How to waste lots of money: Spend $600 on food for two people

We’ve been living in our first home now for 2.5 years and it’s time to start making some improvements beyond just a coat of paint. This means: Home Equity Line of Credit. *Dun dun duuuuuuuuunnnnnnn* And this means more monthly bills. Of course we are not jumping in blindly and have done our research, and today was “can our budget really handle it” day. The answer:

Holy crap, we spend THAT much on food (and booze)?!

Booze Food!
Welcome to our home.
(Photo credit: nataliej, flickr)

And so begins the renewal of the “working with what you have” credo. Our grocery budget is $300 a month. There’s only two of us to feed so that should more than cover it. Yet somehow, last month, we spent $600 on groceries and, let me tell you, I don’t have any clue what we got for that money—not good. This month we are on track to hit that $600 again with 90% of our budget being already spent… and we’re only 10 days into the month.

So needless to say, some changes need to be made. We’ve talked about going the cash-only route—taking out the $300 in cash at the beginning of the month and when it’s spent, it’s spent—but have been hesitant to do it. It’s a simple concept and not hard to do, so what has been our major dilemma?

Any number of things, I suppose. Part of it is that we scrimped and penny-pinched and had no fun while we were saving up for the down payment on our house, and now we’re experiencing what I like to call, “the Rubber Band Effect.” Pride probably plays a large role, too. We all know people who have no self control over their spending, who don’t pay attention to their budgets, if they have a budget, who go into debt for no good reason, and who simply can’t be trusted with a debit or credit card. But we were never those people. Heaven forbid we be put in the same category… but now, it seems, we have put ourselves in that category. For several months we’ve been overspending in a number categories, groceries and booze being the biggest culprits. It’s no longer just one month where we over-did it; it’s now become a pattern.

So we’re going to suck it up, deal with the logistical inconveniences, and do the cash-on-hand system for groceries and alcohol. When the money’s gone, it’s gone, and we’ll have to make better use of the stuff we already have. I admit, this will be hardest, I think, for me because I like to try new recipes with new ingredients, and my food board on Pinterest has 133 pins that I haven’t tried yet.

hoarder
At least my Pinterest hoard takes up less space
(Photo credit: Tara R.)

Sometimes working with what I already have means making the same stuff over and over again, which gets boring; not only for the taste buds but also for my mind. Making new dishes is a creative adventure, even when I’m following a recipe. If I’ve never made something before, it seems to turn on a different part of my brain. Things are more exciting, more memorable; I feel like my creativity goes up, and my enjoyment of the food I make, and the process of making it, becomes much more vivid. So I guess I’ll just have to look for recipes on Pinterest that are unique, yet still somehow only use the stuff I typically buy (or stuff I can inexpensively replace the stuff I usually buy with).

Challenge accepted.

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