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I'm not lost, I just don't know where I'm going.
But I'm determined to enjoy the journey.
Food and freedom of choice / budgets 
4th-Jun-2014 14:32
Self greenhair

Ever since a year or so after I moved here, when my personal economy had recovered to where my buffer was getting comfortable, I've pretty much just bought what I wanted to eat. After a while I barely even glanced at the prices.

Now that I'm trying to adjust to the idea of having far less disposable income, the grocery bill is the one thing that seems unreasonably high. I could eat cheaper, I'm sure. Especially if I'm willing to cook more often. I like beans and lentils and that sort of thing.

So now I'm looking at the cost of food again and it's all so expensive. Fresh produce is incredibly overpriced here. It feels like food prices have doubled while I was busy not paying attention. So I revert to the old pattern of buying what's on sale and foregoing a few of the things I want because they are too expensive, and I resent this feeling of not being in control anymore. I still choose what to buy, but my decision is strongly influenced by whoever sets the prices.

Looking at my spending for the last three months has helped a lot in working out a budget, but I think I need to look at the last three years to get a more accurate picture. I tend to have one huge tea shopping trip a year. I hope I'll be able to buy a new mattress this summer (I have the money; transportation is the problem). I want to have a dentist check me out. Those huge, infrequent expenses are so hard to take into account. It's been 1 ⅓ year since I had my hair done (I would have gone while still in Madison if it wasn't so ridiculously cold outside).

I am confident that I can handle loan payments while still maintaining a decent standard of living, but I'm going to have to make sacrifices and I can't be as carefree as I've been for the pasts few years. How much do I spend on yarn per year? No idea - I actually succeeded in my yarn diet and didn't buy any last year. Books? Heck if I know. Then there's always some Kickstarter project I want to get in on. Those are not as easy to classify, since they tend to be part charity, part paying for a product.

I've been getting into YNAB over the past month. I think I'm starting to get the hang of it, but there are still things I don't understand. Would be nice if I could just budget a sum towards a broad group - say, "entertainment" - and then not care how that splits up into sub-categories of books, music, games, other. It doesn't really matter if I overspend within one of those sub-categories as long as I'm within spending for the entire entertainment category.
4th-Jun-2014 13:26 (UTC) - Ynab
Du trenger jo icke å ha subkategorier egentlig. Vi har brukt ynab i sikkert 4 år nå. Har du spørsmål, send en mail til Robert (eller meg). Robert har blitt litt av en expert. :)
4th-Jun-2014 17:35 (UTC) - food
you can basically live on rice and beans, many people around the world eat this on a daily basis : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rice_and_beans and those kind of dishes make up a complete protein picture.
Do make sure to get some vitamin B12 though, either from dairy, eggs, fish/meat or supplements. 2 glasses of milk, or 2 eggs a day are enough to get your recommended daily allowance.

If you in addition have a stack with different (dried) herbs, you can add as many different tastes as you like.
4th-Jun-2014 19:22 (UTC) - Re: food
You sort of come across as preaching vegetarianism here (not sure if that is your intent) so I'm just going to step in right here and say: don't.

I am happy for you that you feel healthier on a vegetarian diet, but know that it's not a universal solution. It doesn't work for everyone, and it doesn't make you a better person. Not everyone has the same access to food. Out here, none of the grocery stores carry tofu. I'd have to travel over 2 hours to get some. My local grocery just started carrying TSP (textured soy protein) within the last couple of weeks. I have next to no idea how to cook with it... all I can remember from my childhood is that mom used to mix it in with ground beef to make meatballs. Probably to stretch the meat further.. at least I'm assuming the TSP was cheaper than ground beef. My family used to be poor. All the meat we had in our dinners was either ground beef, fish by-product, or fish we had caught ourselves. Occasionally we'd have whole roast chickens (when they were on sale) and that was the best thing ever. I was mostly done with my teen years when I first had a real steak (which I foolishly ordered "well done" because the concept of eating undercooked meat was completely foreign to me, much like the concept of going to a restaurant) Those were things we just didn't have.

I like beans, and I don't mind rice, but I need more variation than that.

I guess I associate eating the same thing over and over again with poverty. I don't want to go back there. Being poor was horrible.

Getting all the nutrients I need and not too many calories is already difficult enough for me; I do not need to add to that difficulty by cutting out easy-to-prepare protein sources like meat.

Maybe I'll have beans more frequently once I get a crock pot; I imagine those would be ideal to prepare beans - I could never figure out how to get them to the cooked correctly otherwise and pre-cooked beans (which I've been using a lot lately) cost more than dried.

I've never been that great with herbs and spices - I would welcome some tips on seasoning, if that is something you are good at.
5th-Jun-2014 17:36 (UTC) - Re: food
Whoops! I really didn't want to sound like that (but sometimes I cannot help it, I have been vegetarian for more than 10 years, and vegan since 5 months).

However, the point I was trying to make was about the money. As rice and beans are very cheap food, and together form a complete source of protein, which means you do not NEED to add meat nor tofu (which are more expensive) to the meal to make it "complete", or at least not in excessive amounts, or at least not every single day...

Being poor is horrible. Financially poor that is. Apart from money people can be rich in so many different ways; imagination, knowledge, skills... Being able to make the most of nothing (especially in difficult times) is one of the most valuable qualities one can have.
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