Yesterday, I did something I haven’t done in almost two and a half years. I went grocery shopping.
I tried grocery shopping and cooking for myself when I first moved to Rochester. I think that lasted for about a month before I decided it was too much bother. I just found the idea of running home after work and cooking my own food to be a nuisance. So I started ordering takeout, ordering delivery, grabbing a sub on the way home, and even eating out most of the time. I even started buying food items for lunch and breakfast at convenience stores.
And for two and a half years, this arrangement worked perfectly for me. I had the excess cash flow to support expense of that kind of lifestyle, so it was comfortable. However, now that various factors — like starting to contribute to my company’s 401k plan and the extra expense of taking dance classes — have altered my (non-existent) budget to the point where I’m just barely breaking even each month.
As such, I’ve decided it’s time to change my eating habits. This week, I decided to start with something simple: Buying groceries and putting together my own lunches and breakfasts rather than buying something “on the run.” The net result is that I covered two thirds of my meal requirements this week on about one fourth of my typical food bill for a week. It’s actually kind of depressing to realize how much money I have been wasting due to overspending.
I figure I’d start with just lunches and breakfasts for now, as well as dinner for the two nights I need a quick bite before dance class. For most dinners, I’ll still buy something or eat out for the next week or two. So my spending won’t be completely minimized, but I’m hoping to at least put a bit more of a buffer between my income and my total expenses.
I’m also working on bringing my own snacks to work, which is my other big expense. This will have the advantage of being cheaper as well as healthier for me. Granted, I don’t expect my trips to the candy machine to disappear immediately. (If that was the case, I already failed on my first day.) But overall, I hope this will help cut down on my spending even more.
I actually got a huge compliment from the woman in front of me in the checkout line. She glanced over my pile of items, which consisted mostly of yogurts, fruits, and stuff to make salads (as well as a couple pre-made salads at real good prices) and wraps. She smiled and said that I had an extremely healthy selection. In fact, her exact words were that her nutritionist would be pleased and proud of my groceries. I smiled and thanked her. Eating healthier isn’t one of my primary goals in doing this (I actually feel I do pretty good at that anyway), but it should be a nice side effect of the process.