Sunday, October 5, 2014

When Your Budget Bites Back {7 for 31}

This month I'm writing a new post each day about my own version of Jen Hatmaker's 7 experiment. For more posts and an introduction, head hereToday's 7 topic is food.

Jen's approach to food was to only eat seven different foods for a month - spinach, chicken, whole wheat bread, avocados, sweet potatoes, apples, and eggs (with salt, pepper, and olive oil for cooking). This topic required some heavy modification to fit into our lifestyle - for one, we're gluten-free and mostly dairy-free so our diet is already heavily restricted, and for two, I'm pregnant and need all the calories I can get.

But neither of those is an excuse not to tackle the topic of food - in thinking it over, our dietary restrictions make it even more important to address. My Mum was diagnosed with Celiac about two years ago, and because I am her child, I experimentally went gluten-free as well. Drastic health changes and improvements (like, growing an inch in the course of a month, at the age of 23) confirmed that I should stay that way.

Over the past two years, we've learned a lot, and Adam has created some amazing dishes that we've fed to dinner guests who never guessed that we're gf. Brooklyn's dairy allergy threw us initially but we coped (although, I still haven't found a substitute for cheese. Everything else I can do without, but vegan cheese is not comparable, in my opinion). To some extent, eating gf has the potential for reducing your grocery budget - it's just easier to start with raw ingredients (as far as meats, nuts, fruits, and vegetables go) in order to avoid the hidden ingredients and potential cross-contamination of processed foods. But anything outside the paleo realm gets fuzzy - and expensive (think, twice the cost for half the product).

I had resigned myself to that, accepting the limitations and recognizing that, to a large extent, shopping around and buying generic brands wasn't an option (and even the generic brand of a gf food, like normally budget-friendly pasta, is still double the cost of wheat flour pasta). But in lying down and allowing my grocery budget to walk over me, leaving a trail of short receipts with disproportionately large totals behind it, I resigned myself a little too well.

There are still decisions that could be made more wisely. Actually looking at the Kroger sale flyer we get in the mail each week, picking up the little magazine/recipe booklet/coupon-thingy that Whole Foods puts out periodically and doing something besides craft projects with it (ahem), planning meals based on what's on sale (even if it's pennies saved instead of dollars - they still add up). Just because it's no longer an option to live on Totino's pizzas and Ramen noodles doesn't mean I can give up and somehow find one of those $5 boxes of 10 cookies that taste exactly like Chips Ahoy! in my cart every time I check out (ok, it's not every time, but far more often than I need to).

Join me this week as I look at what we eat, in terms of groceries and of eating out, with greater intentionality, trying prayerfully to gain control over something that's been controlling me.

1 comment:

Amy Baggett - author/speaker said...

I feel your gluten-free, dairy free pain! Paleo recipes are a blessing, but it does get expensive and, at times, boring. I try to remember a slightly larger grocery budget saves us money in doctors bills and visits. It's a trade off worth making.