Living Smarter

As I’ve been reading other posts out there on the inter-web, I’ve noticed more and more posts about living a more frugal lifestyle. I’m feeling really convicted about this lately, because I have been struggling with our budget. Some of this is because our food costs have been spiraling out of control again, and some is because we’ve had to slow down a little on our debt reduction and it is so disappointing to me.

So I think it is time to work a little harder at living smarter.

One thing is that my husband and I need to be much more disciplined in packing our breakfast and lunches. May was a BAD month (so bad, I still haven’t written about it), and while June has been better, we are still pushing beyond our limits. One of the things that has been a tough balance is that I have been on Weight Watchers since early January (it works – I’ve lost over 25 pounds in 6 months). This means that we really can’t use most coupons (because they are for processed foods), and that we need to stay on top of our fresh produce and use it before it goes bad. This also means more work.

GULP.

A full-time job, grad-school at night, taking care of the house, trying to work out regularly and making sure to connect with our friends…who has time for more work?

Turns out we need to make the time – our finances require it.

So what are we going to do?

  • Price Book – We’ve used a calendar and food-plan before and we try to limit our trips to the grocery store/Costco to 1x/week. But I think we need to be even more specific when we go to the store and we NEED to get our price book together. What is a “Price Book,” you ask? It is a book (paper or electronic) that keeps track of the prices of things that you normally buy and tracks it at the 3-4 places that you shop. That way, when you go in, you generally know what you are going to spend, so there isn’t a surprise at the check-out.
  • Pre-pack – Ugh. I really hate this, but I’m going to do it anyway. We’re going to have to pre-pack our breakfasts and lunches before we go to bed. Well, breakfast for me – hubby can eat at home, but I have to wait at least an hour after I take a pill in the morning, so that means that I eat at work. But this will mean that we have insured ourselves against having to dine-out because of poor planning.
  • Balance – Ugh. This seems like more work, too, but you know what…oh, well. Time to be more disciplined. 18 months ago, we were really, really on top of our budget every single day. Why? Because I balanced the checkbook EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. Time to go back to it. It will keep us more accountable and make sure that our purchasing decisions are informed and *not* emotional.

Well, there you go. This is my plan to start working some of this out.

Are there any other folks out there on Weight Watchers who have found some tips on cutting costs while staying on plan?

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8 thoughts on “Living Smarter

  1. Hi,
    I have been reading your blog for a while and this is the first time I have commented. Pre packing meals can be daunting at first, but once I got in the habit of packaging up my breakfast at the beginning of the week – I mix my own yogurt and portion out juice – and I make lunches with the leftovers in portion containers it is amazing how much smoother the mornings go with all of that done for you once you get in the habit:)

    Great job on the weight loss!!!

    • Thanks so much for your comment and for reading the blog! It’s great to hear from someone who has been successful at tackling the pre-packing – thanks for the encouragement! And good for you on making it a habit 🙂

  2. I just found your blog and love it. Last year I lost 50 pounds and have kept it off. I did not do weight watchers but I did the healthy eating and more exercise. (What a concept!) My whole family eats healthier and it does cost more. We live in Montana and don’t seem to have the access to great fresh fruit and vegetables year round and we pay the cost. Eating them before everything goes bad is not a problem. Its making it last longer than a few days. I live at the store. We have cut the ice cream, candy, chips and all of that but we are at the store alot. Whole wheat pasta, whole wheat bread it all seems to cost more. And why are apples so huge now? When I was doing school lunches for my boys they had lunchbox size apples. Now two of us can share an apple!!

    • Hi Nicki! Thanks so much for your note and congrats on your own weight loss! It’s hard work, but it certainly reaps benefits.

      We’ve got a little bit warmer of a climate down here (well, usually – our June gloom has lasted until July and it’s not very warm right now…) so we battle the heat and fruit flies with our produce, but we *do* have an amazing selection, so I won’t complain 🙂

      Thanks for reading and for letting me know you’re out there!

  3. We started using GreenBoxes (go to hsn.com and search “greenboxes” or “Debbie Meyer”) for our produce, since I shop every two weeks. I was throwing out bags of salad, tomatoes, etc. These boxes/containers are very inexpensive and have saved me so much money on spoiled produce that I had to throw away every 2 weeks. Those precut salad bags don’t hold up well, but now I get bundles of red leaf and green leaf lettuce and they store beautifully. And they’re very nutritious. You can use the containers for baked goods, any kind of food.

    • Thanks, Rose! I’ll look into those for sure – I think we’re going to start trying to go to farmer’s markets, so this would sure help.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  4. I take Lean Cuisine to work, and I pack them on Monday for the whole week (so I don’t “forget” them during the week). I can often find them on sale/with coupons for as little as $1.50 per. Then, I stock up the freezer with them. They usually have the WW points listed on the side, too. I have a little container that I take multigrain cheerios in for breakfast every morning. We are lucky in that my husband works at home, but occasionally he goes to get fast food. He uses his discretionary money for that.

    We don’t eat out a lot – but we set aside $60 a month for delivery. That usually gets us one pizza and one Chinese night a month. Occasionally, when I have lunch with a friend I pull it from miscellaneous or discretionary. That’s the part I have been bad about planning.

    I am not on Weight Watchers, but I have been trying to dump some weight. I lost about 15 pounds, but haven’t lost more since June. It is frustrating, then I lose resolve. Great job on your weight loss!

    • Great Job on the weight loss Laurel!

      Your tips are great – we have stocked up on the Lean Cuisine and the Smart Ones recently, and they are really good for “in a pinch” meals, especially as things have been way busier than we anticipated this summer!

      Those lunches with friends are so tricky, aren’t they?!? I think we may have to add another budget category for “social lunches” or something. I don’t want to make people feel that they can’t invite me and I’d rather not lose out on some of the gatherings, so I have been taking it out of our “dining out” budget. But I think that it would be better if there was a numerical limit on it.

      Thanks for stopping by and keep it going on the weight loss – you can do it! 🙂

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