Author Topic: Taming the grocery budget, but making room for the cost of locally grown foods  (Read 8495 times)

LadyM

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I've worked on knocking back our grocery budget significantly over the past year.  We are a family of 4 (2 small children) and we spend around $480 - $500 each month on groceries, and that is FOOD ONLY (no paper products, cleaners, catfood.....separate category).  We shop primarily at Trader Joe's and have streamlined our weekly list as much as possible, but lately something has been nagging me.  As much as I love Trader Joe's, and as much as they SEEM like a hippie-based local store, they are part of a corporation, and whenever you try to research their products (most of which are the Trader Joe's brand) it's hard to find anything concrete.  This leads me to believe that their prices are so low due to them being part of the vast conglomerate of food-producing companies out there. 

Bottom line: At a certain point, I feel like finding the cheapest groceries is not necessarily the best answer for us.  I don't want to shortchange my health or that of my family to buy god-knows-what that's been shipped from god-knows-where and has been sitting on a shelf for god-knows-how-long.  I live in Loudoun County, VA, just MINUTES from several farms practicing sustainable agriculture at a local-sized level of production.  I can find pasture-raised meats (beef, pork, goat, lamb, turkey, duck, chicken), eggs, vegetables, yogurt and cheese....even raw milk if I wanted to.  And all without hormones, antibiotics, or mistreatment!  I know these things cost more than the grocery store down the street, but there's no disputing the freshness, the miles to get it to me, and the fact that I can give my cash to the very same person who raised that animal or pulled those beets out of the ground.  All of this, practically in my backyard, and offered year-round (colder season vegetables).

We've joined a CSA, and beginning in June we'll receive a 1/2-share box of produce from a local farm for around $25/week for 20 weeks!!  We plan to supplement that with some meat, eggs and dairy from the farmer's market, plus perhaps a few extra bits of produce for canning.  Because the meat is more expensive, we've decided we'll just eat less of it during the week!  Only 3-4 nights a week of meat, and the rest of the time I'll be forced to get creative.  In theory, this should balance out our  costs.  I think we can also be a little more discriminating in how much of anything we buy so that we don't over-buy and have to throw anything away (which is a crime and a shame).  If we can shop deliberately, we might be able to stick close to the current budget, or be over by only a very little bit.  We're not trying to be gourmet here, but rather to learn how to eat locally and seasonally.

My question for the group is:  If given the opportunity, would you go for local groceries, even if it meant increasing your monthly budget?  Would you welcome the chance to be creative with your food preparation?  Or is it more important to you to spend as little on groceries as possible? 

*PS - I might soon be posting a Local Food Challenge....

Daley

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Here's a bit of good news for you based on my and my wife's own experiences with making a transition away from commercially produced food to local in regards to both meat and veg. We discovered that the higher the quality of food, the more it approached natural and organic and the way God intended, and the less mainstream the variety of vegetation we got, the less we ate.

That's right, we get fuller faster on higher quality, more expensive local food. Once your body adapts to getting higher quality vittles, you'll find that the price increase winds up being a wash as the quantity consumed drops. Back in our *shudder* Walmart meat buying days, it'd take near on a third to a half pound of beef or chicken on top of the rest of the meal to make me feel satisfied, and of course the after effects left me groggy and unhealthy. After switching to local, organic, free-range chicken and beef, I maybe eat a sixth to a quarter of a pound of meat in a meal at most (when we have meat)... and where I used to detest the taste of beef, I've discovered it's quite tasty when the critter is left to eat grass instead of being hemmed in on a CAFO feed lot. (Yes, I know vegetarianism is great and wonderful and I'd ideally like to be ovo-lacto vegetarian myself, but I don't run well long term on just veg protein, cheese and eggs. I've tried. Repeatedly.)

People always ask us how we can afford mostly kosher/organic/local on our budget, and the truth is because our bodies don't want to eat as much because of it. The closer in line you spend to what modern food prices should be as adjusted for inflation from 50-60 years ago, the higher the quality food you'll get, the less you'll need to eat to get the nutrients (beyond the rudimentary calories/protein/fats/carbs) your body requires to run.

kdms

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We've just gone through exactly what you're doing (except it's a family of three, with a toddler) and we've found that our weekly food budget has dropped from an average of $140 a week (shopping at Costco and other large chains) to around $90-$95 a week, $26 of which is strictly milk and eggs from local farms.  Raw milk is not easy to come by here in Ontario and we had to join a cow-share program to get it.  It's easily the most expensive item we buy.  But on the plus side, I can take the cream and make my own butter and not have to buy it, which somewhat evens the cost out.  Going local has definitely increased our basic costs, but we know it's worth it, and wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to anybody who's interested.

I.P.Daley is right....we eat less now than we did before, and feel a lot healthier for it.  I tried to eat a hotdog the other night (and it was even supposedly a healthier version, with no sodium nitrates) and had a few very uncomfortable hours while trying to deal with the aftermath.  It's certainly discouraged us from eating out...not only because of the cost, but because we just don't know what we're eating.

We go out of our way to buy local, and can't wait for the farms to open up again for the summer.  It just tastes so much better! :)

Matt K

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We are also just starting down this road. There's only the two of us (two adults). We're on a bi-weekly delivery from a local all-organic farm. The deliveries are $50/week! We've only gotten one box so far, but my frugal mind reels. At the produce store, non-organic shipped from anywhere, this would be, at most $20 - $25 worth of produce, probably less. Since I've never shopped organic, I don't know how much a closer 'apples-to-apples' cost would be. I'll admit I'm having a hard time adjusting to the cost.

Since we're still on our first week, we haven't noticed any of the 'needing less food' the other posters mention.

So far I have two favourite things about this:
1 - The taste of the 'herritage' veggies. The farm we are buying from promotes older breeds. Purple carrots, really ugly looking tomatos, and things like that. So far we've only eaten the mixed greens salad (awesome salad mix!), cauliflower (I didn't notice a difference), and carrots. To me the carrots were the biggest deal. I used to pluck carrots from my grand mother's garden, wash 'em, pull off any stringy root bits, and enjoy. I've never been able to do that with grocery store carrots, I find the skin unpleasant and have to peel them. But peeling carrots is work, so I always just buy baby carrots. These carrots taste just like my grand mothers, no peeling required :)

2 - Forced creativity in meal planning. we've often fallen into ruts with our meal planning, and we have a staple of veggies we always use. Now, we're getting veggies we would not have normally bought, and since I'm unwilling to waste stupidly-expensive veggies, you bet they are getting used. It's forcing us to try new things.

LadyM

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Awesome!  This is all very promising.  I'm looking forward to this change for us. 

I'm curious where you both get your dry goods, since you're buying fresh food locally.  Do you just hit up Costco/Target/Amazon.com/Grocery store for things like flour, spices, coffee, sugar, oats, cereal, etc.?  My plan was to pick those up as needed, or order online (amazon has some great deals on bulk organic flours).  All fresh food will be obtained from markets within biking distance.

Raw milk is not easy to come by here in Ontario and we had to join a cow-share program to get it.  It's easily the most expensive item we buy. 

What do you think of the raw milk?  There are a few local farms who offer cow-share programs as well (since selling it is illegal in Virginia).  How long have you been drinking it?  Have you experienced any problems?  Do you get it from a small farm or a large farm?  Any information would be appreciated.  I've just now started looking into it as a possibility, as it would appear that there's no local pasteurized milk to be found.

Daley

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I'm curious where you both get your dry goods, since you're buying fresh food locally.  Do you just hit up Costco/Target/Amazon.com/Grocery store for things like flour, spices, coffee, sugar, oats, cereal, etc.?  My plan was to pick those up as needed, or order online (amazon has some great deals on bulk organic flours).  All fresh food will be obtained from markets within biking distance.

We get most of our dry goods at Whole Paycheck and via Amazon where appropriate.

kdms

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What do you think of the raw milk?  There are a few local farms who offer cow-share programs as well (since selling it is illegal in Virginia).  How long have you been drinking it?  Have you experienced any problems?  Do you get it from a small farm or a large farm?  Any information would be appreciated.  I've just now started looking into it as a possibility, as it would appear that there's no local pasteurized milk to be found.

It's also illegal here in Ontario...only owners can get raw milk.  I find it quite amusing that as cement kid, Toronto born and raised, I now own a dairy cow.  I have to say that my husband and son were absolutely in love with the taste of raw milk right from the start, but it took me a few days to get used to the taste and the texture.  Now, we go through 8-10L a week (2-2.5 gallons) and can't get enough of the stuff.

The health benefits...supposedly....are amazing.  We've been drinking it since about mid-March, and I have to say that my hair is healthier, bumps and bruises (and a broken toe) are healing quicker, and my son's nails are officially confirmed as seriously irritating weapons in our household.  My husband claims his eyesight has improved.  No scientific evidence -- it's not like we deliberately started drinking it to conduct an experiment -- but when all the kids at daycare are out with the flu and diarrhea, mine is the only one still healthy.  Why?  No idea...but he's the only one still nursing and drinking raw milk and eating fresh organic food.

The first week we bought the milk, the last two jars went sour.  There's one difference right there from pasteurized vs nonpasteurized....pasteurized milk, when it goes off, is actually rotten, and you can't use it for anything.  Non-pasteurized (raw) just changes into buttermilk.  You could drink it, but it's also awesome for making yogurt, pancakes, in oatmeal...the possibilities are endless.  The only reason the milk went sour, by the way, is because our fridge wasn't cold enough...we've adjusted it and it hasn't happened again.  Our farm is a small one, that has limited shares available, and really encourages people to come out and visit and spend time with the cows and other animals.  We have a set day for milk pick-up, and their policy is that we never get milk that is older than 24hrs.  If we can't make it at the appointed time, they'll turn it into cheese and give us the fresher stuff when we can make it out.  Personally, I would choose a farm that encourages people to come out and get familiar with where the milk comes from and teaches the process.  Otherwise, how do you know if it's really organic?  And I've noticed the taste changing from week to week lately...it's getting richer because the cows are back out to pasture.  Now that's fresh!  lol. :)

Check out the following website: http://www.realmilk.com/   There's a lot of good information about the benefits of raw milk.  I'm not knocking pasteurization -- it was brought in for a reason -- but I won't go back to pasteurized milk if I can get clean, raw milk.  We've not had any problems at all changing over.  Also google the differences between cow breeds...specifically A1 and A2 type cows; a lot of people have lactose intolerance that disappears if they pay attention to the type of cow the milk comes from.  Our farm only has A2 type cows...heritage breeds like Jersey, Ayrshire, Simmental, and  Guernsey.  Modern Holsteins are A1.

Dry goods we get from whoever has the best deal on....Bulk Barn for sugars, organic flours, and other dry goods I can get in bulk, and Costco for paper goods, although I've given myself the personal challenge of staying out of Costco for a month.  I keep meaning to check out Amazon, although I've heard that the .ca site isn't even close to the .com site in regards to available product or delivery.

Matt K

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Dry goods we get from whoever has the best deal on....Bulk Barn for sugars, organic flours, and other dry goods I can get in bulk, and Costco for paper goods, although I've given myself the personal challenge of staying out of Costco for a month.  I keep meaning to check out Amazon, although I've heard that the .ca site isn't even close to the .com site in regards to available product or delivery.

Do you make bread at all? I use a bread machine to make pretty much all the bread we use. I used to use Robin Hood homestyle best-for-bread flour mixed with their multi-grain or whole wheat best for bread (3:1 ratio). It works very well. But Robin Hood has discontinued the larger bags of bread flour, and now only comes in piddly 5 pound bags (which I go through way too fast and cost far too much). I looked in bulk barn hoping to find a bread flour (higher protien than all purpose flour) and didn't see any (doesn't mean they aren't there, just means I didn't see them).

I'd love to know if any fellow Ontarians have a good source for quality bread flour in large quantities (ideally at a reasonable price too).

Mrs MM

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I've used door to door organics in the past: http://www.doortodoororganics.com/.  I'm not sure how it would compare in price to what you're already spending though...

From my understanding, they are local and organic as much as possible and work with local farmers.  You might also want to go straight to the small local farmers in your area.

kdms

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Do you make bread at all? I use a bread machine to make pretty much all the bread we use. I used to use Robin Hood homestyle best-for-bread flour mixed with their multi-grain or whole wheat best for bread (3:1 ratio). It works very well. But Robin Hood has discontinued the larger bags of bread flour, and now only comes in piddly 5 pound bags (which I go through way too fast and cost far too much). I looked in bulk barn hoping to find a bread flour (higher protien than all purpose flour) and didn't see any (doesn't mean they aren't there, just means I didn't see them).

I'd love to know if any fellow Ontarians have a good source for quality bread flour in large quantities (ideally at a reasonable price too).

I've been making bread by hand for over a year...I got impatient with the bread machine and can now make four loaves in the time it takes my bread machine to make one.  Up until around a month ago I was getting a 20lb bag of whole wheat flour out of Costco for around $7.85....I'm just about out, now, and am also starting the search for a more local source of flour at a decent price.  I've seen that Bulk Barn does have organic flour, but I haven't actually bought any yet because I was working my way through the costco stuff.  A co-worker uses a restaurant supply store to get his bulk foodstuffs...but I don't know if it's organic or not.  I think the big thing is to get unbleached flour, but there may be other things to consider as well, such as type of grain, GMO or not, that sort of thing.

Ditto with what Matt said....anybody out there knows where to get the stuff, we'd love to know.  :)

LadyM

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I do indeed make my own bread!  I've been making it by hand for over a year now, and what time and money-saving venture it is.  My kids started ramping up the bread consumption, and it was either make my own or buy 2 loaves a week, sometimes more!!  Plus there's almost nothing that makes a house smell nicer than baking bread.  Every 2 weeks (sometimes every week) I can crank out a 3-loaf batch, no problem.

I was looking at large 25 lb bags of Organic Unbleached All-Purpose Whole Wheat Flour by a ground called Great River Organic Milling.  They have quite a variety of flours, all available on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Great-River-Organic-Milling-Specialty/dp/B0049YMB64/ref=pd_sim_gro_4 

The WWAP flour above is $1.08/lb, and $.92/lb if you do subscribe and save, where they'll send you another 25 lb bag of flour after 4 months.  Today I saw King Arthur flour being sold at target in 5lb bags for $3.99 ($.80/lb) in several varieties - bread flour, unbleached all-purpose, and a couple different types of whole wheat flours.  I was able to buy 20 lbs at Costco once for $15 but that was regular white all-purpose flour, and it was also in 2 manageable 10-lb bags packaged together.  I don't think Costco necessarily has the best deal on flour unless you want to jump up to 50 lbs and you have a place to store that much flour at once....I do not.  Also, you don't get variety at Costco. 

I guess I'll just keep an eye out and hopefully I can get most things at one location or online. 

Mactrader

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Wow, the idea of CSAs and door-to-door organics has really got me thinking about how we buy groceries! I need to vet this out and see if it'll work out for our family (ie: the wife buying in and moving away from traditional ways). The D2D for my region doesn't have green onions, which is a staple ingredient in my uber-awesome Greek salad (not the kind you order in a restaurant mind you) that I make! Love the idea of super fresh local veggies/fruit showing up at my house every week. Thanks for nudging me in the right direction!

rodney757

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What do you think of the raw milk?  There are a few local farms who offer cow-share programs as well (since selling it is illegal in Virginia).  How long have you been drinking it?  Have you experienced any problems?  Do you get it from a small farm or a large farm?  Any information would be appreciated.  I've just now started looking into it as a possibility, as it would appear that there's no local pasteurized milk to be found.

I've been drinking raw milk for about a year now. The farm I work for and live on has a small raw milk Jersey cow dairy. The taste definitely changes a little with the seasons. I never noticed any problems when I made the switch, but some people get diarriah for the first week or so as their stomach adjusts to all the good bacteria. The milk is way thicker than whole milk at the store. After skimming off the cream, I think it is about the thickness of whole store milk.

James

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We got milk straight from a friend who had a dairy farm growing up.  Dipped the gallan jars directly into the bulk tank and went through about 3 gallons per week.  We didn't know what to do with all the cream, we made butter, ice cream, strawberries and cream, etc, etc...  good stuff!  We currently don't get raw milk despite living in northern WI, but we would really like to get something lined up.  The legal aspect just makes it very difficult!


We do get a share from a local organic farm, it's a nice sized box of fresh produce every Thursday all summer long.  The fresh greens are amazing, and we like exposing the kids to the variety of produce we don't ordinarily purchase.  The cost isn't strictly worth it, we would be better off just buying from the grocery store in terms of the budget.  But it's worth it to us to support the local growers and to be eating things produced locally.  We also pay more for local chicken, but don't eat a ton of it so that works out.


We purchase 50lb bags of wheat from a co-op (along with other bulk supplies like peanuts for peanut butter).  We grind the wheat to make our own bread, saving a lot of money and the results are both awesomely good and great for the kids.


We get eggs from co-workers where I work, a few of the gals have chickens and bring in eggs a couple times a week.


There isn't any one way that works for everyone, just need to see what's available where you are and what works with your priorities.  Word of mouth is often the best way of finding local options, so make sure you ask around where you live for ideas.  It certainly helps to hear what other people do around the country, and I've enjoyed reading the rest of the responses.  Thanks for the good topic!

Gerard

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I looked in bulk barn hoping to find a bread flour (higher protien than all purpose flour) and didn't see any (doesn't mean they aren't there, just means I didn't see them).

I'd love to know if any fellow Ontarians have a good source for quality bread flour in large quantities (ideally at a reasonable price too).

My bulk barn has two or three different high-protein bread flours... maybe it varies by branch?

For big bags of bread flour, I'd try large Indian or Arabic supermarkets. Depending where you are in Ontario, of course... your best bet might be stores in Scarborough or Mississauga.

Matt K

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I looked in bulk barn hoping to find a bread flour (higher protien than all purpose flour) and didn't see any (doesn't mean they aren't there, just means I didn't see them).

I'd love to know if any fellow Ontarians have a good source for quality bread flour in large quantities (ideally at a reasonable price too).

My bulk barn has two or three different high-protein bread flours... maybe it varies by branch?

For big bags of bread flour, I'd try large Indian or Arabic supermarkets. Depending where you are in Ontario, of course... your best bet might be stores in Scarborough or Mississauga.

Since I live in Ottawa, that's a bit too far out of my way ;)
Thankfully, we have some great immigrant communities (Thank God for the Chinese community, without them we wouldn't have cheap & fresh seafood in this city) and local stores. Very near me is an arab grocery I usually buy my lamb from. They have huge bags of Durum Atta flour, but that's about it. Google tells me Durum Atta is what is used in middle eastern flat breads, and that it is very high in protien... I may pick up a small bag and see about mixing it with unbleached all-purpose flour to see if I can get a good rising bread mix.

Slight topic hijack, but: Has anyone here baked with Durum Atta?

Stavros: We're not jumping in, more of a slow wading in. Our organic food box delivery allows bi-weekly delivery, so that is what we are trying. The plan is one 'normal' week alternating with one 'organic-suprise' week. We still buy the things we want that aren't included in our delivery (such as green onions). Even last week ('surprise' week) we still went grocery shopping and spent $65 on cheese, meat, and other staples at the normal grocery store. Althouth this week I've convinced my better half to bike to the local farmer's market and we'll see what's there.
« Last Edit: May 09, 2012, 09:40:41 AM by Matt K »

twinge

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Quote
Slight topic hijack, but: Has anyone here baked with Durum Atta?

Yes.  We like the taste and depending on the variety it can make your loaves slightly yellowish.  I actually think it complements oats better than other whole wheat flours, so I commonly make a bread that uses the Durum Atta with oats.  If I want the bread a little less dense I add a cup of bread flour.  We get a 25 lb bag from our local Indian grocer.  Haven't found a handy organic version yet.

kdms

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Thank you for mentioning the ethnic markets....I was searching for restaurant supply stores and wasn't having much luck, so I'll try those next.

Matt K: I don't know where you are in Ottawa, but there's a rather large collection of middle eastern / halal market stores on the west side of St. Laurent between Innes and the 417....perhaps there might be someone in there selling flour.

MrSaturday

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I was looking at large 25 lb bags of Organic Unbleached All-Purpose Whole Wheat Flour by a ground called Great River Organic Milling.  They have quite a variety of flours, all available on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Great-River-Organic-Milling-Specialty/dp/B0049YMB64/ref=pd_sim_gro_4

I was considering giving one of those 25lb bags a try but looked around to see what other alternatives were on Amazon.  That's when I found this, an assortment of Great River Organic at $19.35 (subscribe and save) for 80lbs.  Holy crap!

It isn't specified what varieties you get, but according to some of the reviews:

Quote
Im not sure if everyone receives the same variety but I got the following: Corn Meal, Whole Wheat Flour, Unbleached Wheat Flour and Whole Wheat Pastry Flour. Was hoping for a wider ranged variety (like rye perhaps) but Im still pleased. Great quality flour.

I'm giving it a try.  My biggest concern is an 80lb box won't make it to my door intact, but Amazon is really good about taking care of problems like that.

Gerard

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Matt K: I don't know where you are in Ottawa, but there's a rather large collection of middle eastern / halal market stores on the west side of St. Laurent between Innes and the 417....perhaps there might be someone in there selling flour.

Yeah, I used to live in Ottawa, and I miss this place:
http://www.mideastfoods.com/home.php

LadyM

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I've used door to door organics in the past: http://www.doortodoororganics.com/.  I'm not sure how it would compare in price to what you're already spending though...

From my understanding, they are local and organic as much as possible and work with local farmers.  You might also want to go straight to the small local farmers in your area.

I checked them out, and they don't service my area.  But it's cool!  I'm surrounded by farmers and the markets are well established here, I don't mind going out there to see what's available.  Plus, at the farm I'll be getting my CSA shares at, they do U-pick veggies and fruits, and since it's been so warm they've opened the fields to picking strawberries already!  I can go pick them at $2.29/lb plus a 10% discount for being a CSA member.  That's a sweet deal.  Locally grown fresh-picked strawberries, though smaller than the grocery store ones, taste a million times better!  Here's one area that I can get the fruit cheaper, even though the season is limited.

I will also be supplementing my local purchases and CSA share with food grown in my own garden.  I've got 43 sq ft of garden space I'm planting up with tomatoes (early girl, yellow pear, sweet 100 cherry, big rainbow), cucumbers (regular and pickling), peppers (thai hot, pickling, jalapeno, sweet bell), eggplants (black beauty and fairy tale), swiss chard, kale (red & blue), summer squash (yellow and cocozelle), winter squash (acorn, pumpkin), swiss chard, beans (green & purple french velour), peas (snow and shelling), carrots, beets (red and gold), spinach, okra, onions, and several types of lettuces.

I'm also growing strawberries in 5 gallon buckets in the backyard and herbs in the front yard.  Considering the garden is so small, this won't provide a whole summer's worth of food for us, but paired with the CSA we should be covered.

Green onions were mentioned earlier....buy some seeds and grow them!  They are some of the easiest things to grow and if you don't pull them, they seem to happily hang out in the soil until you're ready to use them.  In fact, I might throw a few seeds into my empty planter boxes, now that I think about it!



mm1970

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My question for the group is:  If given the opportunity, would you go for local groceries, even if it meant increasing your monthly budget?  Would you welcome the chance to be creative with your food preparation?  Or is it more important to you to spend as little on groceries as possible? 

*PS - I might soon be posting a Local Food Challenge....
This is basically what we do.  I started down the frugal cooking journey (I even have a blog about it) years ago, and it started with "The complete tightwad gazette" and a price book, shopping loss leaders, etc.

Over the years, our eating has morphed gradually.  We spend about what you do on food a month.  When I was doing the loss-leader/price book thing, I had it down to $350/month.

We are now in our 11th year of our CSA.  I could feed my family vegetables for cheaper by shopping around, but not much cheaper really (that's the advantage to So Cal).  The disadvantage is that organic/free range meats, eggs, etc. at the farmer's market are a lot more expensive than at Trader Joe's or Costco and a lot more expensive here than elsewhere (land, water, etc.)  I try to balance it several ways:

I try to eat less meat, but am no means even close to vegetarian.
About 1/2 of the meat I eat is farmer's market/local, and the other half is TJ's/Costco
Same with eggs
I buy organic dairy, but it isn't local
I'm so hooked on the local almond butter, it has ruined me for any other

I am, however, of the means to do all of this.  If my budget were tighter, I would likely buy less local.  We have an "eat local" challenge here in SB every October.  I have never tried to keep 100% of my diet local like some of my friends do for that month.  Too much work involved.

Frankly I find that local food is much better than non-local.  The veggies and fruits are more flavorful.  I had a coworker who was from Texas and would drive 40 miles south to shop at Walmart.  Once he started tasting the fruit at the farmer's market, he was ruined.  No more grocery store produce for him.  I prefer to keep my local farmers in business.  And if you've never made a burger from a local, grass fed, free range cow...oh man.  Instead of putting ground beef sparingly in meals where you don't taste it, I'll pay  $7 a pound and make burgers once a month.  Really  makes you appreciate it.

James

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My question for the group is:  If given the opportunity, would you go for local groceries, even if it meant increasing your monthly budget?  Would you welcome the chance to be creative with your food preparation?  Or is it more important to you to spend as little on groceries as possible? 

*PS - I might soon be posting a Local Food Challenge....


We definitely spend more to buy local, but up here in northern WI it isn't all that much more.

LadyM

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stuff I got this past weekend across 2 markets (if I go to the big saturday market next week, it should be the only stop I have to make):

head o' dark red/green leafy lettuce
Fennel (never bought before)
Turnips (never bought before)
Beets
Radishes
Strawberries
Snow peas
asparagus
baby yellow squash
tomatoes (greenhouse)
apples
fresh pressed fuji apple juice
fresh pressed cherry juice
cilantro
purple spring onions
purple garlic
head o' cabbage
1 dozen eggs (free-range pastured)
1 lb beef sausage (mild Italian)
1 lb ground beef  (all beef was grass fed and pastured)

Blinded by the selection, I over-bought a bit.....all of the above for $79 (and no tax).  I needed a few more things from the store:  cereal, coffee, tortillas (which I plan to start making myself), yogurt, cheese (I should be able to get these local too), bananas, oranges, milk.

My CSA will start up the first week of June, so I'll stop paying for produce at the market, unless I want some extra stuff for canning.  I'll be able to do market shopping for meat, eggs, dairy, honey, and even locally roasted fair-trade coffee! 

I'm also planning to meticulously track costs of this venture, and see how much more/less it costs than just getting everything at the grocery store.  It might also be nice to know what percentage of my purchases are local vs. big chain store.

No matter what, this will force my culinary creativity big time!  Thanks for all the input.  I'm really looking forward to the challenge.