Years ago, someone bought me an Anne Taintor coffee mug with this phrase on it. For years, I bristled at it because I thought, “I put myself through college working 3-4 jobs, I lived on NOTHING for years – I don’t have any problem being frugal!”. Yet Christian and I spent years Dual Income, No Kids. I didn’t have to use my amazing frugal skills anymore. We went to Japan. We bought a fancy toilet. I bought investment jeans. We had a list of all the cheeses from the Monty Python Cheese Sketch and we purchased them, one by one, even though they were sometimes $10 for 1 ounce. We actually spent a lot of money on cheese, now that I think of it…yum.
I had some babies. I quit my full time job. I lost my part time job. And yet, the two kids and the house remained. This should be easy! I’ve done this before! Uh… apparently, no, I’ve lost the knack. I suck at being frugal. I miss the good cheese!
Seriously, my downfall is probably food. I am not attracted to unhealthy, cheap food. If I can’t have good, healthy, organic food then I just won’t eat at all. I’ll get hungry and grumpy. It is an occupational hazard for a SAHM.
I don’t know what I am doing wrong that I keep running out of grocery money. I do meal planning, I try to maximize each ingredient. I have recently tried shopping at different grocery stores because I’ve heard that some are cheaper than others. But since I will still only buy organic of the EWG Dirty Dozen in produce, and I refuse to buy non-organic milk or conventionally raised eggs, there doesn’t seem to be much variation in price between stores. In fact, when I try to pursue cheaper stores, I just find that the selection of foods that I find acceptable for our family is small or nonexistent. I can go in with a list of 10 things but only find 7 or 8. Then I have to go to another store. Since I can’t make it to two stores in one day with both kids in tow, missing those 2 to 3 items for certain recipes on grocery day can derail my entire meal plan for the week.
Another thing that derails the budget is buying staples. I can stay within the budget as long as we never run out of seasonings, snacks for the kids, butter, nuts, cheese, yogurt, eggs, bread, and milk. But when I have a list of things I need to replenish in our fridge or pantry, sometimes that list will use up my entire budget for the week. Then what do I do about food for actual meals?
It is all very complex and inter-related. One item affects another. Smart health choices build up to more expensive groceries. Both my kids now drink cows milk and eat real solid food. We are feeding 4 people, even though 2 of them are small.
Frugal. It’s such an ugly word.