Monday, October 31, 2011

Still Floating

Wow- a whole year has passed since my last blog post! No, we haven’t been off sailing around the world or swept away by a hurricane…still on a little island on our sailboat in the Caribbean. As you may know, my husband and I live in the Virgin Islands on our sailboat. It is very expensive to live here, so we give ourselves a menu challenge every week: a budget of $15 a day for breakfast, dinner, food and drink. Lunches are usually leftovers, and if we go out to dinner or happy hour, that comes out of husband’s money and not the grocery budget.

In addition to groceries being very expensive, ($9.99 for a quart of orange juice, for example), we have a few other cooking challenges living on a sailboat. We have a very small galley (kitchen) with little counter space or storage. Unless we are out sailing, we have the boat on a dock, so we do get shore power for our refrigerator, which is a small dorm room size. This means no stocking up on perishables, which perish very quickly here anyway! A head of lettuce bought on Monday is black and slimy by the end of the week. This is typical of all of our fruits and vegetables, as everything is shipped here from somewhere else and probably past-ripe when it gets to our stores.

Up until a few months ago, we didn't have a freezer (and we’ve lived without for over 7 years!); we didn’t want to buy one from the states as the shipping would be very expensive, and we had never seen one small enough to fit in the galley. Amazingly, we found a used one in the newspaper that was the perfect price and the perfect size (dorm room size). While it’s small, it’s been great to be able to make and freeze a few mini lasagnes or soup stocks, and a drink with ice cubes is now an option!

In theory, the addition of the freezer should help the grocery budget, but truthfully, in the last year I didn’t keep track at all. All of the sudden I just didn’t feel like planning, and tracking, and writing about it all- I don’t know why. So while I’m always careful, I do find that really keeping track helps to stay on budget. I shop every day, and it was becoming common to spend $30 in a day on random things and I’m sure we frequently went over the $115 weekly budget.

Of course, food prices have gone up in the last year, so I will see if it is still possible to keep to $115. If I spend less than that, the extra goes into vacation fund. Some weeks it has only been a few dollars, but it does really add up- since I started tracking the budget, vacation fund has paid for 2 trips to Europe and one to Mexico!

I will keep you posted next week on what we cooked and how much we spent, and with apologies to those getting snow, here’s a look at the view from our “backyard”.

Thanks for reading!