I admit it: I spend a lot of money on food. And I had given myself free rein to shop without a budget for a long time. I figured, I can only eat so much and the majority of what I buy are fruits and vegetables. But the reality of the situation is, I need to give myself boundaries. About the only time I even think of the cost of a food related item or even ask the price is when I am staring down a nice piece of Toro at a sushi restaurant. Even I draw the line at getting the perfect $10-$15 bite every time I have the opportunity. I need to be better about looking at the price tag of gluten free items as well or better yet, stop justifying them to myself so regularly. I bought 6 bags of gluten free Skinny Crisps last week at $7.00/bag. Yikes. I don't buy a great deal of gluten free goods and am not really a big bready/carby eater, but I need to take a longer pause the next time I am hankering for a $7.00 bag of crackers. Partially because I could make my own and partially because when it comes down to it, there is probably a tasty alternative at half the price.
Today was the first time that I really thought about every food purchase I made. Maybe it is because I sorted through my months spending and found I have less than a quarter left of my budget to last me the last week, or maybe its because as I sipped my second cup of coffee for the day, I really considered how much money I really spend on things I could do without or I could do cheaper.
The two things I spend money on routinely are coffee and kombucha. Coffee I have become better at brewing at home but I also find myself in a position where I consider the following: if i go to a coffee shop to do my work (and therefore buy a cup of coffee), then I get out of the house, get to interact with the world and don't end up getting stir crazy from working at home. If I stay home, I save the money for the coffee (less the expense of buying coffee beans for the home machine) but miss out on the socializing and human contact. I think what it comes down to is balance and sense. In my new budgetary pursuits, I think it is fair to say that I can cut back on coffee's out, but not be neurotic about it. A cup or two out a week is quite the savings over a cup or two every day.
Kombucha is a tougher one. I love Kombucha. I drink it every day. When I had a home, I was brewing gallons and gallons of my own stuff for the cost of a single store bought bottle. I am not in a position to brew my own, so I either need to tailor back my Kombucha drinking or get a home with a kitchen/kombucha brewing accommodations. The later sounds easier ironically. I will do my best to cut back. After all, at an average price of over $3.00 a bottle, Kombucha alone is costing me over a $1,000 a year. That is ridiculous. Delicious ridiculousness.
I will say there was one bright spot today in that I went to the grocery store and I shopped with purpose and awareness. Usually, I go to the store with a vague list of things I want to get, buy a ton of fruits and vegetables and don't really go in with any plan or objective. I only shop with purpose when I am recipe writing. I pick things up as I need them and there rarely is a day that goes by that I don't go to the grocery store. Today, I reminded myself not only to consider price, but to also keep in mind how many and which meals I would be preparing for myself before I left for NYC on Friday morning. I carefully selected vegetables for today and tomorrows lunch salads, I picked out a few pieces of fruit for each morning's breakfast. I bought only enough for those meals, not more. Sounds simple, but usually I will just buy what I want and know that whatever I leave behind my sister will take care of for me. Great for her, silly for my budgeting.
One thing I rarely do because of my "homeless" status is buy things for my pantry. For instance, I tend to buy one almond milk at a time. I don't stockpile things (except Skinny Crisps apparently), even if they are items that will keep well. I guess I do this because I think they won't be there when I come back and also there is very very limited pantry/storage space in the place that has been base camp for the past 4-5 months. The kitchen drives me insane, it is not a cooks kitchen at all and has very limited tools for cooking, most of which are hand-me-downs of mine that I put there when I got new stuff. I really miss my kitchen. Today, I pushed myself out of that mindset for a minute as there was a killer deal on Almond Milk. I was out anyways, so I took advantage of the 3 for $5.00 and for some reason that felt like a bigger deal than it actually was. What about it felt that way, I don't know.
I was pretty proud of myself leaving the grocery store, having spent only $36. Which includes food for 2 lunchs, 2 dinners and some pantry items. Not bad. Much better than I usually do. Its small steps and its amazing how much self awareness and mindfullness can do. The small pauses and thinking that I did, saved me money and in a funny way just brought me back in to the moment. I know that it is going to take a lot of work to stay on this track when I go to NYC next week, but I am bound and determined to stay on budget!