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Thursday, February 21, 2008

Groceries and Self-Imposed Rules

I think I might make it through the month sticking to my very strict grocery budget. And that includes spending grocery budget money on a bottle of wine for a party I was invited to! I'm pretty impressed with myself, actually. For months, I struggled to keep my grocery budget under $200, and when 2008 hit, I just said that I wasn't going to try to keep the spending under $200. I was going to keep the spending under $200. Made it last month, and I should make it this month. I've got about $25 left for the month, and technically, I think I could make it through the month without spending any more on groceries. I will want to buy more fresh fruit and veggies.

I've been very good about taking a list to the store, and only buying what's on the list. I stray from the list only if something that I use regularly is on sale, so I stock up a bit. I have also started carrying a calculator with me to the store, so that I have a good idea about how much I'm spending and how that's affecting my budget. It really makes you re-think picking up that $2.50 bag of whatever. And on the other hand, it makes me realize that yes, I can "splurge" and buy that extra bag of Craisins to mix with my oatmeal. It lets me be both frugal and reasonable with my spending.

One thing I do struggle with is all the "rules" that I'm trying to follow while grocery shopping. As has been well documented, eating healthy isn't always cheap. At this time of year in the D.C. area, produce is ridiculously expensive. I can't wait until the Farmer's Market in my area returns (yes, there are other Farmer's Markets in the area, but given the time and cost to get there, it's not really worth it to me to make the trip). I still continue to eat healthy and just let my finances suffer the consequences. And then, there's the idea of staying environmentally friendly. I like to buy organic. I like to buy things with reduced packaging. I even bring my own bags for produce.

All combined, those are a lot of rules to keep for myself, and sometimes it's hard to not go crazy and just buy an expensive, unhealthy, overpackaged, processed frozen meal.

Ok, it's not that hard, because that sort of thing no longer sounds appetizing. But it can be hard to buy healthy, organic, environmentally friendly food that is still budget-friendly. I just remind myself that it's all worth it.

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