Tuesday, May 1, 2012

All-Junk Food May!

OK, so maybe I'm joking about the "All-Junk Food May" thing.  But today is May 1st, and THAT MEANS ALL-HEALTHY APRIL IS OFFICIALLY OVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (Tell me you sense my enthusiasm about this.)

I embarked on All-Healthy April out of curiosity.  I wanted to know if it was possible to eat well, while also maintaining a budget.  Most of my dinners this past month have been homemade.  Now, that doesn’t mean these dinners were fancy (or in some cases, even good), but I did it to the best of my ability.

Dinners usually consisted of:
- grilled/baked variations of chicken, with veggies
- stir-fry
- simple pastas (no pre-bottled sauces)
- wraps
- salads

Lunches usually consisted of:
- cheese/veggie tortillas
- salads
- peanut butter/apple sandwiches
- almonds, cheese, and fruit
- leftovers from dinner

Breakfasts usually always consisted of:
- fruit, yogurt, cheese

This was an interesting experiment for me – not only from a financial perspective, but from a self-control perspective.  I’m not well-known for my disciplined eating habits, so it was very challenging for me to maintain this goal.

At the end of the month, I tallied up all my grocery receipts...and I ended up about $70 over budget.  Bummer!  So does that mean it's impossible to eat healthy foods and still maintain a budget?  Probably not.  I think it mostly reflects my "newbie" status as a healthy eater.  After all, thousands of people choose to eat well without spending an inordinate amount of money at the grocery store.  Like anything else, I'm sure I'd learn ways to save more money if I shopped healthy more often.

Lessons Learned From All-Healthy April:
1.  Don’t choose April.  Seriously, April was the worst month for me to choose.  Why?  Birthdays galore, plus Easter.  I had originally stated in my “guidelines” that if I was out to dinner (on someone else’s dime) or a guest in someone’s home, I was welcome to eat whatever I wanted.  Well, let's just say that there was excessive eating out…which was great for my palate, but not-so-great for my goal of healthy eating.

2.  Beware of the “eyes bigger than your stomach” syndrome.  I had a habit of buying more than I could physically eat each week – especially in the fruit/veggie category.  Each week, I would buy apples, pears, bananas, strawberries, grapes and oranges…and each week I would throw half of it away because it spoiled before I could eat it.  What a waste of money!

3.  Go more, spend more.  The more often I went to the grocery store, the more I spent - and I went to the grocery store a lot in April.  Buying whole wheat tortillas is not more expensive than buying flour tortillas, but just being at the store so often prompted me to spend more money.  Like I said in yesterday’s post, I’ve found that the more I abstain from any type of shopping, the less I spend. 

4.  It’s OK.  I confess there were nights that I got home at 5:30 and by the time I’d done my normal house chores, I was too tired to cook anything spectacular.  Or really, anything at all.  So I’d eat a yogurt and some carrots,and went to bed.  And it’s OK to do that every once in a while.  I tried not to beat myself up when I abandoned a menu plan.

5.  Know your limits.  I almost drove myself crazy this month.  It wasn’t the food part that I struggled with – it was the time constraints.  There are only so many hours in a day, and the time I normally spent blogging became devoted to scouring recipes, grocery shopping, and cooking.  I think it’s safe to say that I can only handle one major challenge at a time.  This year, my focus needs to remain my Stopping Spree.

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