Sunday, November 1, 2009

October Groceries

A month ago I was bummed out by grocery costs and decided that I would challenge myself to keep my October groceries to $75/week. Some of the US blogs that I read did that in September, but I missed the boat by noticing it too late.

I don't generally budget or know what I usually spent, but I was certain that $75/week was not going to be enough for our family.

I was wrong! I love it when that happens. I tracked my grocery spending this month and it came to $313.90. Not too shabby. Here's what I learned and noticed this month.

Meat costs
This is where I was sure to be hit. I've read countless times about people who won't buy meat unless it's under $2/lb. "That's crazy!" I thought. "Meat is never under $2 here." I was wrong. I managed to buy ground beef, pork tenderloin and toupe ham for that price. Chicken thighs were not much more (about $2.50). I don't think we'd ever eat non-ground beef if I stuck to that rule, so we won't, but I will watch for sales more often and stock my freezer when I catch a sale.

Donated groceries
This happens more than I realized. Although some of this is just because of the end of harvest season, I think we probably have food dropped into our laps more than I realized. We received:
  • a grey, Australian heritage pumpkin
  • boxes of carrots
  • boxes of potatoes (from two sources!)
  • 7 dozen eggs! (my parents were visiting and they get 2 dozen eggs a day from their own chickens)
  • a chicken (also from my parents - they had both layers and meat chickens this year)
  • a lovely roast beef meal
  • a massive jack-o-lantern pumpkin that will now be carved up for the freezer. It usually turns into pumpkin soup or risotto. Yummy!

I hope I didn't forget anyone or anything. We're grateful for any food that comes our way, especially because we know where it originates and it's always organic, or close enough.

We donated too
I don't want it to look like we're a charity case. We also shared food within our budget. We hosted my parents for three days. I helped bake 30 pies, donating about 12 cups of frozen berries and fruit and ten pie crusts. Extra kids come in and out of the door, rarely without a snack or a meal (my kids are often the extras at other tables too). And we attended a potluck where more food and wine were contributed than eaten. And a bunch of devilled eggs were made too. Ham and sweet potatoes were brought to a huge Thanksgiving dinner.

I took note of the giving and receiving just this month, but I don't like the idea of tracking those. We need to accept gifts with grace, not thinking that we need to give back. And we need to give selflessly, without thinking that we'll receive something in turn. Usually you get non-trackable things in return, like friendships or memories.

There was none really. We ate really well. We ate our own produce, we stored other things away, we ate up things from the pantry that needed eating. Alice and I rolled and froze meatballs together. We really tried not to waste anything. It did mean that we couldn't splurge on things like out-of-season strawberries, and we ate more popcorn than Cheetos. Actually, that is a sacrifice!

It's good to know that it's possible. Maybe not in February or March when all fresh produce from our own garden might be gone, but it was a worthwhile experiment and I'll do it every so often.