936 Pennies: Discovering the Joy of Intentional Parenting
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After my peanut butter fiasco last week, and the financial burden it took on our grocery fund, I have been mulling over our grocery budget. You see–I have a spending problem. This problem does not result in a full dresser of stylish clothes, a closet boasting of countless shoe options, or the latest electronics. No, my problem results in a kitchen stocked of delicious, exciting ingredients. I become oddly excited every time I step foot into a grocery store, so much so that I often visit one every to every other day. It is a problem, you see, because it often results in over-spending our grocery budget. Since we returned from my parents’ house in the Ozark Mountains about 6 weeks ago, I’ve had a lot of difficulty managing to keep our grocery budget at bay. Each week we have been allotting ourselves $110 for groceries. Come each weekend, we found ourselves out of food and out of grocery money. Several things have contributed to this shortage in food funds: we are now drinking the same milk we buy for Zeke (Organic whole). At $6 a gallon, and one and a half to 2 gallons a week, this is a big chunk of our grocery money every week. We’ve also been making bigger ingredient purchases, such as peanuts for peanut butter, honey, and whole chickens. As well, our little boy is beginning to show a fierce appetite! With these legitimate reasons in mind, we’ve upped our grocery budget to $125 a week. I’m also challenging myself to be a little more conscious about what we need, and what can wait, especially in regards to more expensive ingredients.
A few weeks back, I addressed what many of my readers commented was their biggest hindrance in eating real food: It takes too much time. I wrote on how time is of the essence; it is one of our most valuable resources in life, and so we must choose wisely concerning what we spend it on. Now I would like to address another encumbrance often found in eating real food: It takes too much money. This statement holds some truth. There is a way to eat a real, wholesome diet that can leave your wallet empty and your bills unpaid if you’re not careful. However, Gray and I have been eating a real food diet for a year now, and we can attest to the affordability of fresh, wholesome ingredients. This is doable even on a humble budget.
In this post, and over the next few weeks, I’ll be detailing our grocery purchases for the week. I hope that this will help keep me accountable to what money we spend on what foods on a weekly basis, as well as give readers a glimpse into what we actually buy and eat each week. I’ll be documenting each purchase at each store, including amounts and prices. I hope it doesn’t become too stale of a read—gloss over the details if you wish—I only hope it gives you a better idea of what foods our family buys on a weekly basis, and for how much.
To begin, I’ll be going back two weeks, just to give a broader idea of what we buy and eat. Now, to preface this, let me remind you that we are not starting out with a bare kitchen, so the items on our grocery receipts are not all we have eaten during the past two weeks. Our meals consisted of the ingredients below, plus what we already had on hand. We began our two weeks a bit short-handed, having run out of food the preceding weekend, we dug into our grocery fund for the week a few days early. So, beginning week 1 we had $75 remaining, and then $125 for week 2. Here is what we spent $200 on in two weeks:
Super Market (4 trips): ($111.45)
Natural Food Market (2 trips): ($19.71)
Outpost Natural Foods (1 trip): ($13.69)
Cheese and Fruit market (1 trip): ($5.62)
Trader Joes (2 trips): ($49.95)
Here’s a glimpse at some of the just meals we created with the ingredients from the past 2 weeks (plus some ingredients we already had on hand) Besides these, we also used our ingredients for sandwiches, omelets, plenty of fresh bread, and other quick meals:
Homemade Granola Bars
Dark Chocolate and Coconut Drops (recipe here)
Chicken Pitas with Red Cabbage Slaw, served with Pepper-Rubbed Fruit Salad
Grass-fed Rump Roast with Brown Rice and Roasted Veggies
Sautéed Lamb Chops with Roasted Sweet potatoes and Brown Rice
Scheherazade Veggie Casserole (Recipe here)
Chicken Stir-fry with Bok Choy, Red Cabbage, Pea Shoots, Crimini Mushrooms and Rice Noodles
Curry Shrimp and Veggie Japanese Noodle Soup
One of my challenges in increasing our grocery funds is to make certain our food waste does not increase likewise. We are buying more food—naturally more produce—and I need to be diligent to make sure what we buy is being used to create healthful, tasty meals, before the ingredients pass their prime. In general, we have very little food waste in our home, even with all of the fresh produce we buy. We challenge ourselves to find a use for everything before it goes to waste. In light of this, we have no problem spending real money on real food, because we know it is lending to us real health.
I believe that in our society, we have placed our groceries far too low on our budget lines. For many people, rent/mortgage, car payments, entertainment, insurance, clothing, and other financial burdens may receive higher priority when it comes to how our money is spent. All of these things have their place, of course, but I believe we have robbed our grocery budgets, trying to squeeze the most out of every dollar, which often results in buying the cheapest food. The cheapest food, unfortunately, is highly processed convenience foods. I would challenge every one to reevaluate their budget (or create one if they don’t currently have one in place), and consider giving your groceries a more prominent place in your wallet, not necessarily so that you can buy more food, but more real food; higher-quality, nutritious, real ingredients. As stated, we do struggle with our grocery budget. We have decided, however, that our health and the enjoyment of real food is a worthy enough part of our life to lend it an honorable position in our budget. Our grocery budget is our second largest expense each month. It comes in second only to rent. We are more than okay with this. We’ve decide to live “meagerly” in other areas so that we can invest in our health, and something we truly enjoy in life–real, good food!
Below are a couple of recipes for Pepper-rubbed Fruit Salad and Red Cabbage Slaw. Before that, though, I’m looking for some feedback from you. As I’ve mentioned, Gray and I have struggled with our budgeting for groceries. It seems we learn best by asking other people about their experiences and views. Your comments challenge me and help me in my thinking about real food, as well as give me ideas about what would be relevant for future blog posts. And so, here is my Real Food Question(s) of the Week, please comment below on the blog!:
We had our salad with some chicken pitas and a homemade red cabbage slaw. I simply used some free-range chicken we had roasted the day before. I placed it on an all-natural wheat pita along with some chunks of Muenster cheese. I baked the chicken pita at 350 degrees just until the cheese began to bubble, about 5-8 minutes.
Don’t forget to comment on the Real Food Question(s) of the Week:
Recipe for Pepper-rubbed Fruit and Spinach salad can be found on the Whole Foods Wednesday Recipe Swap at Whole Foods Nutrition.