I grew up in a house where food was never scarce. To make sure I ate well when I went to college, my mother gave me a credit card to use for all my groceries. “I don’t want you to worry about having enough to eat,” she said.
I am grateful for my mother’s generosity when it comes to food and nearly everything else. But what I had to learn on my own is the idea that everything at the grocery store is a necessity simply because it is food is dead wrong.
I don’t *really* need to buy fresh orange juice, tofutti cuties and organic milk. These are grocery luxuries and it is easy to confuse them with necessities because they go in my belly.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not going to starve myself. But it’s time for me to be as savvy about food purchases as I am about any other spending category. And that means more than getting the best prices. It means resisting the temptation to buy food that I don’t really need, just like that new T-shirt from J.Crew.
So instead of including food as a necessity in my budget and allotting a set amount of dollars for it, I am including food as a discretionary item in my budget. This way we will carefully consider each food purchase. Is this something we could get cheaper elsewhere? Is this something we could make ourselves? Is this something that will go to waste? At the end of the month I’m guessing we may well be eating out of the freezer.