There is a stark difference between the way that I buy and eat food and the way that I buy and drink alcohol.

Like most twenty-somethings I know, I have an active social life that almost always includes cocktails or shots. I also make most of my meals and buy my own food (or steal it from my mum’s fridge). The difference is that I spend less than Ksh.5,000 a month on groceries and upwards of Ksh.9.000 a month on drinks and associated good times.

So let us try and figure out why this is and what I can do about it.

Ways in which I get food right

  • I buy it fresh and in bulk

I live on Naivasha road which puts me close to the market in Kawangware. There is a weekly market day when all the produce comes in from farms all around Nairobi and this is when I go and buy food for the week. It is guaranteed to be cheaper and fresh. I will get everything from broccoli to avocado and I will buy enough to last a week or even two.

  • I eat ethically and try to support local

I am a vegetarian so meat does not feature in my diet. (Side note; if you are trying to bring costs down in general, I would recommend going meat free for a month or two.) Everything that I do not get from the market, I will buy from local sellers. I buy eggs by the crate from a wholesaler – kienyeji goes for Ksh. 375 and my milk and yoghurt from a small farm nearby. I also buy honey and organic honey-based products from the National Bee Keeping Station at Lenana. I do all this because it is pocket-friendly but also because it makes feel good to buy good products made by honest people.

  • I try not to lean too heavily on cereals

My meals would get really boring if the main course was just beans or ndengu with rice or chapo. Cereals are convenient and easy but I find that I like them better in smaller portions. I love raw salads (the secret is nuts and dressings) and soups. I am always on the hunt for recipes and do the most to stay excited about making my own food.

Ways in which I get alcohol wrong

  • I party in pretty much the same way that I did in college

There is not much to say here really. The drinks got pricier and the hangovers more painful but the habits stayed the same. It is textbook lifestyle inflation.

  • I am way less conscious about spending

I budget for all my expenses down to the last shilling with the exception of alcohol. I just call that money ‘Flex cash’ and hope that I do not exceed it. I had to stop bringing my debit card with me because I would turn into a swipe freak anytime I went out.

I’m trying to change my mind-set around drinking, going out and socialising. It does not always have to be an all-nighter. I can absolutely have one drink and go home. I can learn to make awesome cocktails in the same way that I learned to make awesome salads. I can budget without being a buzzkill and spend at least one Friday night a month home alone.