There are lots of choices to make about the food we eat these days, to the point of it being tricky to know what to buy sometimes. There's organic, free-range, fair trade - all sorts of options when it comes to just about anything. And then there's the price of it - how much has the price of dairy, for example, been in the news lately?
I reckon everyone has a different view and there's not necessarily right and wrong, just shades of grey - but I do think it's really important to figure out what you value and what you can afford, and work from there (you can tell I live with an economist, right?). As an example: free-range eggs are expensive. I use a lot of eggs, and always have. When I was a student, I valued having cake over happy hens, and felt my student budget couldn't reasonably stretch to free-range. Some people might judge me for that - but that's how it was. Now I earn enough to be able to buy free-range (which I also happen to think taste better), so I do - but I like knowing that folks who maybe aren't so flush, or who rank other things higher on their priority list, can still have their cheap eggs.
I've been getting a bit riled with the media lately, as there have been quite a few reports along the lines of people-can't-afford-to-eat-anymore. I know there are people who have it tough - but this line often seems to come from people whose lifestyles have expanded to fit their generous budgets and think that those with less clearly need the same budget to survive. I've had times when money has been tight (as have most of us!) and so know there are corners to be cut, and I've devised a bit of an experiment.
For the next week, Mr Cake and I will be going budget on our food. I'm not setting a spend limit - I just want to see how little we need to spend to be well-nourished. We'll plan out our meals, and pare down the luxury stuff (which we do have a fair bit of) but we certainly won't be subsisting on weetbix and rice alone - and I'll share a couple of updates of what we spend and what we're eating.
Because I am focussed on food I'm not counting other groceries so this isn't necessarily a great reflection of normal household spend - but I think it'll be interesting to see how it pans out.
We normally budget what we think is a fairly generous $160 a week on groceries (this doesn't include eating out), being keen foodies who like some luxury items and a lot of baking stuff. $20-$30 of that might be non-food items - so I'm working on the assumption that our food would normally cost about $130 (which is probably conservative, I'm sure I sneak in more top-up shops than I care to think about!). Because Mr Cake and I a) value our fancy food and b) tend to be time-poor, a lot of the savings we make won't be sustainable for us - but it will be interesting to see how much it costs to feed the two of us for a week.
Have you ever done anything like this? What are your cost-saving tips for eating on a low budget?