Friday, February 11, 2005

A month on the Thrifty Food Plan

The Half Changed World author finished her one-month trial of the Thrifty Food Plan budget. Here is her summary:
As it turns out, we finished well under our $434.40 budget. Our total spending on food groceries totalled just $340.84, with just under $40 in purchased meals (including one full dinner, one fancy coffee, and a couple of lunches at the very cheap cafeteria down the street from my office). Even if I accounted at a fair price for the spices and such that we didn't have to pay for because they're in my basic pantry, we'd make it in under budget....

We ate pretty close to our typical diet, although a bit heavier on the eggs and homemade pizza than an average month. Although I didn't track it, I'm sure we didn't come anywhere near meeting the food pyramid recommendations for fruit and vegetables. I'm not sure we do that much better in mid-winter even when we're not on a budget, as I find the seasonal offerings awfully uninspiring. (Although worries about the budget did stop me from buying some of my usual mid-winter healthy treats, like frozen cherries.)

The time-money tradeoff was a big factor in the budget, both in the shopping (do I make a separate trip to another store that has a better price on specific items?) and in the preparation (is the two dollars saved buying regular spinach v. the prewashed stuff worth the time involved in preparing it?). And I truly can't imagine doing this if I didn't have access to a car, or had to bring my kids along on every single shopping trip. (Shopping with kids can be much more expensive, both because you don't want to spend the extra time studying price labels when they're getting restless and because they constantly ask for things that aren't on the shopping list.)

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