I often suffer from a battle in my head that I like to call Food Budget vs. Calorie Budget, but it is not the battle you think it is.
I have no problem spending money at the grocery store for premium healthy ingredients. My problems are the following:
1. When I want to order something healthy in a restaurant but the only healthy items are super expensive.
2. When I buy a food and then I don’t like it and can’t decide if to toss it or make myself eat it.
3. When a food is on the cusp of going bad.
My calories are valuable to me, and I don’t like to spend them for things that aren’t worth it. At the same time, my money is valuable to me, and I don’t like to waste it.
I decided to write about this when I realized that a lot of you are in my same position; trying to eat well and healthy, not using up calories for food that isn’t worth it, and saving money!
My cousin in law yesterday mentioned to me that she tried out a new pork recipe and it came out really bad, and she was NOT looking forward to having to eat the leftovers for dinner. Yet, she was going to eat them.
Here are my strategies for coping and balancing this issue:
1. I meal plan. This helps me to not LET food get to the point where it is almost going bad and might not be tasty.
2. When trying out new recipes, I do the “paint swatch test”. Just like I would test a wall with a paint color before painting a whole thing, I make small batches of new foods before making a huge one.
3. I only buy 1 box or package of a kind of item before buying or opening a new one. If I have 3 boxes open of an item, I will be more likely to let them all go stale or bad. But, if I buy only one at a time, then I won’t have to deal with that.
4. If I DO make the mistake of making a food I don’t like or buying one I don’t like, I try to transform it into something else. Ex. I told my cousin in law to chop up the leftover pork and add it to some pasta. If that still doesn’t work, I toss it. I am not going to make myself eat something I don’t enjoy!
5. At restaurants, I try to find a balance. I don’t go out to eat that much, and when I do, I want to enjoy the meal I pick! So I usually splurge and go for exactly what I want. Life is too short! Also, I am no longer even slightly embarrassed to ask for food prepared differently. It is my body after all.
6. Sometimes, I just choose to eat less. If I need to eat a teeny bit less in order to be able to buy the BEST strawberries, or the most natural piece of chicken, then I do! It is worth it, and calorically speaking always evens out.
7. I give questionable food a shot, but I bring a backup just in case! This morning I brought 2 Kashi waffles to work with me to have with PB, Barney Butter (yum!), and a banana. The waffles have been hanging in my freezer for about 2 months with the package slightly open so I thought they might be icky. But luckily, they were perfect. Just in case they weren’t, I brought some oatmeal in my lunchbag!
How do you manage your food budget vs. your calorie budget?