Holy crap, y’all. Have you looked at your receipts lately? Our grocery bill is sky-high. Three years ago I could spend $120 bucks and come home with enough food to cook 5 delicious meals filled with great veggies, proteins and sides. These days if I did this our bill would be damn close to $200. Even though the Professor is now making “grown up money” we still can’t afford $800 a month in food. That is more than some mortgages are.
Inspired by Emily Levenson’s Project Food Budget, the Professor and I decided to work to get our bill down while not resorting to Ramen and Twinkies (although hormonal Belle would currently give LARGE SUMS OF MONEY or all the grapes in my fridge for a Twinkie. Stupid estrogen patches).
I grocery shop every Sunday morning before the church go-ers descend upon the stores. (No offense to my church-going readers, but the hordes of y’all that flock to Kroger after 12 p.m. with your hungry, flailing children are just too much for infertile me to deal with.)
I love grocery shopping. I love to leisurely stroll the isles reading labels, checking out new products and meticulously scrutinizing every. single. piece. of. produce that lands in my cart. I love to go home and wipe out my refrigerator and cabinets and organize the bounty. I love to open the fridge and marvel at all the perfectly sliced and stored produce. Then I love to take this food out and whip up amazing, nourishing meals that feature bright colors, varying tastes and sumptuous textures.
The one thing about this entire process that gives me serious heartburn is paying for the food. Every time I watch as the total increases. I mutter under my breath about how ridiculous the price of food is. I curse whoever has determined that coupons only exist for crappy packaged food, and not fresh broccoli. I bite my tongue as I swipe the Amazon card for $160 in food, knowing that there is still another store to run by for bulk goods.
I realize that food prices are only going to continue climbing with the current drought, too, meaning if I continue to shop and cook like I do we will be forking over more than a thousand bucks a month for food. For two humans. Oh my gosh that is ridiculous! So I’m making changes. No longer will I prepare 5 fancy dinners. I’m switching out some fresh produce for frozen produce. When things like frozen organic broccoli florets or petite peas (Nat – that’s for you 🙂 are on sale I am buying several bags. I’m learning to cook with fewer ingredients and still achieve ample nutrition. I’m hitting the farmer’s market when I can for things like the ugly tomatoes you can snag for $1.50 a pound.
We are also setting a $100 a week food budget (give or take a $5 window because I suck at math and adding things in my head is not always accurate).
This is SO HARD to stick too when you are a grocery store browser like I am so we are also setting a 1 hour grocery shopping limit. This means I have to hit all three stores in 60 minutes. For those who are curious – we shop at Whole Foods for a few select items that are cheaper there than anywhere else including:
- Flax milk
- Fat Free Roasted Red Pepper Hummus
- Gluten-free, sprouted tortillas
- That’s It bars
We shop at the local Co-Op for our bulk goods including:
- Gluten-free and regular oats
- Flours and sugars
- Bulk agave nectar
- Lunch meat for the Professor
- Dairy-free ice-cream for me
- My favorite cocoa powder
- Meat and fish
The rest of our groceries have started coming from Trader Joe’s, which recently opened in Lexington. I’m super excited about TJ’s arrival as it has helped us get the food budget down quite a bit. The challenge with Trader Joe’s is that I don’t have the selection of fresh produce I’m used too having at places like Whole Foods. Occasionally I will splurge and grab a spaghetti squash or some beautiful beets from Whole Foods, but for the most part I’m learning to work with what TJ’s has in stock that day.
I have been doing our 1 hour/100 buck shopping trips for two weeks and am giddy that I actually accomplished it – twice! Emily shares weekly updates on her food budget and meal plan for the week. I don’t think I can commit to weekly update on groceries, nor do I think my infertility readers care that much about the state of my pantry. I will, however, post occasionally on how we are doing, though. And if I find a smoking good deal on something, I might tout my success here. For example, there is currently a coupon for .55 cents off of flax milk which has excited me more than I should probably admit. I’ll also share occasional menus and link to recipes when I can, as I know I have numerous readers working on going gluten-free and looking for guidance on what the hell to make for dinner.
This week’s menu is:
- Breakfasts: smoothies
- Lunches: leftovers for me/chicken salad for the Professor
- Snacks: fresh fruit
- Sunday: This delicious roasted chicken recipe by Ina Garten. TJ’s did not have parsnips or whole carrots. Instead we used extra baby carrots. This week’s organic, free range chicken came from Whole Foods. Our chickens won’t be ready for a few more weeks. The chicken was the most expensive purchase of the month coming in at $9.71. We will get multiple meals from it, though. Chicken was served with quinoa that was seasoned with sesame oil, nutritional yeast and some sesame seeds (all of which we had in the cupboard already. Dinner was AMAZEBALLS.
- Monday: Black bean and zucchini tacos. served on gluten-free sprouted corn tortillas with “Tease” fake cheese (my splurge for the week). We had frozen green beans on the side.
- Tuesday: Salad with leftover chicken, heirloom cherry tomatoes left over from last week, some cucumber left from last week, olives, and whatever else I can rummage out of the fridge topped with a simple homemade dressing. Tonight we’ll put the chicken carcass in the crockpot and let it crock away all night and all tomorrow to make us some delicious
meat jellobone broth.
- Wednesday: Soup with the broth, a can of white beans, some carrots, frozen leeks, cauliflower and a sweet potato that I found lurking in the cabinet that is about to be past its prime.
- Thursday: leftover soup
- Friday: Company comes so we’ll be eating out.
- Evening desserts will be homemade fruit soft serve courtesy of Sir Mix A Lot (my new blender that I MUST write about soon).
This week’s total food expenditures: $103. I went three bucks over – I’m not going to beat myself up over that one 🙂
Things to look forward to next week: a farmer’s market trip!
In other news: Our embryos are currently in transit. I’m refreshing the UPS tracker like a crazy woman.
Also, I had a uveitis checkup yesterday and the eye is finally quieting down.