Thursday, December 31, 2009

groceries for under $200/month

The first year of our Urban Pantry Challenge has ended. Personally it was very enlightening. Like being struck with lightening and coming to the realization that I was living in a cloud, firmly believing that I spent on average $100 a month for groceries. Yeah, I know some peeps are delusional about their dress size I'm whacked about our grocery bill. Overall we did good.
I do have one point to get across when you live a challenge like this - it is a constant there is never any down time to NOT think about any opportunity to gather food.

In reviewing my posts I realized I neglected to account for the 1/4 side of beef that I bought in July. Here's da deal - the hanging weight of the cow was 530 lbs. at $1.30 per pound. My portion was $303.30 which includes all the butchering fees ect. for 132 lbs. of beef. The cow was 1/2 Pinzgaver and 1/2 Angus locally raised in near Arcade, New York. Mostly pasture raised on a small family farm. Hormone free although not organically certified.
My butchering list ranged from chuck, rump & shoulder roasts, to t-bone & sirloin steaks, porter house, and beef stew cuts. 50 lbs. of ground beef filled out the order. I asked for two large roasts 7 lbs. or more. One for bartering & one for a holiday family meal.

Next time I won't order ground beef since it is more advantageous to pay $1.30 per pound for a roast than hamburger cut. Locally roasts go for $3.99 per pound. Will scout out a bulk package deal on ground beef since it is by far our most used cut of beef.
Chicken & pork was bought when on sale & repackaged into meal sized portions.
This year we haven't had rabbit since I suspended breeding for the time being.
Venison was obtained last month. While this game meat isn't a fav amoung two of us it is a nice add on. Also venison jerky has a great barter value.
No fish which has a deeper meaning in that we didn't do enough fishing this past year. Sad. Very Very Sad.
Still working on the 100 plus pounds of Winter wheat that a bb brought over in '08. Same for the Rye bought in bulk in 2007. Salt, free from the butcher (sells BBQ lunches leftover from salt potatoes), baking powder bought in bulk. Spices/herbs either grown or bartered for or bought on sale. We generally bake & cook from scratch.
Locally milk has dropped to under $2 a gallon so we have stopped buying milk directly from the farmer @ a savings 50¢. Also by way of a church friend I am able to buy eggs for $3 a flat from time to time. Butter is bought through a co-op as an employee benefit. Kinda a friend has a friend who has a ... this supply is fragile.
As I've blogged about before the biggest return on our gardening effort has been the cold frame planted with salad greens saving us several hundred dollars a year. Now that it is deep Winter and the craving level for fresh greens is high the cold frame is sorely missed. Salad Fixings are back on the grocery list. Should be able to plant the frame in late February early March.
Big changes other than what I wrote about is that we have a veggie meal twice a week now & when I do cook meat it is smaller portions. Also we now have two vegetables for dinner instead of one.

Methods of obtaining & preserving groceries are;

  • bartering- toiletries, paper products, tuna
  • bulk, clearance, co-ops & loss leader sales, no frills stores such as Aldi, Restaurant Supply Stores, co-op with friends, employee only buying ops.
  • canning either free or low cost produce
  • freezing
  • foraging both in urban & rural settings
  • dehydrating
  • gardening
  • gleaning
  • hunting.
Total for 2008-2009 UPC was $1925.19 which averaged out to $160.43 per month.

Hmm, gotta be a way to trim this ?

~~ pelenaka ~~

P.S. a comment lead me to clarify a few points - we don't have small children so there is no speciality foods like chicken nuggets. To tell you the truth though I never really had that problem with my children. While I didn't let them starve I also wasn't their enabler. Green beans got eaten. Momma doesn't run a Dinner.
Other than cooking low fat (no frying) the only other dietary choices we follow are low carb/low sugar. Potatoes are no longer a staple.
There's no issue with gluten or nuts. Don't know what I'd do if there was.

On average everyone only eats 2 meals a day weekdays & Sunday (fellowship coffee after service is considered a lite brunch & Sunday dinner is @ 5 p.m. instead of our usual 6:30). Daughter's generally don't eat breakfast but will grab a glass a milk on the way out the door. Girls are in charge of packing their own lunch with leftovers. I usually have 4 cups of coffee & a slice of bread or small bowl of homemade yogurt or oatmeal for breakfast, 2 cups of coffee for midday & a snack, & then dinner. DH same.
Dinner is our big meal of the day.
Also should note that we eat several times a , month @ church for free. KP duty has it's perks! interesting blog - challenges of living on a food stamp buget without the benefit of bartering, foraging, or gleaning.