Monday, February 23, 2015

Paleo Budgeting - Fasting to Stay on Target

Update -  My weight is down to around 201.9 now.  It's coming down slower than usual.  I've gone from 5-6 pushups at a go to 15, and I'm doing 20 situps and 20 squats every morning.  The big problem with calisthenics, I've decided, is they're boring.  After about 3 squats I'm ready to do something else.

I've devoted a good part of my life to trying to live frugally.  I've always valued time over money, (and it shows).  My disciplined approach began with reading The Complete Tightwad Gazette.  These days, I get most of my inspiration from Mr. Money Mustache.

The thing that's always seemed to do me in, and to create the most depression and anxiety is the grocery budget.  In the best of non-paleo times, we eat mostly vegetarian, lots of beans and rice, etc.  Low budget used to mean pasta, and lots of it, interspersed with rice and something.  The pasta is pretty much gone, except for occasional pasta for the kids.  The rice is becoming scarcer, and I'm totally avoiding it while I try this experiment with strict paleo.

Lately, I've been eating two eggs for breakfast, (instead of my favorite steel cut oats), maybe a little bacon.  I've been having an apple or maybe a salad for lunch.  I get home early and have a snack, usually some sardines or salami, some cheese, almonds, olives, and a little red wine.  I've been skipping dinner more often than not because often it is a non-paleo meal - burritos, tamales, etc.  I do like to have a little frozen fruit and some yogurt.  It's homemade yogurt, so it's not as low in carbs as the recommended Greek yogurt, but so be it.  I'm not perfect.

We're working together as a family on the budget now, and we are particularly trying to keep the food budget in check.  Mr. Money Mustache recently had a post "Killing your $1000 Grocery Bill".  They manage to feed their family of three on about $80 a week, (and he thinks he is extravagant with his purchases).  My *ideal* budget has always been $400 a month.  My compromise with the real world budget is $600 a month.  My extravagant budget is $800 a month.  What do we usually spend?  Many months it creeps up to around $1100.  That's $700 more than I would like to spend.  The funny thing is, I don't know how it happens.  I don't really know how we can be living off eggs and beans and rice and kale and still spend $700 more than we should.

After our family meeting this Sunday, we tried to go out and stick to the $25 we had left in the budget for the week.  (We missed it by about $30.  $15 of that was trail mix, but that's often all I can get the kids to eat during the day).

Consequently, there really is none of the food I like to eat.  I have a sliver of salami left.  The frozen fruit is about gone.  I'm out of wine.  There's none of the cheese I like.  Last I checked, we were down to 15 eggs.  There's no olives.

To stay on budget, therefore, I am approaching this week as one of near-fasting.  There's still plenty for me to keep going on.  There's a steak for tonight.  I'm going out with some friends on Wednesday.  There's some cucumber, cheese, about a half cup of almonds, a bag of peanuts.

I'm going to start skipping breakfast though.  We only have an average of a little under three eggs a day left for the week.  I'm about out of lunch apples.  I'm hoarding my three cans of sardines for when I'm really hungry.

I hope making these sacrifices gets our budget back on track, (after a dog surgery, our home insurance bill, and our tax bill).  I'd still like to get the grocery spending down to $400 a month, and working together as a family, we might do it.  How does Mr. Money Mustache do it?  It's still not clear, even with the article.  I go into Trader Joe's for a block of tofu and come out $125 poorer.  Do I just lack discipline?  The weekly grocery shopping literally makes me sick with anxiety because of the difficulty I have staying on budget.  I wish the literature on both frugality and primal/paleo eating was a little bit clearer in the budgeting for food area.  After all these years, I'm still lost in that regard.  And we're pretty much smack dab in the range of median income for the U.S.  What do the truly poor do?  Food buying is a frustrating mess.

I'd like to buy more local, organic meat from the Farmer's Market, but I think that's just going to have to wait.  How do other people combine a frugal diet with paleo sensibilities?

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