I’m pretty good at sticking to a “budget.” And by that I mean I spend less than I make and I’m building a decent pile of savings. But do I have any idea how I am actually allotting my funds? Nope. I know I spend around $40 a week on groceries…or $70. And about $30 at the drugstore a month…or $100. Household expenses? Well, including utilities that’s maybe $150 a month…but quite possibly more or less.

I’m thinking of putting myself on some sort of a mint.com plan (or — eek — keeping a pen-and-paper list), but for the moment I’m not too concerned. Like I said, I spend significantly less than I make, but there is always room for improvement.

But one thing I KNOW I spend a lot  on is going out to eat. Delicious, succulent three course meals with a bottle of wine, or a couple pizzas and salad at the neighborhood’s best sit-down place, or the newest trattoria that just put up its signage (which happens a lot in my neck of Brooklyn) or just some fresh toasty bagels and coffees in the morning.

It is my biggest spending vice…but I have no plans on curtailing it anytime soon. I’ve fallen in love with good food — cooking it myself, but also being treated to wonderful new dishes I never would have thought of.  The meals become conversation fodder, even inspiration to recreate them or riff on them in our own kitchens.

I don’t spend much money on clothes (except for last weekend when I had to fill some very gaping holes in my wardrobe…), my apartment is the best deal I could find while still being safe and warm (we negotiated the price down a full $50/month this year!) and I brown-bag my lunch to work everyday. I choose instead to spend on experiential activities and taking advantage of the vibrant, varied cuisine hotbed that is Brooklyn. I won’t always live here, and I’m expecting that in the not-so-distant future I won’t have as much disposable income.

But while I’m young, single, passionate about food and cooking, living in a culinary epicenter and more excited by the prospect of a fancy dinner than a night out drinking, I choose to avail myself of some of the country’s best meals and freshest ingredients, right in my own neighborhood.

 

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