Update | Grocery shopping on a budget is definitely not easy

Early in this blog’s life, i.e. four weeks ago, I challenged myself to stick to a $500 grocery budget in the month of June. I was not successful.

But, I did save money compared to May. So, I kept my promise and donated the savings to the Community Food Bank of Central Alabama.

I set this goal for two reasons. #1: How much we spend on groceries is something I can control. And with less household income now, groceries and eating out are the first budget lines I scrutinize. I’m happy to also report that our dining out spending decreased 26.34% (to the decimal point because I did that hard math.)

Report from my YNAB account. We’ll definitely talk about YNAB later.

Reason #2 is rightfully heavy. With all the warranted attention and reflection on systematic racism and oppression in this country, I was thinking about the Black families who work so hard for much less income and struggle to put healthy food on the table every month. Compound that with the fact that too many* minority families live in food deserts. It’s hard not the see the link.

This 2018 article about Birmingham’s food deserts from Civil Eats draws that link quite clearly.

“As a direct result of the bombings and terror, insurance companies labeled businesses in newly integrated communities high-risk; they therefore had trouble acquiring insurance, which in turn meant the racial zoning maps affected not only housing, but also community grocers, restaurants, and other businesses’ ability to operate in those areas. Today, those same redlined neighborhoods are all areas where accessing healthy food is a challenge, and they’re home to many of the city’s Black and Latino residents.”

“Birmingham’s ‘Food Deserts’ Have Been Shaped by its Redlined Past” September 26, 2018

And here I was carrying on about shopping at Publix vs. Aldi vs. Trader Joe’s vs. Whole Foods. Privilege checked.

I’m going to keep checking myself in July in regards to my grocery spending and be mindful of the privileges I’m afforded when it comes to food – and everything in general. In June, I was fortunate to enjoy two virtual cooking classes. Homemade pizza for my birthday and epic burgers for Father’s Day. And, we went camping at the end of the month and I prepped a lot.

What might benefit my budget the most in July is not eating out. We’ve definitely gained weight in this pandemic. So we might be buying even more groceries as July is for cleaner eating. I’ll let you know how that goes.

*I looked and looked for a statistic on minorities living in food deserts. I couldn’t find one. The last government report that many others source was published in 2009.

3 thoughts

  1. This post is food for thought – no pun intended. It is mindful and thought provoking. I was not even aware of food deserts before and hang my privileged head in shame. If I want to be a part of theBlack Lives Matter solution – and I do! – I need to be mor enlightened. Thank you to contributing to that end.

    1. Budgeting! So proud of your accomplishments:) (USDA Economic Research Service may have more recent data. Not sure, but the data may align with the most recent census.)

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