I have been tracking what we spend on food during the month of October. I was inspired partly to do this by Jenny at the Nourished Kitchen and her Food Stamp Challenge. For the month of October, Jenny has been feeding her family of 3 on $227 shopping only at places that accept food stamp benefits (grocery stores). You can read each of her weeks shopping results, look at her menu’s and even get recipes.
And this post discussing the challenge is interesting. In the original post and each week’s post the comment section has some interesting and sometimes lively conversation.
When Jenny first mentioned the challenge I thought it was an interesting idea. One of her big things about the challenge is that she only shopped at places accepting benefits which is a big difference from the way many traditional food enthusiasts shop. In some ways the regular grocery store is considered taboo by traditional foodies. I still do the bulk of my shopping at the grocery store which was one big appeal to me of this challenge. I wanted to see what choices she made at the grocery store on her budget. I have to admit that I was quite surprised by Jenny’s choices on more than one occasion. I didn’t disagree with them, I just hadn’t thought of purchasing some of the items she did.
One thing that I learned from her challenge, while I am very pleased with the place that my family is at in our traditional/real/whole food endeavour we are no where near the level that Jenny is at. I’ll admit that at first that bothered me a bit. I am the type of person that figures if I’m going to do something I’d better go all out and do it right. But to be honest, for my family the place that we are at is the place we should be.
I try to cook foods from scratch (I love this post by Sarah talking about homemade vs made at home) and limit the amount of processed foods. That being said, I do use things like frozen fruit, veggies and canned tomato products. I’m okay with that. And I have a small storage of items that I call heat and eat. They are not foods that we eat on a regular basis (I don’t even keep them in the kitchen). They are things that are here for what I deem an emergency. Like late September when I had a cold/flu/whatever for a few days and the girls did the cooking. Since I had picked these items after scrutinizing the ingredients I knew they weren’t ideal but better than some other options. Again, I’m okay with that.
When I started blogging about our food journey I mentioned that we were taking baby steps. At this point, I’m in a pretty good routine with the baby steps added so far. I’m still sticking with the baby steps concept but I think I’ll take it at a slower pace. I do want to make ketchup and mayo and may take on a few other fun things as I read about new ideas (love the Tuesday Twister for new ideas). I’m pleased with some of the changes that my family has noticed since we started this. We all recognize a change in the way we feel if our regular “eat at home food” is interrupted (of course, I still love to go out on occasion) plus Joe and I have lost quite a bit of weight (40+ pounds for Joe and 18 for me). I’m glad that we have made the switch to trying to eat a more traditional diet.
Okay, now that I got that off my chest. I’ve finished all of my shopping for October and am preparing for November so it seems like a good time to tally up the results of my October food budget. On Sunday the total that we had spent on food (prepared at home and eating out) was $612. Add $35 for grocery stop and the total for the month of October is $647. This was for two adults, two teen girls and one baby (he doesn’t eat much) for the entire month. Also for 9 days we had a house guest who ate almost every meal here (breakfast, lunch and dinner) and then on October 10 my daughter and her husband arrived. They eat all of their meals with us (for lunches while working, they each take a ‘sack lunch’) . My math skills aren’t actually good enough to figure any per person prices or anything fancy like that. I’m okay with the total amount considering that part of it was for dining out with one of those occasions being to a semi-nice place. Next month I will continue tracking but won’t bore you with it. November may be lower since Angel and Ogre will start purchasing some of their own food and preparing it in their little trailer now that they are both working (WhooHoo! I’m so happy they found work so quickly).
Last month, I used tips from Donna to shop only once a month. That didn’t quite work out for me. A big reason was because of the increase in people here. Another reason, I didn’t realize how much we use of some items. I have a better idea now and am going to attempt big shopping on one day (tomorrow- weather permitting) and then plan on only getting milk and produce for the rest of the month. The beauty of that is that if I do the big shopping someone else can pick up the small stuff. The less I go to the store the better. Oh, and our little co-op is planning on an order with Azure Standard this month too so I can get a few specialty items that I’ve been wanting. I hope they have Rapadura in this time.