Friday, September 18, 2009

Food Poll

If you haven't already noticed, there is a food spending poll on the left sidebar. Take the poll when you get a chance. It is anynomous. I promise!

I'm trying to figure out if I am spending more than average family of 4-5 on groceries each month. I'm a little perplexed because it appears I am, but, there are so many things I do not buy, that I know a lot of other families do (I'm not picking here, I just cook from scratch, mostly and I know most people do not have as much time as I do, or desire). I don't buy bread (as in, I think I've bought two loaves of bread and a few artisen loaves from the bakery since we moved here in late July), cookies, boxed mixes (aside from organic mac and cheese for the kids when I'm sick, they are with a sitter, etc), canned food (aside from organic coconut milk and tuna), salad dressings, juice, soda (aside from the occasional Kombucha drink - but, I brew my own now) or ice cream (I make my own for about $3/quart and it has just a few ingredients in it - currently: eggs, cream, raw agave, dark chocolate and peppermint extract-cream is the most expensive ingredient). I keep my cereals to one - an organic cheerios knock-off which, typically, lasts three weeks a box.

Now, I have been "stocking up" on various flours and baking/cooking ingredients. So, that may explain our recent higher bill. But, man, Matt and I think that with all the scratch cooking I do, we'd be saving so much more money. The key is to get on top of meal planning, and track the exact food expenses better - which I plan on doing. But, holy moly! Maybe Matt and I are both unrealistic as to how much it cost to feed a family?

I feel like I really stretch the dollar. I mean, that $14 free-range, local farm chicken I bought supplied over four meals for the family (I made tons of chicken broth-still not used up-and used the left-over chicken for a chicken curry dish).

Each loaf of bread I make costs about $1. Buying the equivalent in the store (but, not really, because it isn't fresh), is $3 a loaf.

I am, currently, spending more on produce. But, you just can't beat a fresh, local tomato in taste. There is no comparison. In fact, it kills me to see people buying a Mexican green pepper at the commissary when the farmer's market is taking place a mile down the road and the peppers are plentiful.

What do you all spend? Tips, tricks (Since I cook mostly from scratch - coupons don't really work. I think I've come across two or three coupons recently - for our peanut butter, nitrate-free deli meat and mac & cheese)?


Angie said...

The healthier you try to be, the more you will spend. At least that's how it is for us. Fresh produce is more than canned, organic far more than that. It sounds like making your own bread is the only place where you are saving money. I'm not saying that you should stop what you are doing, that just seems to be the way it goes. This is why the poorest in our country are the most overweight group. They aren't going without food, but they can only afford to buy the stuff that is crap.

I much prefer the Farmer's market, but it is tough to buy just from there sometimes. The cheapest corn at the market was 50 cents, which is great. But, corn at Safeway was 5 for a dollar. And, it was also from California.

We spend far more on groceries here than we have anywhere else. I know that it is an expensive place, but I thought somehow that it wouldn't be more than Alaska where everything had to be shipped. Of course, in Alaska I was able to shop at the commissary. It's just too far to get to the commissary here. Produce is probably cheaper here, but everything else adds up.

Smitty 1, 2 , 3 and 4 said...

We spend too much. At least 160 a week. I try to by mostly organic, but I also buy junk (read: lucky charms and swiss cake rolls). Over the past few weeks I have managed to spend less by buying some organic food at Costco. I think I saved about 80 dollars over the past 3 weeks.

The Dunns said...
Scribbit had a great post about that last week.

I'm having a hard time with that, too. We don't buy junk (chips, cookies, juice, boxed prepared food) so I think we are just spending a lot on fresh produce, dairy, & meat/poultry. We don't even go down the cracker/soda/chip/candy aisle anymore, which is so great!

I think, like Angie said, we will pay a little more for better quality food. I'm still looking for ways to save, but I'm really grateful that we can afford to buy more healthy!

Natalie said...

I thought, b/c I'm not buying such things as soda, chips, cookies, ice cream, yogurt (I make my own), etc., that I would save more. I mean, I see what some people put in their cart and it's tons of cookies, power bars, energy drinks, frozen pancakes, juice,etc and I thought that cutting back on those purchases would even out the more expensive things I buy, like organic peanut butter, and local, fresh produce. But, it's not, at least, not yet. It's possible that the extra money is on the stock-up fees. Having just moved, I had to stock up on yeast, flours, spices, etc. All the things that didn't make the move. I am also not buying wine or olive oil b/c I have a ton from Portugal. So, I'm saving there too...

Angie, when I was in Portugal, I would hit up the markets when I could. But, I bought local produce at the grocery store all the time. Portugal is, obviously, a small country. So, I knew it didn't move far. So, I do not feel guilty about buying local foods in the grocery store as long as it's not GMO.

And, now that I've cut out boxed food, and so many other things, there's no way I could go back. It's almost like this is all I know now. I don't feel comfortable eating any sort of junk anymore (ok, I take that back. I "splurge" when we eat out - but, even now, we're doing our best to limit eating out to local, sustainable restaurants, serving food with local produce and grass fed meats - which means the owners care about health and the meals are usually smaller and healthier). I want pure, whole foods going into my body. Especially having a chronic illness, I am getting more and more extreme about it as certain foods can be a trigger for my disease (high salt and/or high sugar, processed foods, mostly).

Jenny @ Nourished Kitchen said...

We spend a ton of money on food in the summer when we're stocking up, but hardly any money on food in the winter as we use our stores.

vermontmommy said...

We spend a lot. Honestly, our family of 5 spends $1000 a month on food.

I cook everying from scratch like you. I buy our meat and eggs from a local ranch. I buy what I can at our farmer's markets but I do pay more there than I would at the store.

The produce we go through is insane. I buy some organic but do not buy all. I plan our meals and that helps cut out food waste but still we spend lots.

We have friends that spend less and use coupons but I don't want to feed my family the processed coupon foods.

House Dad said...

Is beer considered a grocery item? :)

How much chicken did you get for $14? And maybe it's worth it to not worry about whether it's free range or not? After all, it still got it's neck rung (or something else entirely.)

We're in between the first and second category. It all comes down to how much we eat out. There have been months when we've spent on the low end of category one when we cooked most of our meals at home. But even with buying most of our fruits and veggies from the big grocery stores, I can still stretch those items out, especially the veggies. And it helps that both girls love raw veggies and fruits for snacks or a meal item.

Natalie said...

Matt spends about $120-$150/mo (probably including eating out and bringing it to parties to share) on beer. I am sure it's not in our food budget. It needs to get reduced.

We are growing a very small Fall garden. Carrots and lettace. So, that'll help cut back a tiny bit this Fall. In the Spring, we'll plant a decent sized garden and that will help us out next summer (well, that's only if we stay here another year).

The chicken was four lbs. But, I'll probably get six meals out of it. So, worth every penny.

In the winter, I'll switch back to buying produce at the grocery store. I just can't bring myself to buy much produce there now b/c the Farmer's market is just down the road and everything is so fresh.

We are splitting a half cow and a whole pig with friends. So, that'll save money. Even though it's grass-fed, local cow, the cost is still lower than buying one item at a time at the commissary or local grocery store. We just need to get a freezer, which we can buy off of friends currently selling one (I'll use it for the tomato sauce I made too). The catch is that it's a lot of money all at once (the farm is letting us pay over a two month period, thankfully). But, that will be all of our meat for about 6-9 months (probably nine b/c I'm attempting to use meat as more of a side dish than a main dish).

And, when buying local, fresh, joining a CSA is a good idea. But, there are long wait lists here and since we're attempting our own garden in the Spring, I'm going to pass, I think.