Confessions of an Un-frugal Foodie

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More macaroons? Yes, please!

More macaroons? Yes, please!

October marks the upcoming release of Nom by SALT—a new app that helps you dine on a dime.

To celebrate, the SALT Blog is adding a dash of flavor to some of your favorite recurring features. From soup to nuts, we’ll be providing food for thought (and other food analogies) all month long. It’s Nomtober!

Today, Bridget shares why she finds it easy to live on a budget—but not eat on one.

***

I know I should be frugal, but I can’t with food. I just can’t.

I will go months without buying new clothes, I will forego owning a car for years, and I will read in the dark to lower my electric bill.

But I will not reduce my budget for dining out and groceries.

EXPENSIVE TASTES

When I go out, I find it hard to be moderate in my spending. Dining out is an adventure, and I am indulgent to the extreme. I want flights of wine from Italy and my favorite beers from Belgium. If a martini costs $11, my first assumption is “delicious” rather than “overpriced.” If the menu boasts ahi tuna or any dish with lamb, I don’t even read the rest.

When a new restaurant opens, I can hardly last 2 weeks before I visit. Meanwhile, my established favorite hot spots are such a part of my regular repertoire that I feel like I’m there more often than some of the staff.

I can’t even be cheap when I buy groceries. You will find me stocking up on almond flour at $18 per pound to make French macaroons, and I buy chocolate in bulk from the local chocolatier to lovingly shave into delicate pieces for perfect French soufflés.

At the farmers market, I seek out handmade pasta dishes, free-range eggs, and meats made from unusual animals like elk. Anything that is exotic and/or delicious ends up on my plate eventually.

I love food. I probably love it more than anything else, because it’s such a worthy pleasure on which to spend money.

THRIFTY THOUGHTS

Still, I experience occasional bouts of guilt when I add up this spending and think what a dent it could make in my debt. However, I know I have neither the willpower nor the physical stamina to commit to a diet of ramen. If I allow myself one exception while forcing spending sacrifices in every other category, it will always be food.

In all honesty, permitting this indulgence is probably one of the reasons I can so readily commit to aggressive debt repayment and frugal living otherwise. Eating like I’m richer than I actually am keeps me from feeling deprived.

While I sometimes lament the absence of things that make it obvious I’m still on a budget, I am readily distracted from my self-pity at my next meal. If anyone criticizes me for eating like a queen while I live like a peasant, I can always claim it’s the best for my health and happiness.

Who can put a price on that?

What are the indulgences you can’t say no to—no matter the cost? Let us know in the comments. 

(Photo: SheriW/Flickr)

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  1. Gillian October 8, 2012 / 7:32 pm

    I love this post Bridget! Good for you, we all need to give ourselves some treats in order to stay on a steady financial path. The problem is indulging in EVERYTHING instead of picking the things that matter the most to us. I used to buy nice clothes but I’d say I’m headed in the food direction as well, because a nice dinner out feels like I still get to afford some nice things in life and clothing just isn’t as exciting to me anymore!

  2. Michelle N. October 26, 2012 / 4:36 pm

    Wow, it’s like I’m reading an article about myself! I’m an avid foodie also and I spend more money on food than anything else (besides gas, that is). It’s an affliction I don’t want to be rid of, but now that I have more expenses to worry about, I’ve been reducing my dosage of indulgence at a pace that I can tolerate, haha. But yes, a delicious food adventure wins over a new pair of shoes any day in my book. :)

    • Ryan Lane October 26, 2012 / 5:25 pm

      Thanks for reading, Michelle! Any tips for how you’ve reduced those indulgences?

      • Michelle N. October 26, 2012 / 7:38 pm

        I don’t know if I have any tips per se, Ryan, but what I try to do (keyword: try) is limit my fancier meals outside to only being a treat for myself after an exceptionally hard day or long week. I used to eat out at expensive places almost everyday, so making that a reward for hard work makes the experience a bit more meaningful to me. It is hard to completely avoid dining out, especially as a very busy grad student, so when I do have to grab food outside, I find places where I can get amazing food at the most bang for my buck, which I think is a fun adventure in itself. My belly ends up happy as well as my wallet and the foodie in me is fulfilled.

        Keeping track of my food expenses also has really kept my self-indulgence in check. The thought of overspending loan money I can’t repay is a scary thought indeed. Reality can be an effective, though dreary deterrent, but I like to believe that all this self-restraint now will pay off in the future when I can overindulge with my own hard-earned money!

        • Ryan Lane October 30, 2012 / 9:23 am

          Makes sense, Michelle! Thanks for sharing!

    • Bridget November 2, 2012 / 3:20 pm

      *high five*

      Even without new shoes, we dine in style, girl!

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