30 May 2011

The Second Step

All right, so the "clever" title that I came up with includes a second goal, I suppose. The first is, obviously, to spend less money—which I have talked about to distraction—but I haven't really mentioned the second part of this blog: to eat less.
I've been trying (rather successfully) to lose weight for the past year. Unfortunately, I've reached that awful plateau stage. I have definitely been more active, but my diet right now is only slightly different than when I started the whole "lose weight" mission. In creating this blog—this goal, even—I hope to monitor the food that I eat more closely.
Monitoring food hasn't worked for me in the past. I have tried counting calories, but it's boring. For whatever reason, money is more interesting than calories. More tangible? Maybe that's the reason I've done better keeping track of cost than I ever did with calories. So, by spending less on food, I hope to eat less food! Simple, I suppose.
Anyway, I won't talk about the secondary goal nearly as much as the first, although I will keep you updated on whether or not it works!

Off Day

And by "Off Day" I just mean a day that I was off from work.I actually had a rather good day, foodwise.

Breakfast: Nada
Lunchish: $1.13
Dranks: $0.69
Snack: $1.05

Total: $2.87

I was moving for half of the day, so I didn't really eat until later, and breakfast was hijacked work food. So I'm not starving myself, promise. I just didn't eat a whole lot that would count toward my totals. As I write, I'm nomming on little pizza pockets. They're cute, and they make me wonder if there's a chance that I could make me own...

In totally awesome news, most of my possessions are now moved into my new apartment! I'm no longer living on a mattress on the floor. I have an actual couch! That's not food related at all, but I was psyched about the development!

29 May 2011

Another Two

5/28
Breakfast: $0.62
Lunch: $0.99
After-work Special: $1.49
Dinner: $0.87

Total: $3.97

5/29
Breakfast: $0.25
Lunch: $2.51
Dinner: $1.13

Total: $3.89

Apparently, in an effort to make up for the day I went over, I've been eating foods that cost less the past two days. This is fantastic. This also makes it seem like my goal of cutting how much I can spend on food in half seem plausible. Much more so than before.

27 May 2011

Two Days

Today!
BreakFAST: $0.62
Lunch: $2.86
Post-work noms: $0.75
Dinner: $0.87
Total: $5.10

Okay. So. Today was a better day than yesterday, although I've realized that, of my expenses, eating at work is actually the most expensive. I'm thinking of bringing a sandwich tomorrow along with one of the 700 bags of chips that I've gotten with my lunches. Maybe some Ramen. Who knows? I don't have to cut work food out of my diet completely, but it is one of those expenses I could gladly slash.

I've also had the same breakfast for the past couple of days, and I'm enjoying it quite a bit. Yogurt and a granola bar are healthy and tasty. The combo keeps me going until lunch, which is a good thing.

And, thought I'd mention the dinner since I actually put some thought into it. I seasoned up some ham steak, made some rice stuff and put peas and carrots in it. There was enough for two, which means that I have leftovers for tomorrow! It needed a little salt, but was otherwise delicious.

5/26/2011
Breakfast Noms: $0.62
Lunchers: $2.19
Din-Din: $4.00
Total: $6.19

All right, so I went a little over tonight, but I have to say that I'm all right with that. Mostly I'm all right with this because 1) It went toward a good cause (Joplin again haha) and 2) It was probably the best hot dog that I'd ever eaten in my life (seriously: It was a spicy hot dog with grilled onions, cream cheese, pineapple salsa, and mustard).

25 May 2011

Here are today's totals!

Pre-work noms: $1.29 [$3.01]
Lunch: $2.19*
After-work noms: $0.75
Dinner: $0.69
Total: $4.92

*Something should be said, I think, about the weirdness that was lunch. I did not actually buy any food for lunch—my manager did. Instead, I bought some toiletries to donate to the tornado relief efforts in Joplin, MO.  And, while I did not spend any money on food, I felt that putting at least half of what I spent on the donation toward my food cost for the day would help me keep track of what I'm spending daily.
One of the stores in our franchise is the Joplin area, and though it was not hit, the management team there was struggling to find replacement shifts for the next week. The employees and teams at our caf├ęs have been working to help raise money and other donations to help the efforts in that area.
My GM mentioned something while we talked about this that really struck a chord, so I thought I'd share that, too. He told me that he'd had to worry about having enough people to cover shifts, but that he'd never had to worry whether all of the people on those shifts were alive.

24 May 2011

Breakfast: $0.92 [2.69*]
Lunch: Free! [7.59]
Dinner: $1.28
Total: $2.20

*The second number you see here is the price without my discount.
**My manager owed me lunch, which is why I got my lunch free today.

Grocery Day!

Now, since this is the maiden voyage of this blog, I will actually have three separate posts. This post is the second and will become a common theme in this blog. Today was payday, which means that I also had the opportunity to go grocery shopping. I learned a good deal from the first shopping trip of this insanity, so I will share what I learned as well as a bunch of numbers that are probably uninteresting to anyone but myself.

What I Learned

I went into this trip with a list. This was to curb my impulse-buying habits, especially when food is involved. It was also nice to know what products I would be able to purchase with a coupon. Hopefully, what I learned during this first trip will help me make better decisions in the future.

  • Hamburger Helper is expensive. Even with a coupon and store special, the store-brand was more than $0.15
  • Kraft Mac & Cheese is also expensive. At $1.59/box, I was a little flabbergasted. I admit, though, part of my surprise came from the Walgreens coupon that let me purchase three boxes at $0.69 each. It also came from my never having bought Kraft brand before (I know, I know. You should know now, then, that I don't like apple pie, either).
  • My impulse-buying habits will be hard to overcome.
  • My local grocery store will double a manufacturer's coupon up to $1. Considering that this made Yoplait cheaper than the store brand, even an extra $0.40 makes a big difference.
  • My store does not, however, still offer a discount when you bring your own bags. Either that or the cashier didn't think to put it on my purchase.
  • Most dry goods cost about $0.25 per serving. At least the ones that I bought.
  • Most store brand sauces cost less than $0.05 per serving.
  • By cost per serving, the most expensive items I bought were frozen meals.
  • I'm all right at estimating the prices of groceries, although I was horribly off on some items.
So, I have gathered quite a few facts, although I'm not entirely sure what I'm going to do with them. Mostly what I will take from this is that having someone else prepare your food is more expensive than doing it yourself. And, while I should have known this, knowing and understanding are different creatures entirely.
Numbers
Here comes the part that will probably interest only me. Feel free to turn back, noble explorer! If you've read this far, I'm a little stunned but ready to continue. The time has come for me to put down some numbers. Who knows what they mean together.

Total spent on food: $32.70
Coupons brought: 21
Coupons used: 4
Money saved by coupons: $0.90
Money saved by "cardmember only" deals: $0.69
Money saved by coupon "doubling": $0.90

Those are the numbers! And that wraps up my grocery post.

The First Step

An introductory post...

As I write, the groceries are priced and put away, Nessa is happily playing with her new toy (I had to! I lost her old mousies in the move), and my first meal of this insanity is bubbling on the stove. We—and by we I mean I—are having Macaroni and Cheese with hot dogs. A favorite choice of four-year-olds everywhere.
My insanity? I've decided to monitor what the food I eat costs each day. My beginning goal is to spend less than $6 per day on everything that I eat and drink. From what I've done today, I imagine that this goal is hardly lofty (in fact, many people all over the world eat for far less than this. I have no illusions to be broken on that front).
The problem that I face—the reason that the goal is rather high—is that, regardless of how long I have been buying food for myself, I still have no idea what groceries cost. I only know that I need to spend less on food.
To start us off, I would like to begin with some of the details about myself that will effect the money that I will spend on food each month.

  • My job affords me the opportunity to never need to pay for bread or bagels...or soda.
  • I also get a really nice discount when I work.
  • I've decided that anything bought "pre-move" (pm) will not count toward the totals at the end of each day.
  • I have the majority of a 50lb. bag of rice left over from before the move.
  • I DO clip coupons. It's cathartic.
  • I DO NOT always buy the product on the coupon. If the store brand has a similar product that is cheaper, I will generally purchase that to save myself a little money.
  • One of my vices is eating take away. I love to sit down with good friends and good food. I still have not figured out how, exactly, I'm working this into my food budget, but I will find a way!
Those are just some of the ways that my food bill will be a little less or that I already save money.
So, my goals for this project of mine are to, at the beginning, keep my food spending to less than $6 per day. That gives me approximately $2 per meal. From there, I would, if possible, like to cut the amount of money that I spend on food in half. Instead of $180 per month, I would like to spend less than $90. This, I think, is entirely possible. Most of the world lives on less.