A few years ago, I was feeding my family on a low budget of $180 each month. Not quite so today.
For starters, there are more of us. Now, my family includes 4 children, one of which is growing and eating like nobody’s business.
I am also more
anal intentional about the food I feed my family. I buy organic foods now, hormone- and antibiotic-free meats, raw milk and high-quality butter. Mmmmm, butter.
I still cook most of our meals from scratch – that’s partly why I was able to feed us on so little before.
That and I was really good at finding deals and was smart about what I bought – if something was on my list that was just too much, I wouldn’t get it. Which is also still the case.
I just do my best to avoid eating chemicals now.
So where does that leave my grocery budget now? $800? $1000? $1200? According to the USDA, in order to feed my family a nutritious diet (what they consider nutritious, anyway), I should expect to spend around$1656.70 on a liberal cost plan and $846.30 on a thrifty cost plan.
Yeah … that’s still too much for our budget. Let’s try $500 -$600. That’s more like it.
Why the range? Well, it depends. Sometimes, we need to make a bigger bulk purchase, like when we get raw honey from a farm. Our costs are a little higher that month.
Other months, we don’t really need to make any bigger purchases or I decide to challenge myself and see how long I can go without grocery shopping or we have fresh produce from our garden.
It fluctuates. A little.
This month, for instance, I’ve gone grocery shopping once. It took all day. With a massive headache (wrong time to start weaning myself from caffeine). And I even had to go back into Costco because I realized I forgot to get our 5-lb bricks of Tillamook cheddar cheese while I was in there. Sigh. Usually, it goes much better.
Anywho, I’ve gone grocery shopping once. And I’ll probably go again a couple times to get more fruit and to pick up a few things for an upcoming trip.
The grand total for my grocery shipping spree: $446.29.
Here’s what I got:
Schoolhouse Produce $40.35
- Frozen strawberries 5#
Fred Meyer $66.03
- Organic Valley butter 4.49
- Organic Valley pasture butter 11.98
- Tillamook natural sour cream 1.99
- Vanilla hemp milk 3.29 (not buying this again – not a fan – time to acquire a taste for raw milk in my french toast latte)
- Toaster pastry 2.79 (my shopping companion always gets to choose a treat)
- Organic nectarines 4.75
- Granola 8.72 (the kids ate this all in one day – now they get to learn how to make granola)
- Garlic .87
- Cut oats 6.79
- Organic Spaghetti sauce 3.29
- Whole nutmeg 1.55
- Ginger root 1.36
- Unbleached all-purpose flour 14.36 (I’m going to start making sourdough bread again)
Trader Joes $104.24
- (2) Smoked mozzarella 5.98
- (2) Cream cheese 3.38
- Soy sauce 2.99
- Havarti cheese 3.83
- (3) Bacon 11.97
- Bacon pieces 2.99
- Decaf organic fair trade coffee 8.99
- Sourdough baguette 2.29
- Hot dogs 4.49
- Brie cheese 4.12 (definitely a splurge)
- Sesame oil 2.29
- (2) Kerrygold salted butter 5.98
- Kerrygold unsalted butter 2.99 (Yes, yes I did buy butter at Fred Meyer. I LOVE butter)
- Sourdough boule 2.69
- Organic potatoes 8.98
- Oranges 3.99
- Organic sweet potatoes 7.98
- Pink lady apples 11.96
- Organic limes 1.99
- Rice vinegar 1.99
- Organic carrots 2.37
Cash & Carry $9.51
- Hoisin sauce 2.07
- Rice sticks .92
- Rice noodles 2.38
- Bean thread 4.14
- (2) Tillamook cheddar cheese 29.98
- (2) Coconut oil 43.98
- Bartlett pears 5.49
- Organic whole fryers 29.43
- Organic chicken thighs 17.93
Whole Foods $69.35
- San Pellegrino blood orange drink 1.49
- Maple syrup grade b 38.47 (bulk purchase in a big ‘ol bottle)
- Kombucha 3.99 (and this is why I like to make my own kombucha – but I splurge when I grocery shop)
- Organic whipping cream 4.99
- Whole milk yogurt 7.99 (sometimes I make my own yogurt)
- (3) Brown Cow vanilla yogurt 11.07
- Bottle deposit 1.50
Milk Herdshare $30
9/9/13 total: $446.29
As you can see, I can still cut my budget more if I needed to.
I could make my own yogurt, granola and kombucha 100% of the time. I could resist the whipping cream in the adorable bottle (we get a pint each week anyway) and I could incorporate more vegetarian meals into our diet.
But it’s a far cry from what I could be spending, especially when compared to the USDA’s food cost plans. So I’m fine with where it is right now. Unless, of course, I decide to challenge myself to spend less.
Looking for ways to save money on real food? Don’t forget to enter the giveaway for a copy of Making Organic Food Affordable.