Moderation and the Grocery Budget

This past weekend, Brian and I made a trip down to Granville Island (not really an island) and did a bit of grocery shopping at the marketplace.  Now, we’re pretty infamous for our $200 grocery budget, so it may be surprising to learn that we really do enjoy good food.

I ended up purchasing (among other items) four slices of fresh European style smoked bacon for nearly $5.  Yes, $5 for 4 slices of bacon.  But oh, they are the most beautiful slices of bacon ever.  Thick, lean and delicious.  I’m not sure what I’m going to make with them yet, but whatever it is, it will be EPIC.

Photo Credit: Lara604 via Flickr

Photo Credit: Lara604 via Flickr

How does this work with our budget?  Simple – moderation.  Most people don’t need to eat a lot of meat – the majority of us do not exert ourselves physically enough to warrant eating a steak for dinner.  For example, someone my size who works a desk job and exercises semi-regularly, 40g of protein a day is more than sufficient.  And protein does not equal meat either, necessarily. It includes yogurt and cheeses too.

Back to the bacon – I consider bacon an indulgence.  It’s not a terribly healthy food and not something I would eat regularly.  So when I do eat it, why not get something high quality instead of something that is mass-marketed, pre-packaged and heavily salted?  Why not spend a bit more for something that I’ll savour for a few minutes longer?

That’s one of the philosophies behind our grocery budget – some things we don’t spend a lot of money on. Fruits and veggies, for example, don’t tend to cost us a lot of money because we buy what is on sale and in season.  Even for organic items, it doesn’t end up costing a lot of money at all.  Other things, we can afford to be picky, as long as we do it in moderation.  So I can buy the occasional nice, fancy, cut of meat and really, really enjoy it… and just have a few extra vegetarian meals during the week!

How do you balance eating well with eating on a budget?

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  1. I love bacon but try not to eat it too much either because obviously it’s not very healthy for you but that picture has convinced me that I need to take a trip down to Granville Island soon 🙂

  2. I’ve found eater healthier to actually be cheaper than eating cheap convenience foods, but that’s probably because I buy cheap whole ingredients and a lot less meat than most people. I’m with you, I don’t eat much meat. My favourite way to cook bacon is in pasta or a risotto, it adds such a lovely smoky touch and it only takes about two pieces for two people. High quality bacon is totally worth it!

    • CF says:

      Healthier is totally cheaper. I’m always super pleased with myself when I can come home with a big bag of groceries, mostly fruits and veggies, and only have spent $5.

  3. Cat says:

    I try to do simple healthy things – like quiona and cherry tomatoes, or peanut butter and banana sandwiches..

    • CF says:

      I like simple meals as well. Things like pasta and stir fry are super easy to improvise with. I usually just end up including a bunch of whatever veggies have been in season or on sale.

  4. oh good god that bacon looks yummy! I don’t indulge that much either in that kind of food, so I don’t blame you for wanting to enjoy the best when you do. But you are way better than me when it comes to the grocery budget!

    • CF says:

      Some would even say I’m a bit anal with the grocery budget. 😉 Anyways, when I indulge, even for bacon or something like cheesecake, I don’t feel guilty at all because I eat it so infrequently.

  5. It’s really hard to balance eating well (which I love to do) with budgeting, but you’re right; moderation is key! Plus, making things at home. That reduces costs drastically.

    • CF says:

      It definitely reduces costs soooo much by making it at home. Even something like mussels are cheaper at home… $12 for 3kg of mussels at Costco this week! :S

  6. I’d say we try to do what you do. Buy nice things in moderation. Good high quality foods can usually be stretched longer because they have more flavor (like your bacon) so you can use/eat less. I don’t eat a lot of meat so that definitely saves us money (well sort of, I guess bf eats my share of the meat).

    • CF says:

      A lot of good quality foods seem to last longer too, anecdotally. I’ve found that organic bananas stay fresher longer than conventional ones.

  7. I’ve probably said it before but most people eat more than they need to and that costs $$$ in the budget. Like you mention depending on how active one is they don’t need as much meat and carbs during the day. The more we eat the more money it costs, full-stop. That bacon sounds awesome by the way!!

    • CF says:

      People eat wayyyy more than they need. I’m amazed at how much my co-workers eat… we all sit on our butts at a desk all day!!

  8. Vicky says:

    I’m sure the bacon is like ‘angels frolicking on your tastebuds.’ Brian will know what I am referring to. 🙂

    I do find that I am eating more than I should be; tighter pants is a great indicator! But I’m struggling with the protein aspect, as I do find it harder to recover from weight lifting sessions if I only have protein once a day. But I definitely agree that it is all about balance. The bacon sounds amazing!

    • CF says:

      I will ask him about the frolicking tastebuds…

      Mmm if you’re weightlifting, you’d need more regular protein. I spread my protein out – eggs or cheese or yogurt or ham etc. in the morning, some sort of protein at lunch… often yogurt in the afternoon, some sort of protein with dinner. I just don’t eat a lot at any one point. 🙂

  9. Pauline says:

    We try like you to eat in moderation, or have a big splurge once in a while. Seafood is an example, we have a dozen oysters each, or more, but once every few months.

    • CF says:

      Moderation is just healthier in general too… I never feel like I have to “avoid” a food when I can eat it once in a while. And oysters… so… very… good. 😉

  10. Mike@WeOnlyDoThisOnce says:

    Eating healthy is a bit harder on a budget, I find. Fruits and vegetables are unfortunately slightly more expensive than the super cheap options.

    • CF says:

      It seems to really depend on the area… It’s quite cheap to get fruits and veggies where I live. Even organic ones. But we’re not too picky so we’ll often just stick to sales… we just got 5 lbs of organic apples at $1.25/lb and 8lbs of pork at 99 cents/lb, for example.

  11. We spend a little more on groceries because we have some expensive tastes. Like you said, it’s okay to splurge sometimes if you plan for it and do it in moderation! My favorite type of guacamole is $5 for a little package…and I love crab legs!

  12. I am not a fan of bacon… but you HAVE to try beef bacon. It’s from Calgary and it is amazing. It beats the pants off of pork bacon.

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