In trying to save money for a new home, my husband and I laid out a monthly budget that we try to stick with. We rarely eat out and have set aside around $250/month for me to spend on food (cooking). This is definitely do-able for just the two of us (ends up being about $8.33 per day) but makes it difficult to build up a good spice collection, for instance, or to splurge on any higher-end ingredients. Keeping healthy, nutritious meals on the table (3 per day) on that budget can be a challenge!
Note: we were married recently and are starting from scratch here... very little in the way of "staples" in our cupboards.
In browsing these boards, a lot of great ideas come up that I'd love to try (my husband will eat anything and I LOVE to experiment with new foods) but simply getting the ingredients I'd need for many of these things would be too costly. For example, one indian dish could mean I'd need to buy lamb, fresh veggies, curry powder, cumin, fresh ginger, etc... none of which we have in the cupboards because there's normally no room in the budget for them. Those items could add up to way more than the $3 or $4 I have to spend on dinner. So I typically resort to pasta, homemade soup, chili, sandwiches, etc, which are fine, but not very exciting.
I'm wondering two things:
a) Any thoughts about how to continue to cook 3 healthy, balanced meals each day while also trying to expand our culinary horizons and stock the cupboard with an increased number of ingredients to always have on hand?
b) What is your "cooking budget," and how do you generally split up your spending to cover day-to-day needs (getting a meal on the table) and building your stockpile of ingredients?
One more note: This post is not meant as a complaint. I relish the opportunity to cook for my dear husband and try to look at the budget as a fun "challenge" rather than just a restriction. Just looking for ways to do this better! :)