week 4 – the review

Okay, first of all, check out my rockin’ focaccia bread. This is how we’ve been eating on $20 each a week.

Second, our lessons learned:

  • $20 a week for food really is no fun. Eating is an incredibly social activity, but on this budget, you can’t afford to entertain or to go out. Potluck would definitely be an option, but it wasn’t something we got around to organizing.
  • $20 a week for food for one person would be tough, but when it is $40 for two, it is much easier. With $40, you can buy bulk quantities of things like rice, and it works out much cheaper in the long run.
  • It is not as much work to plan meals as you might think. The first week we put a lot of effort into it, but by week two, we were sort of winging it and it all worked out fine. 
  • It is a lot more work to actually make all your meals. This budget doesn’t allow much room for convenience foods. When you are having a busy week, taking the time to cook can be a huge burden.
  • You really have to know how to cook in order to live on this budget. We are both comfortable in the kitchen, so we actually ate better in March than we usually do because we were making an effort to be creative (see focaccia bread above!). Instant foods (other than Monday night perogies and beans!)were out of the question for us.
  • If you don’t know how to cook, then this budget limits you to only the worst foods. We were actually eating healthier because of the planning we were doing.
  • We had to do a lot of compromising. Most of the organic food we usually buy is out of our price range, but we found that there were many local choices. For example, we couldn’t afford the organic potatoes which came from the US, but we could afford locally grown non-organic potatoes. I insisted on organic apples, but with the rest of the food, we only bought organic if the price was comparable, like with dried lentils.

Third, for a variety of reasons, we find ourselves quite skint these days. The menu planning and home cooking have really been working for us, so we are keeping up with the $20 each a week for food until our finances are more stable. We will be putting aside an extra $10 each so we can go out for coffee or dinner once in a while or have people over, because that is something we’ve really missed.

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