Challenge of the Month: Setting a Food Budget

Yesterday while on facebook I got distracted by the articles they suggest I read. One thing led to another and five articles later I ended up reading one about setting a food budget. The guy had challenged himself to set a budget of $200 for a month for food (You can read his article here). I know I spend a lot of money on food (and coffee).As a college student I really shouldn’t be spending as much money as I do on food. The coffee part is okay though right? I mean having to sit through 3 hour lectures on Ancient Near Eastern languages is so much easier when you are caffeinated, especially early in the morning.

See! Coffee in the morning = happiness.

I never really though of being serious about a food budget since I am borderline vegan and fairly active (at least when winter isn’t killing me with lack of motivation to go into the  bitter abyss of the outside). Because of this I often justify that I need all that food. Then I though, I really should try to take this challenge. If anything it will help me save a little bit of money (to pay off student loans), force me to make a difference between want and need, and maybe help me to cut back on coffee (not that I need to).

True stuff.

To quote HIMYM, “Challenge accepted.” I never usually write a shopping list. Usually I go into the store and just start throwing every vegetable on the shelf into my shopping cart as well as things that look good or that I am craving. I don’t have a plan for what I will be making for the week but figure I’ll just eat what I want when I feel like it. Maybe this is why I constantly eat, even when I am not hungry. Perhaps this attempted food budget thing will force me to be more mindful of my eating and not compulsive. I do eat when I am not hungry, but chips and salsa are so freaking tasty! As can everything else in my fridge.

So last night I made a shopping list. This will force me to stay on budget. $200 a month will equal out to $50 a week. After making the list I counted up how much it should cost and it came to almost $90. Holy wow, this is not going to work I thought. I kept going through the list and crossed things off and add things on. Then I scrapped that list and started over. The next list had two categories: things I need and things I want. Things I want were such things like salsa and chips (honestly chips and salsa are addicting). After making this second list I added up the “things I need” category and it came to just under $50. The only problem was that coffee wasn’t on the list. Fast forward to today when I was at the store.

My cart had everything that was on the “things I need” list and a few things from the “things I want list.” But then I stopped and forced myself to reevaluate the situation. Of course I had chips and salsa in there (seriously addicted to these). I thought about it and finally put them back. I didn’t need them (although definitely wanted them). But whenever I get chips and salsa there is a 99% chance I will demolish them in a day (maybe two). Quite a few other unnecessary items that were originally in my cart were also put back.

Finally the moment of judgment came, would I  be under the $50 for the week?

$46.47…. I don’t think I’ve ever had a trip to the grocery store this low.


Although I shouldn’t get too excited just yet. There is a possibility I will lose my resolve in a few days. We’ll see. Until next time… be happy, the sun is out.


2 thoughts on “Challenge of the Month: Setting a Food Budget

  1. It feels like there was a cliffhanger here ;-P… what happened with the coffee?? You said it wasn’t on your ‘need’ list… did you get some?


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