Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Eating Away At The Budget

October 1. A new start. For our budget, anyway.


The most immediate problem with me getting pregnant again has been money. No, not because I feel the need to go out and spend a pile on new baby gear and stuff. I've spend a total of less than $140, and $100 of that was on the new car seat we had to get. Is it the pile of medical bills we're now getting to pay in advance? In truth, that doesn't help. Especially since the little guy is due in January. We'll get to top off this year's insurance deductible but then the actual delivery will fall on next year's deductible, so basically we get to pay it twice. Ask me if that makes me happy... BUT, that all comes out of savings, not our month to month budget, so that's not really the issue.

The monthly budget issue is the same one we had when I was preggers with Kaycie. And, to be honest, before. And after. It's food. We eat out too much. I spend too much at the grocery store without a good plan. And while I'm in the first half (or more, this time) of pregnancy, I can't muster up the energy to cook much. So we eat out even more. And I don't have the mental capacity to pay a lot of attention to what I need vs what I actually buy at Walmart. We end up using the debit card more and more often. And the budget spirals out of control. Cash really is key to our household budget.

The nausea part of this pregnancy eased up greatly about a month ago. My energy level hasn't gone up much this time, but I'm having to chase a toddler this time around. Still, it's time to get things back on track. A few weeks ago we sat down and reevaluated the budget to come up with a new plan starting October 1. Last week I sat down and made out 4 weeks worth of menus (including some leeway for eating out once a week or so for dinner and a few times each week for lunch) and the equivalent grocery list. So far so good. Granted, it's only the 4rd of the month, but we only ate out once over the weekend (while we were out of town visiting Greg's parents) and I have something planned every night this week. I feel like I have some control over our food spending, which is a good thing since next week we cut our weekly cash withdrawal for food and household stuff by $50. Gulp. BUT, I should have $50 left over this week, so maybe that's no so beyond reasonable.

I had gotten really good at doing  this before I got pregnant, so  hopefully I stay on track. At least for a while. Until MicroTot arrives, then it'll all spiral again for a few months while we enjoy sleep deprivation and a lot of fast food. But at least I've come to accept this in advance, so we can prepare for it! Maybe I should take the extra $50 from this week and start a "Food Fund" for January...


Allison said...

Budgeting in an economy where it seems like things are going up in price CONSTANTLY is very difficult.

FOUR WEEKS? Geezum petes! How do you do that?! Guess I'm gonna have to get you to tutor me in the art of menu planning.

Susan said...

The prices may be changing but our income isn't, so I find myself adjusting what we eat to fit. With Kaycie's milk consumption, that's not easy! I'm buying 3-4 gallons a week! One thing I've gotten very conscious of doing is making smaller portions of meat with more sides. One night this weekend I grilled steak, but it was an inexpensive Swiss cut steak and I bought one big enough to cut in half and have two reasonable portions out of it. Then I made salad and bread and grilled pineapple to go with it. That was plenty, and cheap because I only bought one $4 steak! I have also discovered that I can buy a 5lb package of ground beef, go ahead and brown it all off and make 6-7 freezer bag portions out of it. If I buy in 1lb packages I use 1 pound of meat in each recipe I cook with it. Dividing up the 5lb pack means I use less meat in each recipe and get one to two extra meals out of it!

The rest of my response to this got ridiculously long, so I'll make a post out of my menu plan tips. :)