By in Personal

Budgeting for 2016: Starting with food expenses

Last year around this time, I was preparing myself and my home to move RGD in temporarily, when he had his heart valve and aortic replacement surgery. It meant that I had to go through my freezer and cupboards and plan regular meals to keep him healthy and eating well for a quicker recovery.

Some of you may even remember my "Freezer Mystery Meals" series. (It started with this article .) RGD being here helped me get through a freezer stocked with things that I did not know I had, often unlabeled.

I cannot bring myself to throw food away, but I am not generally fond of leftovers, and therein lies the problem for me. The freezer gets stocked, I buy too much to replace the fresh foods, and then I eat out too often.

In 2015, his being here for the end of January and several weeks in February, helped get my freezer more manageable and I know exactly what is in it nowadays, no longer storing unlabeled foods or going overboard in buying in bulk things that need to be frozen.

I am on a mission for 2016 to start being more conscious of what I eat and what I spend, especially going out for meals. My food expenses eating at restaurants has gotten way out-of-hand, and I have put on about 10 extra pounds this year.

I decided to start with my grocery purchase yesterday:

  • Green leaf lettuce
  • Avocado
  • Yellow onion
  • Green bell pepper
  • Red bell pepper
  • Pears, one each of four varieties
  • English cucumber
  • Beetroot, 1.25 lbs.
  • Ginger root, .5 lb.
  • Green cabbage
  • Crimini button mushrooms, .25 lb.
  • Jar of peanut butter

The most expensive on this list was the small jar of peanut butter at $2.49. I paid $15.48 for everything on this list.

When I look at this list, I see healthy choices, and many possibilities. I have a lot already in my kitchen to work with:

  • Salmon, halibut, shrimp,and chicken in my freezer
  • Eggs, plain Greek yogurt, and cheese in the refrigerator
  • Pasta, rice, beans, and oats in the pantry
  • Canned tomatoes and the variety of other things to be found in my kitchen--e.g. apples, walnuts, carrots, boxed broth, tomato sauce

I should be able to feed myself for little extra money spent in January. I plan to account for it all, as I spend it, just to watch for my patterns.

Do YOU overspend on food? Throw food away? Have "Mystery Meals" in your freezer?

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©2015 Coral Levang

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MegL wrote on December 31, 2015, 9:09 AM

We do not generally overspend on food and there is very little waste in this house. Most of the credit has to go to my husband. He was the one preparing meals while I was out at work. We didn't have that much money, so he made sure we didn't spend too much on food, yet we all ate healthily. Eggs were a big component of our diet when the children were young. I still love eggs.

wolfgirl569 wrote on December 31, 2015, 9:13 AM

Have a few mystery meats, but in my defense I did not buy them. I inherited them when my MIL passed away. I dont think I over spend but know I could do better by just fixing just enough for us as often the left overs go to the chickens

CalmGemini wrote on December 31, 2015, 9:39 AM

What a good,informative article.All details of your posts in pp made available just by clicking once. .A good start for 2016.Happy New Year!

missfortune wrote on December 31, 2015, 9:56 AM

I have two refrigerators and a chest freezer. The money that I save stocking up on things that are on sale as well as game meat (deer, boar and duck) is unreal. Plus I use my Food Saver to pack them and label them. I too need to limit my take away / delivery expenses this year - my waist needs a break LOL

markgraham wrote on December 31, 2015, 10:04 AM

Making a budget is hard at times for one really never knows how much to make for each area of the budget. I just like to estimate with how much I spend and save, but I am careful with my money I make.
I do not have any mystery meals in my freezer.

Rufuszen wrote on December 31, 2015, 10:57 AM

I have greatly cut back on the numer of meals I have out. This coming year, I think I will start carrying sandwiches with me on my expeditions. That should save a few bob!

CoralLevang wrote on December 31, 2015, 11:22 AM

Like everything else, eggs are getting rather expensive at $2 to $5 a dozen, but they are still less expensive than anything else, it seems. Pork seems to be about the least expensive behind chicken for meats.I eat a lot of beans and grain, too.

CoralLevang wrote on December 31, 2015, 11:26 AM

CalmGemini I think you are just two hours from your new year! Happy 2016! and thank you for your kind support this past year!

CalmGemini wrote on December 31, 2015, 11:30 AM

Yes you are right.Thank you for your wishes.

CoralLevang wrote on December 31, 2015, 11:31 AM

As simple as peanut butter or cheese on bread saves a lot of money.

Rufuszen wrote on December 31, 2015, 12:04 PM

I love peanut butter sarnies, cheese and tomato is good too!

CoralLevang wrote on December 31, 2015, 1:47 PM

You are one of the few outside of the US that I know that likes PBJ's!

Rufuszen wrote on December 31, 2015, 2:04 PM

So many people don't understand good food!

Paulie wrote on December 31, 2015, 11:46 PM

Eating out too often can be costly and often is not the best for my health since i am watching cholesterol and salt. The best food I have is what my wife cooks for me.

CoralLevang wrote on January 1, 2016, 10:23 AM

Of course, it is too costly. I eat out, but watch chol & sodium, as well. Have it down to a good science, but there are better things for me to spend my money on or for which to save. Unfortunately, I don't have a wife to cook for me, and I do not like cooking for just myself.

Paulie wrote on January 2, 2016, 1:47 AM

I guess I got married because I hated often eating out and cooking just for myself.

AliCanary wrote on January 3, 2016, 7:38 AM

I think what we do as Americans, with our car culture, is locate these vast supermarkets out in the suburbs where we live, and then we go there maybe once a week and stock up on lots of things that are full of preservatives. We also don't spare any time to actually cook fresh meals from scratch. This is opposed to the model of Europeans and Asians, who live within walking distance of a market that sells fresh, locally-grown produce, to which they may go every single day to purchase that evening's meal, ensuring regular exercise and a steady supply of non-processed, nutritious food. With that in mind, there's nary a question as to why Americans have more of a problem with obesity and ill health than people from other countries. I'm glad you are identifying a way to tackle the problem, potentially solving your problem with "waist" as well as waste!