Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Once a Month Shopping

What does one month+ of groceries for a family of 5 look like?  Here it is . . .


 

I shop for all of my conventional grocery store items once per month.  This saves me gas, headaches, stress, and money.  The money is saved because I have less opportunity to impulse buy and because I can better organize my purchases.  Here is how my intricate grocery system works broken down by food categories:
Meats: All are farm raised an local.  I always have a freezer full of meat to plan meals around.  At the moment, I have 1/2 a cow grazed on a friend's farm.  We have very little pasture here on the farm and what little we have is quickly eaten by the ponies, so grazing a cow is out of the question.  Eventually, when we have a boy goat to wether and we are out of beef, we will switch to eating chevon as our red meat.  We have plenty of wooded acres and goats are browsers rather than grazers, so they stay well fed without pasture.  Of course, we have plenty of pork from our hogs.  In addition, we order a couple of hens from the Oklahoma food coop for white meat.  Occasionally, I splurge on some wild salmon as well.  I tend to eat more meat than most of my friends, but it seems an efficient way to raise a significant amount of what we eat here on the farm.
Vegetables:  In the summer, these come from my garden or the farmer's market.  Although there are more choices of local vegetables in Oklahoma than in many places thanks to a wonderful local food infrastructure, the choices in the winter tend to get a little meager.  Salad greens from local farms are available in almost every store in town, so that's not a problem.  Still, we do eat a  lot more conventionally farmed fruits and veggies in the winter, although I do try to buy organic as much as possible. 

Dairy:  If I can find time to run by one of our local farms, I buy raw cow or goat's milk.  If not, we have a regional dairy that runs its own stores and doesn't use rBGH.  I can also get items like heavy cream (if I don't have raw cow's milk to skim off of), sour cream, etc.  at the regional dairy stores.  Cheese, buttermilk, etc.  I can get through the Oklahoma food coop (www.oklahomafood.coop) or at the regional dairy store.  I usually buy vegetables and dairy on a weekly basis. 

Eggs:  Come from our own hens, of course.

Baking goods:  Most come from my monthly grocery store trip, except my whole wheat, which I can get through the Oklahoma food coop.   Basically the Oklahoma food coop caries only locally grown foods or items that are produced in Oklahoma.  All items  have too meet certain criteria such as containing no known GMOs, not coming from a CAFO, etc.  Orders are taken online and are delivered one evening per month to several towns throughout the state.  It's a great system and very well organized.

Everything else:  All that is left comes from my once a month shopping trip.  This includes dried beans, rice, pasta, canned goods, a few extra loves of bread for when my baking can't keep up with family demand, popcorn, wheat crackers, soy sauce, spices, coffee, tea, Dr. Bronner's soap, toothpaste, shampoo, laundry detergent, etc.  Again, I try to by organic when I can afford it, but I also need to stick to my budget.  In the future, I hope to start canning more of my own salsa, spaghetti sauce, etc. as well as freezing more vegetables from my garden and the local farmer's market. 

So, what about cost?  My absolute top budget for my monthly trip is $350, but I'm trying to slowly get that down to $300.  I should also say that we are slowly building a stockpile of dried goods for preparedness--not a paranoid "the world will end soon" preparedness, but a "you just never know" preparedness.  My weekly produce and dairy budget can vary from $30 t0 $50 and I spend another $25 per month averaged with the OK food coop  (maybe nothing some months and maybe $100 others).  That brings my spending to around $150 or less per week outside of what we farm ourselves.  I'd really like to lower that amount, but that seems to be the best I can do for now.  It does seem that as I learn couponing strategies (when there are good coupons for healthy foods), buy more in bulk, etc.  those amounts are slowly coming down. My costs for hay and feed are pretty minimal (maybe $25 per week maximum), so feeding a family of 5 with a teenage boy and a husband with a big appetite a whole foods, mostly organic diet for $175 per week isn't too shabby.

I will report back on any progress I've made on lowering my grocery amounts even further.  Take a look at my next blog for more on how I plan my menu one month at a time as well as my food goals for the future. 

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