Friday, February 27, 2009

Budget and the restricted diet... take 2

Our eating habits have been pretty bad since the baby came. I was run-down before she came and even more so since she came. Part of that is likely a recurrence of CMV (cytomegalovirus--like mono and causes debilitating fatigue and on/off illness for months). I'm also all screwed up hormonally with what my ob/gyn believes is full-blown PCOS on a rampage.

So we've truly been slacking. And it shows in our diet and how often we eat out. Bonus for you all, however, in seeing what you can do and how easy it is to slip up. ;) (gotta find a silver lining for everything).

We pay for food (groceries and eating out) via the envelope system. When there's no money left, you stop buying stuff. Of course, during the gas crisis we budgeted more for gas and never revisited that amount when the prices came down. As a result, we were occasionally using leftover gas money to enable the "illness" of slacking off and eating out. (blushing with shame here).

That has to stop. We don't have the money to do that.

The coop helps. We are a dropoff point and it earns us a discount on our food. If either of the groups were full, our food would be free (because we help divide the food which offsets the small amount we would be paying for it). It's certainly work, but it's free food. Even with the groups not full, the discount is a HUGE help. If you can't score this kind of deal because it's not available to you, consider starting your own. Find a few friends who want to buy together and find a resource that will sell in bulk for a discount. Then just divide it up. But if you don't have the time, then you just don't have the time. Being a coordinator for another company certainly has it's tasks. I don't find it overwhelming other than finding members. I'm just not good at it.

We have NOT yet gotten to where we can eat organic meats; although I AM able to occasionally find antibiotic-free chicken breast on sale. I've long been a stealth grocery shopper. But that was when it came down to the lowest price and occasionally whether or not I could tolerate the lowest price. Usually, I could.

The thing is, it was a trade-off: was the lower price worth the change in taste? If yes, I bought the cheaper item. If no, I sought out the higher priced item wherever I found it for the best deal.

This is no different: either you feel that the healthier food is worth more money and simply seek it out at the best available price; or you buy cheaper food.

Huge help in finding the best price is a price book. I kept one for 11 years and now I'm going back to it. I had put it down because I couldn't eat most of the items in there anymore! But I just need to redo it and start keeping prices on the things I CAN eat. The price book is what GOT me to being a stealth shopper before. It's going to be critical going forward. Here's a good template for a price book:

I like to keep a line or two empty under each entry: one for "sale price" at that store and one just blank for ease of eyes. But to each their own. You list all the prices for one item on one page. Learn from my error: use pencil. I cannot even begin to tell you how much I hate pencil. I did ALL of my math work from 7th grade up entirely in pen (thankfully, I was a math whiz). But I learned to keep the price book in pencil.

It's not cheap to eat well; but it doesn't have to be outrageous either. None-the-less, it explains the health of a country that is unable to manage it's financials because many are trying to live above their means and opting for vacation over venison. ;)

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