I have a confession to make: Jeff and I don’t live on a budget.
This is not because we are rolling in dough, bathing in hundred dollar bills, lining the diaper pail with tens, wiping our tushes with twenties. No no, this is solely due to the fact that we are the laziest people you will ever meet.
We knew we needed to come up with a budget to stick by each month, and a few months into our marriage we began making one using, I think, a simple spreadsheet on our old, honkin’ clunker of a laptop. But we never finished it. And then we had a baby. And then we moved. And we just kept finding reasons to put off completing the thing and having to be held accountable for each dollar we spent.
But with our impending move looming (27 days!) (lease signed today!), and the new bills we’ll be taking on, we knew it was time. I’ll now be able to see on paper just how much (WAY TOO FRICKIN’ MUCH) money I spend at Target on a weekly basis, and hopefully be able to reign that in (thus sending Target’s sales into the red, surely).
I already know that I spend too much on groceries; I don’t need the stack of receipts and the spreadsheet to tell me that. I cannot imagine how this is possible, but last Wednesday I spent $228 dollars on food. Included in the items I bought were diapers, a pound of ground beef, two packages of chicken breasts, 3 bags of Halloween candy, multiple jars of baby food… and the rest was just the regular stuff. I saved $10 with coupons, but it still cost over $200 for food for a family of four. The kicker? Just four days later, I found myself back at the grocery store picking up “just a few things” to be able to cook dinners this week. Just a few things… and I spent another $35. Have food prices gone up that much?
Now, that past grocery shopping trip, and all the previous ones, were all done without sticking to any kind of budget. But no more. Our goal is to limit ourselves to $300 a month for groceries. I have no idea if this is realistic or not, but we’re soon going to find out. This morning, new budget in mind, I informed Jeff that we’d be “eating cheap” this week. This makes me sad, because for one thing, I love to try new recipes. Particularly ones I find here and here. Also, I like cooking healthy meals. Healthy and cheap are not synonymous. Which, WHY? Doesn’t make sense to me.
I tried to think of things I could cook this week that were both good for us and in line with our budget. Everything I came up with involves chicken in some form or another, which I don’t mind, I could eat chicken every night. But I’m hoping the rest of my family doesn’t get sick of it. And, variety, you know. It’s the spice. My problem: I have to do this AGAIN next week. Think of meals. That don’t involve lots of fat and calories, but do involve vegetables and whole grains… and are also low-cost… and oh, yeah, did I mention it’d be cool if they didn’t take lots of work? I don’t mind putting work into cooking dinner, but it’s not something I have the time to do on weeknights.
I know I am not the only one in this boat. This boat, it is extremely overcrowded, probably on the verge of sinking, I know. So I’m thinking I’ll start sharing the recipes I find that fit the bill, my bill, here. And PLEASE feel free to share any you may have! I am all about the cheap, and the not awfully unhealthy.
For dinner today I made curry chicken, sweet potatoes and coconut rice in the crock pot, the recipe for which can be found here. It was super easy, as just about everything is that involves the crock. The only thing needed for the recipe that I don’t normally stock in my kitchen was a can of coconut milk, so it was definitely easy on the budget, as well. And the consensus? DELISH. Well, Jeff and I thought so, anyway. Curry? Not exactly a friend to the 3-year-old’s pallet. He refused to eat it, opting instead for a peanut butter sandwich, thus resulting in No Dessert (apple crisp and vanilla ice cream; not healthy AT ALL but I’m not afraid of you, Jillian Michaels! Bring it!). So hopefully the rest of my 27 million chicken-ey meals this week will go over a little better with the kids. Don’t forget to leave me your ideas/suggestions in the comments!