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Is it possible to eat well on a budget?

So yesterday I was perusing this site: http://www.100daysofrealfood.com/100-days-on-a-budget/

(So the word “site” just reminded me: if I ever type “Sight” instead of “site”, just keep in mind that I know the difference, but for some reason couldn’t focus my brain long enough to type the right word. Then forgive me for it. Thanks in advance.)

Basically, this woman decides to take her four person family and live on a budget of $125 a week– eating real foods only. Nothing processed, no refined anything, just natural food and boxed food with fewer than five (natural and whole grain) ingredients.

I was impressed, so I told my husband, “if that family of four can do it on $125 a week and eat almost no meat, surely we can do something similar on $150 a week and eat almost no meat.”

Then I realized (hours later) that our food budget is NOT $150 a week. It is $150 every TWO weeks, or $75 a week. Nevertheless, I am determined to do it. I think we can, at any rate. We shall see.

It starts…okay, yesterday. Here are the rules.

–The budget is $150 per pay period. It starts the day I receive my paycheck (either the last day of the month or the 15th) and ends the day before I get my next paycheck.

–I will do this for two months–March and April. We’ll see how it goes

–I cannot adhere to the real food thing. If my husband doesn’t get cheetoes and cookies, I very much doubt he’ll eat enough throughout the day to sustain life. But I will try to buy the “dirty dozen”(http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/summary/ ) as organic (yesterday I failed in this utterly), and to prepare meals that are generally healthy and as un-processed as possible.

–If this works, we’ll keep it going, and in June I’ll start buying fruits, veggies, and meat from the farmers’ market. Until then, it’s the regular grocery store, dear friends. We don’t have a whole foods, a central market, a Fresh Market, a Trader Joe’s, or anything like that here. We just have Kroger, Target, Brookshire’s, Albertson’s, and Wal-Mart (the latter of which I refuse to step inside).

–Any food already in my pantry, fridge, and freezer is fair game, and it doesn’t cost me anything to use it. Since the goal of this exercise is to be more efficient with my food buying habits and use the food I already have at my disposal, well— you can see how it doesn’t make sense to NOT use any food from my pantry.

–This also does not count eating out, for which we have budgeted $150 a pay period. I also have a hard time with that one.

SO, it starts now. I’ll try to remember to take pictures of what I buy, but for now you’ll just have to make do with a list of what I bought yesterday and how much it cost.

Krogers (Wednesday 2/29)

Red Tomatoes, one jewel package

Yellow grape tomatoes, one tub

Fresh basil, one package

1 Purple onion

1 jewel pack of mini sweet peppers

loaf of 9-grain bread

12 eggs

ham steaks

swiss cheese, 8 oz

Total: 24.34. Ouch.

Weight Watchers Meeting

Granola bars (Aloha Almond!)

Dark Chocolate Turtle Candy Bars

Total: 12.45.

Total spent: 36.79

Remaining: 113.21

For the sake of full disclosure, I’ll share my menu for the next two weeks. At least, what I hope will be my menu. I’m not very good at sticking to the plan.

Tonight: Subway! We have boot camp on Tuesday and Thursday nights, so I struggle to find something easy to make.

Friday: Eating out!

Saturday: Chili-cheese fries with homemade chili (but not homemade french fries. We bake the frozen kind in the oven. They don’t end up being that bad for you. We’ve already bought the french fries)

Sunday: Brinner (breakfast for dinner)

Monday: BBQ Turkey meatballs. See the recipe I posted last week.

Tuesday: Dirty brown rice with shrimp (I will post the recipe next Tuesday)

Wednesday: Mafia Spaghetti (marinara sauce with turkey italian sausage links and pasta)

Thursday: Subway! (again)

Friday: Hamburgers and french fries (or sweet potato. hmm)

Saturday: Date night dinner: Chicken w/ mustard cream sauce, smoked gouda mac and cheese, homemade rosemary bread, Julia child’s chocolate mousse

Sunday: Vietnamese Beef Salad

Monday: Baked buffalo wings, Light Loaded mashed potatoes

Tuesday: Hawaiian crock pot chicken, brown rice

Wednesday: Mexican Chicken Casserole

Thursday: PAYDAY!

What about you? Do you need to stick to a food budget? Maybe you are in desperate need of a financial overhaul. Care to join me? Or are you (as I suspect) going to wait and see if I fail miserably before trying it out yourself.

We’ll see how it goes!

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