We use Mint.com to budget and track our spending. One of the nice things about Mint is that you can set a monthly budget for a specific area of your spending (Food), and Mint will send you email alerts if you've exceeded your budget for the month. I logged on for the first time in a while yesterday to re-categorize some recent expenses and noticed that we're already at $505 of our $600 monthly food budget! Eek!
First things first, I know plenty of you are reading this thinking "holy F, they spend how much on food every month???" We think that too. It's the one area that we're constantly frustrated with. We eat out too much. We go out with friends a lot. And groceries aren't cheap, especially when we try to purchase quality ingredients. I don't think I'd be as irritated if we were spending that much and eating the way we aspire to, knowing that we're spending on quality and to support our local food systems. However, that's not the case for the majority of this amount, so it's constantly irritating. (However, before you think we're too crazy, I would encourage you to sign up yourself and track every detail of your budget for a month or two. I bet you'll have some surprises of your own!)
So anyway, we have quite the challenge in front of us: to keep our August food spending to the already outrageous $600 limit. That means we need to spend no more than $95 on food over the next 13 days! Some challenges I foresee:
- We're going to see Still Time in SF tonight: booze and 2am burritos both count on the Food budget!
- We're making vast quantities of guac and 2 salsas for the annual Sand in your Shorts party tomorrow.
- I may be going to visit Dad next week: 12 hours of eating on the road, and typically lots of meals out.
Some things working in our favor:
- Raf has begun the wildness of quarter-end, which means Oracle will be feeding him most nights.
- I've had a crazy lunchy luncherson schedule out with friends for the past couple weeks, but have nothing else in iCal at the moment.
- We've done a ton of grocery shopping this month, including a bulk stock up at Costco, so hopefully with minor supplements, we can work with what we already have on hand.
That final point really sums it up. We need to make meals for the next 2 weeks based primarily on what is already in our cupboards. Novel concept, eh?! We started with dinner last night, and we did a pretty darn good job! The photo at the top is Avocado Pasta Salad via The Food in my Beard. It was SO yummy! As in, so yummy I wouldn't let Raf take the leftovers to work today (and I hate leftovers). We added some feta to this recipe, and Raf used red onions rather than scallions. Definitely a keeper in the tasty, simple, summer recipe department. Oh, and Israeli couscous (sometimes labeled Middle Eastern couscous) is a new favorite--we both loved the consistency of the larger pellets.
I figure if I'm in town and we're doing well on the food budget front at the end of the month, I'm going to go splurge at the Eat Real Fest in Jack London Square. Because, really, if I'm going to spend money on food, it might as well be awesomely tasty and in a festival environment, right?!