Don’t forget about Kristen’s ebook, Real Food Nutrition and Health! It’s an excellent resource for homeschool families or anyone wanting to know the truth about nutrition and health! Disclosure: I am an affiliate and will earn a small commission from each sale if you click the link or ad.
I figured I should answer the questions I’ve asked other families, too, so that you can see details about how it works in our house!
- What does “real food” mean to your family?
“Real food” to us means totally unprocessed — the way that God made it. If it is processed, contains chemicals, comes in a package, we probably don’t eat it. We focus on nutrient-dense foods like animal foods (grass-fed beef, pastured chickens, pastured eggs, butter, etc.) and also plenty of produce, especially in the summer. We try to limit our grains and focus on sprouted spelt when we do consume grains (although we also consume barley, quinoa, etc.). We try to avoid white flour, white sugar, any newer varieties of wheat, anything that is GMO or hybridized or otherwise “messed with” as far as food goes.
2. What do you eat in an average week? (Inc. meal plan if you happen to have one)
You can actually visit my meal plans section to see what we eat in an average week. Lots of cheese, eggs, meat. Breakfast burritos, scrambled eggs, buttermilk pancakes or waffles (yes, my buttermilk pancake recipe works great as waffles — just melt a couple tbsp. of butter into the batter first), soups (made with homemade bone broth), burgers, tacos, etc. We try include dishes that have a lot of varied ingredients, including a lot of vegetables. I also focus heavily on including fats in our meals. The more fat, the better (this has resulted in my husband losing over 60 lbs.).
3. What groceries do you buy? (Include general amounts)
We buy groceries every two weeks. Typically, 2 – 3 whole chickens, 5 – 10 lbs. grassfed beef, 5 lbs. of carrots, 10 lbs. of potatoes, 5 lbs. of broccoli, 2 – 4 heads of lettuce, lemons, olive oil, raw honey, sucanat, onions (2 lbs.), garlic, butter (truthfully, grass-fed whipping cream, which I use to make my own butter; MUCH cheaper), 2 gallons of raw milk, various other produce, spices, etc. Other things vary completely based on what I’m making those weeks — maybe sausages, bacon, beans, grains, etc.
4. Where do you buy your groceries?
At this point, I buy most things from one of two different farms. One has eggs, meat, and milk. The other has grains, my CSA, maple syrup, and grass-fed beef. After that I buy some online from Tropical Traditions or Amazon (they have a pretty decent natural foods section). I also go to farmer’s markets now that they’re open to buy more produce and occasionally meats. I round it out with a visit to a local co-op now and then for some grains or beans or other bulk items. Whatever’s left I get from local health food stores. Last trip (two weeks ago) that was only $45. The rest was from farms or farmer’s markets.
5. How much do you spend per week or month?
We are slowly working to reduce this amount. We’ve recently switched to a cash system, which has really helped. I spent only $140 on two weeks’ worth of groceries. Top quality stuff, too! I didn’t compromise on anything or buy anything packaged. This is a bit low; in the past it’s been closer to $250. When including my bulk purchases (which I didn’t make last time), it will probably average out around $200. So I’ll be spending around $400 a month to feed four of us (two adults who eat a LOT, plus a 2-year-old and 11-month-old who also seem to eat a LOT). If I had to, I could probably do it on $300/month.
6. What are the biggest ways you save money?
CASH. I cannot say that enough. It made a HUGE difference for me in my spending. My grocery bill dropped from $250 – $300 every two weeks on average to just $140 instantly when I switched over. But I made it work that way for several reasons: I didn’t feel the need to toss some extra snacks in the cart for the kids because we had a long shopping trip, I shopped at several different places instead of just buying things at one big store (usually Whole Foods), I didn’t have lunch out when I shopped, I didn’t buy any packaged “organic” snacks for later, I bought only what we really needed (I used to think, “Hmm…couldn’t we use just one more package of chicken? Wasn’t I running low on olive oil?” etc. when really, I DID NOT NEED those items for my current meal plan. Not that buying chicken or olive oil is bad, but it was driving up my average grocery bill to buy them before I needed them, and to have a trend to always stock up like this, especially when these items weren’t on sale). There were several times when I thought, gee, I should go back to the store to buy X because it would make my life easier…but then I realized I really could live without it for a few more days, until my next shopping trip was due. And guess what? I really DIDN’T end up needing any of those things I thought about. Sticking to one trip every two weeks and really enforcing that, except in an emergency or pre-planned farm trip (for which I’ve set aside money) really helps.
7. What are your biggest struggles in sticking to a budget?
Truthfully, my biggest struggles were two-fold. First, I was using a debit card. This made me feel out of control because I never knew exactly how much money I had. Sometimes I felt like oh no, I’ve way overspent, we have no money…but it turned out I’d spent less than I thought and everything was okay. Other times I thought we still had plenty…but it turned out Ben had gotten gas or something that he hadn’t told me and it hadn’t posted to the account, so then it was overdrawn. I just really was uneasy with the whole system. I’d do my Friday shopping trip and kind of go “all out” because I knew I wouldn’t have the money to go back, so I had better buy what I needed the first time! Ben was also the one who checked the accounts frequently (although I COULD have, I didn’t) so I sort of relied on him to tell me if I could or couldn’t spend the money. Since the grocery amount was something I was SUPPOSED to be in control of, but didn’t feel that way, it just was beyond me to budget it appropriately. My second struggle was just that I disagreed with how we were handling the budget (which I guess is because I felt out of control). Give me a little cash and trust me to work the system myself and I can do it. I like leaving the store knowing that I spent less than I’d planned and having “extra” cash to possibly buy something nice. I actually started an envelope for “kitchen gadgets” so I can start buying nice “toys” to make cooking easier!
I used to worry about having enough money for each thing I wanted every month. I was sure that once I finished the shopping there would be no money leftover for something “extra” that we needed, like kitty litter, some natural health product, etc. And there usually wasn’t. Now, I physically separate money into envelopes for things we really need before I ever go shopping, and if we don’t have enough then I can make choices ahead of time about what we truly need. It’s worked out great. And now, I love knowing that although I need to make a big bulk order soon, and we *may* have just about enough in the current grocery budget to cover it, it doesn’t matter because I have some money saved up already! Very freeing system. I can’t say enough about it.
I hope in answering these questions that I have helped you in some way! What are your best money-saving tips?
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