By: Revanche

The Food of 2012

January 15, 2013

Our food spending this year was astronomical.

That is, in some ways, surprising.

I eat a lot less than before. No stress eating either. You’d think that’d reduce food costs somewhat but it really didn’t matter: PiC more than makes up for my here again, gone again appetite. While I skip meals when flying solo, being with him means at least one meal will happen a day. And if I’m Chef, even if I’m not hungry, I’m still compelled to make a real meal. Maybe to avoid the judgment when it’s looking like the five KitKats and a mini Snickers bar style dinner but also because cooking’s therapeutic. Besides, for someone that loves every single thing I try my hand at, even the things I think suck? Who would mind?

Anyway, the point is: this year’s food budget? Mostly for two people? Was, in a word: dammmnnn.

We spent nearly the exact same amount on Groceries as on Eating Out. Groceries included frozen meals, convenience foods, snack foods, fresh food, canned food.

With so many 12-14 hour days, there was just no time or energy to do fancy or creative meals on the weekdays. Instead, we’d make up big meals on weekends, freeze portions for later, experimented with new “quick” recipes. Not all of the experiments were successful, not in my opinion, but I evidently married a man who’d eat anything I make. Super helpful when you have a complex about food waste!

The ugliest pot pie ever. But it sure was tasty…

When I cook, I do a fair amount from scratch. Lots revolves around chicken, the affordable protein we love. I make stew, pot pies, roast our own chickens, and once every several months, put up chicken broth. We try different grains in bulk, and avoid red meat*. All of this nets pretty minor savings, but I enjoy the cooking and we both like simple healthy meals at home. Bonus: It keeps my roasting skills polished. No horrific dried out turkey for Thanksgiving for us, my favorite meal of the year. Can you imagine ruining 20 lbs of turkey?

*I love steak but have an irrational fear of ruining it so I refuse to cook it. PiC does not love it like I do.

Double roasting. The honey cooks faster and make it look like it’s burnt but it’s just extra delicious, extra crispy skin. I’m loving the new roasting pan.

We had convenience and frozen foods as patches for no-cooking days, and traveling weekends when no cooking would happen. Pretty sure we also paid for groceries for other people on occasion. That’d be included in here. Couponing is an as-and-when activity instead of a weekly past-time.

Eating Out included: fine dining, treating friends to meals or snacks or anything food, special occasion meals, casual dining, fast food, drinks.

For day to day life, where we used to have a cap on the number of times we’d eat out or order in, this year has been rough enough that I finally just stopped fussing about sticking to an artificial number. Yes, it’s more expensive, yes, it’s not always the healthy choice and no, I’m not going to sweat it. Bottom line, we needed to eat, our working weekdays were far too long some days to do anything but come home and forage, and we could afford it.

A deconstructed kebab from Tuba Restaurant. We get to try new fancy-ish stuff in the city when visitors come to town!

Food, all kinds of it, both “high-end” and the remarkably pedestrian stuff we enjoy, was a spending priority for us, a clear trade of money for time or mental health, clocking in at about $6500.

It’ll be interesting to see this coming year’s spending. I have more opportunity to make time to cook on weeknights now, and if we eat out, it’s on weekends instead. Will it balance out or stay the same?

13 Responses to “The Food of 2012”

  1. Shelley says:

    Surprised to hear about your solo eating habits given your health issues. No idea if diet helps or not, though. Lovely that PiC eats what is put down in front of him. That’s a great quality to have and I really appreciate it in Bill. He does give commentary on what went wrong, but he still eats. I thought I’d blown the budget with food this year. I didn’t track it very well, though I did finally catch up with receipts last week. I’d estimate we spent £125-175 per month. I’m fudging a bit because we were travelling nearly 3 months and I didn’t try to keep track of the receipts in euros or Australian dollars. We took a LOT of food with us in the motorhome when in France and Bill’s sister fed us most of the time we were in Australia, so it’s not really a lot out of our pocket (we of course reciprocate when they come to us). Steak is dead easy to cook, one of the first things I ever learned to broil. I can’t imagine that the inside of the turkey was so dry it couldn’t have been revived, but I’m sure that will just have to serve as a lesson learned.

    • Revanche says:

      I know, I just totally lack motivation to cook when I’m alone. But it’s not always bad… and I’m not always THAT lazy. Just part of the time. And I do great on leftovers 🙂
      That doesn’t seem so bad considering how much you were on the road!
      But also I’m pretty sure that food in Europe is much more expensive to begin with, isn’t it?

      I don’t know how turkeys are revived but my own last two turkeys turned out great. I’m just super neurotic about it until it comes out. Someone else served dry turkey at a holiday dinner which was not a pleasure to eat but since they weren’t inviting culinary critiques, nary a word was said.

  2. eemusings says:

    Yikes, that’s high? Food must be so cheap; we spend that on groceries in a year normally.

    • Revanche says:

      Yes but your groceries are a lot more expensive than ours, I think. Though we are in the Bay Area which is pretty dang expensive – I’m used to SoCal pricing.

  3. Mary says:

    I enjoyed this article about food. I also have a husband who will [and has] eaten whatever I’ve put in front of him – I consider it a blessing!

    One of the reasons food is so expensive is the prices have gone up dramatically over the last few years – many of us here in the Midwest place the blame squarely on corn for fuel.

    I found a great web site for cooking steak – I used to prefer well-done and my husband prefers rare [I say, he likes it raw]. Anyway, this is for pan frying, and it comes out very nicely an edible for both of us medium rare to slightly rare. I would send the website, but I can’t find it. So here is the recipe.
    Take the steak [1/2 to 1 inch thick] out 1 hour before you plan to cook it. [ I don’t always follow this]
    Using a heavy skillet [ I don’t always use my cast iron],
    Add a small amount of vegtable oil to the skillet – olive oil smokes so don’t use.
    Pre-heat the skillet on medium high heat a few minutes.
    Pat dry the steak then pat with vegtable oil and season with pepper and salt and any other
    seasonings you like. Do both sides – I usually oil both sides, season one, put in pan then
    season the other side.
    Cook 4 to 5 minutes on one side
    Cook 3 to 4 minutes on the other side depending on how rare or well done you like it.
    You can make a small cut in the steak to see if it is done the way you want and cook the 2nd side longer if you want it more done.

    I have used this for pork chops too – because mine used to be so dry and works.
    Omaha Steaks has on their website cooking times for different thicknesses and you can use those too.
    Anyway, for a nice steak it works well.

    Wishing you, pic and doggle a wonderful New Year.

    • Revanche says:

      What a good husband you have (to feed)! 🙂
      I’ve only been grocery shopping up North for a few years but their prices have always been higher than SoCal. I suspect SoCal prices must be going up a bit too. I do wonder how long we will still have relatively “cheap” food costs in comparison to the rest of the world.
      Thank you for the recipe/instructions, I may well give it a try!
      Happy New Year!

  4. Karen says:

    I fear my food spending is close to yours*. And you know, I am single. But it does include alcohol. If I get the nerve up to look, I’ll let you know. I really dread that part of the yearly summary. Eek.

    *Totally serious. I would not be surprised if it is $6000.

    • Revanche says:

      Haha well you have a line item we typically don’t fill much – alcohol can run those bills right up! Especially if you drink somewhat regularly. Let me know! 🙂

      • Karen says:

        Mint’s obviously overwhelmed by my food budget and I can’t get into the details. I did see that over 3,000 is groceries with the total spending ~5,100! *chokes* Seriously. WTF. Heck, it’s for 50 weeks not 52 as I was on company travel for 2 weeks.
        I’ve been trying to cut back this year, to lose weight and to spend less since I have a trip in March and then Japan in June.

  5. Quest says:

    Our food spend for 2012 was horrible! Better by far than it used to be but still so much room for improvement. Aiming for under $5000 in 2013.

    • Revanche says:

      BUT — you made progress in bringing it down from last year! And that’s nothing to sneeze at!
      Best of luck for this year – I’m going to keep sharing recipes as we (haha, I) learn how to make yummy, healthy and cheap meals.

  6. Pauline says:

    We are trying to cut back on food as well. Too many treats, too much meat… although my BF has a hard time reducing meat, so I have to get creative about cooking things with less meat that feel like as much meat as before!

    • Revanche says:

      Maybe it would help to add a substitute protein and then transition from there?
      I happen to love tofu and edamame and PiC likes both fine, so I can add either one of those so we don’t have to use as much meat even if I don’t leave it out entirely.

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