Finances of Food

In one year, I’ve gained about 15 pounds, 10 of which I put on since April. Where last October I was looking pretty impressive in a bikini, this year I’ve gone soft around the middle, upper, and lower. What happened? One, I stopped working out. Literally. I just quit cold turkey and dropped it like a bad habit. Why is it easy to drop good habits and hard to drop bad habits? Our programming makes no sense some times.

But the other thing that happened, and the one that I’m convinced is responsible for about 75% of the weight gain, is my eating habits went to complete hell. I stopped taking lunches to work, I cut back big time on the amount of times I cooked at home, and what did that lead to? An increase in convenience eating– fast food, restaurants, delivery, frozen, processed, and boxed. My guess is that when I stopped working out, I lost a lot of energy and that black hole sucked up my household energy specifically– my house is messy and so’s my body.

As you may know if you read me often, I’m currently the world’s biggest advocate of tracking expenses AND I think you should hammer out your own method instead of relying on some fancy ready-made thing. So I have a massive and awesome, perhaps massively awesome even, workbook on Excel that I track my spending, create flexible budgets in, even create savings goals with. It is the awesome. Yesterday, I decided I want to create a food-related goal to add to my list because I keep telling myself, “I have got to change my eating habits!” but never do anything because I am a royal screw-up without goals. Today, I used the aforementioned Massively Awesome Excel Workbook to help me construct this very important goal. How? I took my data from the past four months, not including November which is still in progress though I really wanted to, and extrapolated all of my food-related expenses. Then, I tallied up two things: the number of times I spent money on food and how much I spent on food. I did this for three categories– Fast Food, Restaurants, and Groceries. When I did this for July, August, September, and October, I also threw in an average. I came out with this:

So pretty. Well class, what do we see about MutantSupermodel’s eating habits? One, I should point out that July was the Spending Diet month which explains the drop in numbers across the board. But, because it was much more ideal behavior on my part than the other three months, I wanted to include it to help me achieve an average. Now, the scary stuff. On average, I spend more at fast food places and restaurants than I do on groceries. And I definitely visit those other places a heck of a lot more frequently. As a matter of fact, I went ahead and compared Groceries directly to Eating Out and this is what I found:

See, that is a problem. On average, I go out to eat four times as often as I visit the grocery store. In October, I spent nearly double dining out than on groceries. As a matter of fact, when I look at my totals, I find that on average, I spend 45% of my food money on groceries and 55% on eating out. Quite frankly, it has to stop. So, how do I train myself to get this under control?

First, I saw in the recent issue of All You magazine, the results of a Grocery Challenge they hosted. I am new to this magazine (coupon city!) so I had no idea this was going on, but it was an interesting read given my food dilemma. There’s basically one rule- Spend no more than $25 per person in your family a week for four weeks. There are four people in my family which gives me $100 a week. If you look at my grocery spending, you can see that isn’t even a question for me. But that’s because I’m spending it on other food options instead. If I said no more than $25 per person per week though, I have a little work to do. There were 17 full weeks from July through October. I spent an average of $126.73 on food each week. Here is what I’m proposing then.

From today, Monday, November 22, 2010 to Monday, January 31, 2011 (ten weeks), I will challenge myself to spend no more than $100 a week on food. Furthermore, I will challenge myself to change the average split between groceries and eating out to 65% and 35% respectively. I want you to know, I just winced. And for extra giggles, I’ll be tracking my weight somehow just to see if I find a correlation between the two. Because I love experimenting on myself, didn’t you know?

Obstacles I see in the future? Time and energy. I’m a single mom of three for one but also, as much as my mother is the Domestic Diva, I am not. And as much as I would love to be, I have never been able to get excited about preparing fresh and healthy meals or maintaining a neat and lovely home. Ok, that’s not completely true. I do, but in very short bursts. Wish me luck and if you’ve made this sort of change in your life or if you live this life regularly, please share some tips, advice, suggestions, etc. I’ve got the grocery shopping with coupons thing pretty mastered, but it’s mainly the kitchen that daunts me.


7 thoughts on “Finances of Food

  1. Pingback: Finances of Food Challenge: Grocery Trip #1 « MutantSupermodel Musings

  2. I admire your strength to start this! It’s as you say, hard to keep/get good habits, and easy to slack… I recognize the situation you’re in, and may try to follow your example! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  3. Good luck! The freezer can be your friend – if you make extra when you’re feeling kitchen inspired and freeze it, you can whip it out at a later date and still have home made food when you don’t feel like cooking. 🙂 (Assuming you make things that can be frozen).

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