Groceries and budgets

If you were to travel back to 1992 and ask 5 year old Anna (with a hair cut that is almost similar to that of a young Amish boy) what she wanted to do when she grew up, she would tell you that it was to work at a grocery store. The glory of the people who get to scan cans of beans and pack produce away into paper or plastic bags. That was the dream, I tell you. (And my poor Uncle can attest to how many times I made him play grocery store with me).

On some level, I still have that dream but now my destiny is conveniently fulfilled through the self-check out line. Thankfully, I can keep my salaried, day job. And generally speaking, I do like grocery stores, especially nice fancy ones (that I don't live by in rural Kansas). I've spent many happy moments grocery shopping with my sister.

But let me tell you, there is now a big part of me that now HATES grocery shopping. (Shhh.. Don't tell 5 year old Anna).

No matter how hard I try, I seem to be terrible at it. I plan ahead. I make lists. I check them twice. I stick to my list (more or less) and I still manager to forget a key ingredient and have to go back for it two days later. It's an endless cycle of being at Dillons. (I wonder at what point employees will start to recognize me).

What is even more frustrating is that no matter how hard I try each week, I have a problem keeping my grocery budget low. It's a tricky situation, since I want to live simply (and thus eat simply), but I also want to eat fresh foods (like fruit, which are pricey) and I love cooking new things. Things add up really quick, especially at Dillon's (which is my closest grocery option. It's also pretty pricey compared to some of the other chains out there). This isn't anything new, just the constant struggle.

For those of you who read my blog on a regular basis (Mom), you may know that I've started mentioned as the latest website on my blog-radar. The other day, I stumbled upon an article on the site: How a Food Budget Got Us Out of Debt (and Four Steps to Help you Create Your Own Budget. There are a lot of things on here that are pretty common sense as far as budgeting does (i.e. don't eat out, something I try to do only one time a week, which, to be fair, is super hard, especially as a single person). Everything on the list is pretty obtainable but has been pretty hard for me to maintain consistently.

What I found most fascinating about this article was the section that linked to what the USDA has found to be the national average. It's been interesting to compare my food budget with that document, (although challenging since I am a single female but I plan about 6-7 meals with my boyfriend each week).

The nice thing about being a member of a single household is that my food budget isn't completely ridged. Still, this year I've been trying really hard to dive into my budget, be consistent with it and know where I am every week in a month. Really, my food budget flux isn't going to make a ton of headway in my college loan debt, but every little bit helps. And if I can cultivate good (and healthy) food habits now, it will be easier when there are more in my household than just me and one grey cat with some serious spirit.