Friday, January 08, 2010

Food Budgeting

We decided that it was time to end our delivery of organic produce. I cancelled our account yesterday with a bit of sadness. But in order to meet our goals for this year, we have to cut expenses. It's just the reality if we want to make progress towards our long term goals of being debt-free, moving to a new house, and being prepared if God calls us to adopt again or to support and give to a family who is adopting.

As we are working on budget goals, I am challenged in the food area. We are committed to healthy eating and using fresh foods and we try to buy mostly organic (and mostly local) meats, eggs, and milk. The challenge is knowing exactly how much money to allocate, what to make a priority etc. And so I'm thinking I will make a master list of the foods that are a "necessity" and the foods that are "extra." I'm going to be seeing where the best deals are as well as carrying a list of what produce is best if purchased organically.

Compromising on quality of food is just not an option (we have decided that as a family) but being more economical, buying less and eating more vegetarian are definitely some of the goals. We need to use everything we buy so we have less waste and I need to get back to better/more effective menu planning (you may see a return to Menu Plan Monday around here). I plan/hope to shop once a week which will require me to be very organized. I think it will take several months to really figure out what works.

In sharing this, I realize that there is no right way and everyone's food budget, eating goals, and priorities are different and that is okay! This is just where our family is right now. I love to cook, I love to menu plan, and I love using local, fresh ingredients. I just need to be committed to doing this in ways that work for our family and budget.

This year will be a year of change - keeping better track of spending, using a modified "envelope system", and working towards honoring God more with our spending, our saving, our giving, and our goals.


Mama10EE said...

What I did a couple years ago was track all the money we spent on food each month, then averaged it over the year. Then I knocked off $75 a month for "extras" that we didn't need (i.e. Oreos). That's how I budgeted for food, and each year I adjust based on what our needs are (i.e. when we didn't need diapers any more, it was easy to trim the budget).

It sounds like you have a good plan to move with. I think that's the hardest step, but now that you have it, stick to it! I also buy gift cards for the grocery store to buy my groceries with, that way I am not tempted by having either cash or my debit card to buy those unneeded extras.


liz nelson said...

sounds like some of the things we've been thinking about and considering how to accomplish.

stephanie said...

This has been a tension I struggled with all last year. We set down some numbers, but I have yet to see if I can really stick to them. Would be very much interested in your list of buy organic v. not organic. I'd love to buy it all organic, but of course that's not remotely feasible.

Gretchen said...

You mirror my goals exactly. I need to do this and buckle down but it is so hard. I look forward to any and all info/suggestions you post.

Thad and Ann said...

I'm with G & you. In the last several weeks/month we have easily double if not tripled our bill due to the boys & our own choices. It's SO hard to cut back & when you are trying to be more healthy it seems so wrong that we pay SO much more. arg!

Kelly and Sne said...

Just cooking at home has helped trim our food budget significantly. We also cook with beans more often than not which is a lot less expensive (and healthier) than meat. I even give them to Miras as "snacks" and he loves them.

Also, a coworker helps to organize an organic food "co-op" delivery locally where an organic/natural food distributor drops off in bulk and her house is the pick up place. I guess that you can order from a catalog for close to wholesale prices and the organizer gets an even greater discount. I can look into it if you want. I haven't done it just because I don't have the time to look through the catalog but I was tempted to.

And have you tried growing your own veggies anyway? Something the kids could get involved in too. You can easily freeze most of them which saves time from canning. And they say that canned tomatoes are full of BPAs so fresh/frozen is best.

Good luck with your goals. Where there is a will, there is a way!

Alaina said...

Kelly, I would be so interested in the co-op info. My mom used to do something like that but hasn't for a number of years.

We do have a garden and I do preserve, although I would like to do even more of that this year! The boys definitely love seeing things grow!

Thanks for the ideas!

Monica said...

This is a serious challenge. I've found that in eating healthier I'm spending almost double now. Gulp. I'd love to see your master list when it's compiled as well as where you are finding the best prices.

Kim said...

I wish you lived closer, I would pay you to do all this for me! :)

Jenny said...

I have actually tossed around subscribing to the produce delivery (probalby the one you just dropped). I definitely don't put as much focus on eating fresh and healthy as you do (you do great)... but I think if I'm paying a litlte more for the veggies and such, maybe I'll do better about using them? What do you think?

Alaina said...

Hi Jenny,
Yes, I think it do a great job about getting you to use them. They were great quality and you can swap out any veggies or fruits that you won't use! I definitely recommend them - we just had to cut budget somewhere and I was having too much waste which was my own fault. :)