Last week we came up in the news again in CNBC with an article and short video, looking more into the monetary side of our lifestyle. How much did we used to make each year?, how much did we save for the trip?, and our approximate yearly budget.
One of the questions that came up was how we were able to amass the kind of savings we did in the short time we did. My simple answer was: we chose to live frugally as soon as we knew this trip was going to happen. We stopped taking all kinds of vacations and trips, except for a weekend of camping every year for my birthday, and we cut out all unnecessary spending. Cable was cut back to just Netflix. Dinners out with friends turned into dinners in with friends. My little shopping sprees at the mall turned into occasional visits to Plato’s Closet (a trendy second hand store if you’re not familiar with them).
One thing that has always worked to our advantage though, and still does today, is because of the fact that we are not really foodies, we’ve always been able to keep grocery costs low. Or let me rephrase that. We do like food, and we even aappreciate well prepared meals, but we can just as easily go without them if need be.
Personally I can attribute lack of interest in extravagant foods to my life growing up. I’m not trying to throw my patents under the bus here, because I’m sure this is true for a lot of families, but we never had real homecooked meals. With two working parents and an early dinner time (5:30), our meals were simple. Spaghetti with sauce from the can; burgers or pork chops on the grill; a hamloaf thawed cooked in the oven. Throw in a side of applesauce and a bag of microwave vegetables and dinner was complete. I never minded though. The food tasted good to me, and I always left the table with a full stomach.
Although Matt’s father prepared delicious time laboring works of art every night, he never got the food gene passed down to him. Most days he actually considers eating to be a waste of time and is still waiting for his complete daily nutrition to come in pill form. Yet one more reason I will never get him to pick up a spatula. So, whenever we need a quick or easy way to cut our spending, food is the first thing to fall by the wayside.
Ever since we moved to Indiantown especially, our days are so full of work and our bodies are so tired through every stage of the day, what we’re eating is usually the last thing on our mind. Don’t get me wrong, its not like we could satisfy ourselves with a bowl of gruel, but all we really want or need at this point is something to fill up our stomachs that doesn’t taste too bad.
Let me walk you through an average day of our eating habits:
Breakfast is 90% of the time a bowl of cereal with a cup of coffee. Cream and sugar in mine, black for Matt. Once in a great while it could be a bowl of oatmeal, or if we’re out of both of those (our chosen grocery store is 20 miles away), toast.
Lunch is a ham or turkey sandwich with cheese, and some chips for snacking. On very rare occasions we might have a bowl of Kraft mac’n’cheese. Water or soda for a beverage.
Up to this point there is little to no variation to our daily eating habits. This is what goes in our stomachs 7 days a week, 365 days a year. At dinner I can get a little more creative, but still try to keep total costs of ingredients under $5/night.
Some of my go-to favorites here are still hamburgers and chips; spaghetti and a meat with homemade sauce; shredded chicken tacos; and grilled pork tenderloin with baked or mashed potatoes. Sounds pretty tasty still, right? And because I did use my previous 2.5 years of cruising free time on my hands to brush up on my skills in the kitchen, they usually are. You’re still able to do that with a $70/week grocery cart?, you may ask. Yup, and that is because we have lowered ourselves to shopping at Walmart.
Not only do we make our weekly trips there, but we buy store brand as much as possible. And as much as we dislike the corporation, our wallets do appreciate the visit there. Check out their prices of a lot of staple items we purchase.
Malt-o-Meal cereal: $4.50 for 32 oz.
Great Value brand coffee: $6.50 for 32 oz
Loaf of bread: $0.98
Lunch meat: $3.50 for one pound
Sliced cheese: $2.25/8 oz
Potato chips: $1.85 a bag
Boneless skinless chicken breasts:1.99/lb
Ground beef: $3.50/lb
Pork tenderloin: $2.99/lb
Flour tortillas: $2.00 for 20
Ice cream: 3.00/gallon
Oak Leaf wine: 3.50/bottle
2 liter of soda: $0.99 for RC Cola from our local Circle K
Drinking water: $0.35 per gallon at a local filling station
We snack very little, and treats for us usually include a bowl of ice cream for Matt, and a beer or wine for me. We’re simple people with simple needs, and it has really helped us keep costs down in many areas of our lives.
Although I still really enjoy a good meal every now and then and would love to be set free in a grocery store with no budget, I’m ok with basic at the moment when it comes to food. Basic keeps the dream going. It puts miles under our keel and new stamps in our passports. So if you ask me if I’d rather have a high end meal or spend an afternoon swimming with pigs in the Bahamas, its a no brainer for me to put my culinary needs second.
I’d like to know about you though? Are your meals on board extravagant or ordinary? What’s your favorite meal to cook on board? And most importantly, what cheap meal tips do you have for me? *Just a side note thatI’m without an actual laptop for 3 weeks while mine is being serviced, so I apologize for the few or off topic posts that you’ll be seeing over the next few weeks. Its hard to type out a post on my little tablet, and almost impossible to edit photos to the degree I’d like.