Budget Day 43: Under Budget!!

I am so excited I can hardly stand it. It only took me 43 days to do it, but finally for once I came in under budget! Woohoo! And not only did I come in under budget (with my purchases from Earth Fare today), but check out how much food I got. I could barely fit it into the picture there is so much. After scrounging for food all weekend (since the budget week ends on Sundays) having this much food in our house at one time feels like a bountiful feast!

I planned to spend $82 today, but my first round of groceries surprisingly left me with 10 bucks to spare. I certainly could have saved this unexpected $10, but I am a spender by nature so instead I decided to get a few “extras” that weren’t on my original list. So to my cart I added my beloved mozzarella cheese (the kind that floats in the water, which is the bomb), another bag of organic whole-wheat flour since I seem to be running low on that lately, and some more mushrooms. Even after purchasing those items the bill only came to $81.50. I was more than thrilled that I got to splurge on my favorite cheese and still end up with 50 cents to spare. It seems like every other time I go to the store I plan to spend $25 and I end up spending $30…so this is major progress for me!

I don’t even know why I managed to do so well today today. It might have just been luck with the meals I’d planned for the week and with the sales they were having (no, I did not plan my meals around the sales…I know I should!). I also used one coupon, which saved me a dollar. I am trying with the coupons, but often times it seems the store-brand is cheaper than the name brand with the coupon. So anyway…here is a list of my purchases (most of which was organic)…

  • Raw sliced almonds $2.54 (on sale)
  • Rolled oats $2.18
  • Peanut butter $2.40
  • Sesame seeds $2.02
  • Fresh mozzarella $3.99
  • Unsalted butter $4.49
  • Cheddar $4.49 (on sale)
  • 2 blocks of Monterey Jack $6.00 (on sale)
  • 2 containers sour cream $1.79 each (with coupon)
  • Frozen blueberries $3.00
  • Puffed whole grain corn cereal $1.50 (on sale)
  • Crushed red pepper $1.39
  • 2 bags whole-wheat flour $5.00 (on sale)
  • 2 cans black beans $2.00 (on sale)
  • Whole wheat pasta elbows $1.99
  • Bulk cinnamon $7.99
  • 2 apples $3.36
  • Bananas $1.56
  • Green beans $0.68
  • Celery $1.50
  • Cilantro $1.50
  • Cantaloupe fruit cup $1.34
  • Garlic $0.65
  • Leek $1.41
  • Lemon $0.99
  • Lime $0.66
  • Mango $1.25
  • Mushroom pack $3.00 (on sale)
  • Bulk mushrooms $1.55
  • 2 pears $2.38
  • Bell pepper $0.99
  • Zucchini $0.89
  • Tomatillos $2.61

And with these items we will make the following dinners this week…

  • Monday: Vegetarian Enchiladas (with beans!) topped with cheese and tomatillo salsa
  • Tuesday: Chicken in the slow cooker with mashed potatoes and veggies (I am pulling a local chicken out of our freezer and “charging” myself for it)
  • Wednesday: Chicken and wild rice casserole with green beans
  • Thursday: Leftovers for my husband / Earth Fare free kids night for us (maybe)
  • Friday: Potato / Turnip soup
  • Saturday: Planning to go out to dinner

In light of the small amount of money I spent on such delicious and nutritious “real food” today, I’d like to mention a very interesting article that I recently read in the Charlotte Observer. The article highlighted a local businessman who organized a challenge to see if he (and others) could manage to live off $7/day per person (which is the amount allotted for food stamp recipients). The article specifically mentions their need to rely on “dollar menus and granola bars” during the challenge and also their feeling of waking up hungry in the middle of the night. I know I’ve compared our weekly budget to the food stamp allotment before, but I am totally floored by this article because if you get out your calculator we are only spending $4.45/day per person. And even if you add in our $20/week for eating out (which we don’t always use) it would come to $5.17/each. And granted this week is turning out to be a good week for us, but no matter how you look at it for 43 days we’ve been eating much better food for much less money than this group! Amazing.

Also, since yesterday ended a budget week here is a list of how things totaled up last week…

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  • Comments

    1. Kara |

      I know this is way late and returning to the first topic, but I cook my beans a couple of times a year and package them into portion sizes and freeze them. That makes a huge difference in price, sodium, flavor and lack of sitting in a can, that does who knows what to our health and the environment!

    2. |

      First, I love your blog! We recently moved and I miss our EarthFare so very much! Thankfully, there’s a delightful Farmer’s Market every week just around the block.

      I’ve got one main complaint about the comparison between you and food stamp recipients. You visit multiple stores with a car, right? I’m guessing you’d have a different experience if you had to rely on public transportation. I’m impressed with your budgeting panache, but I wish you’d stop comparing yourself to food stamp recipients. I doubt you’d trade place for a week.

      • 100 Days of Real Food |

        Thanks for your comment! Also, the comparison to food stamps is simply a financial comparison since the only factor we focused on during our pledge was money. I actually started the budget pledge not even knowing how much people got on food stamp benefits then someone brought it to my attention, and I was shocked we were actually spending less. I am very much aware that I have access to many different resources (including a car, cooking skills, kitchen appliances, etc.), but as one reader pointed out I mostly bought staples that you could get at any store whether you had a car or not. The food stamp comparison was simply to get people’s attention because there is a big misconception out there that it’s “too expensive” to eat real food. I assure you my goal is to get more people to eat real food and not at all to belittle food stamps. I hope that makes sense!

      • Allison |

        Thank you for all you’ve done for tons of families by educating us on how to eat healthier. It was very kind of you to explain your comments on food stamps but not necessary. Any person with common sense knew what you were saying. Criticizing you on this was completely unfair. Again- thank you for all you do.

      • Gina |

        Really cck?

    3. Evalen |

      I guess I was a little disturbed by the remark concerning food stamps. I do not know of anyone who can afford to spend $500 a month for food with food stamps. $125 a week.
      I my self am a senior who lives on a budgeted income. I have been trying to eat whole foods and I do find it cheaper to buying whole foods then processed foods, Still I can really buy any organic foods. I am seeking to control my budget also.
      The hardest part is making a menu. My budge is at the highest $150 a month. Trying to eat healthy. Thanks for your info, very interesting. Have subscribed to your post.

    4. Allison |

      I have been reading each of your blog entries, beginning with the first. I am very impressed with your mission. It has certainly inspired me to begin feeding my family whole foods! So, well done! However, as a fellow stay at home mother that resides in NC (raleigh to be exact) I also feel compelled to discuss the “food stamp” reference.
      I am very fortunate that my family of five lives comfortably on my husbands income. And I can shop whole foods/ Earth Fare and so on for our “real foods”. But I must admit, you are really missing your mark with with the continual good stamp reference.

      You appear grossly out of touch with reality when you wane on about the limitations of your budget, and being forced to shop outside of Earth Fare, and comparing your budget to food stamps.

      Perhaps, to accomplish your original goal, which I understand to be; helping the masses eat ‘real foods’ and less processed food, you should keep in mind that ” the masses” consist of not only your tax bracket, but also working mothers, single mothers and so on. $500.00 a month in strictly food expenditures is not quite as ‘dire’ as you may suggest.

      Perhaps a more positive outlook on the oppertunity to buy organic and a bit less complaint on the fact you are working on a budget, would help you connect and educate more of the ‘general public’. Which again, I understand to be your ultimate goal.

      Thank you again for your blog and efforts, it’s a wonderful cause and an wonderful vision!

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