Grocery Spending and Preservation Inventory

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It’s been awhile since I’ve shared what I spent at the grocery store.  My budget’s been a little crazy the last couple months as I had a baby (and didn’t cook or shop on my own for a couple weeks), then entered heavy preservation season.  Now things are settling down and I’m aiming to cut down even more — at least once I finish filling my pantry and freezer!  We’re buying a whole pig (butchered) in about 6 weeks so I’m setting aside money for that.

Here’s what I bought last weekend:

  • 3 boxes organic taco shells — $6
  • 1 lb. frozen pineapple — $1.75
  • 0.67 lbs. raw Romano — $4
  • 1 lb. mozzarella — $5
  • 1 lb. organic brown rice pasta — $2
  • 2 bananas — $0.40
  • 1 lb. uncured hot dogs — $4.25
  • 3 lbs. brown rice — $3.25
  • 1 quart organic grape juice — $3
  • 1lb. organic green beans — $2
  • 1 lb. almond flour — $4′
  • 5 lbs. chicken breast — $14
  • 10 lbs. organic potatoes — $8
  • 1/2 gal. cider — $3.50
  • 2 lbs. uncured bacon — $6
  • 2 lbs. peanuts — $4.50
  • 2 lbs. raw sharp cheddar — $12
  • 2 lbs. organic carrots — $2
  • 1.5 lbs. raw mild cheddar — $6.50
  • 2 lbs. butter — $6
  • 2 lbs. organic celery — $1
  • 1.25 lbs. organic lettuce — $1.50
  • 1 lb. organic black beans — $2
  • 0.5 lbs. organic barley — $1
  • 2 lbs. whiting fish — $5
  • 2 lbs. broccoli — $2
  • 3 lbs. peas — $3
  • 2 lbs. cauliflower –$2
  • 5 lbs. sugar — $3
  • 3 lbs. onions — $3

This was from the grocery stores and was about $125.  From the farm, we also got:

  • 1 lb. lamb stew cubes — $7
  • 1 gal. milk — $5
  • 4 doz. eggs — $12
  • 2 gal. honey — $60

The eggs and milk are standard; the other stuff is not. So my total for “usual” groceries was $140-ish.  This will last two weeks.

Additionally, we got 1/2 cow.  We are still planning to get a whole pig, plus a gallon of maple syrup.  I am also hoping for a few turkeys and about 10 stewing hens, so we can make lots of stock and set aside cooked meat for meals.  We just stocked up on spices and other pantry items (about $60, which will last 6 months).

Here’s what we preserved:

  • 77 quarts tomato sauce
  • 27 pints diced tomatoes
  • 18 quarts pickles
  • 80 quarts diced pears
  • 35 quarts applesauce
  • 50 quarts sliced peaches
  • 300 green peppers, halved, frozen
  • 50 lbs. strawberries, frozen
  • 50 lbs. peaches, frozen
  • 20 lbs. cherries, frozen (sweet and tart mixed)

The house is getting full!  But once we have the last of our stuff, we’ll just be buying cheese, milk, eggs, and some fresh produce each week.  Once I’m done my grocery budget will be $200 – $300 a month, and I will be setting aside at least $200 for more major purchases in the future (1/2 or whole animals, pantry staples, next year’s preservation).  It will take time and creativity to keep lowering the budget, even as our family is expanding (i.e. Jacob will be eating next year too and the other kids get bigger).  But I will!

Out of curiosity, how much does your family eat?  My kids can eat an entire personal pizza, or 2 – 3 tacos per meal.  Average breakfast is an egg, strip of bacon, fruit — and they still want some cheese, meat, muffins, etc.!  I think they eat a LOT!

How is your grocery budget?  What tips or questions do you have about saving money?

Comments

  1. says

    I think my family eats a lot, too. The toddler and I have at least three meals and two snacks per day, all of which are pretty sizeable! And my husband could eat us out of house and home. For instance, his soup container for lunch holds a quart, and he gets annoyed if I don't fill it to the top! On weekends, he will sometimes cook up four or six eggs, five strips of bacon, and three potatoes just for breakfast!

  2. Rebecca says

    Wow! I usually spend way more than that. This is good inspiration to meal plan and get my budget down. Where do you buy your raw cheese? I never see it for those prices. Also, where did you buy 300 peppers? Are they organic? My husband LOVES green peppers and I spend SO much on them at Whole Foods, as I find it hard to source organic peppers in Ohio. (That darn "Dirty Dozen" ranking.) Most of the farmers at local farm markets only grow conventional peppers. I would love your source! Thanks!

  3. JCf says

    These kinds of posts are incredibly helpful to my psyche when I am looking at my real food budget. I live in the San Francisco bay area, which is one of the most expensive areas of the country. Whenever a real food blogger posts a total budget number in the range of yours, it becomes easy to feel like I must be doing something terribly wrong because my grocery bill is WAY higher than yours. But this breakdown let's me see what different prices we are dealing with. I realize I am not doing anything wrong! For example, raw milk is $16 a gallon here, and uncured bacon is about $9 a pound. Those are just a couple of examples, but most things on your list, especially animal products are significantly more expensive here. We limit ourselves to one half gallon of raw milk a week. When it is gone, it is gone! Thanks again for sharing this!

  4. Lacy says

    I also live in the San Francisco Bay area and I just want to second everything from the poster above. I am a newly single mom (in other words newly broke) and I am trying so hard to cut our food expeditures without cutting quality. I just am not sure how that is going to work! The Lord is good though and I know that somehow He will get us what we need and give me the wisdom to meet our needs on a budget. Thanks so much for posting the breakdown.

  5. Rebecca says

    Just checking back – Kate, are you willing to share your sources (seee my above comment w/ questions.) Thanks!

  6. ModernAMama says

    Rebecca,

    I got the peppers at Lynd's, so they're not organic, just low-spray. I know that there are a few farms that have organic peppers — Flying J does. I buy raw cheese at Trader Joe's. It's not the best source (I'm sure it's not entirely grass-fed) and I'm working on it. There's a farm in NW Ohio that sells it for $10/lb. Soon we are going to try to make our own though!

  7. Rebecca says

    Thanks for the tip on the peppers – I go to Lynds "market tent" often and have asked before about what is organic/conventional and the answers were always NOT organic. I did not get any information about certain things at lynds being "low spray" so I will have to keep that in mind for next year. One thing that surprised me about Lynds is that they do not actually grow everything they sell – they buy it wholesale from other local farmers. So sometimes they don't know what is low-spray and what isn't. ps. Thanks for the cheese tip!

  8. domesticdiva says

    I think by normal (what I’m hearring anyway:) standards we are rather light eaters.
    Breakfast on a weekend is pancakes, an egg each (4) 6 slices of bacon and maybe fruit or yogurt.
    The kids snack about twice a day, but I have to make hubby snack and I might eat a light snack once in awhile.
    Groceries for us for 2 weeks is easily covered with 185.00 and that includes meat for each supper.

  9. Jenn Wheeler says

    Hi! What a WONDERFUL blog you have! I was wondering something: how much did your initial start-up cost? What money did you have to invest in order to have the preservatives for the next go-round? It seems like it may be a big initial output in order to lower your budget so low.

    And…WOW…a mother of 3, with a newborn (ish)…doing ALL this prep/preserving, etc! I’m humbled…

  10. Rose says

    Where do you get groceries at these prices? I live in NY, shop at a co op with 20% discount and still don’t come close to some of these: 2lbs of bacon for $6.00, 2lbs broccoli for $2!? That’s incredible. My husband, my son and I eat all organic and sometimes i spend $400-$500.00 a month!

    • says

      Trader Joe’s helps a lot. Buying non-dirty-dozen produce non-organic helps. (Although I can get organic frozen broccoli for only slightly more than that at Costco.) I recently checked into stores like Meijer and Big Lots and found some great options there, but those are hit or miss.

      • Lisa Imerman says

        Watch out for Costco organic frozen vegetables. In the past when I have tried to buy their organic frozen broccoli, it was from China, I won’t buy anything from China in the food arena, certainly not organic. Just an FYI. Trader Joe’s does not source any single ingredient items from china so their broccoli is not from china, but I always check the labels, just in case.



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