Thursday, December 31, 2009

Jumping... in a new direction...

For the past 2 years, I've kept tract of all the money we have spent on food/ liquor and toiletries. In 2008 we spent an average of $814 a month on the above items... and in 2009 we were able to reduce it down to $632 a month. I recently did a poll on the sidebar of the blog asking people how much they spent a month on their monthly purchases... About $300- $400 a month was the average...sooo... I am still way over budget compared to everyone else... I don't get it...what am I spending money on that everyone else is not? The one thing I have always wanted to do (and YES, I'm a total nerd) was itemize what it was we were spending our food dollars on exactly.

Last year I tried to "jump off the processed food chain"... with marginal/decent/better than I thought I would do... success... although I was able to grow 1037lbs of fruit and vegetables in our garden and lower our total food bill by $182 a month over last year... boxes and bags of junk food, and processed foods (albeit less) still made their way into our cupboards and refrigerator. Now, ideally... I'd like to blame this on my husband... but I cannot. I am fully aware that it's ME...myself... Mavis who does 95% of the shopping (except for stupid electronics) for this I'm the one with the problem...

So this year...I'm taking a different approach to try and reduce not only the amount of money spent but also the amount of processed/junk food we (okay, I) continue to bring into the house. I've decided to itemized & photograph every food purchase I make this year... via a "monthly food purchase update"... I think it will help keep me on tract a little better if there is some sort of accountability factor involved. Basically the goals are:

#1 Try to lower our average combined monthly grocery/liquor/toiletries bill to under $400 a month...
Any extra money (below the $400 goal) I will put in a jar to put towards this ... hopefully the new Le Creuset saucier pan can act as a "reward" for reducing my family's grocery bills.

#2 Get into the habit of keeping a grocery list and trying my best to only go to the store once a week...okay... maybe twice a week?

#3 Eat more locally grown/ produced food...

#4 No more buying mass produced meat products... either the animal lived a happy, healthy life... or we don't buy it.

#5 Reduce the amount of junk food consumed...

Well... that's about it.

What do you think?

Do you think it would be eye opening if you photographed/recorded every single food product your family bought for an entire year? Do you think you would learn anything from it? Do you think you'd quit half way thru because you'd realize what a big fat junk food eating pig you really are? Or maybe...just maybe knowing that you have to show everybody else what you bought... it would kind of shame you into putting back the bag of cool ranch Doritos's?


  1. Well Mavis ~ THAT is an interesting thought! I think you are on the right path...cutting back even more on "junk" food will no doubt lower your food bill even more and taking that will be interesting!! :)

    Oh yes...I think it would change the way we do things...for sure!! BUT...I cannot photograph everything I buy...or maybe I should say I don't plan on diving into that area...but it would definitely be eye-opening!

    One comment about the poll...I think it should have indicated the number of people being fed for that dollar would give a more accurate picture. Also, many people do not keep strict accounts...they just guess! We are a family of six and the kids eat more than I we have a large food bill...I could not lower it to $400 per month. Just my two cents worth ~ with the purpose of encouraging you!

    Have a wonderful New Year!

  2. Eating locally grown food does not equal cheap. I know people who eat very low on the food chain (for example, no refined sugars---all honey and maple syrup) and have very high food bills.

  3. I commend you on your goals/plan, Mavis, and I can't wait to see those monthly pictures.

    I agree with Mama JJ that all local can be expensive but almost all homegrown food is not. It all depends on how much you can grow. Using homegrown will pare down your bills significantly if you aren't buying lots of specialty items like liquor, special ingredients, and well, junk :-) (I love your candor). Junk can be cheap, but it's still money down the drain and crap into (and out of) our bodies.

    There are four of us who eat food in our house (granted two are children) and we manage to spend $250/month on food. We have lots of food put up. We skip specialty stuff, liquor and junk. If I find a recipe I'm excited about but don't want to spend $7 on a special ingredient, I improvise with what I have. It doesn't always work, but most of the time it does.

    Here's the other thing. We need to find balance. Balance between living responsibly and not going crazy. If you can find that balance, there is freedom:-).

    May the force be with you.

  4. Camille... I agree I should of put how many people are in "the household". Happy New Year :)

    MamaJJ... I totally agree...local is not cheap...but homegrown IS.

    Thyhand... I think part of the problem, is that when you haven't been taught "how to" prepare can be kind of tricky... It's a slow process...but I'm getting there. And your right...junk food usually is cheap...but it's crap. I have to figure out a way to not only grow more food...but how to eat/prepare more food...and some how along the way teach my kids how to do so in the process. It's all about baby steps...

  5. I think you are not only on the right track but doing great. I think that perhaps your poll is a bit skewed because of the type of already self-sufficient reader who may have participated in it. I have no doubt that you would find the average Americans food bill to be much higher especially considering that cooking for oneself has become a lost art. I love your idea and am truly looking forward to reading your posts on this project and wish you the best of luck.

  6. Mr.H...thanks for the are a food growing rockstar! I'll try to come up with a few "raw bean" recipes just for you & Mrs.H... Hary har har!

  7. I have decided that I need to work less. If I make less I spend less. I really loved your post because this same thing has been on my mind for a couple of months. I will join you also on cutting the amount of spending my family does. Thanks for the wonderful post.

  8. I didn't vote in the poll because we have 7 people in our house...although 5 of them are little and they eat less than a teenage boy might. Like you, I'm a nerd who loves to keep track of information like that...I come from a family of accountants. You should see my Excel spreadsheet that tracks our electric bill. :)

  9. Wow, your pantry looks great. As for taking pictures that would last maybe-no it wouldn't last for me. My goal this year is to track my grocery spending, that alone will help me eliminate 'junk'. We are in the process of building a house so any where I can cut back will help a lot.
    Taking baby steps is the only way to learn anything including cooking from scratch. Best wishes for success this year.


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