30.1.09

Eat cheap, travel far




I just booked a trip to London, and if all goes well, tonight I'll be booking a flight to Rome.
I've also just come back from a trip to Tallinn, Estonia, and my friends are starting to ask me if maybe I won the lottery and didn't tell them? Some of them don't say anything but I can hear them think: how does she do it?

The truth is, I don't know! Another truth is that the sum of all these trips (and I haven't even started to think about my birthday weekend, or the summer holiday) is more than I can afford. So I thought of a plan. A plan to save, a plan to budget.

We spend 325 euros a month on groceries. I use the term groceries loosely here: this covers food and drink (breakfast, dinner and weekend lunches for 2, including dinner parties with friends), wine and beer, toiletries, cleaning supplies, household stuff like batteries and candles, and flowers. We don't always manage to stay within the budget, in which case we both add half of what we overspent at the end of the month.

Even though I feel I manage the grocery budget pretty well, I know I can do much better. I have a shameful amount of waste that goes into the garbage container every week. Foods that spoil in the fridge because of bad planning or bad timing when shopping... left overs that never get eaten.

So here's the plan. For a month, starting today, I will try to stay within a budget of 200 euros. I will document my shopping, the receipts and the dishes I cooked. I realize this is going to be a huge challenge. But if I manage to pull it off it means that by the time I fly to Rome, I will have earned myself a plane ticket. Literally.

One very important thing: we have to eat well. If we lived on peanut butter sandiwches for 3 months, I could fly to Rome and take a little detour to New York before flying back to Amsterdam... But, ideally, Dennis should not even notice we're on a budget. I'm kind of hoping he won't check this blog for a while - and see if he figures it out by himself.

So, here's what I spent today:
Organic pork - 5.69
a bunch of rocket - 1.49
a piece of blue cheese (roquefort-like, but cheaper brand) - 1.53
1 yellow bell pepper - 0.70

The pork will be saved till Sunday, I'll probably make a chili-type braise with it (with beans from the pantry to eek out the meat). Rocket, bell pepper and blue cheese will be dinner tonight (with pasta from the pantry). Tomorrow night, Dennis is taking me out to dinner!

What I need to do as soon as possible is to take an inventory of what exactly is in the fridge, freezer and pantry. I suspect we could live on that for at least a week...

Please cheer me on!

4 comments:

Jon said...

Great idea- I'll look forward to following along.

We are in a similar situation having booked 2 weeks in Venice next month.

Natasja said...

Go Klary! Je kunt het!

Hoping you'll have a wonderful time in London, if you need any tips, please drop me a line, I'd love to help, it's been such a pleasure reading your blog and your posts on eGullet, I'd love to repay you with any help you need.

Veel plezier in London en Rome, Natasja

gnoegnoe said...

Yo Klary! Yo Klary! (Envision the underarms up in the air making circles while hearing the yell.) You can do it!

cheap holidays worldwide said...

If you want to save on your travel, try to book your hotel and flight reservation in advance. You will surely find lower deals.