I’m Not Spending a Fortune on Food!

Inspired by a local blogger, a few weeks ago I decided to cut my food budget down and prove that it isn’t so expensive to eat consciously. It’s all about trade offs. We’ve stopped over consuming and wasting food and we eat out less. We spend the extra money on better quality food. As you can see from my other posts, we aren’t exactly starving or eating poorly! Even if the cost of groceries is slightly more than you’d expect, you’ll find that spending those extra bucks now, will pay you back in dividends later.

I’d estimate that I was spending around $200 to $225 per week on food for our family of five (which falls between the Low and Moderate range on the current Official USDA Food Plan Average). I’m shooting for $150 now (Thrifty), but giving myself permission to spend $175, which still falls well below the Low-costs plan even after subtracting 5% for a family of five as the fine print instructs.

The past few weeks have been pretty successful, although we were running low on a few of our favorite foods around Thursday last week. It didn’t bother me much. I actually liked that it forced us to think outside the box for a few days. We used some things that we might have passed over before, as well as some leftovers and produce that probably would have spoiled and been wasted. There’s nothing thrifty about wasting food!! I only spent $150 last week, but let me assure you – we had plenty of food and still have some of it leftover. It just wasn’t the convenience food my family is used to. I did eventually grow tired of hearing them complain that “There’s no food in this house!” Umm, yea there is.

We ran out of eggs and milk (though these were restocked on Wednesday and were within our budget), lunch meat and cereal around midweek and by Saturday morning, yogurt. I didn’t bother going back to the store to get more. Instead, we just ate something else, even if it meant I had to personally go into the kitchen and prepare it myself. They’ll get used to it and maybe they’ll learn to ration better, instead of eating all of their favorites up in the first few days!

I spent $175 this week, so next week I’ll do my best not to go over $150. Here’s where the money went.

– Farmers’ Market $72 (lots of produce, pecans, honey, a whole chicken, two pounds of pork chops, ground pork sausage and goat cheese)

– Trader Joe’s $20 (mozzarella cheese, lunch meat, uncured bacon and some kettle corn)

– Harris Teeter $55 (yogurt, ricotta, bananas, white button mushrooms, crimini mushrooms, OJ, some convenience a/k/a processed food – three boxes of cereal, healthier versions of snack bars – Odwalla’s  and Clif Kid Organic ZBars – both on sale, can’t remember anything else at the moment)

– Dairy and eggs $28 (gal of low fat milk, 1/2 gal of buttermilk, a pound of butter and two dozen eggs)

The local dairy (and eggs) is something new I’m trying and I don’t intend to spend that much each week. I probably won’t buy eggs there again (however the cost will move over to the farmers market, next week) or buttermilk. It’s not cultured, which is what I want and I only buy it about once a month. I probably will buy the butter again, but this pound should last at least a few weeks. I’m only planning to buy 2 gallons of milk next week, which will cost me just $12. Yes… I’m am paying $6 a gallon for milk. But organic milk in the grocery store is around $5 or $6 anyway and this milk is from pastured, humanely treated cows (you know how I feel about that). It tastes better and it’s better for our health, the cows and the earth.

I’m getting better at planning, so (fingers crossed) I’m hoping I won’t get any complaints this week from the family. The point is you can eat consciously without breaking the bank. It might take a few weeks to get the hang of it, but as you can see I’m not spending a fortune on food each week as you might have imagined. I’d be willing to bet that we’re spending less than the average shopper who’s buying mostly conventional food for their family of five.


About Michele
Wife and Mom of three girls doing her best to lead the family into a healthier lifestyle and evolve gracefully.

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