One of my personal goals for 2017 is to get a better understanding of my money - what's coming in vs what's going out. When I was a school teacher, it was easy for me to have the school put a little away each paycheck into my retirement account without me even seeing it (and they'd match it, woop!). Now that I'm a solo entrepreneur, I pay myself a weekly salary and for some reason, there doesn't seem to be a lot of extra cash floating around to squirrel away in an emergency fund and retirement, so I'd like to make a change. The first area I want to focus on is groceries.
My grocery bill for one is $150 per week. This baffled me. I know I eat pretty clean and healthy, and I know it's expensive to eat that way, but dang. The goal is to see if I can cut it down (even just a few bucks!) per week and put that extra bit towards savings. However, there's a caveat. I do not want to compromise the quality of my food.
A little background: I believe our health is our greatest wealth. After having a very serious illness, taking longterm antibiotics for said illness, healed my gut and balanced my hormones from the devastation that took place from the antibiotics, I finally have my health back and I refuse to go backwards. I am, admittedly, a bit high on the cray scale when it comes to food because my body is still pretty sensitive (if I go out to eat and they've used canola oil to cook with, I get the worst stomach ache).
My diet: A typical day goes like this: a cup of bone broth (use code yogabycandace for $5 off) when I first wake up, then breakfast which is usually spinach and egg scramble, and sprouted toast and fruit. About two hours later, I have coffee with raw milk and I have a snack which is usually homemade yogurt with sprouted granola. Lunch is a grass-fed piece of meat, fresh veggies, and a grain like quinoa with sauerkraut. After I workout I'll have a protein shake. Dinner is another version of lunch, and then for dessert I usually have dark chocolate. I'll drink water throughout the day and put a little something extra in it like lemon, pure cranberry, or beet kvass. I also usually have a matcha tea at some point during the day, and right before bed I drink calm. My current diet is working very well for me and I refuse to change my diet in order to save money. For example, I'm not interested in buying beans instead of meat to save money. Beans are extremely tough on the digestive system if they're not soaked, and it's hard on the body to extract the nutrients from them because of this. They might be easy for you to digest, but my digestive system is still coming back from all the abuse I'd put it through from the heavy medications, so I'd like to continue healing and support it with a diet that I know works for me.
Going out to eat: I rarely go out to eat - mostly because my body is really sensitive to conventional cooking oils they use in restaurants like canola oil (our bodies literally can't even recognize canola oil and don't know what to do with it or how to break it down - it's just that some bodies show symptoms right away like mine and others might just feel mildly uncomfortable). When I do go out to eat, I try to aim for farm to table style places, or brunch. It's hard to screw up eggs and bacon, right?! I also don't drink very often. Maybe a few times per year. I had a traumatic experience while drinking one time and I probably have PTSD or something from it because I hate the way I feel when I am buzzed. Hate. So it's a very rare occasion that I'll drink. So thankfully, due to both of those things, I don't spend a lot of my food money going out.
Shopping habits: There's a Whole Foods on the way home from my gym, so I usually go once per day. I read this ridiculous article on saving on groceries that suggested buying food once per month (WHAT?!) will help you save, but that's not been my experience. Well, truth be told, I've never purchased all my food for the month in one sitting, but I used to buy food three times a week. I wound up wasting a lot of the food because it either went bad, or I forgot I had it. In Europe, where I spent a lot of time the last few years, people have tiny refrigerators and therefore shop once a day or once every two days. In doing that, I realized that I buy only what I need and nothing goes to waste - neither food nor money! Unfortunately, I've been buying all my food at Whole Foods because it's convenient, but I know I can do better. Each time I go, I spend about $23-$30 dollars a trip.
How I shop: I try to shop the perimeter. That's where the freshest food is. The only food I buy in the center is usually a sprouted granola and chocolate - and don't get me wrong, it's not because I don't want to eat the cookies and cereals, it's just that when I do, I don't feel great. I can eat a bowl of cereal now and then, or when I'm out with friends and there is conventional candy and stuff around, I will definitely eat my fair share of m&m's. When there's a birthday party, I will have a piece of conventional cake, etc, but I can't have them in my house because if I snack on those things day after day, I notice low-level inflammation starting to brew, stomach issues, and headaches arise after even just a few days of snacking on those sorts of things. When it comes to meat, I aim to get grass-fed, pasture-raised meat. Fish needs to be wild caught, not farm raised. Butter and any other dairy products need to be from grass-fed, pasture-raised cattle. Produce, unless it has a thick skin, needs to be organic. Eggs need to be pasture-raised.
Indulgences: If I want cookies or muffins or something that like, I will usually make my own "healthy" versions, using sprouted flour as the base, non-gmo baking soda, soy free chocolate chips, etc. This is how my mom baked for us as kids so I've grown to actually crave the "healthier" versions of things. It's so crazy how your taste buds adapt over time. When I taste funfetti cake, for example, it tastes like chemicals to me. So crazy.
The experiment: Since I'm shopping for one and trying to cut costs, I spent the last two weeks hyperaware about the cost of things when I was at the grocery store. If I knew I needed to get some sort of meat, I'd see what's on sale. I'd usually buy the sale item, but only if it fit into my diet. For example, if conventional meat was on sale, I'd choose the grass-fed meat regardless of price just because grass-fed meat contains more nutrients. But if wild caught fish was on sale, I'd buy that rather than my usual grass-fed meat.
Week 1 - Jan 1 - 7
Jan 1: $14.41 - Whole Foods
Jan 2: $5.32 Whole Foods
Jan 3: $24.20 Whole Foods
Jan 4: $5.53 Starbucks
Jan 5: $21.79 Stop and Shop
Jan 6: $21.30 Whole Foods
Jan 7: $44.52 Bruch (treated both myself and my girl friend-she paid last time)
Week 2 - January 7 - 14, 2017
Jan 7: No purchases
Jan 8: $24.76 grocery
Jan 10: $10.77 restaurant (friend's birthday), $25.13 grocery
Jan 11: $5.87 grocery
Jan 12: $13.99 grocery
Jan 13: $15.33 farmer's market, $13.55 grocery
Jan 14: No purchases
Total for week 2: $109.44
Lesson: Wow, so just being hyperaware works. When I really pay attention to how much each item costs, it's really not that difficult to save a little bit, even when I'm pretty much shopping exclusively at Whole Foods. In two weeks, I saved $53.49, which I put into my emergency fund. I also discovered a farmer's market nearby, and learned that pasture raised, local eggs from the farmer's market are almost $2 less than at Whole Foods, raw milk was available at the farmer's market (and was less expensive than regular, unhomogenized milk at Whole Foods) and the local, organic produce there is also cheaper. I'm kind of pumped to keep this up and continue to save. It's somewhat empowering to realize I earn more than enough money to not only eat the way I want but put away the extra bit I save. I'll update you next month on how this little experiment of mine goes.
Let's talk: I'd love to know what you spend per week on groceries, how many you feed on that, what kinds of foods you eat, and where in the world you're located. I'd also love to hear any money saving tips you may have, and any other areas of your life where you're looking to save a bit more.