Blog Update!
For those of you not following me on Facebook, as of the Summer of 2019 I've moved to Central WA, to a tiny mountain town of less than 1,000 people.

I will be covering my exploits here in the Cascades, as I try to further reduce my impact on the environment. With the same attitude, just at a higher altitude!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Sustainable Food Budget Challenge

Sustainable Food Budget Challenge - April 2009I've been reading a bit lately about the argument that the sustainable food / organic movement is really only affordable by the middle and upper classes. Basically, those who can afford to shop at Whole Foods or the like. I tend to disagree wholeheartedly because there are many avenues to buying organic, sustainable or local foods without breaking the bank.

First off is where you are shopping. Sure, if you go to Whole Paycheck and buy their gourmet, packaged items you are going to ring up quite a tally. But, if you skip the morels, cave aged Gruyere and imported organic wines and stick to the in-season local fruits and vegetables and the bulk aisle, even Whole Foods can be somewhat affordable. Locally owned grocery stores more often will carry locally grown food over chain supermarkets. So you'll need to take into consideration whether locally grown fruits and vegetables that are sustainably grown but not certified organic or even use some non-organic practices are 'better' than Walmart organic produce grown half-way around the world.

Another alternative is shopping at your local food co-op if you have one. If you do, consider yourself extremely lucky because there you will find more food grown locally and at more reasonable prices. Hell, you might as well become a member of the co-op and reap the other benefits generally available to members.

Farmers markets are certainly on the rise. We have a ton in the Seattle area and, each year, more are opening up, which is so exciting even if I don't always get a chance to shop there. The best part of buying at the farmers markets is that you get to "meet the producer". In other words, you can ask all sorts of questions of the grower to get an idea of how that food was raised (organic, sustainable, with or without pesticides, etc.). But, the best part is also the fact that you are buying directly, so prices tend to be cheaper. Since you are also buying what's in season and fresh, the prices will be more inexpensive as well. If you are willing to eat seasonally, you can really reap the savings.

Finally, don't forget U-Pick, farm stands and on farm purchases. The U-Pick option tends to be extremely inexpensive mostly because you are doing the manual labor. Of course, you do have to take into consideration your own time with this one, but if you can spare the few moments to head out to your closest farm, then it's well worth the trip to stock up and do some preserving.

To stretch your food dollars even more, eating less meat is one huge way to go to reducing your costs. Sticking to grains, legumes and nuts can provide great sources of protein at a fraction of the cost. Additionally, cutting back on dairy can stretch out your food budget as well.

So, the question remains... is it possible to eat an organic or sustainably grown diet on a budget? A few years ago, there was the argument that those individuals who received food assistance from the government didn't receive enough money to be able to afford healthy food. Some took it further and argued that poor Americans really were excluded from being able to eat sustainably strictly because of the higher costs. There are a number of factors at play here, the majority of which have to do with food availability such as the fact that not many supermarkets remain in some inner city areas and it's difficult to travel out to the suburbs to shop at stores that sell the kinds of foods we are talking about here.

But, for the rest of us, can it be done? For those of us who live in areas where ample farmers markets, farms and grocery stores selling sustainably grown food exist, is it affordable?

I'd like to challenge us all to see if we can eat sustainably using the Food Stamp Allotment Program guidelines. It will take a lot of careful planning, but the end result is that we can save a lot of money on our food budget by trying to spend within this framework for a month.

Challenge Guidelines
So, here's the skinny. Based on the following allotment chart, you are to stick to the corresponding amount for food for the month of April. The challenge is that you must buy according to the following guidelines (from Locavores). Do not include non-food items or home grown items into your budget, but do include seeds and plants which produce food for the household to eat. Make sure you include all the food costs from eating out, trips to coffee shops, etc.

These are fairly loose rules, but the goal is to buy sustainably grown food:

1. If not LOCALLY PRODUCED, then Organic.
2. If not ORGANIC, then Family farm.
3. If not FAMILY FARM, then Local business.
4. If not a LOCAL BUSINESS, then Terroir: purchase foods famous for the region they are grown in.
5. Hit the farmers market before the supermarket.

Household Maximum Monthly Allotment Chart:
1 person - $176
2 people - $323
3 people - $463
4 people - $588
5 people - $698
6 people - $838
7 people - $926
8 people - $1,058
Each additional person - $132

Sign Me Up!
To sign up for the challenge, add your name to the comments of this post. I'll be doing weekly check-ins to see how everyone is faring and for you to confess your non-sustainably grown food purchases.

This should be a difficult challenge for most of us since it's combining a tight budget with buying sustainably grown foods. For those of you already ahead of the curve, feel free to lower the budget amount and see if you can squeeze in even more savings.


Kelsie said...

YES. It can be done. I'm not going to sign up for this challenge officially b/c by boyfriend and I are already doing this. Almost everything we buy is organic, and each of us spends about $65/month on food. We usually do most of our shopping at Kroger, though I buy free-range turkey from the little health food store and we make occasional trips to the co-op 45 minutes away--but only when we need to be in that particular area for another reason. When we're there, though, we stock up on bulk items.

I'm a rabid sale-watcher. Yesterday, I got 6 pounds of organic, free-range chicken for $10.00!! It was on "Manager's Special" because it was getting ready to "expire," so I just brought it home and stuck it all in the freezer. I got $1.50 free range, organic eggs the same way.

I also just found out that I can get free-range eggs for $1 from a beauty salon down the street--the owner keeps chickens, and sells eggs by the dozen every Monday. Local AND free-range. Score!

So yes--it can be done. You just have to avoid the temptations, like you said, of cave-aged cheese (really??) and organic wine (so, so good, but yes...pricey). We've been sipping on our homemade blackberry cordial. If anyone wants the recipe, drop me a message. :)

Anonymous said...

Are folks allowed to use any of that for seeds or soil? I am hoping that people will start pooling some resources and growing their own on roofs, in yards and on fire escapes.

I built to encourage people to yardshare and grow food together.

The mindset has to shift - and I know how hard that is to do when you are living on so little. I've been there.

Right now we're doing something called The Great Let's Get Growing Seed Share - and encouraging people who garden to become 'seed angels' for newbie gardeners. I've personally sent 5 envelopes out - each filled with enough seed to grow a full garden of food for a season. It cost me less that 5 bucks and an hour of my time. I trully feel poverty is something we can do something about right now!

Briel said...

Like an above poster I spend about $60 per month on food. I don't eat refined flour or sugar and I only buy organic (local when possible). I shop at a supermarket but they carry local produce. Yes, sometimes it's very boring to have oatmeal for every breakfast. But it's healthy and cheap. My diet is vegetarian which makes it easier.

I still buy cave-aged cheddar. I just make up for it with oatmeal.

Anonymous said...

sign us up. i was just going over my grocery spending for the month of march thus far. for the four of us (1 adult, 1 teen, 1 tween and 1 5yr old) i've plopped down 600$. and when it's all said and done, i haven't gotten that much bang for my buck. some of it was for staples as i learn to cook from scratch but far too much was for "food" that's not food. like kelsie, occasionally i'll stumble on to great grocery finds like organic milk a day from going out of date for 1/2 price.(it goes right into the freezer.) but i know i can do more.

Anonymous said...

I would have liked to try this challenge but again I cannot. Sadly where I live leaves me unable to join in (Freeze yer bunz off would be a little hard in Hawaii). The island I live on is very rual and while we do have farms, there isn't much locally grown food availabe in the supermarkets (we have six on this island, sort of). While we do have farmers markets six days a week (it floats so you can go when it pops up close to your house to reduce travel) there is a limited selection and a lot of what's available happens to be things I'm allergic to. Although certian times a year things like starfruit is so abundant I can get six [huge] fruits for a dollar, or a bunch of lychee for 4-5 dollars.

In addition to the absence of locally grown food, the price of food prevents me from joining in. For example, a loaf of bread runs me no less than five dollars a loaf, a gallon of milk costs eight dollars. There is no way I could keep the food costs for the month under $323.oo for two people. We don't waste much food, yet our grocery bill comes close to at least $600.00 a month (and we don't eat out at all). I do want to participate in a challange eventually, I think Sweating yer bunz off will be the one.

The Crone at Wits End said...

Holy Cow, I get $838.00 USD = $1,275.14 AUD for the month for the six of us! That is three times the amount I am currently spending LOL!

I'll be in this for sure :) Now to see if I can whittle down from the current $400 AUD a month it is.

1 USD = 1.52165 AUD 1 AUD = 0.657181 USD

Chili said...

This is an intriguing challenge - not a whole lot different than the Eat Local Challenge except the money part (I guess that's a BIG difference, huh?). Can we eat foods already in the cupboard? Can we allow "exceptions" like coffee and spices?

Anna M said...

I don't shop like most folks since I tend to buy in bulk and I buy local. I made my 6 month meat buy yesterday for the two of us at two local farms. I'll pick up my local grown flour and oats in 50 pound bags sometime this week. My eggs I pick up every week from a farm 4 miles away (on the way to the recycle center) and my dairy is all from within the state. Produce, well, we are going as local as we can and I sprout things but it's a bit slim pickings in Vermont in March.

As for cost... for 2 people we average $400 a month but since we are local about 95% of the way, I'm good with that.

Tara said...

I suppose organic and sustainable food could be affordable if it were widely available. Where I live, even in the metro areas, it's still very much a niche product, and mostly only available at Whole Foods for a high price. Folks of lesser means in the suburban and rural areas are hard pressed to even get to those stores, much less pay the prices. We have very few farmers markets, and they still sell mostly produce grown with pesticides. In fact, at our "big" farmers market, most of the stuff isn't even grown here - it's trucked in from another state. I guess my point is, whether or not you can do this successfully also depends a lot on how progressive your area is. I live in the boonies where there is exactly zero organic or sustainable food, so no challenge for me. :(

Oldnovice said...

But, the best part is also the fact that you are buying directly, so prices tend to be cheaper.

Our Farmers' Markets (any of which are at least 20 highway minutes away by car) charge at least 3 times the local grocery price. I've supported them in previous years simply because I felt it important to support our local farmers. I stopped supporting them last year because my husband works on the only two days they're in operation and we only have 1 car. We don't have co-ops or CSAs, either.

The topic of getting monthly outlay down to foodstamp value came up somewhere else I visit, but I don't think I can compare
the two without comparing apples to oranges. Foodstamps isn't a lifestyle; it's something people get when other sources are exhausted. I save money on food by stockpiling when sales are great and "shopping" from freezer/pantry. Foodstamp recipients don't have two years of foodstuffs in freezer/pantry. They pretty much need to buy everything they'll eat this week, so that doesn't leave anything left over to take advantage of those great sales.

Niecey said...

We're a family of 6 and no way could we afford $830 a month on food. We're on less than half that. We do organic and local whereever we can. But it is not always affordable

CoCargoRider said...

This is great! We just decided to get back to a food budget by using the rent money from our property in CO (Anyone want to buy a house in Colorado? :))
to pay for our food. We are still using our stores from last year and still buying as local as we can for MN in March. Our biggest food expense in a month is our dairy which averages 250.00 a month including cheese and cream which we turn into butter and buttermilk. Since we eat little if any processed/packaged foods it is possible. Eating organic/natural packaged foods is not financially sustainable at all.

lauren said...

$323? I will give it a shot.

Anonymous said...

Wow, I'd been feeling like my budget was huge at $400-$500/mo, but apparently that's a tight budget?

For several years I fed a variously-sized family (2-6) on $100/mo or less. This was close to ten years ago, so call it $200 now, but still - dropping $100/week on food feels ridiculously bourgie to me. (it's higher in August/September because of canning & drying, but the rest of the year my budget is $100/week - and lately I've been coming in around $70 because I've been making our bread, bagels, & tofu).

Greenpa said...

REALLY good challenge, Crunch. It'll be hugely educational for a lot of folk, and they'll eat a lot of good food.

Something I've seen suggested elsewhere, which I like- a few folks are thinking that something Obama could do as "stimulus" - is build farmers markets. Like- everywhere. And- make Food Stamps easily acceptable at farmers markets.

The fact is- a huge number of European cities have government built/maintained farmers markets throughout the city. Sure, they're 500 years old. So it's not like this is a result of the Slow Food movement- it's probably the other way around.

Ask anybody who's spent time in Eurp- it's just not that hard to find a market. But it's always hard in the US.

Maybe about halfway through this challenge- you could ask your readers to write/call their congress people and push for this. It just might happen.

Anonymous said...

We're a family of 5, and we eat like this for about $60/wk - $240 a month. $698 a month!? WOW. Just WOW. There are many, many MANY ways to eat sustainably for way less than that :)

Eco Yogini said...

Yup- we are up for this challenge. Although, living in Atlantic Canada means that not only do we have less farmer's markets we also have a shorter growing season... BUT- this just makes it official: we want to try to eat more sustainably and we are recovering student (me) and student (him). So cheaper is gooder. lol

I am trying to figure out if a bi-weekly food box will be cheaper than the market etc. Thoughts? It also could take away some of the travel issues with driving all over the city to search different venues while supporting local farmers.

The fact that my city actually had a produce box program was a surprise. Something to check out even if you think your area has nothing...

lae21 said...

This challenge sounds like a great one; sign me up! We eat vegan already, and we spend about 100-150 more than our allotment every month, which is due in large part to poor planning and grabbing convenience foods after late nights at school. Thanks for this challenge. I think I'm going to send it to the rest of my family as well.

Theresa said...

I'm just going to try this unofficially for now. The Canadian equivalent of $323 is $410 at today's exchange rate (.7880). I budget 400/month for the two of us anyway, but have been going over that because we are also buying more than necessary each week to build up to a year's worth of stored staple foods. Also, our farmer's markets won't have any food until June, so it will be grocery store food until then. I've just finished of the last of the CSA potatoes and onions from last year so April and May will probably be more costly than any other months. Nonetheless, we will give it a whirl for April, unofficially.

Farmer's Daughter said...

Our food budget has gone down considerably since I began purchasing ingredients (flour, eggs, milk...) instead of items (bread, cheese, etc.) and growing our own veggies.

I'm reluctant to join the challenge since we CAN afford what we purchase because we make healthy food a priority in our house and will limit entertainment, clothing, heat, and many other things accordingly so we can buy, raise, and grow good, healthy foods. We live in a very wealthy area, and I'm hesitant to think we could actually follow that budget. It would be neat to try, though, since you never know.

A couple of questions for you:
-How do things we have preserved fit into the equation? Including: Meat in the freezer, frozen fruit and veggies, preserves that we have made ourselves? I'm not paying for them this month, but I did pay for them during other seasons (the animal, the fishing trip, the seeds, the local produce, the sugar...) This would be interesting to try for a whole year, too. But I'm not volunteering for that!

Okay, I guess in the course of this comment I've convinced myself to join. So count me in :)

Anonymous said...

$588?! I don't think I spend nearly that much per month on groceries but we've also been buying less organic/sustainable/local foods with the farmer's market closing in October and trying to save money for other upcoming expenses.
Please sign me up. I want to get back with cooking from scratch and shopping more sustainably.
I'm also wondering about exceptions like Chili mentioned.

Crunchy Chicken said...

I've been trying to figure out how to count or not count food already purchased, preserved or frozen. I guess for the sake of the experiment you can choose whether or not you want to charge yourself for them when used. It would be hard to calculate out the cost of that leftover frozen casserole from a few weeks ago, but just eyeballing it might work?

Small things like spices, etc. shouldn't really count since it will be hard to calculate infrequently purchased items. You should count coffee, alcohol and the like (even though they aren't covered by food stamps). Again, it will be hard to calculate if you already have it on hand, but do your best... the only way to really get an accurate representation is, like Abbie mentioned, to do this for a year :)

Anonymous said...

We try to buy as local and in season as we can. But since we live in a frigid Northern climate farmers markets don't open here til late May with limited stuff then as summer and fall progress theres more. we do buy local milk and eggs, honey maple ssyrup, fish.

I'm thinking we spend for 3 right around $400 during March thru June. It's less during the rest of year since we eat what we grow, preserve etc. We're planning on more gardens so we can stretch it longer. We arelucky to have a local Whole Foods Co-op that carries alot of local stuff.

For the other 8 months we can go on about $180 a month.

Well give it a shot-unofficially.

kit said...

WOW. That's a lot of money. On $323 the two of us would be eating like kings, and we usually shop at the Whore Foods anyway.

The more difficult part of the challenge is getting more than potatoes and apples as local food, though. For some of us, farmers markets are expensive hippy carnivals where you take the kids to pet a goat. Same with the local farms - fairly low production but with cute rides and $40 for a bag of apples you had to pick yourself. I'm not faulting them for knowing that turning their farm into a theme park will bring in the cash, but it does make it difficult to get decent food.

I think we can do organic, though. Thank you for making this challenge not just about local food! It works well for people in certain regions but in some places it just doesn't make sense. Being able to cook food like I ate back home is one of my greatest joys, and every time someone tells me that I'm screwing the earth for getting cilantro I start to feel like giving up.

Anonymous said...

We're in. We propbably spend a lot more than most on cheese and chocolate and wine and beer, but the other things we do well on at farmers market, buy beans and oats bulk, etc. We don't buy prepared food at the grocery store ever. I think it would be a fun challenge to see how cheap we can make our dinners and if we can still afford wine ;)

Segwyne said...

I find this an interesting challenge. We are a family of 6 living on food stamps. Since we do have an income, we do not receive the full allotment, so we do have to spend cash for part of our budget.

The problem that we face is not a matter of how much money we are given each month, but finding good places to spend it. My area is agriculturally very rich, being one small city literally surrounded by farming towns. I can get my sustainably produced, almost-organic milk for almost the same price as at the grocery store ($.50 more per gallon), but I can't use my food stamps there. They are only equipped with an open cash box honor system for their sales. They provide milk, cheese, ice cream, vegetables in season, honey, syrup and beef all on that system. The prices are great, but I can't use my food stamps there. The local farmers market sets up twice a week downtown, right off the bike paths, with lots of variety, but I can't use my food stamps there.

Because we have some cash budgeted for our food, we choose to spend the cash at those places where we must use cash and spend the food stamps at our health food store and local certified organic supermarket who are equipped to accept food stamps. We are also having a garden this year, and seeds are eligible for food stamp purchases. So I can buy seeds at my health food store with food stamps and get a much better return for my money. Buying my seeds online, however, for those things not carried at the local store, I have to use cash.

Patronizing the farmer's market and the local farms is very important to me, and I am glad that we do have some cash we can spend there, but for those of you doing this challenge, please note whether the places you purchase from are capable of accepting food stamps. There is more to living on a food stamp budget than simply the quantity of money you spend.

Crunchy Chicken said...

Segwyne - that is an excellent point, not everyone accepts food stamps so perhaps part of the challenge for people (if they want to step it up) would be to only shop at those stores, farms and farmers markets that accept EBT - basically the electronic debit card equivalent of paper food stamps.

Fortunately, where I live, a lot of the farms and markets accept EBT and it's easy to find out from the Puget Sound Fresh program.

Sadraki said...

Oh this is my sort of challenge! I bet we are already below this limit as we spend about $375/mo now for household (TP, cat food, plus food) so I bet food is within the limit.
My tips: make a flexile meal plan so say I'll have on my list "beans" to go with rice and buy the cheapest beans for that week. Or if something we eat a lot is on sale I buy a ton.

However, I am extremely lucky in walking distance to a local store and a Farmer's Market. Time is money for many and in much of the US (even parts of Seattle) there just aren't local stores/markets that are easy/fast to get to.

knutty knitter said...

Food is expensive round here. I spend around $nz180 a week just on basics and the farmers market is even more expensive. A bag of local potatoes is about $8 just by itself and that is about a weeks worth for the 4 of us (just). On the other hand, we don't get much 'foreign' food here either. Everything is local except the odd incredibly expensive cheese or tropical fruit. (we once indulged in a mango just to see what it tasted like - that was an expensive treat but disappointing. I suspect we got ripped off because we know nothing about what they are supposed to taste like when fresh).

Your food seems unbelievably cheap to me so I don't think I could translate what we spend. The comparison wouldn't be fair. I can say that we eat local, fresh where possible and cheap where possible with one take away a week max.

Interesting challenge though :)

viv in nz

Anonymous said...

I know we already don't spend nearly that much on food, but it would be difficult to calculate, since most of our staples are bought in bulk and most of our vegetables come from the CSA (in March, this means we're eating up the potatoes and squash and frozen greens in the freezer). Being naturally mostly vegetarian and not liking dairy all that much helps the food budget. We also don't tend to drink beverages other than hot tea.

Alison Kerr said...

Crunchy, I'd be up for your challenge if it were for June. Most of the Farmers markets and CSA don't start here in the Kansas City metro until sometime in May.

I'm on a transition process with my family and once I've mastered the current step this challenge would fit perfectly with our next step. Since January we've cut our food budget drastically by setting a price-point for fruit and veg ($1 or less per lb), buying bulk staples, and cooking from scratch.

I'm below the budget I set for my family of 4 - our current average is $355 per month for 4 adults. Now that I see how much I can save by choosing the type of food we eat I want to find local and organic sources for these foods.

I'll be interested to read how others do on this challenge even though I'm not joining in.

Erin aka Conscious Shopper said...

Count me in. This is the whole focus of my blog - being able to buy green and fair foods and other products on a budget. I haven't made the switch to organics yet, but I've been buying 75% local vegetables, plus milk and eggs, and I've been doing lots of research about how to lower my food budget. This challenge is a good excuse to see if I can do it.

By the way, those allotment numbers seem very high. Not eating organic and local, I can feed my family of five for $500. Do they take into account price differences in different parts of the country? I'm sure it's much cheaper to eat here than someplace like Portland or New York City.

Anonymous said...

I would find it hard to eat healthfully expending only $5.87 a day where I live. I could do it on a lot of rice with some flecks of something or other mixed in. I work and burn calories, I eat seriously, I live on an island off of an island. I have plenty of things growing in the garden, but that would be cheating, no? Fruit off of my trees? Cassava I dig up? I am my own farmer's market.
I was very surprised that so many readers felt they could eat healthfully on so little money, so I must be living where food prices are really high.

Chard Lady said...

Please count me in, even though I am already doing this. Currently, our monthly totals are less than half of the allotment. I am also participating in the challenge. A few years ago I wanted to eat more sustainably. I do have access to a local store and a co-op, but it was getting expensive. There are no CSA's here, and the farmer's market is inconvenient for working people and very expensive, with a limited selection. So, I got a plot at the community garden and this has been the single biggest factor in keeping our food budget low.

Spot-On said...

I've been making changes in this direction since the beginning of the year and post every friday on my blog with a scan of the receipts. I used to spend $100+ a week for the two of us, now I'm down to $50 a week AND buying mostly organic foods!

I did this by menu planning, eating in season (cheaper) and using our veggie garden, most importantly was watching our portion sizes which also helped reduce our waist size too! :)

m3missy said...

Crunchy, count me in! After laying down almost $200 at Whole Foods on Friday I have decided to sit down this coming week and figure out how much money we spend a month on food. I have to say that there are only two adults in the house and we throw little food away(three dogs help with most of the questionable foods and composting the scraps)and I don't frequent Whole Foods often. I think most of the money was on bulk nuts to replenish our supply, laundry detergent, and items like tooth paste, floss and other things that last a long time.

I'll have to update my monthly food bill when I get it all added up. Thanks for the push! As always, very timely....

Notwasted said...

count me in.
I never understood the "organic is only for upper middle class" argument.

I'm a single mother and university student and my daughter and I eat a mainly organic diet that is sourced as locally as possible...
we don't eat out, and I'm learning to fall out of love with nice cheese...

Anonymous said...

At the co-op in my town, you can get an additional 10% discount if you buy bulk goods in the amount that the store purchases goods from the wholesaler. If you can manage to go through 25 pounds of dry organic pinto beans before they go bad, it could be a good deal, and might be worth looking into.

Robj98168 said...

Yes it can be done. I will sign up- does eating philly cheesesteaks count? Hey - fair trade- you forgot to add fair trade!

Leila Abu-Saba said...

I'll sit this one out - recovering from stage 4 cancer, I'm happy to be able to cook, not going to try extreme frugality too. BUT I love this sort of project and have been very happy to follow along online.

Rebecca Blood did this challenge two years ago and blogged it extensively, with photos and recipes:

VERY useful info.

kit said...

I was starting to get terrified that I wouldn't be able to fit in the most important part of a small business owner's diet, but then I noticed my handles of cheap vodka are distilled in the next town over! SCORE!

But still, how far back in the chain do you have to go to consider something local? What if the rubbing alcohol and antifreeze they mix together to make my cheap booze aren't local? What if the flour used to bake cookies down the street isn't? How do you really know?

I'm not trying to be troublesome, I'm honestly curious. Even though part of how I've kept my Whole Foods shopping so cheap is that we buy staple ingredients and produce only, but even with the bags of organic flour I have no idea about the origin of the wheat, just the place where it was milled. In the case of foods with multiple ingredients they'll tell you which ones are organic, but you don't see the sources. Is this something that will need to be addressed for local eating to have some accountability?

Chili said...

I'm definitely in, and very excited it about it to boot. Thanks SO much for the inspiration.

Fleecenik Farm said...

I'm in.

We homestead and just last week I went to the freezer and found that we had eaten all the green veggies. We still have carrots and corn and plenty of pickles but this is the time of year when the grocery budget grows.

Central Maine here ,so local produce is a good month or so away. We buy many bulk items from a buying club. So it will be interesting to see how we can manage this.

jewishfarmer said...

Crunch - This is a *GREAT* challenge - thank you for doing it! I'll promote it as well.

I can't imagine spending $838 bucks a month on food, so I don't think I'll have trouble staying in the limits - my food budget *plus* stockups is around $500 month.

One thing worth noting, however, is that not every family gets the maximum amount of food stamps - in fact, most low income working families don't. So using the maximum is sort of misleading - that mostly goes to people who don't work at all (and there are more and more of them) for reasons of disability or inability. Most people here would, if they got food stamps, not get the full allotment. So it might be interesting to put up, if you have the chance the *average* food stamp amount, rather than max for a family of given size.

Again, I'm so glad you are doing this - excellent!


Anonymous said...

I think this is really interesting and I would love to participate but I won't. For two reasons:
1. I work 6 days a week so I try to go groceries as quickly as possible at the most convenient stores. The only Farmer's market open on Sundays is at least 30 minutes away. My only exception is bulk foods and milk in a glass container. I don't have the time to figure out what is local, in season... so on an so forth.

2. My husband would make it impossible for me to figure out what my share is. You won't be weaning him off sodas or any other processed foods any time soon.

I will be interested in reading about other people's results. A long time ago (12 years ago?), I used to eat on 90$ a month. That was actually less than what a person would get when on welfare in Canada. I can't say that I ate super well but I ate.

Green Bean said...

Sign me up! We're doing this sort of informally this month. We just started tracking our expenses and, even though I make a lot from scratch and am eating the heck out of our cupboards, I'm still surprised by how expensive really "good" food is adding up to be.

Amanda said...

$323 per month? We're a little (okay, a lot) spoiled so it'll take some adapting but I'm looking forward to it. :)

knittingwoman said...

I won't officially sign up because we are already doing. I think however, that we spend more than what is alloted to a family of 4 but it is hard to separate out just food from other grocery items like laundry detergent. We shop at the farmers' market every week but we live out in atlantic canada like eco yogini. Food is very expensive here because of the shipping costs. There is not a lot of variety at the farmers' market just now but I do get my eggs and tofu there produced locally as well.
It is also impossible just now for me not to spend some money each week on purchased school lunches for the 1 teen still living at home and i will continue to buy some convenience items with money we don't spend because we don't buy meat or alcohol.

Unknown said...

I like this challenge. As one of the people who *does* spend more than the 176/month, this seems more sustainable longer term that the $3/day (which would be doable, but not necessarily fun and wouldn't leave room for getting to try the new local restraunt in Fremont or Tilth in Wallingford...nevermind some of the herbs I want to plant!)

I also like this amount because it leave enough wiggle room for me to be feeding other people at my house.

I was really hoping I would get a pea patch this year, but so far no such luck.

Adrienne said...

Count me in- I know I spend too much on food (some local and/or organic, some not) and I've been looking for a way to cut back. Hopefully this will be the incentive I need to put the effort in.

I will have to consider how to "charge" myself for stuff I already have.

scifichick said...

I would love to sign up too! It seems doable to me, but then I bought a lot of bulk stuff last year, and we are still eating that. It makes it harder for me to figure out how much I'm spending a month. I go with organic and mostly local. Well, produce is pretty much local, from a certified organic farm, but I don't always know where the bulk organic stuff is from.

Kiezie said...

Too funny, we were talking this weekend about doing this!! How nice to see it here! I love our farmers markets but unfortunately our local co-op is extremely expensive. I priced about 20 mostly-local items (including produce) and I would be better off at Whole Foods. I was sadly disappointed. I look forward to seeing your results!

Jennifer said...

That is about our monthly budget for food every month. Lately it's been even less as we try to cut back. We eat whole foods as much as possible, and avoid prepackaged. We aren't as good about eating local during the winter... but during the summer, we spend even LESS money and buy most of it at the farmer's market.

We'll sign up and try to keep our budget the same (about $300 a month for 2 of us) while adding more local foods in.

Anonymous said...

My family and I moved to Tacoma from Boston last year, and I have to say, I have serious doubts that your plan is doable. (And this is coming from someone, who, as my brother says, "can make a nickel cry."). Our grocery budget is already within the Food Stamp limits, but we don't buy much that's organic and local.

First of all, our budget here is tighter than ever. To the relative who told us that life here would be more affordable than in Boston: not true. Our only expense that has gone down is auto insurance.

Second, we were STUNNED at how expensive all the prices were at the local farmers' markets here. Almost nothing was less than $5/lb. After a few visits last summer in which we walked away with nothing, we stopped going. This is a huge contrast to the very affordable farmers' markets where we regularly shopped in Boston. Maybe in Seattle it's a little better.

OTOH, I have found a few hole-in-the-wall grocery stores here in Tacoma that carry organic and natural non-perishable items very cheaply. Mostly, they purchase products whose expiration date is approaching. Because they're not that close to my home, I don't go often, but when I do, I stock up on things such as cereals, broths, canned veggies, spices and soy milk. But these stores have limited space and refrigeration, so they carry very little produce and meat.

I have really reduced my family's meat consumption by making a lot of soups, stews and casseroles that contain much more grains and veggies than meat, so that has helped us save. And I can find some organic produce and meats inexpensively at Trader Joe's, and some locally grown produce inexpensively at Tacoma Boys. However, I still do most of my grocery shopping at bargain places such as Sav A Lot, Grocery Outlet and Costco. Seriously, that's the only way I've been able to hit the budget numbers you set.

Anonymous said...

$463 for 3, really?
I'm surprised, but maybe that's because our child is in daycare and gets about 2 meals a day, 5 days a week there. But, we spend less than that, certainly, sticking with mostly whole foods in bulk, both dry goods and produce, adding in some meat and dairy. I do most shopping at the co-op which reduces the choices (in a good way). My husband doesn't drink, so I generally don't either (particularly not at home). And, with me working full time, spouse F/T student and working part time, we don't have much time to cook, and that's actually the quickest way to cook (every other day, leftovers). Of course, I haven't taken the challenge but will be interested to see how we track.

Amy in Tacoma said...

I should probably clarify something about my post. We spend an average of $70/week for our family of 3 on groceries. $70 x 4.3 = $301, which is considerably less than the food stamps limit. However, finances are such that we can't afford to spend more right now, so adding more organic and local foods isn't feasible right now.

Amy in Tacoma aka Daughter

Sue said...

Wow. $588 for my family of 4. We spend about 700 each month on food, toiletries, cat food (we have 5 cats. they eat a lot) - everything you would need. I'm willing to bet no more than $588 is food. Will account to make sure, though. April is interesting for us, food-wise - our winter CSA ends the last week in Feb, and the summer one picks up in June. It's a bit of a dry month for local produce so we'll have to be at the grocery store a lot more than usual. Typically, we spend $17-25/week on veggies, $18-21/week on milk and yogurt, $15/week on fruit, $15-20/week on dry goods (gluten-free pasta, beans, rice, etc), and $10-15/week on meat (most of which was bought by the portion of animal and is stored in the freezer). Plus nonsense like maple syrup and ice cream. And really, I don't think of us as being particularly frugal when it comes to food. We just don't buy a lot of individually packaged nonsense.

healinggreen said...

We already spend well below our allotment on sustainable, mostly organic/local food. In the summer, we spend almost nothing... But I;m sure we can do better, and being in a challenge with you guys always makes me stay conscious :)

Anonymous said...

We are in

Allison said...

I'm really surprised to learn people can eat so well, so cheaply. I assume they live in more rural areas? We live just outside Philadelphia and moved recently from Los Angeles. Our budget for 2 adults and a toddler is $500 a month, and I do need to monitor spending closely. I shop at Trader Joe's, buy from the bulk bins at Whole (Paycheck) Foods and fruits/veggies from a produce market. We hardly ever eat organic produce - it's too expensive and mainly available at Whole Foods. The organic produce at the big grocery stores just isn't as good.

As for the challenge, I'll try to cut our budget to $463 for April. We'll see how it goes!

Erin said...

I'm in! Been doing it anyway (and trying to find the time to blog about it) so this is great impetus to post about it.

Lisa Nelsen-Woods said...

Where I live the only thing that grows locally 11 months out of the year is potatoes. Fruit & veg grows only 3-4 months in the summer. any fuit or veg that's at the farmer's market during other than our local growing season is shipped in from out of state. I live in a small Condo and don't have room to grow all of our own food for winter, although I'm growing what I can with the space I have left. We have some organic options but not enough to do our whole diet on local/organic foods year round. And in some cases what little organic prepared foods I buy where reformulated to include HFCS, which I avoid. It was a sad day when I had to give up my favorite brand of organic blue corn chips.

Anonymous said...

I like this idea and do a lot of it anyway. I live in southern NH where there are no farmer's markets in the wintertime, and finding locally grown produce in the winter is near impossible unless you thought ahead and have the space for a cold cellar to put up food.

The nearest co-op for me is 40 minutes away and Whole Foods is about 30 minutes away. We don't have any local food stores really, except more of the gourmet type natural foods store which sell a lot of expensive items.

I guess my point is that it really depends on where you live. And is driving 40 minutes sustainable? I think picking and choosing, even from a large chain store, might be better. At least in major chains I can find, say, potatoes from Maine or another part of New England, or lettuce from the east coast.

I DO think that eating sustainably is easy but you have to take the time to think about it. You have to read labels and see where things came from.

But I think the best thing is to encourage stores to supply us with more local foods, even big chains, so that people by default buy it. Its hard to change the lifestyle of just going to the store and getting what you need.

That said I think this is a fun idea and totally doable on that budget!

Donna said...

From reading everyone's comments, it sounds like there's a huge difference in the cost of food depending on where you live. We're in Oregon and I would have to echo the comment that the farmers market is about triple the price of a grocery store. Nevertheless, I shop there for as much as I can.

Our food budget for 3 people is about $300 and I buy as much local and organic as I can afford within that budget. I imagine if I could afford another $163/month, I could buy all local or organic. This is a good challenge, though, so I'm thinking of some way I might participate.

K@t said...

I'll have a go - but I am in Australia so I'll convert the allowed budget to Australian dollars if that's OK.

Daniel said...

What with Passover in April, the buying for that week alone would push us over the $588 limit. But we're in for May, definitely.

EcoBurban said...

Hey Crunchy! I can totally do this, I have 6 people in my family and already come in under budget. In season produce, inexpensive cuts of meat and the farmer's market is the only way to get it done. And, cutting out all bottled juices, teas, gatorades, sodas and so on last year probably reduced it by $100 a month! Anyone looking for lower food bills, just start making lemonade, tea and filtering tap water. It was like finding money!

Sign me up!!

Unknown said...

I'll try . . . as a single person I spend about $130/month on food, which is under the limit, but I think more than the max food stamp allotment in DC. I'd like to make that food more local and organic, but I can't really raise the amount that I spend. (though if I get serious about biking to work I might find another $30).
here goes!

BoysMom said...

This is interesting. The six of us allot $500 a month for groceries, but we don't try for sustainable or organic. We couldn't do it for twice that 3/4s of the year. (Six is kind of misleading here: four are quite young, one of those has just started solids.)
We could do it in the summer, when the farmer's market is in, but not year around. I'd have to have enough extra somehow to get enough ahead in the summer to not have to spend that first winter . . .
That five-hundred doesn't include most of our meats, we get those as whole animals in the fall.
Of course, we have only one source for organic foods here when the farmers' market isn't running, and they prefer certified organic over local or sustainable, so it's easier to find organic star fruit from Hawaii than local apples.

cell member said...

we're in too! the two of us eat ridiculously well and it's bankrupting us. we're already cutting down on food out but this will add impetus. $323 will be a struggle but we'll see if we can keep up. lots of good local stuff here in kansas--although we'll prob not see most of it til late next month. anyhow, we'll persevere.

The Internetter said...

My dad, who was born during the Great Depression, once told me that eating healthfully was the cheapest thing ever: all you need is a bag of rice and a can of beans. Reflecting back on that, I don't think that's actually the most healthy thing--there must be a few nutrients missing from that equation--but it's true that beans and rice are hella cheap, and if you just supplement that diet with fruits and vegetables from a farmer's market, you should definitely be able to meet this challenge.

In fact, there are LOADS of ways being green actually SAVES you money (like using baking soda for shampoo).

I think the stigma of "green-ness" being only for the upper crust comes not just from the priciness of Whole Foods, but just plain ignorance--the same reason poor people usually stay poor (no, I'm not saying poor people are inherently ignorant; I'm saying that they often don't get the same wisdom that the middle and upper class get through education, word-of-mouth or otherwise).

Anyway, I'm down.

Robj98168 said...

Hey Crunch I gotta a question- I shop for 1.5 People- The half a person eats dinner wtih me 5 nights a week- so I took the amount of two people, divided it by 3 and added it to one- I came up with an amount of $283 for a month That sound Okay?

Stacey said...

I'm looking forward to this challenge! I used to spend $150-400 a week from our local equivalent of Whole Foods and then I wanted to focus on some other savings goals and for a month bought non-organic and not local. We saved a ton (usually spending $50-80/week) but I just couldn't jibe the savings with my values.

Just last week I decided to go back to local/organic *and* stay closer to $80-100 a week and I did it - it does take a lot more planning and cooking from scratch, but I'm up for it!

Anonymous said...

I'm gonna chime in here from NYC and say that 1 person @ $176 is damn near impossible. I got my food budget - local, organic, etc. - down to appx $200 at the absolute lowest when I was doing my spending experiment in 2007. Now that I'm eating out occasionally (1-2x per week), it's back up near $300/month. For one. Maybe that's why a lot of New Yorkers rely on food pantry programs and the like?

I'll try to keep it down in April, and I look forward to hearing everyone's stories.


Rosemarie said...

April?! In Chicago? There are no Farmer's Markets -- maybe I'll try this challenge in June ;)

The Internetter said...

Megan-- I had a similar experience in Berkeley, which is only a little less expensive than San Francisco, the 2nd most expensive city in the US, I think. When I had a severely restricted budget, I forced myself down to $160--with coupons--so it was possible for me to be under $176, but that wasn't without eating practically anything but gruel.

Of course, I didn't know the tricks I know now, so I'm sure I wouldn't suffer so much if I had to do it again, but at the time, $200 would have been much more comfortable.

Anonymous said...

A great way is through a program such as the Fresh Box. This week I picked up my giant box of vegetables from local farmers (with TONS of veggies) for a mere $15. It is a local, government subsidized program, available in many cities & towns. I'm so excited that I discovered this!!

Anonymous said...

I've been reading this blog for a few months, but this is my first comment. I'm in.

Monice said...

Our family of 3 is in. Just curious . . . you said seeds count in the total - we're replanting the backyard with fruit trees/bushes, those don't have to count, right? If they do, then our budget is toast and we won't really even get fruit from them this year.

Anonymous said...

@ Monice: I'm guessing you're only supposed to count vegetable seeds and the like, since you can use food stamps to buy them.

awesome farm said...

I am in. I am a farmer AND I am on food stamps. I expect with the food stamps I will be eating better than ever, but I do have some serious advantages by raising animals for meat and eggs.


Anonymous said...

Ha! I already DO THIS. Every month. I feed a family of 4 this way on $400/month without growing ANY of it ourselves. All our milk is raw & locally-produced, our eggs come from pastured hens, our meat is grass-fed and finished from a local rancher, and most of our veggies are from a local CSA.

Eva said...

I´m in! I´m also doing av swedish version of the challenge. Hope that´s alright with you?

Anonymous said...

I'm gonna try this challenge. I signed up for a CSA in my area, which brings 11 gallons of fresh fruits and veggies into my home for a little less than 30 bucks every other week. So that's 60 bucks a month right there. I think it can be done and I'm working on eating healthier and more local. I'll sign up for myself and my daughter, I'm sure we can do this.

Anonymous said...

The federal Food Stamp Program will receive additional funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (the stimulus bill.) Starting in April, foodstamps for average households will increase by the following amounts:
Household Size Increase
1 $24
2 $44
3 $63
4 $80
5 $95
6 $114
7 $126
8 $144
Each extra person $18

bodygeek said...

I'm a single vegetarian, and I hate to admit that I spend about $400-500 per month on food and grocery items. That includes household items bought at the grocers, though, and eating out, and also that whole cash back at the checkout, but still...
I'd like to do this. I already buy mostly organic, and I think part of the problem is my wastefulness with fresh foods - should have taken the food waste challenge, but...
Alright, count me in.

Anonymous said...

Oooh, somehow I missed this, but please sign me up. Our budget is in this range anyway -- we eat mostly organic and as much local as we can find.

And on an unrelated note, do you know why every time I go to comment on your blog (and yours alone), I start merrily typing out my comment and the page reloads so I have to start over? Just curious.

Anonymous said...

Went to our local grocery yesterday...still too early for the locally grown tomatoes, but the leaf lettuces are in stock!!! They also had chuck roast for $1.89/lb and pork ribs for $.99/lb. I bought a bulk package of roasts and one of ribs. The roasts were seasoned and in the oven about half hour after I arrived home. After they were done, I portioned them out into meal sized bags and popped them in the freezer. I'll cook the ribs tonight and get them in the freezer. Can't wait till they start getting the locally grown fruits (mostly melons and grapes). Our garden will provide most of our vegetables again this year. I am still pulling last year's bounty from the freezer for our meals.

Anonymous said...

This is so great! I wish I could join, I know I could do it. Challenge I have is that I teach cooking classes form my home so shop once a week for the class and then usually manage with the leftover cooking and leftover ingredients the rest of the week. Though- considering I spend about 60-70 on ingredients per class- which feeds 8 people and than live on that the rest of the week- I am doing pretty good (and we eat well at the classes). It's my addiction to trying out new supplements that kills my budget.

Anonymous said...

I'm in. I'm lucky to live in the greenbelt of socal. We have abundant farmer's markets, u-pick options, and produce stands.

Now I have a reason to take advantage of them.

Kimberly M said...

So, the gov't would hand us, 5 people - $698 in Food Stamps, huh? Must be nice.

Our family budget allots $100 per week for food on our Locavore diet. That is just $400 per month for a family of five, two adults and three children between ages 5 and 12.

If we can do it. Anyone can. I'd say the gov't is being a little too generous with the frozen pizza's.

I do not believe a family on a single income, we are home schoolers, should go to the poor house to eat. Nor to I believe our entire pay check should go towards the grocery budget. We do qualify for gov't "assistance" but since I choose not to work with a monitary payback, I do not feel as if I'm "entitled" to suck off the gov't either. We pay taxes, just like everyone else. We pay our OWN mortgage and health insurance as well. Rather, shocking isn't it. We call it Responsibility. Interesting concept these days.

I won't be an official memeber of the "challenge" b/c we officially surpass the criteria. :-) I will be following along though. Seems like a fun social experiment.

Good luck, all!

mudnessa said...

Some how I missed the first posting. This is something I always try do to so I am in. I don't shop at my local farmers market even though we do have one year round, the prices are ridiculous and a lot of the stands are from a ways away so I buy the California grown cheaper stuff at the grocery store I shop at.

Anonymous said...

We're in. I've been without my internet for a week, but I plan on sharing on my blog too (if you don't mind!). I love this idea. I have so many people tell me all the reasons they "can't afford" to eat well. I'm hoping to stretch our budget even further, and maybe inspire the doubters along the way! :) Love the challenge! Thanks!

Ashley // Our Little Apartment said...


At first, I was all, "Pshaw. We spend $200 for two shopping at Whole Foods and Trader Joes. No problem!"

Then, I saw that it included eating out and coffee. And I realized, "Great. That Crunchy is challenging me AGAIN. Fine."

So, yeah, I'm in.


Imee said...

I think it can be done... I like your tips--some of them I can relate to. Even before the recession I've always been thrifty and picky. I find that sometimes, it pays to be a smart shopper when it comes to food--and now that the recession is happening, my "thrifty but healthy food buying experience" has come in handy.

Joy said...

Interesting. I don't spend near that amount on groceries - and all my staples and dairy and already organic! WoW! I shope through and buy on sale. I won't sign up since I already do this - on much less, I can add. GL!

Jenn said...

I would love to accept this challenge! I have already been trying to cut my food bill to $100 a week down from at least $200 a week for a family of three with 3 others a couple days a week. My main problems are eating out, which I have tried to completely cut out and Dr. Pepper (which I know I need to cut out, but it is my only vice left!)
I am lucky enough to live in Central California so not only do we have a farmer's market year round, we also have a huge variety of fruits and vegtables to choose from.
This challenge will be difficult since my sister and her children just moved in with me and they have completely different eating habits - mostly processed, convience foods. I wont be purchasing these items for them, so it will interesting trying to get them to eat healthy food and re-train their palates. Additionally, my sister is having a radical mastectomy this week, so she will be wanting a lot of comfort food!

Unknown said...

I'll try -- I think this is going to be particularly difficult for the week of Passover though -- I suspect that there aren't all that many local or sustainable Kosher for Passover foods other than produce, and there are some foods specific to Passover that I and my family expect/want in order to celebrate. But we'll give it a try.

Stephanie said...

We're in! I did have to pick up a few things today because though I read about the challenge over the weekend I failed to prepare correctly. But, what we bought was organic! Most of our staples that we bought in bulk is organic. I have no idea how to count it as I can't remember what I paid, so I'm just going to limit it to what I purchase. We're in a CSA but that won't start till May. However, we visit the farmer's market every week. It's a big limited here in the midwest at the moment so I'll have to go with the organic stuff in many cases, but we do try to eat local and seasonal. I just need this challenge to get me from "wanting" to consistently doing!

Anonymous said...

Our family of 3 (and a half, I suppose) does pretty well sticking within this budget already. Despite the fact that, lately, it has gotten tougher since we don't even have that much to spend on food.

I would like to make a comment on coop prices, though. I volunteer with our local food coop, which only sells foods produced in-state and which I feel very fortunate to have. For the privilege of membership, I pay $40 a year (full voting membership costs $120 a year). Non-members can shop at the coop...for an $8-per-order fee. We also pay a minimal handling fee ($2+5% of the order).

Okay...all of that is one thing. I understand that the coop has to pay for facilities to distribute its products, so I can grudgingly accept the membership fee. (The handling fee bothers me a little more because, 9 times out of 10, I AM the one doing the handling, and I don't get paid one red cent.)

What really bothers me is that the producers set their prices to correspond with Whole Foods prices! (I'm not exaggerating; I've heard them discuss it.) For wealthier customers, okay, maybe they don't mind. But I am not wealthy. I am on a budget, and purchasing from the coop is sometimes out of my reach because of the prices.

It's very frustrating.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a great challenge. But try to remember, food stamps aren't accepted at many of the places where the best deals (and best foods) are available. This includes most farmers markets, local farm stores, pick your own, and online bulk shopping sources. (Someone mentioned azurestandard a little mightily - nope, they don't accept food stamps either.)

Not sure about food coops, I'd have to check on that one. But you can participate in a program like SHARE and use your food stamps for your monthly box of food. But you will have to do 2 hours verifiable community service or volunteering.

Also restaurants don't accept food stamps, not one (they can't.) Even if a deli accepts food stamps, they can't accept them for a pre made sandwich. So if you're used to having lunch out, you'll have to either brown bag it or dip into your cash reserve. Which for most isn't much. Try applying for them and you will see.

Also, no toilet paper, soap, laundry detergents etc. Food only. But yes, you can buy seeds and plantings from the grocery stores.

knittinandnoodlin said...

Hey Crunchy!

Sign me up for this one...I'm jumping in a little late in the game, but better late than never, right?

This is a really brilliant idea, and I've been reading the same kinds of things you have. I'd really like to see if it is possible.

Sam said...

Sign me up. It has been a long while since I did a Crunchy Chicken challenge.

Kayla said...

I hope it's not too late to sign up! I'd like to join :)

Andi said...

I'm in and trying for $125 a month for a single person.

Thanks for this and for your blog.

Lauren said...

I want to sign up, but we are in transition from moving to our own place as we were saving money so will be starting in May if that works. I was looking at using a program called Angel Food Ministries, not sure if it organic but its mainly stables for half price as we don't have money. But will be going to farmers markets for all vegetables and since in an apartment will be growing some small veggie plants but my dad will be providing a lot of his home grown veggies for us.

Anonymous said...

This challenge can definitely be done with a little effort...I'm on food stamps and my family eats practically everything organic, and we can only really shop at supermarkets which have some of the highest prices around.something I'd like to point out though is how much you are to budget for the month.It says it goes by food stamp guidelines,but I'm not sure.My family of 3 gets $319 a month, but these guidelines say $463...I wish!

Caitlin E said...

I'm surprised about the "budget" monetary allotments - my boyfriend and I spend an average of $150 a month on food, and that is all-natural, as local as possible, and often organic. Not to mention treats like the occasional fancy local artisan cheese. Am I missing something? What do people spend their money on? With careful planning, cooking from scratch, never wasting food, and counting how much you're spending as you go (and these are just things I do out of habit), this challenge isn't difficult. Unless, of course, you are one of the people who is shocked when the grocery is out of blueberries in February. I just think, "Why bother? They don't taste like anything, are from Chile, and cost $5 a pint. I'll wait until July!"

Sam said...

Off topic:

Crunchy, how come you've never had a challenge focusing on transportation needs? Something like a "show yer hot bod, don't hide it in a rusty rod".

So, I'm not good in marketing ideas.

Yes I want more people to ride a bicycle. You have more reach and pizzazz and if you can get people tinkling on their gardens, maybe you can get them to ride their bikes?

gardenofsimple said...

I've been living below those limits and eating mostly organic and local for sometime now, but I have gotten lazy about tracking our budget so I think this is a great way to start documenting just exactly what I'm buying and spending again!

Plus, I hear all the time how it's impossible to eat healthy and low cost and it's simply not true! Hopefully this challenge will help prove that!

Also, I'm new to the whole blogging thing. I wrote a post about this and linked to your blog. I don't know all about blog etiquette yet - hope that's ok?!

The Nurtured Empath said...

I'm trying!!! This is a huge challenge since I have a VERY big picky eater (my hubby), myself on a very strict diet for the baby's sake (breastfeeding her with dairy/wheat allergies), and six other kids who love to eat!! Yup, definitely a challenge!!

psuklinkie said...

Crunchy, really? You consider this a challenge? =]
TheBoy and I already comply to this challenge (almost) completely on a somewhat more limited budget. We spend about $50/week on groceries to share -- about $30-40 at the farmers' market (for all organics, even meat) and maybe another $10 at the supermarket for flour, rice, beans, etc (almost always organic, local, or both).
That said, sign me up! We'll try even harder and maybe strike it rich with locally produced flour!

Anonymous said...

OMG I SO WISH I COULD PARTICIPATE IN THIS. I'm stuck with a husband who lives in TAKE OUT HELL! He eats out all day every day, and out of frustration and years of rotting food I bought at the grocery store, I've give in quite a few times (there goes the waistline) I'm seriously stuck in take out hell. I've tried everything: cooking for hours every day making things from scratch, buying gourmet things to satisfy his insane pallet (yeah he has an insane pallet, but eats out at fast food restaurants rather than at home go figure) i've tried those bag em up make it for the month services - that was good, but the food was often mouldy so i quit (dream dinners), i've tried pcc shopping, whole foods shopping etc etc. i can't tell you how many thousands of dollars of grocery foods that have gone to waste because if it's a day old in the fridge he WILL NOT EAT IT. yeah, my food life has been hell. i've gained 60 lbs since being married from his lifestyle, and i'm so pissed/frustrated with the situation i've basically given up and can barely talk about it. all i can say is all you single people out there, PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR POTENTIAL MATE'S EATING HABITS BEFORE YOU GET TOO INVOLVED. uggggh. -nikki

Jamie Pierce said...

This is a really fantastic post! I am going to attempt to get my family of four involved, but my two little kids are so fussy I am not sure I will be able to keep to budget.

But this post really is food for thought.

Hopefully, we will be able to include some of your ideas into our own little project.

Thanks so much for your blog!

Organic Food said...

My family has been eating only organic food for 7 months now. Your numbers are on the money.We are a bit over the $800.00 a month for a family of 6. Take the Organic Food Challenge with us. glod bless

Unknown said...

Hello there,

I hope you’re well.

I’m working with a not-for-profit organisation – Do The Green Thing:

They’ve just produced another one of their innovative short videos to inspire people to lead a greener life:

The video is aimed at raising awareness and encouraging people to eat seasonal produce.

We’re looking for people to host it and make comments, and Crunchy Chicken seems like an excellent place for this!

Please contact me at: with any questions.

Have an excellent day!



Katie said...

WOW...That's a lot of money for a family of 5! I only spend maybe $300 a month for our family of 5. We drink only raw milk, and almost everytihng is organic or local. I could have a field day with the numbers you posted. Although, we buy beef in bulk think 1/4 of a cow all grass fed and local. I also make EVERYTHING from scratch. Yogurt, bread, even sometimes cheese....using all organic ingredients of course.

It can be done, and on a lot less money.

Elizabethwilliamswriter said...

I'd say it is totally doable. We have completely changed our habits. However, if it can be made from scratch then that's what I do, within reason. We raise our own poultry, little backyard thing. So we have our own eggs and meat. We buy our other meats from locally raised farms etc. We don't have as much as the Gov't pays available for food. No where near. But we eat very well, sustainable and organic. I am also growing food, canning, freezing and drying. So we save a lot there. I simply do not agree that eating healthy is for the middle to upper class. Eating healthy is a choice for anyone. It is just work but definitely no more than it was ever in history.