Post-Mortem: November

Two weeks ago, I did a rough review on how we’re doing with food spending. It’s the biggest variable spending we have. There were months when we spent more than $1,000 just on food. That’s a LOT for 2 adults and 1 pre-schooler.

So we had to take a look into ourselves and figure out what we were not doing right. I blamed myself mostly for not being motivated to do anything. I forgot how therapeutic cooking to me was. I re-discovered my love for cooking this month. I made simple meals that one day I hope to share with you.

We have spent $750 on food this month. We only dined out and bought take-outs twice each, both done with no excessive order taking at cheap places. We also spent $133 on prepared Thanksgiving meal, which we believe was a wise decision.

I also realized that I just can’t be very strict about the “extras”. I seem to have a difficult time fully trimming the fat, and I’m not sure if one can realistically do that with a child. I mean, my child recently discovered hot cocoa when I bought him one at Starbucks on Macy’s Parade Day. Of course I don’t intend to buy him hot cocoa at Starbucks often, so I decided to grab a tub of hot cocoa and 2-for-$5 whipped cream at the supermarket for the fun of it.

Using November as a baseline, it looks like the food budget could be about $650/month (after deducting Thanksgiving dinner) for the 3 of us. This would need commitment from me to cook at least 4 times a week. I’m sure you know that I work full-time, so dinner preparation usually occupies my mind by noon. This aspect of cooking is something, I believe, a lot of non-cooking folks don’t get but that’s another post to come. 🙂

Overall, to bring down food spending from $1k+ to $750–with prepared T Day dinner purchased at that–deserves us pats on our backs! I’m so happy to have experienced this month.


November in review

Late October, Jon and I made a pact to lower our spending. We knew that the bulk of our spending was on food, specifically bought food. Half into the month, here’s what the food spending looks like:

  • $250 on groceries
  • $34 on take-out & delivery

I say, that’s great progress from us! Not all of $250 used up yet. I still have a few meals to cook, which can each generate 1 or 2 leftover meals.

Image from

This Thanksgiving is the FIRST one we’ll celebrate as a family. Jon was not into the idea of celebrating it in NZ. It’s kind of hard to do that when you don’t have the rest of the country celebrating with you. We decided, because we like convenience, to buy prepared turkey, side dishes and a pecan pie for dessert. We got them from Whole Foods and will pick them up on Thanksgiving day. We could have chosen to buy enough for 2 adults and 1 toddler, but we went a bit crazy. 🙂 We are used to leftovers and I can be creative with them too. Total à la carte purchase was $133. I honestly did not want to get a turkey, even though we got the petite kind, because the idea of eating meat–and the same meat at that–for an undetermined amount of time sounds so gross to me. But Jon hasn’t had a decent Thanksgiving for more than 6 years I think.

Though we haven’t entirely used cash to spend, it’s obvious that it wasn’t the debit/credit cards that were the problem. I mean, they are not evil in the sense that they don’t magically swipe themselves at the counter. 🙂

I liberally budgeted $1k on food to cover every food purchase we’ll make this month. I’ve adjusted it since to $850 and will most likely keep adjusting as the month closes. I know, and you probably think, that $1k is WAY TOO MUCH budget for food. We typically spend ~$600/month on groceries but we also have budget for bought food. That $1k covers EVERY EDIBLE ITEM we’ll buy in November. I don’t have a goal yet, e.g. spend $500/month on food, because I believe that holidays and seasons play a part in our eating habits. We tend to spend less during cold months and go lax in the warm months.

I’m just happy that we’re really able to lower spending. We’re on the same boat and I’ve committed myself to cooking again.

Eats: Koi Fusion and Pho PDX

As you may have already figured out, I’m Asian, but I’m not drawn to eating Asian food when I’m going to dine out. My mom used to say: You might as well eat at home if you’re going to eat the same thing.

So that got stuck in my brain somehow.

And so, part of my exploration of Portland is to learn about food carts. I must say, I truly enjoy this aspect of the city. Yeah, give those posh restaurants some competition! 🙂 I’m not new to food carts. They are everywhere in Asia, but seeing them in western countries has its novelty value.

This post is a about the food and not about a food cart.

Anywho, I went to this little food court on SW 2nd, between Taylor and Yamhill, and intended to buy food from Pho PDX to try another menu after eating from them the day before. The wait appeared to be a long one and I was hungry. So, admittedly, feeling defeated I decided to try Koi Fusion. I know, Pho is Asian but I suffered from PMS craving the week I discovered these 2 awesomeness.

I had the rice bowl as pictured on the left. I was very surprised by the actualized concept (Korean and Mexican fusion? Really?) and how well they combined the flavors to make this little bowl of rice, meat, fresh vegetables, kimchi and a special signature red sauce into a spectacular lunch!

The bowl’s size serves my desired lunch portion. Pho’s serving was twice as Koi’s, if not more. Pricewise, both Koi and Pho justify them. Both cost $7, but their serving sizes are not the same. Why is that? Maybe because I chose beef for my Koi rice bowl and chicken for Pho’s? Not sure, but this could be the reason that Pho always has a queue. If you want a wait of 10 minutes or less, be at Pho’s by 11.30am.

Despite Pho’s big serving, I managed to finish it. The heat was good for the onset of cold. The lemongrass’ scent and taste were missing though, but it could be due to the level 2 hotness that I chose.

Overall, I’m happy about these 2 places. I will try them again when I’m not too worried about calories. 🙂

I’m trying to lose weight, by the way.