When I talk to my friends and family about eating a whole, natural, unprocessed diet, by far the most common excuse for why they couldn’t do it as well is the amount of money they assume it takes to eat this way. Yet, somehow my little family ends up spending less on a monthly basis than a lot of these people. We live on one modest sized income & can afford real food. It is a priority to us. How does this happen? Well, I must admit that I am a bargain hunter and I am also blessed to live within a few miles of several different grocery stores. It takes time to figure out where the best deals are, but now that I have my routine down, it hardly takes any effort. There are a couple of key factors that save us money on our grocery budget:
- A freezer chest – absolutely invaluable when it comes to saving money on real food. I keep our chest freezer stocked with organic meats and wild Alaskan salmon that I buy when it is on sale as well as fruits & veggies frozen in season, homemade chicken stock, home ground flour, quality items bought in bulk for cheaper such as yeast, butter, raw cheese, and prepared-ahead foods such as homemade calzones & casseroles.
- Time – I am/was willing to spend time upfront in order to find where the best deals can be found in order to make the most of our money. I am also willing to spend time preparing foods to preserve by freezing, canning & dehydrating. I mill my own grain which makes it healthier and cheaper. I buy in bulk so I often have to re-portion items into smaller containers.
In the above photo you will see what I brought home today from my Azure Standard order and grocery store trip. My monthly grocery budget is $350, but I try to stick closer to $300 so that we can save the extra $$ for bulk purchases and other items we might need. When I stick to $300/month, that is a breakdown of $75/week for two adults. Here is the cost breakdown for all of what you see in that photo:
Azure Standard – TOTAL: $106.87 (but I had a $26.04 credit from some spoiled peaches from last month, so it really was only $80.83 but I will use the first number for cost break down)
- 4 lbs organic oranges – $4.20 / $1.05 lb
- 10 lbs organic Yukon Gold potatoes – $9.80 / $0.98 lb
- 3 lbs organic Walla Walla onions – $3.10 / $1.03 lb
- 5 lbs organic carrots – $4.00 / $0.80 lb
- 20 lbs organic Bartlett pears – $25.85 / $1.29 lb
- 20 lbs organic Gala apples – $19.60 / $0.98 lb
- 5 lbs organic raw coconut flour – $21.40 / $4.28 lb
- 4 lbs organic Nancy’s Whole Milk Yogurt – $6.90 / $1.73 lb
- 10 oz Crofter’s Strawberry Just Fruit Spread – $3.65 / $5.84 lb
Shipping: $8.37 (but no tax)
Kroger Store #1 + tax = TOTAL: $14.90
- 2.28 lbs fresh Wild Alaskan Sockeye Salmon – $14.90 / $6.29 lb (marked down on Manager’s Special)
Whole Foods + tax = TOTAL: $5.98
- 0.11 lb organic cumin – $1.76 / $16 lb
- 2.25 lb Parisienne sourdough bread – $3.99 / $1.77 lb (a special treat. I often make my own bread for much cheaper)
Kroger Store #2 + tax = TOTAL: $63.74
- 21.67 lbs Organic whole chicken (4 chickens) – $47.77 / $2.20 lb (marked down on Manager’s Special + $1.00 coupon for each chicken)
- 1.58 lb bananas – $0.87 / $0.55 lb
Other, not included in total because it wasn’t food, but was on sale:
- Rechargeable AA batteries (4ct) – $7.49 (Manager’s special)
- Non-rechargeable long lasting AA batteries (4ct) – $4.49 (Manager’s special)
GRAND TOTAL for FOOD: $178.51 for $108.89 lbs of mostly organic, real food = average $1.64/lb paid
So, I spent $152.47 (since I had that spoiled food credit from AS) out of our monthly food budget to purchase all of these items!
How will I use these items and how long will they last us?
-Most of the pears will be made into pear sauce or cut into slices and canned for future use. I will canned 6-8 quarts of pears and the rest we will eat fresh.
- 3/4 of the apples will be made into applesauce, cut into slices and made into apple pie filling, or apple butter and canned (6+ quarts) and the rest we will eat fresh.
- The salmon will be frozen and we will eat about 0.5 lbs of salmon per week so that should last us over a month
- We usually eat 1 whole chicken every 2 weeks & I use up every last bit of the chicken. We rarely eat chicken as a main dish. I usually shred it into soup, casserole, salad, mexican dishes, stir fry, etc. to make it stretch. I make stock with the bones & get 4-8 lbs of stock per chicken. The liver and other organs will be hidden in flavor-packed tomato dishes such as chili.
- Oranges, leftover apples, leftover pears & bananas will be packed in lunches and eaten for breakfast and snacks. The oranges will last us a month, but I will have to buy more fresh fruit in 1 1/2-2 weeks.
- 10 lbs of potatoes will last at least a month, but probably closer to 2 months.
- The onions & carrots will last a month.
- Coconut flour I use sparingly, so it will last quite a while and be wonderful for the fall & holiday baking season.
- 4 lbs of yogurt will last for 1 month & I may experiment with homemade yogurt if I have time and extra $$ in the budget to buy extra milk.
- Strawberry spread will last 2-3 months depending on how much hubby wants to eat it on toast or sandwiches.
- Cumin will make it for a few months.
- Sourdough bread will most likely be gone within a few days.
What else will I get this month?
This was my big shopping trip for the month and there isn’t much else I should need due to my already well stocked freezer. I have plenty of raw cheddar cheese, grass-fed ground beef, frozen fruits & veggies and butter in the freezer. We will also budget in:
- 1/2 gallon milk per week – $16.00/month
- 3 dozen pastured eggs – $10.00/month
- Fresh organic produce from grocery store & Farmer’s Market $60/month
- 1 lb fresh, organic peanut butter – $5.00 (we are almost out).
We already have other frequently used items in the freezer and pantry such as raw cheddar cheese, butter, grass-fed ground beef, white wheat berries (soft and hard), honey, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, cocoa, spices, organic rolled oats, organic popcorn, organic beans, organic rice, organic corn, yeast, and common baking ingredients. In the future, I will post what my real food pantry looks like & what I like to keep on hand.
Add that $91.00 of expected spendings to the $152.47 I spent today and you get $243.47. I still have over $100 in my grocery budget I can spend if necessary, but I will try to save as much of that as possible for future bulk purchases.
I know that for many of you, $300-350/month is more than you have to spend. There are ways that I could have had real food for even less money, such as making my own bread, making my own jam, making my own yogurt, making my own coconut flour, buying canned rather than fresh salmon, and buying less organic produce (buying conventional for what was not on the dirty dozen list). We use a lot of potatoes, rice, and beans around my house, because they make a healthy, filling & affordable way to feed my family.
So, there you have an example of how we afford real food on a regular basis.
Has this post been helpful? How could it be more helpful? Do you have other tips & ideas for affording real food?