Saturday, April 27, 2013

Groceries on a budget.

// this beautiful photo taken from a lovely little blog I recently discovered: The Fresh Exchange //

One thing we did not anticipate before having a child was the incredible amount of food a family of three can consume.
Having met in college, both of us worked in restaurants... let's just say, we ate out a lot.
I honestly cannot remember having a fruit bowl in our kitchen during our first year living together. 
Now, our produce needs replenishing about three times a week. 

All that said, this transformed couple goes grocery shopping o f t e n.
It took us about three years to realize how much money we really spend each month on groceries. 
It doesn't help that Whole Foods is located just blocks from our home. 
It's so convenient, the selection is amazing and mostly local, but it is e x p e n s i v e.

I've never been organized enough to cut coupons and use them. 
When I go shopping, I do stick to buying just the items that are on sale that day, 
but when feeding a constantly moving, rapidly growing three-year-old,
sale items at Whole Foods simply aren't enough of a bargain if you don't limit yourself in some real way. 
It's too much money, no matter how much income you have. 


So, to combat the insanity that is (was) our monthly grocery expense, we have done a few things;

 We have limited ourselves to only shopping once a week. 
Gasp! I know so many people do this. It totally makes sense. I get it. 
It's just that we haven't ever thought about it as being important. 
We are the type of eaters and cooks who think of something amazing to make regardless of what we have in our kitchen; 
we'll run to the store for the last few ingredients.
So that step was huge for us. Once a week. 

We have limited ourselves to $100 a week. This is the hard part.
We go shopping on Saturday for the bulk of our week. 
We have realized that we need to spend about $80 there, and reserve the remaining $20 for eggs, milk, bananas... 
those things that inevitably run out later in the week. 
We are still getting used to this one, but it is arguably the most important piece.

To put it into perspective, we were spending anywhere from $500-$600 each month to feed our little family of three.

We grow our own vegetables. 
We have yellow squash, fava beans, cucumbers, chard, mustard greens, kale, collard greens, tomatoes, various types of lettuce, perilla, carrots, beets, snap peas, 
as well as mint, sage, thyme, rosemary, oregano, and various other herbs.
Living in Portland, though, this is only fruitful from about May-September/October 
(if we're diligent, if we really tend to our garden, AND really only if we have enough sunshine!).


These three things are forcing us to be more creative with our meals,
to hold back from just running to grab a few more things to complete the meal.
We have been doing this for a couple months and I think that the $100/week thing is working;
it's enough to feed us (feed us well, too) but just little enough to make all the difference.
Limiting our spending as well as growing our own vegetables gives us just what we need without sacrificing quality. 


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