Saturday, January 29, 2011

Thoughts on Food

I've been thinking a lot about food lately - the food we eat, our budget for groceries, and whether or not we really are getting the most nutritional bang for our buck.

I have friends who have their milk delivered by a local dairy, have produce brought to their front door as well, and buy their meat in bulk directly from a local farmer.  And while this has always appealed to me, I've had a bit of sticker shock when I've looked closer.

But now I have to begin to wonder - if we have dairy, produce and meat delivered, and then buy our grains in bulk (I have begun to bake bread almost daily) - could it be possible for us to not only save money, but to eat better as well?

These last few weeks, as I've been pondering the food issue, we've been visiting the grocery store less.  I've been taking note of what we eat - what we REALLY eat, and what are not essentials for us.  I've been spending more time using my imagination, my cookbooks and "google" to use what we have.  I've come to realize that, besides a few snack items, we eat more or less a whole foods diet.  Whole grains, beans, a bit of meat, dairy, fresh vegetables.

I have a bit more calculating to do but, could it be possible?  Could we cut out the grocery completely?

Have any of you done this?  Can you share any tips?

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  1. Hi. How are you?

    I like eggs!

    Did you ever hear that islam let men to beat their wives? I invite you to see my new post: Wife beating is not allowed in Islam in any case!

    Good luck

  2. We do this as best we can. I hear all the time from people that they can't afford to eat the foods that we do, but we almost always make significantly less money than those who are saying those things... so it just doesn't add up. The things that have helped (because it is a process) is to keep a tight budget. We budget for meat all year long, so that when the time comes to buy our 1/4 cow or pig or whatever, we've got the money there to do it. I believe we started to do this with tax return money, and that enabled us to make the initial purchase, and then save each month for the next year. We've been doing that successfully for 3 years now. We also keep chickens for eggs, and we garden as much as we can. I've found these things to really offset the cost of the higher quality foods we buy. I try to stick to high quality bulk foods, and I menu plan and ration as best I can. We've also started to dumpster dive, and it's kind of amazing how much good food is thrown out each day. We're eating lots of fresh fruit now, for free. I anticipate that will help us to save a lot of money (it already has this last month). I don't know if you're open to that, though.

    Keep us posted on how this goes!

  3. I was hoping you would weigh in, Grace! I know that you manage to eat very healthy and are also on a budget like we are. I'd love to get together and pick your brain on this a bit more!

  4. I've been too erratic in my purchasing patterns to offer a lot of specific suggestions, but I have friends who say that joining a CSA and cooking from those vegetables has been very affordable route. Some CSAs will let you add other grocery items to the delivery, like local meats and dairy. It depends on their set-up, philosophy and partnerships.

    You can search for local CSAs at this site: (some have drop-off points where you pick up your bin; others deliver to your door)

    If you make your own bread from scratch, you are making super-wholesome bread that can only be compared to fresh-baked bread from bakeries with similarly simple ingredients. You can't compare the price of your fresh-baked bread to the supermarket stuff in plastic bags. You are probably making loaves worth $4 or even $5 each. I went to a local bakery and bought a loaf of whole wheat bread that was way overpriced, and it tasted exactly like what I make at home. You've got me wondering now how much it costs to make a loaf at home.

    My point in saying all this is that it's probably a complex process just to figure it all out! I hope you can continue this journey and feel good about your choices.

    Did you know that we are reading The Spirit of Food for Book Club over at You might enjoy the essays assigned for this week. Tomorrow, a post will go up discussing three essays--two of which happen to be available to read online.

    Here are the links to the essays:

    “The Pleasures of Eating,” by Wendell Berry
    (I think you'll like it)

    "Table Blessings,” by Kelton Cobb

    And of course book club is at Here is the link to the last few posts about it:

  5. We have raised our own cow and lambs for the freezer, but have also bought 1/4 cow from other farmers as well. If you eat steak and can get mostly grassfed beef, then buying a 1/4 cow is worth it. You may be paying $5 per pound for ground beef (97% lean) but you are also only paying $5 per pound for the most expensive cuts. It evens out and is heart healthy. You will miss fruit if you cut out the grocery completely. Locally you will probably only be able to get apples and pears and blue/ black berries and cherries. So, it is still necessary to go to the market to get bananas and oranges and lemons and such. Organic butter is too expensive. Forget about it. So you will still be going to grocery for that...but yes, getting local milk and eggs and seasonal fruits and veggies is all good. But it is expensive to have it delivered to your door and are you getting the quantity of stuff you need for your family. You'll have to buy 2 shares for your size of family to get enough food per week. I think you are a saavy woman and can get good deals at the grocery as good or better than local CSA. It is sad to say, but you have to be wise about this stuff. I'm glad you are researching it and doing the math. Look at a typical week of what your friend is getting delivered to her door. How much food for how much money? Is it feasible for your family? Still eat whole foods, buy local when you can but don't get swept up in all the hype that can come with the local crowd. All this opinion coming to you from your friendly homesteader. I didn't fall off the train yesterday, so if you have questions...ask!


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