Mint.com, Budgets, and Meal Planning

In preparing to try to have a baby this fall, my husband and I wanted to seriously sit down and look at our finances. I fell in love with the site Mint.com. It automatically takes all our financial info from all our accounts and puts it together on one page. It also has great graphics and easy to use interface. The first month we just lived life and let Mint.com track how much we spent on various different things (groceries, home goods, debt, going out, etc. . .) We learned that we LOVE going out to eat and easily identified areas that we could try to cut back on to save money. We set our goals and were happy.

 

It’s the end of month two and while we set goals, we didn’t meet most of them. We did manage to spend ZERO dollars on ATM fees (yay) but spent just as much on going out as we had the month before even though we were putting a conscious effort into not doing so. Blah. To try to correct this for next month, I am going to attempt to try a very grown up thing, meal planning (gasp). I’ve always thought the idea of meal planning sounded silly, but I now see it’s merit. It seems like it’ll be a great tool to not waste food and to avoid those dreaded sentences, “What are we having for dinner? Let’s just get take-out.”

The positive thing though is that even though we didn’t meet our goals, we have plenty of money to work with if we could only have better discipline. My mind excites with the possibilities of what we could do with all that money if it wasn’t being spent on Chipotle and Red Robin. Here’s to hoping we meet some of our goals next month!!

 

What are your favorite meal planning sites or ideas? I’d also love any tips to sticking to a budget!

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Costco and Cooking: Being as Real Food as I Can Be on a Budget

I love food. I’m neutral about cooking. Sometimes I enjoy the experience, all the smells and textures, but I will never, ever turn down takeout or someone else cooking for me. I love being provided food that is delicious and requires zero effort on my part. The problem with said takeout is it makes you fat. I have a firm belief that it isn’t the actual food that makes you fat (plenty of people eat cheeseburgers at home and are skinny), but all that added bullshit that makes Americans fat. Preservatives, chemical, filler, that is the root of evil within our food culture. To combat this, I try to cook as many yummy foods at home as possible. My husband and I try new recipes all the time for our favorite kinds of take out food, ultimately reducing the number of takeout trips, and in turn, the amount of junk going into our bodies. Costco helps greatly with this goal. I just got back and spent $233. I got practically everything one needs to make practically anything. I still need to get organic romaine (When will Costco jump on this bandwagon!) mushrooms, some beans, bread crumbs, and tomato products, but other than that, we are set for about a month of eating. In contrast, we could probably get 7 or 8 takeout meals on $233, depending on where we went and what we ate. While Costco offers some organic products, I’d definitely like to see more variety on this spectrum but I get it, it’s hard to get organic in bulk. I’d also like to see more natural cleaning products. Despite it’s faults, Costco plays a major role in maintaining my families food budget and waistlines. Cooking for yourself can be empowering, fulfilling, and good for the soul. It’s also cheaper and much, much healthier.