Eat food. Not too much. Mostly Plants.Luke and I did our budgets (or spending plans, if you like that better) for the first quarter of 2009. We don't do a full, detailed budget for the quarter--we're usually about a month ahead on the detailed budget. However, we're finding that we're really cutting it very close every pay period on food, especially in the last few months. I know that food prices are going up, but I'm not sure that accounts for everything...
- Michael Pollan, In Defense of Food
We use the envelope system. That means when the envelope is empty, it's empty. We have to wait till next pay period to buy more food. I don't mind this if there's only a day before payday (there's always enough between the freezer and the pantry to get by). But in the first 15-day pay period of January, we blew our grocery money in the first week.
What's changed for us is that we read In Defense of Food, by Michael Pollan. And the fact is, real food is expensive. I could do like I did in college and eat Ramen noodles every day and catch scurvy (I didn't really). Joking aside, though--cheaper processed food for the savings now, or higher medical bills and insurance premiums later?
The last six months of 2008, we budgeted $500 for food per month. This did not account for eating out (separate envelope, with much less money in it). We eat most breakfasts and dinners at home and take our lunches to work. Is this too much?
According to the USDA's food plans for 2008, $500 consistently fell between the low-cost plan and the moderate-cost plan for food for each month of the year (December's figures are not available yet) for a family of two. $600, which is what we're considering bumping our food budget up to, is between the moderate-cost and the liberal plan.
We're concentrating on eating less meat, more vegetables and fruits, and spices. We're not really buying anything processed, with the exception of flour to make our own bread. Keeping Michael Pollan's Real Food tenants in mind, can this be done for $600 a month? How much do you think is appropriate for a family of two?