s Liquors 3.00
WALMART 0.99
Misc credits/deductions (26.51)
Grand total: $3,523.40

Looking forward to the New Year

Okay, so $450/mo on average isn’t so bad when you break it down. It’s basically in the range of what I was striving for, for the year.

I think what’s troubling is that I know I can do better. Even though food prices are soaring, I can save more money, and spend less. I know I can trim some of the convenience items.

But on the other hand, the main goal is to keep spending $ at local farms and farmers markets, and if that means a little more spending, then that’s okay, but it has to work out to healthier spending, not convenience/dining out.

About My Healthy Budget

My healthy budget goal is to eat seasonal (local if possible,) home-cooked meals while sticking to a $400 $450 monthly budget for all food including groceries, dining out, entertaining, vitamins/supplements, and gardening.

There’s two of us eating (mostly) 3 meals per day. DH occasionally eats take-out lunch at work, & that $ comes out of his personal cash stash.

Food Budget Update: June, July, Aug

In early June, when I wrote my last post, I was reeling myself back from spending way too much on my food budget.

Since then, I’m feeling more in control. In fact, August was an extremely low spending month, mainly because we were on vacation, and vacation food is categorized separately.

Here we go:

Month of June, 2014: $348.47

Dining Out/Convenience Foods: $99.63 (28.6% of total food spending – a little high, but really it’s not bad)
Groceries: $234.38 (Meat: $30.40)
Gardening: $14.46
Note: our vacation food total was $74.10 for one weekend’s splurges.

Month of July, 2014: $498.92

Dining Out/Convenience Foods: $110.24 (22.1% of total food spending – Great!)
Groceries: $388.68 (Meat: $83.83)
Note: our vacation food total was $84.04 for two weekends’ splurges, including the 4th of July.

Yes, a high month for spending, but I made up for it in August. Plus, I spent $31 on a large bag of Pomona’s Pectin powder, which will probably last me about 25 years!

Month of Aug, 2014: $257.34

Dining Out/Convenience Foods: $49.71 (19.32% of total food spending)
Groceries: $213.22 (Meat: $47.96)

Note: our vacation food total was $321.92, which accounts for one weeklong getaway, plus two weekends, including Labor Day weekend. Confession time: $61.44 was spent at a bakery while we were camping in northern Maine, and no I’m not embarrassed. I was in doughnut heaven with Boston Cream and Persian honey buns.

So, August was a super month. But admittedly, most of it was due to vacation, and also there was an employee walk-out and customer boycott of a beloved local grocery chain, which put a damper on my love for grocery shopping… I tried to stick to my farm store and farmers markets, and eat from my pantry & freezer if possible. To help offset the lack of fresh produce, the farm store added Jessica’s Bakery bread and New England eggs along with dairy. I’ve never seen it so busy…there were checkout lines out the door! But it all ended well, and employees and customers are back at the stores now.

Summary

So, even if I stick to a low $400/month for the next two months, my yearly total will be about $5350, much higher than the $4500-5000 I was shooting for. I’ll average $450 per month, which I suppose isn’t too bad, but I wish I did better.

All I can do is my best, and next year, we’ll see what happens.

About My Healthy Budget

My healthy budget goal is to eat seasonal (local if possible,) home-cooked meals while sticking to a $400 $450 monthly budget for all food including groceries, dining out, entertaining, vitamins/supplements, and gardening.

There’s two of us eating (mostly) 3 meals per day. DH occasionally eats take-out lunch at work, & that $ comes out of his personal cash stash.

Update: Budget Out of Control!

No more avoidance. I’m coming clean! My budget is extremely out of control!

It started back in December and has only become worse. I don’t want to make excuses, but it’s important for me to figure out what is going wrong, so I can try to fix what’s not working.

In November, I finally found a great new job, and for the first time in a long time, we have some financial security. Our spending in general went up and UP! We’ve been going “without” for so long, it felt freeing to spend money on items we wanted, not just what we absolutely needed.

Now it wasn’t just “new money” that was causing problems; I signed up for the Spring Vegetable CSA which started in March, so $30 was deducted from my weekly spending allotment. Psychologically, with $120-$150 less to spend each month, I felt like I was behind before the month even started. The frugality pinch was back and I rebelled with a lot of careless mistakes, like not sticking to a shopping list and buying items when I really didn’t necessarily need them.

But…there is some good news.

Frugality can sometimes mean cutting corners with food quality to save money, so with increased spending, we’ve been eating a lot more healthier. Vegetable intake has dramatically increased, I started regularly drinking kefir & dandelion root tea, we’ve switched to organic/natural granulated sugar, and generally, I’m really making more of a conscious effort to BE healthier.

Budget Confessions

Confession is good for the soul, so here we go! Let’s get it out in the open.

Some recent changes: I’ve expanded the dining out category to include most of our convenience foods purchases. So, the frozen pizza or pot pie from the grocery store is added there, not to groceries. Groceries should equal to ALL healthy choices. I’m aiming for 20-25% for dining/fast food. I’m also tracking meat purchases separately in a grocery sub-category.

Feb Spending: $419.90 (NOT a bad month)
Groceries: $306.50 (meat: $84.36)
Dining Out/Fast Food: $113.40 (27% of total food)

March Spending: $555.90 (BAD)
Groceries: $429.69 (meat: $44.57)
Dining Out/Fast Food: $126.21 (22.7% of total food)

April Spending: $476.14 (Not great, but too bad)
Groceries: $360.78 (meat: $58.25)
Gardening: $3.58
Dining Out/Fast Food: $111.78 (26.5% of total food)

May Spending: $616.59 (the WORST month)
Groceries: $480.03 (meat $23.05)
Gardening: $30.70
Dining Out/Fast Food: $115.80 (18.8% of total food)

Going Forward

What do I want going forward? That’s a good question. I think I’d like to try for a $450 monthly budget, while trying to stay around $100-$125 for dining out/convenience foods. I want to continue to make healthy choices, but still reward myself with splurges. I’d prefer the splurges to be void of HFCS and hydrogenated oils if possible, which might cost a little more.

My health is worth it, if I need to go over budget due to better food choices.

But I’m really going to strive to stick to prepared shopping lists and plan what I truly need, unless there’s a super good sale. And even then, I need to remember that most sale prices come back on a regular basis, so using up what’s in my pantry and freezer is more important.

I can only do my best.

About My Healthy Budget

My healthy budget goal is to eat seasonal (local if possible,) home-cooked meals while sticking to a $400 $450 monthly budget for all food including groceries, dining out, entertaining, vitamins/supplements, and gardening.

There’s two of us eating (mostly) 3 meals per day. DH occasionally eats take-out lunch at work, & that $ comes out of his personal cash stash.

Slow Food vs Fast Food

I signed up for a springtime veggie CSA which starts the first week of March, which will add about $30 to each week.

I don’t want to start worrying about extra spending for SLOW food, so I’ve decided to concentrate more on lowering my FAST food spending. So, any take-out, dining out, plus convenience foods purchased at the grocery store (like frozen pizzas, pot pies, and desserts) I’m tracking as “dining out/fast food”. Going forward, my goal is to spend $100 or 25% but we’ll see how it goes.

I’ve gone back and adjusted my totals for prior months, (Nov – present) and there listed below.

November Total Food $437.47, FAST food $142.55 (32.59%)
December Total Food $521.52, FAST food $181.81 (34.86%)
January Total Food $408.54, FAST food $165.63 (40.54%)

(Note: I’m not going to count any desserts or splurges that I’m making at home, like cakes or cookies. Even if I’m using white flour and white sugar, I figure that I’m in control over the ingredients and that’s GOOD!)