If my sources are correct, it is now November, which means that my October Challenge to purchase zero restaurant food or takeout is officially over.
Rather than going through each day individually (since it occurred to me that maybe it is a bit of a leap to assume that just because you are reading my blog, you care what I had for dinner last Wednesday?), I will just offer a few brief highlights:
- The overall summary is that I successfully upheld the ban (yay!)
- I made Golden Red Lentil Dal from Oh She Glows on Monday night and took it in my lunches for the rest of the week, and it was delicious.
- A couple of afternoons this week, I had the realization that I hadn’t packed enough food to make it through the rest of the workday (I tend to need a lot of snacks)…but it also happened to be a week where there was a lot of random communal food lying around my lab/department, so luckily I was saved from having to go out and buy anything. I will admit that some of this “food” was Halloween candy. I don’t think I’d had a fun size Snickers bar since I was eight years old.
- I managed to mooch one of my dinners from a free lecture reception at a university across town.
- I didn’t have to buy many groceries this week, since I had stocked up so much during the first half of the month. (This point is key for the tallies below.)
- And thanks to my CSA, I have more squash and potatoes in my house than I know what to do with.
And now that all the numbers are in, it’s time for…final calculations!! I’m just going to compare* October’s numbers to September’s numbers, since I think September was fairly representative of my food-spending habits before the challenge.
Just-me Groceries: $284.11
Social Groceries: $13.41
Just-me Restaurants/Takeout: $97.78
Social Restaurants/Takeout: $169.79
TOTAL FOOD/DRINK: $565.09
Just-me Groceries: $227.24
Social Groceries: $95.37
Just-me Restaurants/Takeout: $1.25 (an apple from a convenience store)
Social Restaurants/Takeout: $0.00
TOTAL FOOD/DRINK: $323.86
I saved $241.23.
O. M. G. That means I went from spending $18.83 per day on food to spending only $10.44 per day.
Before I get too excited, I should remember that I was at a conference earlier this month which included free food, and so I probably saved a bit of money during that time. So let’s adjust the daily average based on 27 days rather than 31 days: $11.99 per day. Still pretty good!
Now, $323.86 is still kind of a lot of money for groceries for one person. If I were living on SNAP benefits, I’d need to shave another $200 off of that total. But, baby steps, right? I still feel really good about this.
To sum up my thoughts on the October Challenge, I have created this oh-so-witty reverse MasterCard ad using my extremely limited graphic design skills. Behold:
I really don’t understand what Pinterest is, but I’m told that if you make graphics like this you can “pin” them. So if you are into “pinning” stuff, please feel very free to “pin” my cheesy celebratory graphic and/or follow me on Pinterest. Alternatively (or in addition), if you feel you may be able to explain Pinterest to me, you can go ahead and do so in the comments section below! As of this posting I have exactly one Pin and exactly zero followers. 🙂
So, what am I going to do with my $241.23? Well, I think there’s a sale at Ann Taylor, so….JUST KIDDING! It’s going straight into my Roth IRA. Inspired in part by this post by Cait at Blonde on a Budget.
So, what’s my plan regarding food for this month, and beyond? Well, I’m not extending the official challenge per se: if I have a specific reason to eat out on a specific day, then, well, I may just do that. But I think it’s safe to say that the weeks where I buy a burrito every evening on my walk home from work are behind me. This experience has allowed me to shift my baseline – to reset what “normal” feels like – and to create some shopping and cooking habits that I’m excited to continue going forward.
Now, getting my monthly food bill under $300—that would be a whole new challenge. Perhaps for an upcoming month…stay tuned!
*The scientist in me is screaming “No! Subtraction is not a valid measure of
significant difference! You need multiple samples, standard deviations,
and p-values! But the blogger in me is saying, yeah, ok…but subtraction
is, like, way easier. And since this is a blog post, guess who wins out?
Have you ever tried making a small change in your behavior and find that it really paid off?
Tell me about it in the comments section—I’m on the lookout for future challenges!