Tee hee. [nervous giggle] Do you think I actually have an answer to that? Well…
“This is the year of fiscal conservation” – or so says my husband.
Hmph. I’ve never been one for budgets, and while I don’t fancy myself an extravagant shopper (no Manolo pumps or Louis Vuitton hand bags in my closet), I do have a weak spot for home decor, and you guessed it, real food.
Folks ask all the time, “How can you afford to eat like that?” – Referring to a traditional foods diet packed with grass-fed, local meat, eggs, and dairy, farm box veggies, and a few imported staples like coconut oil and good sea salt.
My retort is usually, “How can you afford not to?” – Referring to the ill effects of the standard American diet and cheap food on human health.
Well, with my nose in the air, I have stuck to my guns about our household food expenditures. It’s been my belief that my family’s health is worth every penny that we spend on food, and I wasn’t willing to discuss cutting back one bit.
Then, in the spirit of ‘fiscal conservation’ I looked at the numbers.
On average last year we spent $1500 per month on groceries (and $2272 total food cost) for a family of four – two adults and two big eaters under the age of six. The national average is estimated to be $1013.80 per month for a family of 4 according the the USDA’s ‘liberal’ plan. Gasp. Oh, dear. I suppose I may need to limit the number of eighty dollar bags of goodies I buy at Whole Foods.
I’ll admit, it certainly would be nice to cut our food bill in half – I am plotting ways to spend the imaginary savings already! I’m still not willing to compromise on the quality of my family’s food, but I sure do love a nice competition. Me versus the food budget. Bring it.
I’ve been nosing around the blog-o-sphere and have found plenty of inspiring ideas and interesting tips for feeding your family Real food whilst on a budget.
My favorite penny-saving tips for real food on a budget:
- Shop Less – Last year, Brenda from Wed Fed Homestead, did 3 months of no shopping. I’m not sure I can commit to NO shopping, but with my new freezer packed full, I’m excited to see how little I can spend by eating the food I already have.
- Don’t double up on protein – I do love eggs and bacon for brekkie, but in a effort to save money, it doesn’t make sense to “pair meat with cheese, eggs with cheese, meat with eggs, and the like unless I’m cooking up something special.” This advice and the tip that follows are from Food Renegade.
- Eat more Veg – As a traditional foods advocate, it’s not often that I get on a soap box about eating more veggies. Don’t get me wrong, I do love some wilted kale or steamed asparagus (both with butter, of course), but I just know they don’t pack as much nutritional punch as high quality fat and meats. BUT, to save money without gorging on tons of grains, a big serving of veggies (smothered in fat and accompanying my protein) is a great way to fill your tummy.
- Make Meal Plans – I swore I would never do this (it always seemed so tedious), but now I can see how planning the week’s meals in advance will save us from those last minute restaurant lunches or expensive trips to the grocery store. I will share my meal plans in the coming weeks so we can compare notes.
- Don’t Go it Alone – I love the idea of banning together as a community to save money while eating great food. Frugally Sustainable has hundreds of people committed to a Frugal Living Challenge. I’m looking forward to her tips on savvy saving.
So, it’s decided:
This is the year of real food done frugally.
Join me on my adventure. I’m planning to dump my purse on the floor for the whole world to see, and I’m determined to eat amazing food for the same budget that the US government considers a ‘liberal’ plan. Watch me fall flat on my face a few times, and hopefully come out the other side well-nourished with a few more bucks in my piggy bank.