My goal this week is to get serious about groceries.
We really aren’t doing a great job of carefully planning the food bill. Part of that is laziness on our part. Currently, Nadine gets about $300 a month in benefits. Now that we’re all more settled in, the rampant grocery spending seems to have abated; so her monthly benefits cover most of our grocery costs.
But, starting in February, Arizona state will be in charge of her food stamps, which means she’ll only get about $100 in help. In other words, we’ll need a better system — one that I’d rather have in place before the big cut happen.
The problem is communal meals. I love having someone — Nadine and/or Tim — cook. And right now it’s simple: Nadine’s benefits cover most of our grocery bill. But, starting next month, things will get far more complicated.
We won’t want to pay for every single communal meal we eat. But we also won’t want Nadine and Marc shouldering too much of the costs, either. And, of course, it’s not as though Nadine separates her grocery lists into shared items and ones for just her and Marc.
So we have to find a way to make sure they’re not buying too many of the communal groceries, without our having to pay too much for their own purchases. Which probably comes off as stingy, but I’m more worried about the potential for resentment.
I don’t want to have to wonder how much of the groceries we paid for was for things I really think is a waste of money — and I’m sure they don’t want me poring over every bill they bring home. It could get uncomfortable.
Everyone has different grocery standards. I’m horrified when Marc buys those paltry trays of sliced fruit for $3-5 a shot. Heck, I got a little dizzy when Nadine bought cherries this week that weren’t on sale. Yeah, they $2.50 a pound — not horribly priced — but they also weren’t all that robust looking, and Marc hadn’t even specifically asked for them.
And, in case I didn’t mention it, they weren’t on sale. I stress that because I understand how silly it probably sounds. But that was the thought pounding in my head while she examined the incredibly unimpressive bag that was probably nearly $5.
I was raised that you only ever buy fruit that is on sale. You just don’t buy it otherwise. (My only exception, for some reason, is bananas. Maybe because they’re so cheap anyway?)
It’s this kind of stuff that will quickly strain relations with my relations. And it’s just not worth that kind of resentment. So we’d better buckle down and figure out a better system before I end up yelling at a bewildered in-law in the produce section. (Don’t laugh. If my blood sugar were low enough, I could easily drag Marc by the ear into the canned fruit section and ask if he were aware it existed.)
So, what to do?
The biggest thing is to figure out communal meals separately. If Nadine and I sit down with the food ads each Wednesday, we can decide on the couple of meals to make that week. Then we can make sure that Tim and I are covering a fair share of those costs, simply by making sure that some of those ingredients land in our cart instead of hers.