::Updated:: Nine tenths of this post takes place within the contents of the comments section. Please be sure to visit there!
I wonder how much other families spend on groceries each week. Is that too bold of a thing to ask? I've been wanting to pose this question for several days now, yet admittedly, I don't really know why I need the information. But then I thought, maybe it's not just for me, maybe we all need the information - from one another. Maybe it would help us to feel a little less alone as we hand over however much it is to the cashier in our respective hometown markets each week. I was taught growing up that our grocery budget is the one area in our household finances we have the most control over, and I do believe that still. But I also am still so amazed at how much so little costs each week, regardless of not buying packaged foods and doing all of our cooking from scratch.
I went shopping last week and these four bags (which represent only one of the two stores that I shop at) cost $120. We are a family of three. There is not a single fancily packaged $5 box of organic granola bars in there... or a $7 box of organic cereal... there is just food, whole food. There were two splurges (which I factor into our budget, those splurges change from week to week). The first was goat cheese from a local farm - $6 for a tiny but oh-so-delicious portion, and there was some fresh figs, $5 for a large handful. The rest? Well, grains, beans, a bit of dairy and eggs, a few spices, other simple pantry items, and produce. Lots of good for the body, mind and soul produce. I am willing and able to ration/go without in many areas of our diet. Meat only once a week if that? Sure! Spaghetti every Wednesday because it can feed the whole table for $3 (homemade sauce and bread of course)? Bring it! Money saving Brown Rice Patties once a week? Absolutely! But please don't ask me to pass up our desired amount of organic/non-GMO vegetables or fruit, I can't mentally justify rationing the most important medicine we have.
A lot of times we hear it costs so much less to eat healthy (you know, the whole price of beans per pound vs. the price of beef per pound discussion), and I agree to a certain point. It's not the grains and beans that challenge my budget - it's the fruits and veggies! And well, I've decided to make no excuses about it, they are here to stay... in all of their abundance. Now please pass the rice and beans to balance out the $3.75 bunch of kale that when cooked just a bit and wilted, I could eat in it's entirety by myself...
We are living in a time when how we spend our food dollars is arguably the strongest political voice we have. It matters what goes into our carts and into our bodies. It matters which companies we support and those we do not. I stood next to the farmer who grew this lettuce for my salad as he filled his bins at the co-op, the very bins that stood empty upon my return (two days ago) due to damaging hail on his farm last week... I need this kind of connection, we all do. So I'll continue to squeeze and stretch every grocery dollar I have, stopping short when it comes to sacrificing fruit and vegetable intake. Afterall, in this land where health care has become a true luxury, eating well is the best (or perhaps only) health coverage we have.
It is true that cooking from scratch, buying in bulk (I'm not talking about cases of Vitamin Water and canned soup from the food warehouse) will save you a ton of money, and that does free up a good amount of space in a modest food budget for fresh produce. I guess what prompted this discussion for me was that I so often read about families larger than mine eating on $50 or $75 a week! Is food just extra pricey in my corner of the globe? Care to have a little discussion within the comments? This isn't about passing judgment on one way of living or eating, this is about sharing information... and it's perfectly fine if you prefer to comment anonymously today.
What does grocery shopping look like for your family cost-wise? Where do you live, how many people do you feed, how do you eat (whole foods, menu planned around what is on sale, etc.), do you have any favorite dollar stretching secrets to share? Share as little or as much as you'd like! I'll get things started...
Of course you could just stop in to say hello too! ;)