Friday, August 12, 2011

Budgeting I: Food & Booze

Something I've already learned about starting a series on a blog -- don't announce on a Thurs. that round 1 will begin on Friday. I'll get it right next time!

But I'm sticking to it and talking about how we budget for food and booze. Or at least how I'd like for us to.

The wine is sacrosanct in our house - it's not one of those things we feel willing to cut out entirely, or even in half.

I've mentioned before that both of our families are entertaining families with savvy backgrounds in beer and wine. I will readily admit that since graduating from my Master's program, I drink A LOT less. Which is great for both my liver and our budget. However, now that we are entertaining regularly, we've started exploring with cocktails so our "bar" requires a bit more specific maintenance and upkeep.

When Mike and I met he was living in Sonoma County. I think it's perfectly reasonable that we belong to one wine club. This costs us close to $200 every six months. When we lived in DC, we could readily go to Trader Joe's to restock on wine for very little money. Since we drink less and TJs isn't as easy of an option, we buy a lot less wine. But it's summer and it's frickin' hot outside so beer is a bit more in right now! Excluding bar maintenance (hard liquor) we spend on average, $100 per month on beer and wine for the house.

Food used to be a lot more variable but we've found great ways to reduce costs. I know people grocery shop in tons of different ways. We having a Saturday morning ritual where we scour our cookbooks and the internets for great recipes. We pick 5 or 6, depending on what our plans are and jot the ingredients down from those. Otherwise we have a few staples. I'm a coffee drinker and I need my half and half. For breakfast we'll alternate between bagels and cereal. In a perfect world we spend less than $150 per week on groceries (excluding alcohol). Food is very important for us and we love to cook! Eating out is rarely an unplanned affair so I know we won't break the bank (at least not all the time) without meaning to.

In order to do get under the $150 we make 2 grocery store stops. The bulk of our shopping is done at Whole Foods. I prefer their produce and find prices to always be comparable when you purchase their store brand. Meats, for the most part, are bought at Safeway or Giant, depending on what it is we want to eat that week.

I find that we go over budget when we have to buy pantry items - oils, vinegars, baking ingredients etc.

Once I actually allotted a figure to our budget, we could find ways to keep to it! We also try to drastically limit middle of the week shopping trips or make sure there's room for them in our grocery budget.
I know I've talked about Mint before. Seriously, go use it. It's how I make sure we aren't going over in any of the budget categories.

How much do you allot for food? booze?

If you're think we're crazy for spending as much as we do, what do you spend this kind of money on instead?


Michelle Parker said...

We maybe spend around $50 to $75 a month on alcohol for the house but we also go out AT LEAST once a weekend, usually two or three times a week. We probably spend around $300 a month of alcohol. I'm going to guess it's because we are both young still, but hopefully this habit fades away.

beefmaster said...

Way to go posting before 10am on a Friday morning!

I only spend around $150 a month on groceries, not counting beer and the occasional bottle of wine. But then again I'm living the lifestyle of a housed hobo...

Anna said...

Woah $150/month. I think I was able to do that in college -- maybe.

Also, thanks for the pre-10 AM compliment. I'm trying to take this thing seriously.