Day Twenty-Three

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Summary Page

One of the reasons I set up this project so I didn’t spend money up front to get a larger quantity of food then work off that is because it’s hard for me to predict from one day to the next what I’m going to feel like eating. Often I think I’m going to want one thing, but then when I wake up (or even as the day progresses), I decide that’s not going to work and I want something else. This is why strategies that involve planning meals in advance and relying on large, infrequent shopping trips don’t tend to work very well for me.

What I Bought on Day Twenty-Three

What I Bought on Day Twenty-Three

The last two days I’ve had higher than usual levels of exercise—usually I walk two to three miles a day doing errands and things, but Monday and Tuesday I walked closer to four to five miles each day. Yesterday after I was about two-thirds into my walk, I thought “Hmm, I think I probably should have ridden my bike for this.” I thought I was probably going to be hungry today from the extra walking, but at that point there wasn’t much I could do about it.

I felt okay for the first part of the day, and had another round of black beans and scrambled eggs and tortillas with salsa for Meal One. But I was definitely hungrier in the afternoon than I have been, and decided it was time for an infusion of carbs.

So I headed back to the land formerly known as South Square and visited my friends in big box world at the local SuperTarget. Picked up a refill of pasta, along with a can of tomato sauce.

I was actually planning my post about how lame my meal was, pasta and a can of plain tomato sauce, but then when I got home realized I had a tomato left from yesterday and also about half of the small onion I bought, plus some garlic.

What I Ate on Day Twenty-Three

What I Ate on Day Twenty-Three

So it was still sort of a lame dinner, but it was a large amount of much-needed carbs and also a little little bit of fresh vegetables. The plain canned tomato sauce will not be making the permanent recipe list. (Though it was actually quite good with the curry powder in the Curried Eggs over Rice, and also not bad when I combined it with Italian-style tomatoes, so maybe it just depends on what I do with it. But not so great on its own with plain pasta, even with some vegetables thrown in.)

I still have beans left and a few tortillas, and eggs, and now some pasta, and also most of the cabbage. I think I’ll finish up the tortillas tomorrow, and then try to build off the pasta and cabbage and maybe fill in with some fruits and vegetables. (Though if I’m still hungry tomorrow I might go for another round of the Jiffy biscuits—those definitely give you maximum volume for $0.50.)

I’m pretty much on target spending-wise. I was up $0.24 going into today, and spent $1.11, so I’m still up $0.13. Feel like I’m in pretty good shape.

Receipt Day Twenty-Three

Receipt Day Twenty-Three

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8 Responses to “Day Twenty-Three”

  1. Tracy Says:

    That’s always the rub — those unpredictable cravings. Sometimes I really want a certain food, and it may one I can ignore because it’s just an addiction or fostered by an ad I just saw. But many times, I believe our bodies “tell” us to go get a certain food because it craves a certain nutrient or phytochemical for an important internal task.

    I always thought the main reason it would be a bummer to be truly poor and have a very restrictive food budget is because there would be little room for honoring those cravings or spontaneous wants — no matter how healthy.

  2. JAG Says:

    I just noticed, they charge tax on food? What a shame. In Florida there is no tax on food. BTW – really enjoying your journey…

  3. Abby Says:

    I don’t know how you avoid the rebound binging that happens to me, well, not binging, exactly, but after a week or two of spending just $11.00 or so on food, I tend to snap and spend way too much on takeout and restaurants. I find it very hard to stay rational around food for very long.

  4. lessisenough Says:

    I think I used to have more of a yo-yo effect when I would spend less one week, it would bounce back the next week and the average would come out about the same. And it still does happen somewhat, but I think my average is just lower overall so it’s hard to tell.

    For instance, I used to go to the grocery store and spend $75 not matter what I bought, it would always come out to around $75. If I paid attention and worked at it, I could keep the total lower, but if I didn’t pay attention, it would bounce right back up. And the same thing happens now, but if I don’t pay attention or decide I’m not going to worry about it and get whatever I want, the total is between $25 and $30. Which is two or three times what I normally spend, but still only $30.

    It seems a little bit like the concept of a “set point” for weight — people can lose a little bit of weight, but if they lose too much, they unconsciously eat more and gain it back. I think there’s a similar set point for spending.

    The trick is to lower your average, and the best way I know to do that is the Your Money or Your Life strategy of tracking everything you spend and then looking at the totals it to see how things come out. That helps make sure you’re spending money on things that matter and not spending money on things you don’t care about, and then you don’t feel deprived and you’re less likely to spend too much on a rebound. Also I find that I value things more when I do them less, so I get more value per dollar spent.

    So I think it’s just a matter of being conscious about spending, and thinking about why you like something and why you want to do it and if it’s worth it to you. And also if there’s something else you could do that would accomplish the same thing for less money. For instance, I realized that if I want to get together with someone, it’s just as good to go out for coffee or a drink as it is to go out for dinner — or even go for a walk, which is free. And I like to eat out, but I’m just as happy with a $3 burrito as with a $12 dinner. (Okay, I’m usually happier with a $3 burrito. I really like burritos.) So I don’t feel deprived and am less likely to spend more on a rebound.

  5. Abby Says:

    wow, thanks for your comment regarding averaging out the expenses. You really addressed my situation perfectly.

    I was thinking of your project today because I was pondering how the way I shop leads to deprivation/cravings/weight gain. I have been reading lately that eating high fat food may actually be addictive, and I think that may contribute to my feeling its hard to shop for food rationally. I feel like forces outside my control are pushing me to overspend – maybe there are subliminal messages at the supermarket!

  6. lessisenough Says:

    I actually have found sugar and salt to be the biggest problems — salty foods make me crave sugar and sugary foods make me crave fat. Straight sugar — like in soda — is the worst. Cutting that out makes me eat completely differently.

    Reading Food Politics by Marion Nestle was really interesting. She talks about the way the food companies try to manipulate people, and the part I found most interesting was about how they try to manipulate scientific findings to make their food sound better than others — to play up any findings that say their food is good and downplay those that say the opposite (the “there are no good foods or bad foods” strategy). She also talks about advertising and product placement and things like that. So yes, there really are signals in the grocery store pushing you to overspend. (Or, as my friend Sue used to say, “Just because I”m paranoid doesn’t mean that everyone isn’t out to get me.”)

    Also one of the things I noticed last year when I was doing my project was all the food ads on tv. I don’t watch tv much, and I was at a friend’s dog sitting for the weekend the last weekend of the project. I realized that the project would have been MUCH harder if I watched tv and had to spend the previous three weeks watching ad after ad with sizzling shrimp dripping with butter and everything else that’s on every 5 mintues, while eating my $1 a day worth of food.

    And while on the subject of tv, a book that I read a long time ago that I really loved because I feel like it made me see things differently is Juliet Schorr’s The Overspent American. She talks about her research that showed that for every additional hour of tv a person watched a week, their spending increased by $208. As she said, “Sitting in front of the television five extra hours a week (two sitcoms a night during the week) raises your yearly spending by about $1000. Just watching ER can set you back a couple hundred bucks.”

    So my advice to everyone who wants to eat less and/or spend less is to stop watching tv.

    The only possible negative side effect is that you will have less to talk about with people at work, but I’ve discovered that when people want to talk to you about a tv show, they don’t actually care whether you’ve seen it or not. So just say, “Oh, no, I missed that one,” and they’ll go ahead and tell you all about it anyway. And then the next person you talk to, you can just use whatever the other person said — “No, I didn’t see it but I heard it was hilarious.” You can do that forever and I guarantee no one will ever know you don’t watch tv.

  7. Abby Says:

    Ha ha. Well, I try to start conversations at work with “I was reading this great blog about spending less money on food,” but so far, that hasn’t been a great starter, although, I must say, people at work are very interested in what one or the other has brought for lunch. I also suspect more people than not struggle to feed themselves on diminishing salaries, so hopefully this frugal way of looking at food will become more fashionable and folks won’t feel so embarrassed about controlling their spending.

    I have noticed the same thing about the TV commercials. They make such a big deal about an egg on an English muffin, which you can make at home far more cheaply than you can buy it out, for example. And I was watching a commercial the other day for Applebees, or some such, where a slender, seductive waitress was presenting a steak to a table as if it were the Holy Grail, and all I could think was, why do we glorify food this way, not to mention, glorifying unhealthy food? Our culture is certainly out of whack. Definitely, the less engaged one is with pop culture, the healthier and wealthier one feels.

  8. lessisenough Says:

    Those Applebee’s ads have been cracking me up during the NCAA tournament, especially the one for the 550 calorie meals where a bunch of fit, young, athletic looking guys get together for a night on the town and discuss the calorie count of their dinner. Right! All the people in the Applebee’s ads look super fit, despite the fact that they’re out for a night of beer and spinach dip. Pretty hilarious.

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