Thursday, March 1, 2012

three things thursday

1. Last night's test run was a whopping thirty minutes of serious success.  My legs feel a little beat up afterwards and my body in general feels like it has completely forgotten how to move all the parts in the right places at the right time, but other than some creaks, it was pain-free.  It all feels very tentative but progress is being made.  Insert adjective of your choice to describe incredible relief here.  If I continue to bounce back, I'll have only missed two weeks of running, which while unfortunately timed based on my upcoming half marathon, is actually only a little blink, sneeze and you'll miss it, a tiny heartbeat in IM training.  I also appear to not have taken huge steps backwards in my aerobic development through HR training like I feared, as I did not have to run 12-minute-miles to keep my HR under 145 last night.  Super big chest bumps to my coach for that one (and for dealing with the emotional roller coaster that comes along with an injured and panicking athlete with a very serious potty mouth).  


2. I've decided that I'm probably going to stay out of the Newtons until after CdA.  While I love how comfy they are and felt great running in them, my continuing-to-be-super-tight calves are begging for mercy.  I want to take the time to actually transition into them properly, and I really can't afford any more 2-3 week setbacks due to shoe experimentation.  I spent most of the last two months rotating between the Brooks Ravenna and the Lady Isaac, so I think I'm going to stick with the Ravenna and throw in the 2160s every once in a while when my feet need some squishy loving.  The biggest thing I'm sad about is that they don't come in a more blinding color.  


3. Yesterday I tallied up how much we spent last month (February) on food for the two of us, and it wasn't pretty.  We spent $802.89, and that doesn't count the things we buy at Target (across the street) because I couldn't pull that info out of our credit card bill.  Of the $802.89, we spent $489.77 on groceries.  We had one nice dinner out with friends ($85), one nice dinner out by ourselves ($55) and the rest was lunches/burritos/bagels/brunch and the like.  


So, I'm a little horrified.  Granted, one of us is training for a marathon and one of us is training for an IM, but that still seems quite excessive (this tally also did not include training nutrition).  The poet and I talked about it at length last night and we're going to try and do a few things differently moving forward.  It's probably a bit embarrassing, but the area of greatest expense in the grocery store is probably cheese, or even just dairy (cough ice cream cough cough).  Most of the meals we cook at home include cheese in it somewhere, and often it's pretty expensive cheese - fresh parmesan, gorgonzola, etc.  We're obviously not going to be able to cut out dairy entirely, because that would be completely insane, but we're going to try to be a little more aware about how much of it we eat.  The second-largest (or maybe the largest) section that we spend money on is definitely fresh produce, and I have no problem with this or intent to change, other than to maybe keep an eye out for sales a little better.  For this month, we've decided to not make a ton of significant changes yet but instead just track our budget as we go through the month.  I think that simple awareness will help us make better choices as the month goes on, especially on those night when we're both zapped and it's so much easier to order $30 of Thai food than it is to get in the kitchen and cook.  After this month, we'll talk about some changes we can make to get that number down.  We are going to try to pick a number and stick with it for "budgeted eating out."  We really don't go out that often, but it's clearly an area that we can improve on.


So share with me, blog friends.  Do you have a monthly food budget?  How much do you budget for how many people?  How much of your budget goes to cheese?

34 comments:

  1. now that phil and i arent training our bill is lower- but we always make sure to plan in advance and make meals like chili that is filling, good, cheap and lasts for a few meals. we decide on the meals based on what is on sale that week.

    last month he bought me $45 worth of cheese and crackers. woops.

    we also spend a shit ton on milk since we go through 5+ gallons a week. good thing milk is only $2 a gallon here!

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    1. My milk is $9.50 a gallon! My family of 6 drinks about 4 gallons a week. Basic cheddar is about $8/lb and we need at least 3lb/week. Yogurt is $5 for a 2lb tub and we eat 4. When you work in ice cream and the occasional sour cream, ricotta, etc we spend more than $100 a week on just dairy.

      I believe folks in the US spend a far smaller % of money on food than they ever have in the past.

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  2. I think I spend more than that and I live by myself and don't eat out often so I think it's reasonable. Most of my expenses are fresh produce and high quality lean meats. Ok and artisan chocolate. I justify if by remembering that I save money by not paying for cable or makeup or manicures or whatever. So I guess I have no real suggestions except that you could just spend the money on food and save money elsewhere because high quality food is with it especially when you are hardcore training.

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  3. If Mint is telling me the truth, I don't even want to talk about how much I spend on food. I usually spend whatever I need to on food (knowing what meals i'm going to make, how many portions each meal will serve, etc). I'm starting to break away from "premium" stores (Fresh Market, Whole Foods, both of which are less than a mile from my apartment) and driving much farther to get to Shoppers and save the cash. I also roll in pet food, paper towels, shampoo, toothpaste into my grocery bill too (do you separate that?)

    As for cheese, I just made homemade mac & cheese with two pounds of cheddar, so i've shot my cheese budget for the month.

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  4. did you sneak into my house and take those numbers off the spreadsheet i have on our dining room table? cuz they look almost exact. i wish i hadnt totaled it up to begin with, but omg there needs to be some sort of change. (just not to the cheese, obviously).
    and yes. ravennas. in more neon.

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  5. Mike and I have very much a similar food budget scenario going, I do all the shopping and act like I am feeding a family of 6 when it is just the two of us. We order out once a week and go to dinner a couple times a month...I started looking for sales and who has what cheaper so I do the holy trinity shopping (Wegmans, Trader Joes and Whole Foods) and now try to go with a list and hit Whole Foods last which gets me in the most trouble, good luck, you just inspired me to start assessing the budget there.

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  6. I spend a ridiculous amount on food. But I'm not going to change it. It's a pretty key investment in the quality of my training, is the way I see it.

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  7. The biggest issue I have with spending money on food is not how much I spend but how much goes to waste. I live by myself and no matter what, half of the produce I buy goes to waste. Whether I buy it at the grocery store or at a farmer's market, even if I eat it every day, making little single serve portions always means that by the end of the week, I have rotting piles of spinach, arugula, kale and so on and it DRIVES ME CRAZY! I spent a bout $150 a month on groceries which isn't bad but I know that if I bought what I actually ate, I would spend so much less than that.

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  8. Keep healing Katie! You make me want to assess our food--does this also include dog food, cause you have 3 mouths to feed!

    Btw, I have a pair of 10.5 Brooks Ravennas barely used if you need another--they just don't work for me. SUPER cheap.

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  9. while i haven't actually budgeted it all out, i know for a fact that when i bring my lunch every day it saves me a ton of money. i also try to buy generic when i can. spend money on the produce, save money on any generics you feel ok about buying. i love cheese myself but i don't buy a ton of it b/c i know i'll just eat it all. that in itself saves me money. (all of this is b/c i'm ballin' on a budget anyway! lol)

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  10. just go to the grocery store and steal the food!!!

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  11. oh phew, for a minute I thought you were going to cut out dairy. We would no longer be friends.

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  12. A lot of my budget is cheese. I could probably make a whole pie chart (mmm, pie) of my cheese spending based on types of cheese.

    One of my tricks for avoiding the takeout monster is to pick one afternoon and cook a crapton of things that freeze. Sweet potato gnocchi is one of my favorites, because the recipe I use (http://epi.us/2b29Qw) makes something like 120 little gnocchi, and divided up into baggies in the freezer, it's the quickest and easiest meal base I can imagine. Ditto for: meatballs, chili, burgers, and frozen packs of pre-cooked Trader Joe's pasta.

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  13. When life changes gave me the "opportunity" to restructure my "spending plan" food was hard hit. I cut cable, phone, entertainment with ease but food?
    Well, in fact, one of the first things I did was stop buying as much expensive (and entirely yummy) cheese. I STILL shop at my fancy grocery store, STILL buy organic milk & produce...but very little eating out, try to limit the prepackaged stuff. Interestingly, I've started going out more AMD buying more prepack crap a d wouldn't you know, Ive also gained some weight. Hmm, correlation?
    Thanks for the reminder. I can and should do better!

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  14. As I mentioned on Twitter, I'm too scared to see how much we spend on food each month. Obviously, we don't follow a budget right now.
    Also, "budgeted eating out" made me giggle.

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  15. We live in an area where eating out is sooo easy. And we were spending a lot of money eating out. So we decided to limit ourselves to $300 a month and get it out in cash. If we run out, there's no more eating out. We found, however, that we don't spend all of that and then we take that money at the end of the month and put it in our pockets.

    As for sports nutrition, we buy in bulk - a box of gels or a canister of Gatorade to mix. It saves us a lot of money.

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  16. I think we spend about the same amount as you guys do. Our g-bill is usually between 120 - 180 every week. Plus the lunches and we go out to eat once a week. I have tried to get Jason to bring in his lunch, but it never works.

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  17. Jason at Cook, train, eat, race has a very cool "Frugal Grocer" project going on at the moment - may be interesting for you to look at? http://cooktraineatrace.com/frugal-grocer-week-6/

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  18. We tried to track this for a while but got fed up. Instead we segmented how we have $ in our accounts and only use our debit card for these kinds of day-to-day purchases (food, gas, toiletries, etc.) Most months we're able to get by without running out of funds in that account but in the event that we do, we just suck it up and get creative with the things we have on hand.

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  19. We have been trying to cut back on the food expenses lately. The main thing I did that saved a ton was to bring lunch from home every day. Kind of a pain at first to put it all together but if you can pack up a few days of lunches at a time, it gets easier. We are probably about as close to the budget as we could get without resorting to beans every night and spend about $100 a week (for the 2 of us) and some of that tends to be dairy...the frozen kind :)

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  20. Wow! That's quite the grocery bill I get angry when we spend more than $90 at the grocery store for two of us... I haven't even tried adding up the eating out.. The things is I hardly eat out and he doesn't tell me most of the times he does...

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  21. Yeah, good food is where we spend our money, too. And cheese is definitely a necessity. However, if you're making pizza with lots of cheese, lasagna and cheesy casserole type stuff, that will certainly add up fast compared to meals that just use a generous grating of good parm or a few dollops of goat cheese.
    I also think going out for lunch is rarely worth what it costs. I'd rather spend twice as much on a nice dinner.

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  22. Ouf food budget is about $1000-$1200 CAD for 2 adults and 2 pre-teen boys. We spend most of it in fresh produce and meats and we always look at the labels to try and buy "healthy" stuff (no HFCS, low fat, no big words that we cannot understand). We go to our local grocery store which is in the middle price range, but if I were to shop at Whole Foods, I would probably spend the double. We used to buy a lot of cheese (we're French, merde!) but we gave that up and we only buy cheese maybe once every 4-6 months when we have a party or a special dish with a lot of cheese. Since we both want to lose weight, not eating cheese helps a lot!

    Happy to hear that your running is going well. My calves are also my weak spot, I can never seem to relax them and if any pain sneaks in, it makes me panic big time. I did pull a muscle in my calf last year and since them I am totally freaked out. I found Adidas Glide shoes to be the best for me.

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  23. I spend more than that on food, and I think it's so worth it. I am working on using all my produce before it goes bad though, which is so damn hard when you buy the local, fresh stuff. Real tomatoes don't last a month, you say?

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  24. Can you make any cuts to the "lunches/burritos/bagels/brunch" spending? I found that was the easiest place for me to cut. I was buying meals out of laziness instead of using the food that I had already purchased and had at home. I try to buy lunch only when I'm meeting someone and do my best to avoid the temptation of takeout when I'm tired after work.

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  25. My husband and I spend about $50/week on groceries with an extra $50/every other week when our son visits and $33/month at Costo (average). Hub is training for a half IM in June and is a HUGE cheese fan.

    Things we do

    *buy our bulk items at Costco (4lb bag of quinoa for $10, cheese, tortillas- 30 or more for $5, peanut butter, honey, oats, etc.)

    *keep our left overs on the top shelf and use them within 3 days (hub routinely eats top shelf food for lunch or late night feedings)

    *smoothies and/or pudding over ice cream

    *give our son $25 to make dinner when he's here (He is the best 13 year old chef and we'd rather eat his food than eat out!... Thai and Indian from scratch? Yes, please!)

    *hub lives on burritos/wraps and can turn anything into amazing food (for him) with a bit of cheese and some chutney

    *Trader Joes is our friend: 1 lb corn pasta is $1.49 (as opposed to the quinoa/corn pasta for $2.69), hemp powder is cheaper, etc.

    *Baked potatoes- these are a staple meal for us and easily topped with sauteed vegs and/or meat (and cheese for the hub)

    *Sale shopping- we will spend $20 or so on stuff when it's dirt cheap and then stock it away. This results in the $30-50/week grocery bills for us.

    *We make nearly everything we eat dinner and lunch wise. If we had a garden, we'd grow our own vegs, too. Maybe when we move soon!

    Something else we're doing... 10-20% of our weekly grocery bill is food for travel for his half IM. We're driving there (Buffalo Springs Lake in TX) and taking 2 crock pots, 1 blender, and an electric skillet to cook all of our food on the road (saving $ and health). We plan to have all of the food purchased before we leave, with the exception of fresh fruit and vegs (and maybe some meat and cheese).

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  26. It's expensive to eat healthy. Glad to see you're not going to cut down on produce because of the expense. I look for produce on sale but if i really want something i get it. I don't eat out much and that helps the food budget a lot. I don't buy much cheese - like it but no big thing. But there are things I like a lot that cost a lot I am not willing to give up. It's all a balancing act.

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  27. Let's see, we average $150 a week at the grocery store + $100 per week eating out (family of four) + $150 a month at costco, so you sound like you are doing great LOL. We go through milk, bread, and apples like crazy. I do try to buy in bulk (we have an eighth of a grass fed steer in the freezer) and cook in bulk so that other than our Friday night out, we don't eat out or order in.

    Glad to hear your body seems to be healing!

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  28. Nice job on the run!

    Does food include drink (like alcohol)? Because if that is the case, we definitely spend 800 benjamins a month, and maybe more. We definitely try to cut back on our eating out or doing take-out, and we try to prepare breakfast and lunch and most dinners at home. However, I refuse to nitpick too much when it comes to our regular food budget, especially when it comes to fish and meat (I won't buy crappy and cheap fish and meat for health and environmental reasons).

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  29. FYI- I was at DSW over in Springfield yesterday and they had a shit-ton of Ravennas for about $54? Not sure if you need more, but thought I'd pass it along.

    I can't input on the food/ grocery front. We are HORRIBLE. Like too afraid to even look at it. I know it has to change, but it's just so daunting :(

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  30. When John and I started training for our first IM - I noticed the same thing about the grocery bill. There is a noticeable trend between weekly hours training and weekly grocery bill. It's one of the hidden costs of Ironman.

    I try to use coupons, catch the sales, etc. - but really, it's just plain pricey. Jason at cooktraineatrace has some good tips with his frugal grocer series.

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  31. We do use an envelope system for the budget and pay for everything in cash. Grocery store is $700 per month, and restaurants are another $200 per month. But that includes feeding the kids, and when we established the budget, we did put a few restrictions in, including limiting how many times we go out to eat. We also stopped buying meat at the grocery store, so all of our at-home meals are vegetarian. You'd be surprised how big of a difference that makes. Kelley also started using coupons extensively, so every trip to the grocer is usually only paying for about 60% of the regular price.

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  32. I don't think that $802 is out of line for two people for a month's worth of food. I actually budgeted for $800 when planning out how much Greg and I needed for our "house account". In reality, we spend about $525 on Groceries, $150 on going out for dinners, and about $200 on lunches during the workweek. Eating healthy costs more, too. If you are buying just processed, instant meals, it will be cheaper than fresh fish and produce!

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  33. My husband and I are both training for Ironman Canada (with a 70.3 up first on May 5). Our grocery bill is between $600-650/month. DISCLAIMER: That includes our booze, which is admittedly significant...

    We both eat breakfast at home and I bring my lunch from home every day (G's lunch is subsidized by his employer). We eat dinner at home 6/7 nights. We belong to a CSA for fresh fruits and veggies, which might be more expensive (but worth it to support local farmers).

    As for nights when takeout seems easier, I've tried and tested "phone it in" meals that we can have at home. I've seen others mentioned making a few things ahead of time and defrosting them: enchiladas, chili, etc... I do this too on days when I'm in the mood to cook and have the extra ingredients. I've also found a few gems at Trader Joe's that fit the bill -- the mandarin chicken in the frozen section is very good. I bake it as directed and mix it with some steamed some broccoli and serve with brown rice. Another go-to is the Chipotle-Marinated Chicken Kebabs. They're done in 15 mins on the grill/broiler from frozen and easy to pair with any fresh veggies (or cheese!) you need to use up. TJ's also sells a pre-made cioppino in the frozen section that is quite tasty with a side of CHEESY BREAD.

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