Snackuary 2023!: Food Budget Challenge

It’s the first monthly budget challenge of 2023!

This month we’re working on food costs, for the fourth annual Snackuary

If thinking/talking about food isn’t a good fit for you right now, please check out our 23 in 2023 challenges

If seeing food content isn’t good for you - You can click at the bottom to mute this thread you don’t see this category in the “latest posts”!

A note about content warnings

PLEASE put a spoiler over any content that mentions intentional weight loss or dieting for weight loss. And - please no negative commentary on other peoples’ bodies or food choices, that stuff never feels good! You can spoiler your comments using “hide details” under the little wheel. If you can’t figure out how to spoiler, just “flag” your own post and a mod can help you spoiler it.
Screen Shot 2020-12-27 at 5.38.51 PM

Snackuary will run from January 1 to January 31.

snackuary2

The goal is to understand your food costs better. Many of us have a complicated relationship with food, and at the end of a day, it isn’t an expense we can make go away entirely because it’s fuel! For many households, it’s the 2nd highest expense in their overall budget (after housing).

I found that my food costs have gone up a lot in 2022 due to rampant inflation.

Your Snackuary goal could be as strict as a no-takeout-all-month ban or as simple as a goal as “track my food expenses this month”. Or making coffee at home or simply tracking what parts of your food budget went up since Snackuary last year.

Maybe your goal is to cook more - batch cook each week or bring a packed lunch to work (if you are going into work these days). Perhaps you want to focus on reducing food waste! Or maybe you want to set a cash weekly budget for groceries and not go over it. Maybe you just want to track your food costs for once.

Whatever it is, make sure the goal is generally aimed towards understanding your food costs better.

Snackuary will have a special forum badge and even a STICKER for people that complete the whole month, that will (probably) be cat themed.

Basic rules:

  1. You must establish your own rules about how you are going to lower or track your food costs this month. State them in the first few days of the month to get us kicked off in the right direction.
  2. Each weekend you will report how you did on your challenge for the week on this thread . You can report on where you’re at, and what your biggest challenge and victories of the week were. Then, you’ll put your predictions/goals down for the week ahead.
  3. If you want, build in a celebration meal (fancy cheese or a dinner out- covid-safe of course ) at the end of the month. It’s nice to have a reward!

Who This Challenge is For

Anyone who wants a little public accountability and discussion about reducing food costs. If you liked any of our previous challenges and want to keep it going, here we are!

This challenge pairs very well with Dry January and Uber Frugal January and maybe Veganuary.

What do you get out of participating?

  • Lower food costs ideally!
  • Lower environmental footprint than dining out and/or wasting food.
  • (maybe) healthier food choices
  • A community to support you as you resist getting takeaway for the 4th time this week
  • A CUTE forum badge for participating in the weekly check-ins
  • And if you do all 4 week check-ins, you get a STICKER mailed to you.

Resources

If you’re in to participate (or on the fence and need encouragement), comment below with your goals for Snackuary.

15 Likes

Following. Current plan is just track well. Since I’ve gotten a bit sloppy with general household versus groceries since we increasingly shop at Costco, target, and Fred meyer.

6 Likes

Should be in, need to think more about details…if nothing else, winter tends to be when I go for meat-heavy meals (lots of chili and stews), and given prices I probably ought to try for a few more meatless options instead of just tossing the ground <whatever> and beans into the pot.

5 Likes

I’m in and the goal is to meal plan every week and not chaos-cook-dinner

6 Likes

I’m in, also aiming to stop chaos-meal-planning and to prioritize freezer/pantry meals.

4 Likes

I’m in and I’m going to focus on tracking!

5 Likes

I’m in! Specific goal TBD, other than not be a flaming hot mess. Also I think I haven’t hit my stated goal in all 3 past Snackuarys. Will I continue this trend? Stay tuned!

5 Likes

I’m going to track by hand! I’m putting paper on our pantry and recording what we eat. At minimum, I’ll record when we go for cafe or takeaway food and what we eat for dinner each day if homemade. I also want to check our variety, so i’ll record each different plant item i eat - even for things like spices.

Oh and McDonald’s no more than twice, one breakfast one dinner.

5 Likes

My main goal is tracking costs. I haven’t tracked since pre-covid, and I want to know what my new baseline in. Then I can see what my withdrawal rate is, and how much is safe to donate.

Side goal is to eat less at food carts.

7 Likes

Okay, in.

First goal is to figure out a new food system - we were at work together four long days last semester, this spring only two days overlap but someone goes in five days most of the time (I’m on campus M-W and he’s there Tu-Th every week and most Fridays). So my “make a big crockpot or Instantpot of a stew-type thing on Sunday night” plan isn’t such a good fit. Overall, though, this should be easier. I also have more than 20 minutes for lunch, which will help.

He eats a homemade trail mix for lunch most days but is much more likely than me to go to the cafeteria for social reasons. I’ve been at that college 12 years and have eaten from the cafeteria fewer than 10 times total; he may average once a week. But cost is between 4 and 6 dollars, so I don’t think I’ll push on that.

So, goal 1 is make a plan that works for new weird schedule for lunches and suppers (breakfast is always peanut butter toast, so that’s on autopilot). Refine the plan as needed through the month.

Goal 2 is track grocery costs and compare to last year, when I tracked for this challenge. See how much worse it is and use that info to decide if we need to try for changes. May also track eating out, depending on if I did last year - going to go and look.

Edit: okay, so I didn’t do the last Snackuary but tracked food in Budgetober. January, October, heck what even is time these days? Anyway, will compare to October (groceries separate from eating out). Groceries=food for humans and the other mammals that we feed.

5 Likes

I’m in, i want to eat down the random things in our freezer and get back into meal planning since we dropped that over the last three months.

5 Likes

I’m in. Goals for the month; track expenses, meal plan each week, keep to a grocery budget of $200 per week.

We’re going to Disney at the end of the month so that will be a lot of dining out money but we’ll still have some groceries delivered to the hotel for breakfast, lunch, and snacks to cut down some of the cost.

4 Likes

In but starting on the 7th. We are traveling until the 3rd and then jump straight into work. So, December takeout trends will continue a few days. But then…

  • get back to eating at home, stretch goal: meal plan weekly
  • use (stretch: use up) one esoteric sauce/ingredient each week (esoteric means not used routinely or a staple…)
  • try low gluten/wheat again (for fertility/hormones not weight…)
  • limit dairy to yogurt, cheese for flavor

Nothing explicitly cost related but should be cheaper overall?

5 Likes

Likely/tentative goals:

  • Track overall food spending.
  • Ask Sweaty how much he spent on each grocery trip and contribute accordingly rather than just throwing him a random amount of money every once in a while.
  • Have a budget limit or separately track with the goal to reduce spending on bottled drinks (ie kombucha) and protein bars.
  • Eat down some food in our pantry/ throw out weird old stuff in anticipating of likely upcoming move.
3 Likes

I’m in! Need to eat down the food that’s in the house. I will be away from Jan 24-31 but will work hard on tracking before I leave.

I will be tracking all freezer and cupboard meals that are consumed to eat the stockpiles down.

2 Likes

ok I’m gonna pretend I’ve learned my lessons from the past and try some different approaches:

  1. No more than 2 grocery store runs per week. Really I’d like to do just 1 per week
  2. I can only get take-out coffee and pastries when I’m doing coffee shop study sessions with a friend
  3. No eating out except for boyfriend’s birthday, ski trips, and aforementioned coffee shop study sessions
4 Likes

I want to do this but I have to think on what a reasonable goal would be. It’s my first carnival season so I am not sure if restricting my eating out makes sense. Which is the first thing that came to mind.

8 Likes

Budgets can be about permission, not restriction! Can you work out an amount you can allow yourself to spend on Carnival food and fun, even if it comes out of your ambitious saving goal? It’s OK to save unevenly throughout the year! Oct-Dec has traditionally been break even or save less time for me due to bdays and holiday travel and gifts. But your holidays might be Oct and Jan/Feb! (Also this year Dec was hemorrhage money month due to movers and flight cancellations but… better months will come!)

And here’s my challenge to you: go out and use it without guilt. Oh yeah. I went there.

7 Likes

I’ve no idea what is realistic though or what carnival even looks like!

Hm. Maybe my goal should be to track carnival food/drink spending? Since it’s my first one and I don’t know what to expect.

And then make the goal also something around meal planning or batch cooking. Since things will really get busy in February and it’d be nice for me to have a nice big freezer stash to pull from during that.

6 Likes

Something I learned in my job…

Do you expect to spend $10? (no, probably more). $10000? (no, probably less) 1000? 500? 200? Once you get to something that sounds likely, add a buffer. (This was explained in the context of work time lines so the buffer was “double it”, but for spending maybe 20-50%. Or double it because I know you try to minimize :grin: :two_hearts:)

You can also double check by doing the same guesswork for # events and avg spending per event, then multiply and add buffer.

I’ve given up on plenty of predictions myself so I’m not trying to harp. I just want you to give yourself permission to spend something so you arent like, why is this number not zero!? when you track. :blush:

10 Likes