Saturday, 13 October 2012

Money is tight

Money has been a little tight lately.  I have been bearing the brunt of buying groceries for both of us since July 1, which is fine, but increasingly difficult.

Each week before going shopping I am looking at the bank statement to see what juggling I can do to make sure I have enough money to purchase groceries for the week.

I have cut out most of my discretionary spending, which helps.  My increasing levels of fitness help too, because I am walking to work and home from work (instead of taking streetcars or a cab), and saving $20 - $30 a week.

I am packing my lunches and dinners to take to the office, rather than eating out or having food delivered to my office.  That saves me $100 a week, at least.

I cut out the morning Timmy's run and my morning XL coffee when I saw how much it cost me in calories and carbs (2 creams and 4 sugars tops out at 440 calories and 66 g of carbs - - the amount of carbs in an entire meal).  Another side benefit - $10 a week saved.

And let's not even talk about how my alcohol consumption has declined in recent months.  No more long island ice teas for me, thank you.  No more Baileys in my Sunday coffee.  It's tea for me, thanks.  The carbs and calories were too high for this pre-diabetic girl.  I have switched to rye and Diet Pepsi, which I don't have as often, or wine, which is just not the same.  I have probably cut out about $50 - $100 a week out of my booze budget as a result. 

Which is all good, because I am spending about triple what I used to on groceries each week.  Fresh vegetables cost money, and lots of it.  Lean meats and fish are more expensive than cheaper, fattier proteins.  My favourite 0% fat greek yogurt is more expensive than the full fat version.  And we're eating more of this healthy food than ever, at every meal.

I used to be able to live off a $2.50 packet of Uncle Ben's risotto every night.  It was not a balanced meal, or in any way healthy in the long term, but 5 of those would cost me $12.50, a mere fraction of my current budget.

Despite the cost, though, I can't go back to the way things were.  Prepackaged foods are super high in sodium even if they aren't jammed with calories and carbs (as many are).  Eating this food made it much harder for me to lose weight, and I was tired all the time.

Now, I am eating better and feeling better.  I have been so successful in my workout routine and weight loss program in part because I am eating so well now.  And my healthy diet is having effect on my body.  When I donated blood last week my iron levels were on the high end of the scale, which is a sign that I am getting enough protein.  I have more energy than I used to, and although I can't swear that I have a glossier coat and shiny eyes, I feel overall healthier. 

So what am I eating? Yesterday, for example, I had 7 servings of vegetables, 3 servings of grains, 2 servings of dairy, and 2 servings of meat and meat alternatives.  Right on track for what the Canada Food Guide says we should eat each day.  Was it easy?  Nope.  It required a ton of preparation, from planning meals to going shopping to ensure the right food was in the house, to cooking balanced meals and making lunches and dinners to bring to the office.

Was it cheap?  Hell no.  The Nerd makes me amazing meals out of his Jamie Oliver cookbook, but some of those dishes require expensive ingredients.  Tonight, for example, we're trying duck breast for the first time - - at $17 for the two of us (for only the duck alone).  Add all those servings of fruit and vegetables, and the grocery bill creeps up to $200+ in a typical week.  In the dark times, before I started eating well, I would spend a mere $40-$60 each week on groceries (although this would be supplemented by the cost of eating lunch and dinner out, so it may actually have been a wash).

I need to keep up this pattern of healthy eating, because it is so good for me.  I just need to keep focused on getting the biggest bang for my shopping dollar, so that I can manage the expense of healthy living.  Feeding two of us most days is costing more than ever, and I need to be cunning in how I make ends meet. 

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