Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Grocery budgets and my fearless friend

We have all our household books on Quickbooks, and I love it, because with about 3 mouse clicks I can have a picture of what we are spending on any given category of expenses.

I have a fearless friend, Mrs. Mac, who started a blog in which she details her efforts to live frugally yet improve her family's health through a heckuva lot of hard work - gardening, making things herself, canning, doing all her own baking, buying locally, et cetera. She has food allergies to deal with, plus a son with special needs and a darling grandson whom she wants to see grow up strong and healthy, so she has plenty of motivation to feed her family carefully. Plus she wants to live wisely on their means. She started posting her monthly grocery expenditures on her blog, beginning with this calendar year.

I think we're reasonably careful (nothing like Mrs. Mac, but careful-er than we used to be, anyway) with our grocery budget, and yet I just ran a report and was horrified to see that we spent $1200 on food already in just the first 2 months of 2010. Then I remembered that included in that was $335 to share a half a beef from Fareway Foods. And that's a lot of beef in the freezer, and we don't eat it very fast, so it will last awhile. So I feel much better about that.

Still, I need to do better.

We have not bought bread since well before Thanksgiving. But we still buy hamburger and hot dog buns. I buy eggs from a farmer friend - lovely brown ones that are super fresh, with big dense yolks that stand up in the frying pan. They are more expensive than the cheapest eggs we could buy, but I think they are worth it. We also buy cheap wine from ALDI (and that is not included in the total above - it's under a separate budget). But I no longer splurge on fresh unpasteurized milk from our organic dairy farmer friends, though I miss it. We don't eat a lot of meat. We buy frozen fish, and frozen chicken, and we eat quite a bit of rice and beans. We have a tiny garden, and unless we rent land somewhere else, it's about at its limit, because New Albin is built on a 500-foot-deep pit of alluvial sand with about 2-1/2 inches of topsoil, and the garden is in about the only space in the yard that has more dirt than that - it's where the old outhouse once stood. And no, I'm not kidding. Just don't think about it when you eat our lovely tomatoes. They grow well for a reason, you know. :o) Anyway, I guess another alternative would be to do raised boxes. Maybe we'll have to think about that.

This is mostly a thinking-out-loud post.

I'm not ready to post my grocery budget like my friend does on her blog sidebar, but she is an inspiration.


Connie said...

Raised beds are great. I have a couple that also act as terracing/retaining walls for my steeply sloping yard. They're made from repurposed wood, which I like. Makes me feel kind of green.

I also went to a local place and made some wine last fall, but that was kind of a splurge (although I have plenty o' wine in the garage).

Mrs. Mac said...

Some people call me frugal ... others just 'cheap' ... We used to spend close to $800 at the big fat fake food sprawlmart. Now I may buy a bunch of bananas if we are in there for some reason. No more household cleaners, canned goods, boxed goods, breads ... all that expenditure is put towards buying whole food products. I'm not sure I'd give up good local milk if it was/is available nearby ... especially unpasturized ... it's so much better for you. Eating healthy is akin to buying your good health. My kids are not surprised any longer when I mention some 'odd' thing I'm brewing in a jug at home;) Just might try dandelion wine this year too (LOL).