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, April 26, 2009

Food Budget Challenge wrap-up

Sustainable Food Budget Challenge - April 2009It appears that I have completely failed my own challenge. I'll have to say that this is a first. Usually, I'm a lot more adept at keeping up with my own challenges, but this time we just weren't paying attention. Or, actually, completely disregarding it, which is probably more honest anyway. We ended up eating out. A lot. And going out to coffee. A lot. So, in the end we overshot the amount we were allotted for food with the Sustainable Food Budget Challenge. But, let me also admit that most of the food we overshot the challenge on was locally obtained, sustainably grown, locally sourced and owned food.

These last two weeks have been hit and miss. The previous week we didn't eat out at all, even though we went out for coffee a few times. The last week we ate out twice and manage to go out to coffee a whopping five days in a row. It was rather unusual. If I have done this challenge late last year we would have easily come in under budget because we never ate out.

So here's the latest rundown:
$140 for the previous week (it was my Mom's birthday dinner this week too)
$145 for the last week (not including a couple nights eating out because the cost was, well, embarrassingly high, but amazingly local and good)

I am afraid to calculate a running total for the month because I know we are no where near the food budget allotment for the month [Okay, we are supposed to spend $588 this month and we spent more like $1000. Yikes! I need an invention]. One thing I did learn, however, is that it is possible to buy everything organic or sustainably or locally grown. The cost differential is substantial on only a few items and I could find sales or other deals (due to items being in season) that kept the costs at an average price. So, I will continue to buy more organic or sustainably raised items in the future.

One other thing that totally compounded this experiment (besides the crazy eating out we were doing) was the fact that I switched partially over to a raw food diet. What this means is that for every meal and snack, except for dinner, I am eating fruits or vegetables, raw nuts or dried fruits. Since I started doing this I have gained a lot of energy and feel a lot healthier (and dropped a few extra pounds), but since I'm buying organic, this has been an expensive change in eating. But it has been totally worth it!

How has the Food Budget Challenge gone for you this month?


That Writer Chic... said...

Thank goodness for island life. Where I live, most restaurants are only open during tourist season. So for most of the year, if you want to eat, you have to fix it yourself. Unless you want to drive an hour north. Anyways, it helps the ol' pocket book. And I'm more apt to eat healthier.

Farmer's Daughter said...

We bombed, but I knew going in that we would. Food's just really expensive around here. Even with most of the meat for the month in our freezer, we still spent about $600 for the month on groceries (our allotment was $363). I'd like to try it again when sustainable food is in season around here. My groceries in the winter and early spring are always more expensive than in summer and fall.

It was definitely an eye-opener, though.

Adrienne said...

I, too, would like to try again when I can get fresh local produce instead of paying through the nose at the co-op.

I spent about $300 this month (about what I usually spend) instead of the $200 I was supposed to spend. This was not helped by the fact that I had a week-long what I thought was a sinus infection and turned out to be a migraine headache. I ended up buying more ready made food b/c I was in no shape to cook.

However- I did buy a lot more local/organic stuff than I usually do, on the same amount of money I usually spend. I learned a lot about what I can do without feeling deprived at all. For instance, organic oatmeal w/ raisins costs me about 50 cents for breakfast. I can eat that a few times a week instead of my usual yogurt and granola which runs $1-$1.50 (depending on if it's the organic yogurt or not). I can make a big pot of rice and beans and have three days of lunches for a couple dollars' worth of ingredients.

So, although technically I failed the challenge, it was a valuable learning experience.

Anonymous said...

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Ms. Peachez YouTube: GETTO Chicken

“Everybody wants of piece my chicken, southern fried chicken, finger licking...”

some humor is needed sometimes...

Erin aka Conscious Shopper said...

We came in at $650 for the month, not including eating out a couple times while on vacation. That's a pretty normal total for us. Not everything we ate was sustainably produced, but we did pretty well overall. This is a change I've been planning to make for awhile, and by my calculations, I can feed my family of five almost completely on organically or locally produced foods for between $600-$650 a month. I think some people could do it for even less, but I'm satisfied with where we're at. I'm going to be writing more about greening our grocery bill on my blog in the coming weeks.

Robj98168 said...

Not as great this week- Groceries $42, breakfast out at a local creperie- $8; lunch bought at a retirement party for a bunch of folks at work $12, Pizza $5; Didn’t pay for coffee stops at all this week, used gift cards Total this week =$67, $106 left in budget so grand total = = $39 left for the last week in the month!
Soubt I will make it though. Sure opens your eyes to buying habits!

Daniel said...

I did not participate in the challenge, but the almost ubiquitous failures here make me want to suggest to you another challenge:

Don't buy from your supermarket challenge (whether it be Wal-Mart or Whole Paycheck). I think this would be very possible: buy organic oil, organic flour, and organic sugar all before the month begins. And then for a month, get everything from the CSA, gardens, farmers' markets, and farms themselves.

What do you think?

jewishfarmer said...

I admit, I find the "you can do it but we didn't" message a little troubling in this particular challenge. Most people who have to live on food stamp budgets don't really have the option of going over - if you hit the limits, you eat what's in the pantry (or you don't eat much) for the rest of the month.

I don't mean to give you a hard time, but I guess asking people to live like they live on food stamps, to prove something to the people there, and then really disregarding the limits, while still asserting the validity of the challenge - "sure, you can do it" seems a little troubling to me.


scifichick said...

I didn't add up our total yet, but we've kind of let it go by wayside. I underestimated how much time it would take trying to figure out how much food from my food storage costs. It ended up being annoying and time consuming and I gave up on it. I'm hoping we were somewhere close in our spending, but that remains to be seen.

hmd said...

I didn't officially join the challenge and I just measured myself (not my hubby). I ate on $77 at home and another $50 eating out which should be pretty close to the one person on food stamps. I could certainly skip eating out with my hubby (we go out on dates most often to a local/organic cafe downtown) and I'd be well within the food stamp limit. That $77 also includes a high quality $17 bottle of olive oil that could be taken out.

It's definitely do-able, you just have to rethink the way you eat. I eat lots of fresh veggies, less fruits, and lots of local rice and wheat berries. I don't eat meat or dairy which really keeps the budget low and (I think) keeps me healthier.

Here's a link to someone else who was able to make it. REALLY interesting article:
Can we afford to eat ethically

The Internetter said...

I went over this weekend and probably will go over a bit more in the last few days of April. What did me in were two weekends of glorious kitchen projects--the cookies I mentioned earlier--and this weekend, nachos. But I only went over by about $20, which is a record for me, as I went out to eat MUCH less (only once I think) and never went to a coffee shop. It's a little more than that if you factor in going out to bars, which adds another $40 or so, but I don't really count that as sustenance, so I didn't include it. As far as I'm concerned, those are just entertainment costs. But even if you think I'm wrong on that count, I was still way under what I usually do, even with all the organic stuff.

Anonymous said...

For the month, our total is $395.87. We count as a family of four, since I'm pregnant, but that is even under the family of 3 limit. We still have $67.13 (if we counted as three)to spend for the month, and that is good, since I know we will need milk, some greens, and some lunch stuff before the week's over. But I don't expect to surpass the limit.

I really appriciate what Sharon (jewishfarmer) said. There is so much truth there. We are not on food stamps, but our budget is such that we can NOT go over on our grocery budget each month. If we run out of money, we eat the rice in the back of the pantry.

I don't know if this would actually be possible on food stamps because the majority of our savings came from food saved from the CSA last summer, the hog we bought whole last fall. Things we saved our money up for so that we could have a year of sustainable eating on our tight budget. That and two years of practice at cutting the grocery bill each week a bit more, while still making fresh meals for my family. Things like eating out, coffee shops, and convience foods have not been in the budget for a long time.

So dollars wise, it does work. But I don't know that anyone raising a hog accepts foodstamps for meat and processing (though they should if they don't!)??

Bottom line... I enjoyed this challenge. It got me thinking about ways that we could eat more sustainably, and even prompted discussion of not buying bananas (or at least not so many). :) And it illustrated to my husband that we really do have a tight and good grocery budget.

But I think to jump into this kind of lifestyle without practice or preparation is not really setting yourself up for success.

One last quick note: I liked Asparagus' idea of the no-supermarket challenge! :)

stella said...

The challenge was an eye-opener! This week, we are really trying to spend only $80. I pre-budgeted everything out, and that means no going out to coffee for me :( Argh! Last night we were shopping, and my husband put butter in our basked because we were out (but it wasn't on my list). I got mad because that was $5 that I was hoping could buy me a couple peaceful afternoons in a cafe. Now it is a chunk of butter in our fridge with no immediate plans. Food is really expensive, and it is also entertainment, and a hobby, and I wouldn't want to be limited to $80/week again!

Alan in SC said...

What a great challenge! As long as you tried it--even if you didn't succeed this time--it's a great learning experience.

My family of five has been doing this for over 3 yrs., but especially in the last year: raw milk from a local jersey dairy (only 9 cows!), fresh milled wheat from a home business, at least 80% local or organic produce, organic bulk staples, eggs, chicken from Earth Fare. Buy coconut oil online.

We spend about $500/month! It can be done! The Lord is good!

Anonymous said...

We spent $633.02 for a family of four. Not everything fell under the guidelines, but we did eat a more organic and sustainable diet. It made me much more aware of where our money was going and what foods we were eating. Thank you for hosting this challenge. We ate much better than we ever have and I will continue seeking out better choices for my family.

Stacey said...

I did great - I spent $310.08 for my family of three - almost $10 under my goal for the month.

You can see my menu plans and pictures of the food from my shopping trips and the break-down of the costs here:

I really enjoyed the challenge and completely surprised myself as well.