Project: Food Budget – This is It!

Holy crap…this is my last P:FB post.  😥  I’m actually really sad this project is over since I’ve had a blast, met some great friends, and learned a ton.  I hope these weekly posts have been useful for you!  Thanks to everyone who has commented and offered support and feedback.   🙂

Anyway, Emily asked that we go a little rogue this week and do a bit of reflecting on our participation in this project.  So here goes…

I’ve always considered myself a good budget-er.  That is what happens when, for better or worse, you become financially independent at 16 and are responsible for every dime you spend (car insurance included).  However, when I graduated college and was working full time both at UMass and Passion Parties (that would be 6-8 parties/month), I experienced wealth like never before.  Now, this is relative wealth since what I was making, combined, most people would scoff at.  Fact of the matter is, I was making more money than ever and I could spend it how I chose.  I was frugal about saving because I planned on going to medical school and am extremely grateful because it saved me from taking out a very very large sum of additional loans.

But somewhere along the way, I let budgeting slide.  Probably because, for the first time in my life I didn’t have to watch every single dollar and cent. <–I can still remember hand writing a weekly budget every week during high school. I didn’t have to budget so why should I?  The short answer is that I first became a foodie…and then a couponer…and then a grad student.  The longer answer is that just because I have the money to spend doesn’t mean I should spend it carelessly.  If there is an opportunity to save, I should take it.  Not because I’m living in a state of lack but rather because being frugal is just plain smart.  <–And I’d prefer to save my money for a vitamix.  *sigh*

P:FB came into my life at the perfect time when I saw my food spending getting out of control ($80-$100/week was the norm for just me) and one of my good friends had just introduced me to healthy couponing.  Like most things, I went a little overboard with the couponing at first but I’ve now found a good balance…I spend one morning a week (usually Saturday since that’s when the sales flyers come out) meal planning and couponing.  Does that mean I miss stuff?  Absolutely.  But it also means I stay a bit saner.  And, you know, there’s all my grad school stuff!

As I’ve taken this journey I’ve learned a few things about myself and my habits.

  • I effing love a good sale.  And its really hard to turn one down even if I technically-sort-of-really don’t need it.
  • I have no qualms about pulling from my monthly “fun fund” to buy a new ingredient.
  • Some weeks you just have to put your budget aside.  <–more so when this budgeting thing was just for fun!
  • Some weeks you have to pay the cheaper total price rather than the best unit price to stay on budget.  😦
  • I’m really good at massaging numbers to make myself feel better.  <–note to self: I am not defined by a $ amount!
  • Couponing is really fun…and can be time-consuming…but mostly its a great intellectual challenge.
  • There’s nothing quite like the high you get from a big haul!  <–especially if you haven’t eaten/drank too much caffeine
  • Group accountability counts for something.  I knew I had to post every week and I didn’t want to let myself or anyone else down.
  • I really love taking photos of food.  I’m not that good at it but man is it fun.  🙂
  • I’m glad I had a chance to “play around” with this before being put into a situation where I had no choice.
  • Going off of that, I feel blessed that this budget is not a be-all-end-all for me.  Even if I do go over, I can usually make the difference up with one Passion Party or, if worse comes to worse, can borrow money from someone.  Not everyone on  budget can say the same.

Given that I’ve had such a great time with this project, I do plan on continuing to do it.  I have to live on a budget now so it just makes sense.  That being said, I’ll be switching my food budget posts to Mondays.  This way, I can write up the posts while the food is cooking AND you can get to WF before the sales end.  🙂

OK so onto this week’s meal plan…

Weekly Menu

*Starred recipes are test recipes for the forthcoming Happy Herbivore cookbook.

After some excessive spending two weeks ago, I decided to use up pantry items this week and I based my meal plan on that + what was on sale/I had coupons for.  I must say, I’m pretty impressed given most of this stuff I just had lying around!  Including the spinach which I had gotten for free with a Cascadian farms coupon.  *woot*

Sunday Night Sushi Feast: avo, cucumber, and asparagus roles, seaweed salad, and homemade roasted edamame.

Mexican Salad with arugula,black beans, olives, red pepper, pineapple salsa, and hot sauce

*Loaded Baked Potato 1 – seriously you can’t even see the potato!

Sauteed Spinach with Silken Tofu and Red Rice

*Kale with black beans and vegan ricotta ^perhaps my favorite picture ever.  *note to self* photograph on the concrete again

Loaded Potato, take 2*
The most amazing chili* in the world
Lots of Cascadian Farms granola

Spending Savings

Farm stand: $6.50
Whole Foods: $20.07
Trader Joe’s: $5.65
Glut Co-Op: $11.00

Total: $43.22 🙂

Total Saved: $10.48 (~25%)

I’m really super impressed by this week considering the only place I used coupons was WF!  And everything I bought at Glut was really nto necessary (lots of nuts, tofu ricotta that was only $2.00, awesome crackers for the same price…you get the picture).

That’s it folks because its midterms and my big brother is visiting tomorrow so I need to tidy this place up a bit.


Kait xo



2 thoughts on “Project: Food Budget – This is It!

  1. Thank you for your enthusiasm throughout this project. I so appreciate your feedback, lessons learned, and support! Looking forward to watching what comes next for you. ❤

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