Have you ever gone to one of those food truck markets? You know, the ones where you have to pay an entry fee, and then pay an additional $15 for some fish tacos and nothing else? Same.
Most people in the personal finance community won’t boast about the money they spend on expensive food. If they share these stories at all, it’s usually in one of those “I made an oopsy” posts that encourage you to be cautious of your money habits. To be honest, I’m only able to mock these posts because I’ve written them. In fact, I love to share ways you can cut your grocery bill down and how we keep our expenses low when it comes to dining out. You may have even read some of those stories.
But here’s the thing: I really love food.
What is one to do if they really love food but also really love their finances? What if food really makes you happy but it’s becoming a costly expense? How do you justify the expense even though you know you should lower your bills and restrict bad habits?
I have a better question for you: What if you just don’t? Justifying an expense if you love what you buy isn’t always necessary. Especially if you’re still able to pay all of your bills on time and put some money aside for savings.
Recently, I’ve splurged on some costly staples for my pantry and fridge, and honestly? I’m not willing to give them up. I’ve found a way to rank these foods on whether or not they’re worth the expense by factoring in cost, versatility, convenience, health benefits, and whether or not they’re child-friendly — because, hello? I’m a mom.
From fig infused balsamic to an $11 bag of carrots, these are the foods I’m always willing to splurge on:
1. Cashews (or nut of choice)
At around $12.99 CAD ($9.75 USD) per pound, cashews are a long-standing staple for my pantry. This nut is an easy snack that also has the versatility to spruce up any main course. Any nut can be a great addition to your more expensive dining must-haves, but cashews are my favorite for a few reasons. They are lower in fat than most nuts, but still provide a great amount of protein. They also come in clutch for heart health and cholesterol, which let’s be honest, is very important as I near my 30s. My favorite meal to add cashews to is this vegetarian version of a cashew chicken, which replaces the chicken with broccoli. You can also add cashews as a nice side to your charcuterie board when hosting friends or family.
2. Oil and vinegar
An everyday oil and vinegar can ring in around the $10 CAD ($7-8 USD) mark for both bottles — but add infused flavors such as rosemary or fig, your total can get closer to a $25 CAD ($18-19 USD) markup. In every situation, this is a purchase I simply can’t resist. Not only is oil and vinegar great for salads or as an addition to your stir fry, but the most enjoyable place to use these pantry staples is poured straight from the bottle, onto a plate that I will then aggressively dip fresh bread into.
And since we’re airing all my dirty financial laundry today, another recent guilty pleasure is going full millennial and adding a bit of fig-infused balsamic vinegar to my avocado toast. Don’t come for me.
3. Farmers market produce
Produce will always be a staple while preparing meals for the week, and to be honest, it’s expensive no matter where you buy it. However, what I wasn’t expecting was the $22 CAD ($16.50 USD) call out when they rang in my two bags of locally grown carrots. A little bit in shock, that worry was washed away after I took a bite and suddenly remembered what a real vegetable tastes like. While I’m all about heading to the closest grocery store on days when I’m in a rush, sometimes it’s nice to take a day trip to the local farmers market and spend that little bit extra to support the businesses in our community. You might think I’m crazy for wanting a bit more dirt on my fruit and vegetables, but in reality, I think it’s always a good idea to consider where your produce is grown.
A new staple in our home, pesto isn’t the most expensive food on the list. At just $0.36 CAD ($0.27 USD) per ounce from Costco, this healthy treat is cheaper to buy from the store than make at home — which is why pesto made the list. It’s much cheaper to buy your basic tomato sauce for pasta, but if you’re looking for a bit more variety and versatility with a sauce, this treat is meant for you. Not only do we use pesto on our freshly made gnocchi, but it’s also become one of our daughters’ favorites, in the form of a pesto grilled cheese sandwich. We’re making the right choice splurging on this item rather than attempting to go homemade, and we’re also able to level up the convenience rating.
5. Dry coconut (or fruit of choice)
At an average of $6.99 CAD ($5.25 USD) per pound, dry coconut can be a costly snack that you will likely finish before you even get home from the grocery store. But I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t obsessed with this pantry staple. Each time I go to buy the double-digit priced bag of dry fruit, I know that everyone at home is going to be stoked. A healthy and clean snack for anyone on the go, this is an upgraded version of a fruit bar that won’t leave you wishing you brought more with you.
6. Bocconcini (or cheese of choice)
Let’s all be honest in the fact that we know cheese of some sort is a staple in anyone’s house — unless you have lactose intolerance, and if that’s the situation, I’m extremely sorry for your loss. In the past, I’ve been known to keep a variety of cheeses on hand, including but not limited to: goat, brie, a nice marble, jalapeno Havarti, and the forever-loved feta. However, new to the lineup is my good pal bocconcini. This little ball of joy can be used in appetizers, salads, pasta, pizzas and beyond. A tub of this fresh mozzarella cheese can cost upwards of $16.99 CAD ($12.75 USD) depending on where in the world you live, but regardless of the price, I’d splurge every single time.
Splurge only on things that bring you joy.
When it comes to spending money on something that brings you joy, there are ways to evaluate whether or not those splurges are worthwhile. Even if it means making a ranking scale for the costly items you tend to buy from your grocery store or local market. If you’re interested in living a life that has a heavy focus on financial security, there are ways to do so without restricting yourself from everything that one small population might consider a “bad habit.”
Now, if you don’t mind, I’m going to make a nice pesto toast with fresh bruschetta and mozzarella. Happy spending!
Alyssa Fischer claims she’s not an expert on personal finance — which is why it’s easy for her to explain financial topics without getting too intense. You can find her on her blog, Mixed Up Money, where she proves money isn’t boring (and that it’s also a little funny). You can also spend all day ranting with her about your finances on Twitter.
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