This week’s groceries expenses were €35 – they’ll be €37 when I get the peanut butter, which I forgot. Most of my groceries were bought at the farmer’s market, and because I brought a list and stuck to it, I did not splurge on expensive cheeses and sun-dried tomatoes.
Last week’s groceries expenses were €27; the week before it was €70 because I was re-stocking after my trip to the US (and got tempted by said expensive yum-yums). Numbers not exact because I don’t always get receipts and I don’t always keep them when I do. Even this week, I am still buying a lot of stuff to replace what was in the pantry before I left for the US; when I get the peanut butter, re-stocking will be complete though.
This week, my meal plan will be based on the How Low Can You Go meals Trent has posted on The Simple Dollar; specifically, meals will include Potato-peanut curry and Moorish-style chickpea and spinach stew. I will also have Fish curry and Sweet potato and lentil curry. Yes, it’s a week of mostly curry, and mostly vegetarian food. Going (mostly) veg for a while after 2 1/2 months on a meat-heavy American diet with large portions has helped me fit into my pants better already. It’s not a lifestyle for the long term for me but I can do it for a few weeks.
The recipes on The Simple Dollar are pretty much the first bit of food advice from any frugality blog that I’m taking action on. Most of the food-related advice from frugality blogs is either stuff that I figured out for myself (“dried legumes are cheap!”) or things that I’ve been doing all my life, i.e. box up your lunches, make your own coffee, cook from scratch. In fact it is fair to say that frugality blogs have introduced me to a lifestyle of wanton profligacy: until I started reading them, I was not aware that there were people on average, middle-class incomes who ate out for lunch and drank coffee at Starbucks every day. To me, boxing up my lunch and making my own coffee is not something I call “frugal”, it’s something I call “normal” – one of those unquestioned assumptions about my life in comparison to other people’s.
Advice like that, advice that tells me to do things I already consider normal, annoys me, especially when it’s repeated over and over again. Of course, to a person who regards eating a nine-dollar lunch every day as normal, these repeated messages count as counter-marketing: they need the repeated messages telling them to consume less just to counter the endless bombardment of media messages telling them to consume more.
(Another one that irritates me but is probably useful for many people is the one telling people to turn off their TV and use the time saved to do other, more productive or interesting things. I haven’t had a TV in the house since 1995, apart from a few months when I borrowed one, but most people do and waste a lot of time on it)
Anyway. I’m glad that there is some advice there that I can actually follow and it does look like I’ll be eating very well on a budget this week. I may be ready to move onto frugality-related material that takes more of a “guerilla” approach like the old Tightwad Gazette used to do, or that questions fundamental assumptions more, such as Early Retirement Extreme.
Update: Thirty bucks a week may come in handy for bringing my budget down further.