Bauman College Community Forum

Open Forum => Nutrition Talk => Topic started by: AmandaL on February 03, 2008, 02:50:35 PM

Title: Feeding a Family and Eating For Health On a Budget
Post by: AmandaL on February 03, 2008, 02:50:35 PM
This discussion was split from a previous topic, hence the way it sort of jumps into discussion below, but you will get the idea.... - M.E. Moderator

I spend between $120 - $200 per week on a family of 6 (that includes 2-80lb dogs that I homecook for).  We also eat only local, seasonal and organic (with a few exceptions).  That also includes plenty of organic meat (both for the humans and the four legged).  I enjoy seeing how other people shop for groceries.  Its been my hobby for the past 5+ years. ;D I am always irritated when I hear others say it costs too much to eat well. 
Title: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: KellyT on February 03, 2008, 10:18:15 PM
Amanda -

I am extremely curious how you only spend $120 to $200 per week for a family of 6 and two dogs. Where do you live? Is that counting ALL food consumed, including meals/snacks/drinks away from home? Do you grow or raise any of your food yourselves? Do you buy in bulk several times a year that you are not counting in your weekly budget?

I held a parenting group meeting on Saturday here in the SF Bay Area and our topic was "Staying Home with Children: Making It Work Financially". One of the items we discussed was budgeting. It has been my experience over the last ten years that people greatly underestimate how much they spend on food. I showed the group that a family of 4 eating all their meals at home from scratch would easily spend $960 per month. That works out to only $8 per person per day. That allows $1 for breakfast, $2 for lunch, $4 for dinner, and $1 for snacks. That is quite a tight budget.

So...I would love to have ideas to pass along to my group if you truly do spend so little. Of course, if you live in a less expensive area than San Francisco, that may be part of the difference!
Title: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: AmandaL on February 04, 2008, 08:20:46 AM
Hi Kelly, thanks for asking.  First, for clarification, its a family of 6, INCLUDING the dogs--4 humans and 2 canines (although, dont tell them). 

It has taken me many years to get my grocery spending down.  I have maintained the $120 to $200 weekly budget for a little over two years.  My goal is to always get it down as low as possible while still eating well.   I live in Sacramento, so it might just be that groceries are less expensive here.  I don’t know...it would be fun to compare costs.   I don't buy in bulk and this does not include paper towels, TP, laundry detergent etc.  Just food.   I put everything but the farmers market on my Amex card so I am able to keep track and itemize all of our spending.  That has been a great tool, it really helps to see where our money goes.  :)

I grow a very small garden in the spring/summer/fall but not in the winter and because of its limited size is not a real asset in terms of saving $$.   

Here's how I shop:

On Friday's, I hit Whole Foods and buy a weeks worth of meat.  I buy whatever is on sale. I spend $20 to $30/weekly on meat.

I also buy my dairy at Whole Foods.  I buy Clover products.  I buy 1 gallon of milk, butter, whatever organic yogurt is on sale--there's always at least one brand at $.69.  I spend $20-$25 on dairy.   

I also raid the bins for nuts, seeds, rice and beans. I only buy what is on sale.  $20

That night I sit and plan our meals for the week using the items that I bought at Whole Foods. This makes all the difference.  

Saturday, I wake up and hit the Farmers Market.  I take $40 cash with me.  I walk around once taking note of price and quality.  I also take time to talk to the farmers.  I find that many of our local farmers use organic practices (or beyond) but aren't certified.  (note in the summer I take $60).  I walk out of there fully loaded.

After the farmers market I hit Trader Joes and pick up bread (organic 8 grain $2.29) and eggs (free range $2.99).   I buy one or two boxes of crackers and 1 box of cereal. I buy 2 cartons of OJ ($1.99/each).  I buy some of my cheese here too.  I also buy any peanut butter, preserves, olive oil, vinegar, tea, etc (as needed, usually once a month or once ever couple of months).  Sometimes I buy my meat here too--if there is a good deal on something.  I spend $30 -$50 tops.  (if I buy wine my budget goes up)     
 
After that, I swing by the regular grocery store and pick up a block of Tillamook Cheddar ($7.99) for my kids, and whole chickens for my dogs.  I wait until whole chickens go on sale for $.59 to $.69/lb (usually about 2x a month) I buy four and they usually total about $3 a bird.  These are Foster Farms and not organic--sorry pups!

 
Items I don’t count for in this budget are: Fish.  I am luck to have a father that goes fishing in Alaska and out the SF bay many, many times a year.  I get the bounty of the fish.

Dry Dog food.  I feed my dogs, chicken, rice, veggies and dry kibble. (the chicken, rice and veggies are accounted for in the above budget).  But the dry kibble is not.  In my budgeting it falls under "pet expenses".   The dogs also get and dog friendly leftovers. 

Coffee.  Although this probably should fall into my budget, it falls in my "entertainment" category as that is how I view it....pure joy.  I have it shipped to us right from the roasters and limit myself to 8oz per day.   I sip it in the morning usually before 5 am, while I read the paper in my quiet home.  It is my most favorite part of the day! (thats sad considering everyone else is asleep!  HA!)     

I spend $3 in gas to get to all my stores!   

We don’t waste anything.  I make most everything from scratch.  We snack on foods that we would normally eat for meals just in smaller quantities.   We don't typically eat out at restaurants.  My husband takes leftover dinners for his lunches.   

If I spend more than my budget allows in one week, I make up for it the following week.  My monthly budget is between $480 and $800 (which is 120 to 200/week) 

I write about meal planning on my blog, www.dailydiner.blogspot.com. 

Hope this helps.   Amanda
Title: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: AmandaL on February 04, 2008, 08:27:35 AM
Kelly, one more thing.  My hussband and I drink the coffee in the am and herbal tea's throughout the cold winter days.  The kids are allowed one glass of orange juice a day.  Other than that we only drink water. 
Title: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: Marlina E on February 04, 2008, 04:22:47 PM
Wow Amanda, this is a totally fascinating and valuable discussion.   Nice blog!
Title: Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: KellyT on February 05, 2008, 02:11:22 AM
Amanda,

I LOVED IT!!!!!!!
Thank you so much for writing everything down. I found it very inspiring. I REALLY appreciate you taking the time to do this. Would you mind if I printed this out to share with my group members? I have about 35 families and I know they would really enjoy what you wrote.

I will also have to check out your blog soon too.

Thank you again!

PS - Maybe we can get together sometime. My sister lives in Sacramento, not far from Sac State. I am over in Contra Costa County.
Title: Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: AmandaL on February 05, 2008, 07:09:33 AM
WOW!  I'm so glad this is helpful.  When I first became the sole provider (in terms of shopping and cooking) it was a bit overwhelming trying to find less expensive food and still have it be high quality.  Buying in bulk was good in theory but I found I wasted a lot more and bought things I didn't need.   Clipping coupons was never really an option because they never seemed to apply for anything I would buy.   

I over spent for many years.

Several years ago, I started "interviewing" my friends and other moms at the park about how they grocery shop.   It all came down to meal planning for the savvy ones.   Thats when the adventure really began.  ;D  At that point I had two things in mind: Saving $$ and eating high quality food.   By shopping around it became evident that there was a better way to shop.  I figured out a routine that worked for me and then last year started my blog hoping that others might benefit. I am so pleased that someone might find all of this helpful!  YAY!

Sure, print it out! Sure we can get together!  I've got lots of other tips too!  you can email me at amandalouden@hotmail.com
Title: Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: AmyB on February 08, 2008, 04:18:30 AM
I know how it feels to spend a lot on groceries, we spend $100 -$120 a week on average for our family of three.  I try to look at it this way; by purchasing more healthy and organic foods we are making an investment in our health and the overall well being of our planet.  To me that makes it all worth it!
Title: Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: KellyT on February 08, 2008, 11:38:48 AM
We are a family of 6 (two adults, two kids turning 11 soon, one 6 year old, and one 2 year old) and we spend $1200 a month on food plus close to $200 a month on dry goods (laundry detergent, soap, paper towels, etc). Absolutely 100% of our meals are at home, as we have various food allergies (and one really picky kid) that precludes us from eating out. Everything is organic (including meat - we are carnivores) and we shop at Trader Joes, Whole Foods and the farmer's markets. I am hoping to spend less by learning to cook better (planning to take Natural Chef program here this fall or next spring) and by utilizing local CSA's. Right now, we are eating more premade-type food than I would like. However, we got rid of the microwave last October and we have definitely eaten betten since then. I am really looking forward to learning how to prepare soups and learning how to incorporate more non-meat meals. That is sure to save us money!
Title: Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: jodi f. on February 09, 2008, 06:30:57 AM
This is a great thread. I have no idea how much we spend on the 2 humans, 4 cats and 1 dog in this family, and I really don't want to know. But, I've recently discovered a great resource that helps us keep some of our food prices down.

We are now getting some of our food--mostly produce--from an organization called Abundant Harvest Organics. It's a group of California small family farmers who have worked out a wonderful survival technique. They omit the middlemen and deliver directly to the end users of their products. It's similar to a CSA, whereby you purchase either a small or large box each week and take what you get.

Those who have farmer's markets may not be interested, however the pricing on this produce, which is all certified organic, has been shown to be equivalent to conventionally grown produce. It's also extremely fresh, and here in our small town, we get varieties that are unavailable to us in the markets. I can also say unequivocably, that the quality and prices beat Whole Paycheck, er I mean Foods, hands down.

They are also slowly making other things available as add-ons, such as organic chicken and eggs (the eggs--free range organic--are $3.20/doz and beat anything I've ever purchased in a store); organic grains and dried beans; almonds, both steam pasturized and truly raw (from Organic Pastures). The list keeps growing.

Around here we have farms and a small farmer's market in the summer months. The nicest thing about Abundant Harvest is that we're not commited to getting each week's box. We pay $16.80 for a small box, $28.80 for a large one (and they're big), but during the summer, I'll just write in "vacation" days and support the locals. All they require is advance notice. The best thing about this for me is that I now get to support small family farmers all year long, so that I'm helping prevent the eroding of organics standards by not having to buy from the huge organics growers.

I have no idea how many communities they serve, but for those who want to check it out, their website is www.abundantharvestorganics.com. We're enjoying not only the great produce but the gathering of friends at the pickups. It's a terrific resource.

Jodi Friedlander
Title: Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: MiraD on February 09, 2008, 11:11:19 AM
This thread has made me look again at our food budget.  I'm keeping track for 30 days of what we actually spend and where we spend it.

I will say that I do not believe we are extravagant in our expenditures but over the years have come to spend more on organic food, locally grown, etc.  I shop from a lot of different sources (a CSA in season, a delivery Co-op year round, several different grocery stores and ethnic groceries when I can get to them plus an occasional Trader Joes (it's pretty far away)).  It will be interesting to see where our food dollars go.

It's also going to be an interesting exercise because over the years I have begun to make more and more of our food (bread, jams, pickles, kefir, etc). 

Looking forward to seeing what and how others do with this.
Title: Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: TeresaP on February 11, 2008, 09:47:27 PM
Thank you for this awesome forum post! This topic is one that has frequently caused me concern. I don't have a family to feed so therefore I don't grasp the financial responsibilities of feeding a family, but I constantly worry that the most unhealthy Americans are those that do not have the means to feed their families healthfully.

I found this pretty compelling:

According to Adam Drewnowski, an obesity researcher at the University of Washington,

...a dollar could buy 1,200 calories of cookies or potato chips but only 250 calories of carrots. Looking for something to wash down those chips, he discovered that his dollar bought 875 calories of soda but only 170 calories of orange juice. - New York Times, April 22, 2007

Full article: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/04/22/magazine/22wwlnlede.t.html?pagewanted=1&sq=Food%20Issues&st=nyt&scp=2

Amanda, I think you did a great job of showing that it's feasible to eat healthy. However, curious how many hours of your week are spent grocery shopping/traveling to shop/meal planning? It becomes a full-time job! Another barrier too that I wonder if anyone has the answer to; we in northern California are extremely fortunate to have an abundance of farmers markets & Trader Joes, but what about the huge number (majority?) of families throughout the nation that do not have access to farmers markets or TJ's?

Title: Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: AmandaL on February 12, 2008, 10:49:13 AM
Hi Teresa, I do spend a lot of time shopping a planning....probably more than needs to be spent.   I really enjoy the process of it all and I incorparate my children which adds a lot of time. :)  I spend about 2 to 3 hours a week, planning and shopping. 

I chalk it up to a family activity--like going on a walk or bike ride, we shop and plan our menu's together.

I feel like I save time though because outside of those two or three hours, once a week we never step foot in a store.  I used to run to the store every couple of days, and that adds up.

Having lived only in California, I dont know how to apply the way I shop to the rest of the US.  Common sense tells me that it can easily be done--its really only been in the last 100 years that processed foods have been around--everyone ate better before that, not just people here in sunny CA.  It can be done. Maybe not with Trader Joe's, but just shopping smarter within the local market. 
Title: Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: CarolC on February 19, 2008, 05:35:21 AM
All of this discussion reminds me of the fact that low income families are the most adversely affected of all populations by the unhealthy food that comprises the standard American diet.  As a Nutrition Educator in training, I am looking at ways to address that problem, and your discussion at least points the way to a solution.  As an example, it is well known that after immigrants come to the U.S. their health deteriorates within two to three years.  They begin to develop diabetes, heart disease, cancer and other major illnesses at a much higher rate than in their country of origin.  Why is this?  Because most immigrants, who are starting a new life in a foreign land, are generally low income, working multiple jobs to support their family and stressed both financially and emotionally.  So the bulk of their diet, as well as that of the millions of families trapped in poverty for generations in urban and rural areas, comes from fast food and processed foods, both of which are higher in calories and lower in cost, though poor in nutritional quality.  So the problem is not only one of educating these disadvantaged people, but finding ways to improve their diet that are cost effective.  I think the ideas of buying in bulk, buying at farmer's markets (only fresh and locally grown foods), utilizing cooperatives and, most important, careful meal planning as you pointed out, are key to moving away from the unhealthy diet of Americans.  A further problem is one of how to reach this very busy population, share the information we have gathered and listen to what people have to say about the obstacles to eating healthy.  That might mean going out to the places where people congregate, including perhaps laundromats, county program sites, USDA commodity distribution sites, etc.  It seems to me one of the most effective things, out of all these choices, might be the organic farmer programs you mentioned, where the food could be delivered weekly either to people's homes or to a centralized location not far to reach.  At any rate, you are showing that eating healthy, and especially organic, does not mean spending top dollar for food items.  I would like to hear more of your ideas as you come across them.
Title: Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: KellyT on February 19, 2008, 03:30:34 PM
All of this discussion reminds me of the fact that low income families are the most adversely affected of all populations by the unhealthy food that comprises the standard American diet. 

 A further problem is one of how to reach this very busy population, share the information we have gathered and listen to what people have to say about the obstacles to eating healthy.  That might mean going out to the places where people congregate, including perhaps laundromats, county program sites, USDA commodity distribution sites, etc.  It seems to me one of the most effective things, out of all these choices, might be the organic farmer programs you mentioned, where the food could be delivered weekly either to people's homes or to a centralized location not far to reach. 

Hi Carol,

I clipped a couple of your quotes to discuss, as you made excellent points. One thing I wanted to mention was that some people on WIC in California are eligible to receive coupons for use at farmer's markets. I have noticed that many of the stands at our local farmer's markets in Contra Costa County have signs that tell people which growers accept the coupons.

Also, I wanted to give you an additional insight into who the "lower income" population really is. It is me...a one income family with a stay home mom. My husband and I both have college degrees and grew up in upper middle class homes, but we chose to make sacrifices to raise our children. With the movement towards more families with stay home parents, including stay home dads, there are more families living paycheck to paycheck who find the only way to save money is to cut their food budget. I believe this is why Wal-Mart Super Centers and fast food places have such a large following. My sister represents another large segment of the "low income" population: a single mom. Many families headed by single parents also are large consumers of fast food, processed food, and the like. They also feel they don't have time to cook and many do not have the skills to cook. They are the target population of the grocery stores' premade meal selections. Even many two-income working families, while technically earning a higher level of income, also have a high level of debt, especially in high-cost areas like California. Again, one of the few avenues they have to save money is in their food budget. For many people, the food budget is the only flexible area they have. Debt, utilities, rent or mortgage, and transportation costs are usually fixed expenses.

As has been mentioned here, it will take a fundamental change in how people plan, shop, and cook to make a real change in their diet. As nutrition educators, personal chefs, and nutritional consultants it will be our job to find ways to help them do it. There are many avenues available to us to get to our target population. Moms clubs, workplace education, cooking demonstrations, and children's classes are only a few of the starting points. Perhaps approaching WIC offices with free planing/ shopping/ cooking classes would serve as a nice volunteer activity. I know in my volunteer work as both a breastfeeding counselor and a parenting support group leader I often work with families on nutrition issues. I expect as my studies progress through eventually completing the natural chef program, I will be able to provide more assistance. Frankly, I was led to the study of nutrition in order to help my own family. Now I see it as a future career to help other families as well.

Title: Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: Jo-Ellen on February 22, 2008, 05:33:56 PM
I find this topic fascinating as a Mother of four kids with a busy building contractor husband I always had budgeting and meal plans on my agenda.  When all four children were home (we homeschooled on and off thru the years)  we made EVERYTHING except pasta from scratch. (And sometimes we made the pasta from scratch too.) Soup, breads, treats... all of it.  But life hits the fast lane when kids start going to high school, even home schooled high school!  Even thought we make most foods from scratch, we also buy some premade foods.  Also the need for calories for active teens seems insatiable and they are more aware of the social aspects of eating.  With all this our budget has maintained between $800/mo to $1000/mo and goes as high as $1200/mo during holiday season. This is what it has been over the past 10 years.

 Now we have 2 teens at home and the food budget is the same.  I guess that is due to the increase in cost of food.  I grow a large garden, we can, we eat 95% organic foods including raw or organic dairy products, I sprout legumes and seeds, we create our own broths, dry garden produce and fruits when they are abundant and still I cannot lower the costs below $800/mo.  I need to add in the company that comes.  Tonight I have 8 teens coming for dinner.  Thank goodness the brocolli is side sprouting in the garden and that I have pasta in the pantry and they love garlic bread with herbs!

My friends that don't eat as clean as we do spend half the money we spend on food, but their families are often less healthy than our family.  So I see the pay off as health and good times at dinner.
Blessings for a Rich and Delicious Spring!
JoEllen
Title: Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: AmandaL on February 24, 2008, 11:17:35 AM
Kelly- I popped into a Trader Joes on the way home from the Bay Area last week--  Not sure where I was, possibly Fairfield.  I was shocked.  I was only an hour or so from home and the prices we drastically higher.  Milk, Eggs, Bread, OJ were all a dollar more.   That adds up. 
Title: Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: KellyT on February 24, 2008, 11:59:35 AM
Wow, Amanda, that's really interesting!

I have noticed a difference in items stocked and even in freshness quality between our local Trader Joe's. (I have 4 local ones: two in Concord, one in Walnut Creek, and one in Brentwood.) I wonder if they give the managers a lot of leeway in running the stores. I normally shop at the Concord store (next to the Concord Airport). I was at the Walnut Creek store yesterday and was amazed at the differences.

I know that Trader Joe's on the East Coast is completely different. In late 2004 and early 2005 we lived in Chicago for 9 months. The Trader Joe's there had such different items that I spoke with a manager who said that the company has two divisions: East and West. I was surprised at the differences.
Title: Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: CarolC on March 04, 2008, 03:54:14 PM
I have decided to make my research presentation for the NE program on the topic of how low income families can improve their diets.  I am proposing a survey questionnaire for a target group.  I will have to limit the target group to English-speaking families, as I do not speak Spanish, which is the second largest group of low income families.  I hope I can find a way to help the immigrant community eventually but will need to plan to learn Spanish somewhere along the way.  In the meantime, any suggestions on where I should do my survey would be helpful.  I know a couple of Registered Dieticians in Santa Clara County and will contact them to see whether I could attend one of their community health fairs as a possibility, as well as contacting one of the food distribution groups linked with Second Harvest, but if anyone has other ideas, let me know.
Title: Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: KellyT on March 05, 2008, 11:07:46 AM
I think a good first step would be to define your parameters of "low income". That will help you to figure out where to look. If you use a governmental definition that covers the entire US, you will have a very different group of people rather than if you use a California definition. For example, the average family income in the US is around $45,000-$50,000 a year. However, in many of the counties in the Bay Area, the average income ranges around $85,000-$90,000. A family in the Bay Area earning $45,000 may be "average income" for the US, but would be earning only 50% of the area's income and be struggling to get by, especially when you factor in rent/ mortgage costs, food costs, and transportation.

If you go with families making say $24,000 to $50,000, you may be able to locate people through local parents groups. Another avenue to try would be the WIC office. Many of them are run by RD's, so your RD's might know someone. You could try the local school district office or local homeschool groups. (You would be surprised how many homeschoolers are low income, since we usually only have one income.)

Good luck with your presentation and let us know how it goes! It sounds really interesting and very much needed!!! :)

BTW - Only some of us are comfortable with calling ourselves "low income". Maybe you could "sell it" using a different term, like "nutrition for families struggling to make ends meet in our high-cost area".

Title: Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: AmandaL on March 25, 2008, 02:00:57 PM
Not sure if Trader Joe's is raising their prices or if I have just become a more efficient shopper at Whole Foods, but I have been able to stick to my budget the past few weeks while buying all but my produce at Whole Foods. Produce is way over priced there and living in CA I have the option of year round farmers markets.
Title: Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: StephanieH on March 26, 2008, 04:04:33 PM
Amanda,
 Thank you for your abundance of information.I'm a family of 6 ( two adults and four children) I can use all the help I can get when it comes to our diet and high quality foods. We to soley eat organic and I'm spending way to much on food. I really needed a template for getting organized and you definetly offer that. Thank you!

Stephanie
Title: Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: AmandaL on March 26, 2008, 08:04:37 PM
Thanks Stephanie.  Here's a rule of thumb when meal planning:  If you are trying to save TIME, meal plan before going to the store.  If you are trying to save MONEY, buy your big ticket items (for me thats meat) first.  Buy whatever (meat) is on sale and then come home and meal plan around what you bought.  You have to go back to the store so for many this is too time consuming. 

Sometimes if Whole Foods is having a really good sale on meat I will stock up.  A few weeks ago they had whole chickens for $.99/lb.  I bought 10.   

Sometimes if Im really in a hurry I will go to Whole Foods, look at the meat and then  go over to their recipe section, look through the magazines and right my weekly menu there in the store and then finish my shopping.   :D

The farmers market is the best place for produce in our area---its much less expensive. 
Title: Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: LucianWayne on March 27, 2008, 08:41:34 AM
Sometimes if Whole Foods is having a really good sale on meat I will stock up.  A few weeks ago they had whole chickens for $.99/lb.  I bought 10.
Are you kidding? $.99/lb? Were the birds organic? I can't seem to find organic chicken for less than $8-10 and we're also just starting chicken processing season. Meat has so far been the bane of E4H plate, it's very expensive to eat clean meats. I get my meat and poultry at one of my local Farmer's Markets and usually spend an average of $20 a week (a couple pounds of meat and a dozen eggs). Sometime's I'll spend $30 so I average $100 a month. This feeds my girlfriend and I (and our cat who likes organ meats as much as I do). Raw dairy (a quart of milk, and a pint of creme) is about $18 a week depending on where we get our goods too.
As was stated earlier, good clean, nutrient dense food is expensive. Even with WIC and EBT I don't see how some people/families cope?
Title: Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: MiraD on March 27, 2008, 09:09:26 AM
I think, as Amanda pointed out, some of it really comes down to planning.

I've been monitoring our foods costs since this discussion thread started and our food costs have gone up from an average of $100 a week to $130 a week.  But in the interim I now have a fully grown child at home, a teenager, we eat better and foods costs have gone up overall so I think we're still doing okay.

On thing I plan to look at more carefully this year is long-range food planning, keeping the E4H ideals in mind.  We belong to a food co-op and when I had time or energy I would set food aside but this year I plan to take more advantage of it, including things like the herbs and when the farmer offers gleanings.  This is a good way for me to ensure that my family has access to the highest quality produce.  Although I always make pickled goods this year I also plan to try more natural fermenting methods as mentioned in the Bauman cookbook and in Nourishing Traditions.  I figure this will probably save me a little money but should immeasurably increase our E4H plan.
Title: Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: AmandaL on March 27, 2008, 12:33:49 PM
Lucian--Yes they were organic.  I thought it was a joke.  Then I thought I had hit the motherload, which is why I bought 10!

Eating well on a budget really comes down to planning.  We waste very little here since I only buy what we need for the week.   I really dont "stock up, even its a good price, $.99/lb organic chicken excluded!!!! 

This is goofy but I feel really great if on Thursday (since I shop on Fridays) my cupboards and refrigerator are bare.  I love to not over purchase groceries---its like a game only the winner is our savings account!   
Title: Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: Catherine McConkie on March 29, 2008, 12:21:26 AM
Yep, I saw that too at Whole Foods and about fell over. Would have bought 10 myself but wasn't going home...
Title: Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: tigerlily on April 04, 2008, 03:45:38 PM
Last time whole foods had that sale I stocked up for the month! They even cut, separated, and packaged it freezer ready.

Carol~ do you know anything about farmers markets accepting EBT (food stamps)? I read an article about it awhile back. My daughter's preschool teacher also mentioned that our area (N. CA, Sacramento) is trying to bring produce stands to the school, so that lower income families who may have transportation issues have an opportunity to get fresh, local produce.
I would love to know how your research paper turns out!
Monica
Title: Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: tigerlily on April 04, 2008, 04:42:01 PM
Here is a website that gives more information about ebt/urban farm stands.
http://www.soilborn.org/head_start.html

Also, I googled CA farmers markets that accept EBT and was given a pdf file of all locations in different counties.
Title: Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: VanessaZ on April 09, 2008, 09:17:26 PM
A very simple way to spend less on groceries is to grow your own.  I do not have a large area to grow food, but I use the small area I have to grow some.   I have kale, strawberries, tomatoes, parseley and a few others.  When I lived in an apartment I had plants growing on my balcony in planters.  After the initial time it takes to plant the plants it takes a few minutes every few days to water them.
Title: Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: AmandaL on April 10, 2008, 10:08:25 AM
Growing is fun for the kids too.  Many good lesson in growing food.  Unfortunatley  there are relatively few families that can grow enough to sustain an entire active family.  Personally, I think of the food that we grow as a bonus. It rarely figures it into my overall budget.     

Side note:  Its mind boggling at times to see how much food we eat (and I prepare).  My children are still young (4 and 5) and the thought of feeding them as teenagers (not to mention their friends that stop by) is more than I can comprehend!  YIKES!         
Title: Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: KippyK on April 10, 2008, 11:55:54 AM
Thank you to all of you who gave input on ideas for eating on a budget. My companion and I have been discussing ways to make the organic/whole food diet happen at the Boy's Home that he supervises. There are ten boys in residence and the house really has to work within a budget due to the fact that this is a non-profit organization. We don't have children and therefore, haven't had the experience of buying for a family and doing the research. I read Amanda's detailed purchasing advice and am inspired to spend a week doing some research of my own. Does anyone know of an organization that could help in getting a garden going on the property where the group-home is located (Marin)? These children have severe emotional challenges and really benefit from therapeutic experiences. They have an Estuary Program in place already that the boys really love and we think garden therapy would also be beneficial.
Kippy
Title: Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: AmandaL on April 13, 2008, 06:00:49 PM
My Whole Foods (Sacramento) has pork picnic roasts on sale for $1.99.  These are great in the crock-pot.  I like to make shedded pork tacos and/BBQ pork sandwiches.

Not sure if all WF's have the same sale items. 
Title: Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: DavaO on April 15, 2008, 09:28:10 AM
Thank you Kelly, for asking my question. Thank you Amanda, for answering it. I'll definately check out your site for further tips. The prices you quoted are about what I'm paying, so your $120 - $200 a week seems doable for me. I was one of those who thought it couldn't be done, so I really appreciate your creative tips!    ;D
Title: Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: SylviaG on April 18, 2008, 05:04:42 PM
Hey Amanda,

This was amazing information. I printed all of this down as soon as I read it...I didn't want to forget anything you said. You inspired me. I keep trying to stay on my grocery budget and time after time, I fail. Tomorow is Saturady and I will be hitting our local farmers market - you rekindled and old flame. Thanks for sharing.
SylviaG.
Title: Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: MarissaB on April 25, 2008, 02:26:43 AM
Wow! It is wonderful to see all the conversations out there around how we can make living healthier lifestyles and making healthier food choices more viable to the everyday folks out there that don't think it is possible for one reason or another.
Thanks for doing the research and continuing the dialogues in an a open forum- type format so others can chime in and be inspired by your example.

Keep up the good work troops!
Title: Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: AimeeD on May 13, 2008, 01:21:56 PM
http://www.ethicurean.com/2008/05/07/perfect-pinch/

Here is an editorial on ethicurian.com with some tips on how you can stretch the food dollars you spend as well as the local foods you buy as far as possible.

Also, I have found that being creative is a key factor in making the best use of the produce and foods that I purchase.  I love the nights when I cook dinner at a non-cooking friend's house and they ask "all of THIS was just sitting in my fridge and pantry?!"  Even more important than the knowledge, the creativity and flexibility we learn at Bauman is the most valuable thing we can share with others.  After all, cooking and eating are sacred and FUN!
Title: Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: AmandaL on May 16, 2008, 02:10:09 PM
Whole Foods has whole chickens on sale for $.99/lb.
Title: Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: Marlina E on May 16, 2008, 02:29:59 PM
Rock on Amanda, thanks for letting us know.  I am going down to get one (or more!).
Title: Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: AmandaL on May 16, 2008, 06:34:05 PM
:)

I bought six!
Title: Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: SarahH on May 19, 2008, 09:22:31 AM
Wow Amanda - this is such great information!

I currently hit the grocery store a few times a week, and am struggling to get my budget in line.  I'm aspiring to be an organized kitchen goddess, so these tips are like music to my ears.

I'm wondering, is Friday a great day to shop because meats are usually on sale, or did you pick that day to coincide with the weekend (more time) and with the Saturday morning farmer's market?

thanks, Sarah



Title: Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: AmandaL on May 19, 2008, 12:18:29 PM
I orginally picked Friday because we have a kid-activity in the area of Whole Foods, so we are already in the general area.  However, there are many +'s to shopping on Fridays:

1. WH's is less crowded on friday than the weekend

2. If you are shopping on Monday then your pantries are low come the following weekend.  By shopping on Friday, I am ready to go for the weekend which is the time we are all here cooking and eating....there's no need to run out because I just did all of my shopping.  I have more time on the weekend to prepare larger meals which I eat for breakfast and lunch throughout the week.

3. Our local farmers Market is on Saturday.  By buying meat, grains and other staples on Friday, I have time to come home and sit with my cooking magazines and meal plan for the next week.  I wake up saturday with a clear plan for hitting the Farmers Market and I can get in and out in minutes.

Title: Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: DebbieM on May 20, 2008, 08:20:22 PM
I just wanted to share a great idea if you are pressed for time and want to feed at least 8 adults for around $20.00 and is nutritious.  Pick up a quart each of black beans, pinto beans, rice, and salsa fresca from a local mexican restaurant.  Don't get the free chips but do get the carrots.   At home, chop some lettuce &  avacado.  I put in all on a plate;  the lettuce, beans, salsa, avacado.  On mine, I add cilantro or parsley and kale, chopped finely and if you make brown rice it's even better.  It's cheap and fast.  The drawbacks are the amount of sodium the restaurant uses and of course it's not organic but something you can do in a pinch. 


Enjoy....
Title: Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: AmandaL on June 05, 2008, 02:56:25 AM
Hi there smart shoppers!   I'm giving a talk on meal planning and menu selection, next thursday the 12th.  I will be encoprorating everything I talked about on the original post of this thread, in adition to much more.  I wanted to know if you could share, and I could use, any other "tips" that you have come up with in the regards to this particular topic.

Also, if you are in the Sacramento area and would like to come, let me know and I can send you the info. 

Amanda
Title: Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: Marlina E on June 06, 2008, 03:17:10 PM
Amanda, you could do a post about your upcoming talk in the Community Calendar of this forum.  Once you have posted it, go back and open it and then on the bottom of the screen, hit "link to calendar" and you can link your post to the calendar, whose events also shows up on the right side of the BC homepage a few days before the event.

Just a thought.
Title: Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: JenniferC on June 08, 2008, 08:39:22 PM
I am in awe!!  I have spent the last hour reading this thread from the very first comment in February.  I just got my box of goodies to begin my NE courses and was just planning on exploring, but I am so excited now about what is ahead for me.

It seems that many of you are "veteran" whole food eaters and I am not.  I have been eating this way for a couple of years now, but I have teenagers that are fighting this change, although they have seen the benefits to the change in our food and lifestyle in so many ways. (They will come around!  Can someone start a thread dealing with how to get your kids to buy in?) I think that this particular information, the way to eat healthy foods on a budget, is information that will be the most important to me.  I already do some nutritional consulting and this is the number one issue that comes up.  I am also a public school teacher and as rewards I have a cooking day in my class when I teach the kids (and parents if they want to come) how to prepare some healthy, organic, afterschool snacks.  I have to pay for whatever I decide to make, so I am loving this thread!
Thanks for sharing and I so look forward to all of the advice and information I will get from all of you!
  ;)
Title: Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: JenniferC on June 08, 2008, 08:40:58 PM
Well, what do you know.  The next topic is how to get my kids to buy in!!  I think I'll be here all night!!
:o)
Title: Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: KellyT on June 29, 2008, 04:35:01 PM
Amanda -

I finally went to see your website. I loved it!!!

Thank you again for all your info.

:) Kelly
Title: Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: AmandaL on July 01, 2008, 08:43:08 AM
Thanks Kelly! I have been very busy giving talks to "mothers groups", church groups, and groups of women in affluent communities.  There is much need for nutrition educators in the middle/upper incomes -- we are all underserved when it comes to proper nutrition.  I am looking forward to finishing my cert and really going gang-busters with my business.

Title: Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: Jo-Ellen on August 29, 2008, 12:29:43 PM
Hi,
I am so pleased that the practicalities of feeding a large family organic and whole foods has been discussed.  My husband and I have raised our four kids on such a diet and there are many times that we have had one of our parents living with us. We are also a home that has homeschooled, and my daughter is still homeschooling as a High School Junior. 
Our budget is around $200 to $300/ week, and this is due to the number of teens that appear and deplete the weeks worth of shopping in hours.  We live in the country and teens often spend the night. We do have a request that they bring any food they think we might not have and they will want.  But ten high school boys spending the night, with their parents supplying Subway sandwiches, sodas, chips and deserts, will still drain the fruits, bread, nuts, milk, and carrots or any other "sweet" veggie, and plead for more packaged cereals and bagels in the morning.    I have served 3 pounds of organic pasta, with home made pesto, garlic bread, 3 heads of brocolli, salad and drinks, apple cake for desert to hungry boys coming home from Cross Country running, and they are ready to eat in three hours.  SOOO.... while your kids are small, yes you can feed a family of four on $120-$200 a week. But teens are another issue.  We had at least three teens in our home for the past 6 years until this year, we only have two. 
On the brighter note, their friends make comments like, " I wish we didn't eat out all the time but had dinners like this."  ( Brocolli, stuffed squash, salad, rice...)
Or  " Your mother must love you to make food like this all the time.)  Or  "I never get to eat fresh asparagus, I love it."   So it makes a difference.
Also, my now 26 year old son calls to let me know what his east coast CSA has delivered and ask how to prepare it. 
My 19 year old son, who is studying in Moscow, let me know that string beans are impossible to find, but asparagus is in season so he made that.  ( I cannot remember him eating asparagus let alone cooking it!) He also let us know that strawberries, the good ones, are $30 a pint!!!!  We are blessed to live here. 
As for teaching parents about nutrition, I have been working with Kidspot Imagination Center in Sebastopol for a year now.  What I have found is that parents are interested in demos and information, but they are not signing up for classes (I only charge $10/class)   So I would be interested in knowing how to help parents sign up so that they can continue learning about whole food cooking.

JoEllen DeNicola
Nutrition Educator
heart2heartnutrition@gmail.com
Title: Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: EmilyAr on September 24, 2008, 10:11:59 AM
This is definitely helpful, as I just moved here for school from Idaho and am noticing the cost of living, groceries especially are so much higher here, but these tips will help me next time I hit up the grocery store, thank you!
Title: Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: AshleyRa on September 29, 2008, 05:23:35 PM
Amanda-
Thank you for sharing your detailed grocery planning with us all.  This is a great thread that I find very inspiring, helpful, and also not alone with issues that I face.
My family of three and I live off of one income, and we are also a part of the "lower income" population.  Just as Kelly and her husband, my boyfriend and I come from an upper middle class family.  We also are college graduates that made and still make sacrifices to better ourselves, each other, and our daughter. 
As a stay at home mother I feel that it is my responsibility to feed my family nutritious meals with the ability to stay within my budget; which is challenging to do consistently.  Even with attending the nutrition educator program for a few weeks, I have not seen major changes with my diet and my family’s diet due to not wanting to spend over are limit.  With the small changes being made, our budget has increased slightly. For a family that lives pay check to pay check, every penny counts.  That small amount could have easily gone to one of our many bills.  With that said, it is still a struggle to buy ALL organic products.
The "lower income" population needs support, education in nutrition, and a better grocery shopping system.  I believe your system of planning, and the steps of buying you take will work for me!  I think of the way I've been grocery shopping, and no wonder I have NO money!! Also, my health and my family's health should be just as important as paying the utility bills. I am excited try your system out and see how effective it will be!  ;D
Title: Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: AmandaL on October 02, 2008, 06:52:03 AM
Hi there,

Just for clarification, you do not have to buy all produce organic.   There are many, many, many farms who practice sustainable methods of farming who do not get the certification because, at least here in California, there is a ton of red tape and it's costly.  Many small farmers just can't afford or manage the red tape.  Also because organic standards have become weakened/broadend, many farmers dont go the route of being certified organic on principle.   

There is a balance, and if you are on a tight budget visit www.ewg.org. The Environmantal WOrking group has a list of produce that you should buy organic.

My monthly budget lately seems to stay in the $700-800. 
Title: Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: KellyT on October 03, 2008, 05:43:40 PM
I would add that an excellent book that addresses the issue that Amanda raised is "To Buy or Not To Buy Organic" by Cindy Burke (2007). I highly recommend it.
Title: Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: ElleryF on October 04, 2008, 05:06:32 PM
This is a great thread.  Thanks for all of the shopping ideas and tips!  Another quick tip is that Rainbow Grocery in San Francisco puts out a bi-monthly 20% off coupon in the At&T Yellow Pages.  The next one is for use in October - it is only valid certain days of the week so be sure to check before you go (and I don't recommend going on the last day that it is valid - the place is a madhouse!).

It is a great time to stock up on bulk items, oils, teas, vitamins, supplements, natural cleaning products, paper products, etc.

Hope this helps in the cost savings.
Title: Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: AmandaL on October 10, 2008, 08:03:51 PM
Here's an article called Grocery Savings Made Simple by Laura Rowley.  I am quoted at the bottom.
Title: Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: AmandaL on October 10, 2008, 08:04:38 PM
oops, here's the link

http://family.go.com/hot-topics/article-588466-grocery-savings-made-simple-t/
Title: Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: SylviaG on October 29, 2008, 01:44:02 PM
Hey All,

I was lucky enough to find this post the first time it came out, yet , here I am reading it again. This Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget articlae has touched many. The original post gave so much inforamtionand the responses were wonderful and also added a great deal of information. After I read the post the first time, I was so encouraged by the thought of spending less on groceries and eating better, I began going to the grocery store more often so that my fruits and vegetables would be fresher. SInce than new stores like Fresh and Easy and Sprouts have emerged naer the community I live in. I still have to pick and choose very carefully but the nice thing is is that now I have choices. My 22 year old son loves the flavor of chicken that has not been pumped up with chemiclas and other junk. He has now given up all fast food ( 8 months now) he definitely feels the change in his health. He enjoys the organic fruits and vegetables and the freshness of the meals that I am preparing. Our food bill has gone down because I'm not throwing food out anymore like I used to....what a waste. I also get sale items but we have also learned to eat what we need not just eat until we can't move. Nuts and seeds have become snack favorites and freshly juiced items have also become a favorite late night snack attack junk food replacement. We have rediscovered our dining table and meal time together - with 2 kids in college and two busy careers our time together is not what we'd like, but when we can share a meal together with food that's healthy for our bodies, prepared with love and care we savor every bite as well as every minute. I am learnning to simplify my life and slow down (not easy to do). Taking my time shopping for the food that will nurish our bodies and sustain our lives has become one of the ways that I relax (weird, I know) but I'm thinking about my family the entire time and thinking about the people that I love is good for my soul. Okay, so this was all over the place but feeding my family healthy food on  budget has changed my life and my families health.
Happy shopping and good health to all.
SylviaG.
Title: Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: DanielB on October 29, 2008, 02:02:18 PM
I spend between $120 - $200 per week on a family of 6 (that includes 2-80lb dogs that I homecook for).  We also eat only local, seasonal and organic (with a few exceptions).  That also includes plenty of organic meat (both for the humans and the four legged).  I enjoy seeing how other people shop for groceries.  Its been my hobby for the past 5+ years. ;D I am always irritated when I hear others say it costs too much to eat well. 

I don't know how you are able to do that, since I have been doing a lot of the things you suggested, and I have trouble spending less than that just to feed myself as an individual.  In fact, lately, I have noticed the cost of food has gone up, and I have found it extremely difficult to spend less than about $600 a month (about a year and a half ago, I did manage to go one month spending only $480).  Of course, I am an extremely active adult male with a high metabolism, but I still find that amazing.

I also cook all my food from scratch, shop at local farmers markets (in Berkeley), get the cheapest meat that I would consider to be healthy at my local health food store, and buy the discount wild fish at Trader Joe's.  I don't have room to grow any of my own food, but eat a few fruits and vegetables from my parents' garden.  I even forage wild food when I can, like nettles in the spring, but I still haven't been able to keep my food budget within what I would consider reasonable limits....  Right now, I'm spending more on food than rent, and I've been forced to live at my parents' place, because I haven't been able to come up with enough money to pay the market-rate rents in the Bay Area....  It's not exactly like I haven't been trying to get these costs down - I've been doing everything I could think of to cut back on food costs for the last year or so.

One caveats: some cost-saving measures that might work for other people are off-limits to me.  I seem to have a pretty extreme sensitivity to any type of beans, so I pretty much have to rely on meat as a protein source.  Dairy also doesn't work for me, but I do eat a bunch of eggs, which are often a cheaper source of protein than meat.  I also can't handle as many starchy foods as some other people can, and since the cheapest sources of calories (grains) fall in this category, I end up spending more than some other people would on other more expensive foods.

What I would actually consider a good budget that would allow me to eat a good variety of foods, including different sources of clean, lean animal protein would be about $700 a month.  If you're wondering how I could possibly go through so much money, I actually kept track of all the food that came into my house one month, weighing bags of produce as they came in from the farmer's market, and so forth.  The breakdown was something like this:

42 pounds of meat (including wild fish)
4 dozen eggs
135 pounds of fruits and vegetables
4 pounds of nuts
One 32 ounce bottle of olive oil and one of coconut oil
Some miscellaneous cooking spices
A little bit of coffee, tea, and herbal teas

Okay, that may be a lot of food, but almost nothing went to waste....  By the end of each week, my refrigerator was pretty much empty.
Title: Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: KellyT on October 29, 2008, 06:00:21 PM
Hi Daniel,

I am one of the two people that started this discussion. I also did my NE presentation on Healthy Eating on a Budget. My degree is in Economics and I work actively on our family's food budget (two adults, two 11 yr olds, one 6 1/2 yr old, and one 2 1/2 yr old). The parents are overweight and the kids are all in the 80-95%+ range for weight.

I had some thoughts about what you wrote.

To begin, Amanda has a very different situation than yours. She has two very young children and she has the ability to save money on food using "economies of scale". She can buy in bulk and use leftovers to create another meal. If you read closely, you will see she also gets a decent portion of her protein for free (fish).

In reading what you wrote, you currently spend about $600 per month, with an optimal spending of $700. That works out to $20 to $23 per day.

Before prices went up, I had used a baseline cost per day of $8 per person when working with families. That assumes no eating out. The government uses the same basic figures for their "moderate" eating plan. With the increases in food costs, I am now using a figure of $10 per day per person.

As an experiment, I have been tracking my exact spending since the middle of June. I have a jar that I put every receipt in for that calendar month. I make a receipt from the farmer's market. We basically do not eat out, but if we did, there would have been a receipt and it is in the jar. We are now running a little over $1700 per month, which works out to about $10 per day per person. Our food budget is higher than our rent as well.

It is definitely more difficult when a person has food allergies/ sensitivities/ or aversions. We can't use cow dairy so we buy very expensive goat milk butter and cheese (although we use less to balance out the money).

You mentioned that you are "an extremely active adult male with a high metabolism". That definitely adds to your food expense, as you need more calories than someone else.

I appreciate the details as to how much food you eat each month. I see that you consume 42 pounds of meat and fish per month. That works out to 22.4 ounces of meat per day. That is a lot of meat! You eat 4 dozen eggs per month. That is about one dozen a week, which seems reasonable: 1.6 per day (based on a 30 day month). You go through 4.5 pounds of fruit and vegetables per day which sounds like a lot, but that doesn't count the part you toss, like the skin. You go through 4 pounds of nuts, which is a little over 2 ounces per day. Seems reasonable.

You mention that you cannot tolerate beans and prefer meat and fish as a protein source. You don't eat dairy. Starchy foods are also a source of difficulty.

I would wonder if trying to find some types of grains or carbohydrates that you tolerate and like would help your expenses? Working with an experienced NC here or even a natural chef might open up some options.

Setting that aside, we can work on ways for you to save money immediately using what you already eat. The first idea that comes to mind is your protein budget. Generally people save money in this category by buying in bulk. However, we both know that the stores that are cheap in this category are cheap for a reason: they use meat we would not want to eat. Whole Foods has been advertising the fact that they will give discounts when you buy a larger quantity at one time. Perhaps they would be willing to do this at the meat counter. If you bought meat in a larger quantity and then froze it, you could save money. Some people buy it and freeze it raw for use later. Others prepare it, like portioning it into a ziplock bag or glass container with marinade, and then freeze it. You could also prepare it and cook it and then freeze it (like with meatballs). Amanda talked about purchasing chickens on sale for future use, which is one way she saved money.

Nuts are another item you could buy in bulk, if you aren't already. If you buy at the farmer's market, you could ask for a discount if you bought several pounds at once.

One way that many people here save money on their produce is buy buying frequently (to avoid spoilage) and by going "beyond organic", as Amanda says. Getting to know your growers at your farmer's market will let you know who to buy from. Maybe a grower is not "certified" organic, but maybe their practices fall within your comfort zone. They may have decided not to pursue the formal designation, as it is very expensive to do so. A good book on this subject is "To Buy or Not To Buy Organic" by Cindy Burke (2007). This book includes a discussion of the above plus an actual guide to help us with our decisions.

So, that is my way more than 2 cents.   :)

I hope some suggestions are helpful and that this discussion inspires you. I have been greatly inspired by this topic here at Bauman and thank you for bringing up this very interesting "case study".

Title: Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: AmandaL on October 29, 2008, 08:19:46 PM
Hi there, I live in Sacramento and food just might be cheaper here. We also consume a lot of grains and beans---which are super cheap.  I can always find some under a $1/lb at Whole Foods or our Natural Foods co-op.  Most of my lunches are either grain salads or veg based soups that I make in large batches each week.  I make most of my broth from scratch.  The only meat we eat is typically in our dinners (my husband takes the leftovers for lunch). I often eat soup or grains and eggs for breakfast too.   Eggs are a staple at breakfast.  As are thing I make with grains....like high protein pancakes that I make for the kids.  The meat I buy is only high quality, but again, I only buy on sale and I meal plan around. 

The soups and salads save our budget.   I also rarely buy organic at the Farmers Market.  I know several farmers that practice sustainable/traditional farming methods and are NOT certified organic for a myriad of reasons.  Their produce is much less.   I pretty much stick with the farmers I know. 

My food bills last month were just under $700--which is the lowest they have been in a few months.   We spent another $100 at restaurants.   (This does not include non-edible items like soap, detergent, TP, etc). 


Title: Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: DanielB on October 30, 2008, 12:16:22 AM
Just to be clear, when I eat fruits and vegetables, I barely throw anything away.  When I get beets with greens, for example, I eat the greens.  When I eat apples, I eat everything, including the cores and seeds.

On one typical day where I weighed all the fruits and vegetables I ate, it actually did come out to about 4.5 pounds - which is 72 ounces, dwarfing even the 22.4 ounces of meat plus the 1.6 eggs (24 ounces total), by a factor of 3.  That's a lot of fruits and vegetables as well, and it's pretty much in the proportions of the Eating For Health Plan, except that I'm missing some starches.

Also, I don't have any problems with allergies or sensitivities to non-gluten-containing grains or starchy vegetables.  I love eating yams, and I digest them fine, but what happens when I begin to eat too many starches, and less protein, is that I began to have symptoms of blood sugar issues, like difficulty concentrating and hunger between meals.  I do pretty well if I keep starches limited, and can go a good six hours between meals without running out of energy, feeling hungry, or losing mental clarity.  As far as I know, this is just the result of my own individual metabolic tendencies, rather than any overt pathology or physiological imbalance.  I have basically been given a clean bill of a health by a naturopathic physician - my only known medical issue is allergies - and this tendency  towards blood sugar issues seems to run in the family, on the side of my family where I have Native American ancestry (this is a classic issue for Native Americans, many of whom have as little as five generations of history of eating grain-centered agricultural diets).

So I guess I eat fewer starches than a typical Eating For Health Plan... but, even if I could eat the recommended amount, it looks like they are around about 15% of the total diet, and the most money I could knock off my $700 budget that way is about $100....  $600 a month is still expensive, and even though I only have to support myself right, it makes me wonder if I ever could feed a family off the budget I live on right now....

But anyway, if I broke down the typical costs for a month, I might spend $240 on fruit and vegetables, $370 on meat, fish, and eggs, and around $90 on other items.  Protein is the most expensive category, and where I could probably save the most money, but fruits and vegetables aren't insignificant either (they're 40% of my food budget).

I would definitely like to save money on meat, if I could somehow do so by buying larger quantities at a time.  I had thought of things like buying a whole quarter of a cow, but even though I eat a lot of meat, I still don't think I eat quite enough by myself to do that, plus my freezer space is limited.  Also, I like to keep as much variety in the protein portion of my diet as in the vegetable portion, not just eat a bunch of one kind of meat.  In the last month or so I've had beef, pork, chicken, turkey, buffalo, goat, boar, lamb, duck, squab, several different kinds of fish, and four different kinds of shellfish.  This is averaging about $8 a pound, but I would be hard-pressed to get this below $7 a pound, even if if I ate nothing but ground meat and discount frozen fish at the prices I'm getting right now.  If I could somehow keep the kind of variety I have right now and somehow be able to save money by buying more at a time, I would definitely go for that.

I would definitely also be willing to buy produce that was not certified organic, as well, as long as I had some reasonable assurance that it was not heavily sprayed with pesticides.  For some things, like berries, I really would not be willing to buy them unless I was sure they weren't sprayed at all....  The problem is, can I just take the word of people selling things at the farmer's market?  They can say whatever they want, but how do I know it's true?  Organic certification might be expensive, but it does provide third-party verification that these kind of claims are true....  I would say that eating organic has had the least noticeable impact of any change that I have made to improve my diet (I basically haven't noticed any difference at all), but reading about all the different issues with pesticides, I'm definitely concerned....  Right now all this organic produce is averaging me around $1.75 a pound, and I have to be careful to stock up on some of the more inexpensive vegetables like turnips even to even keep the price this low.
Title: Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: AmandaL on October 30, 2008, 03:57:03 PM
Hi Daniel, getting to know the farmers is very important.  I find that most are very candid and welcoming when I ask questions. Visiting the farms is also another way to connect.   I know a non-certified organic farmer is telling the truth or not by how many worms/bugs I find in their food.  Always look for a worm...its a good sign!

I often find organic chicken on sale at Whole foods for under $2/lb.   They often have chuck roast under $4.50 a lbs.  Turkey I can find under $3.   If you want to save $$ on meat look for sales.

Good luck.   
Title: Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: DanielB on October 30, 2008, 06:38:36 PM
Hi Daniel, getting to know the farmers is very important.  I find that most are very candid and welcoming when I ask questions. Visiting the farms is also another way to connect.   I know a non-certified organic farmer is telling the truth or not by how many worms/bugs I find in their food.  Always look for a worm...its a good sign!

I often find organic chicken on sale at Whole foods for under $2/lb.   They often have chuck roast under $4.50 a lbs.  Turkey I can find under $3.   If you want to save $$ on meat look for sales.

Good luck.   

Thanks for the suggestions....  I have already tried a few of the things you mentioned.  I haven’t been able to find much in the way small farms that practiced organic agriculture but didn’t bother getting organic certification at the Berkeley Farmer’s Markets - most of the farms seem to be certified organic there.  I may simply need to go outside of Berkeley to find what I am looking for.

I haven't ever seen prices quite as low as those at the Whole Foods in Berkeley - maybe things are a bit cheaper in Sacramento.  The kind of food I eat was sure cheaper when I was visiting Portland, Oregon (grass-fed ground Buffalo was $4.50 a pound there, versus $6 here).

The lowest price I have seen for organic chickens on sale at the Whole Foods in Berkeley was $2.66 a pound, which I think I figured out was $4 a pound for the actual meat, without the bones, which is still a pretty good deal….  However, I have been avoiding whole chickens, because they are a fatty animal, and environmental toxins accumulate in the fat - you have to be more careful about this when you eat as much meat as I do.  I guess I could always skin the chicken to get rid of a most of the fat, but it doesn’t turn out to be as good of a deal then.  Based on the data from nutritiondata.com, the actual price for boneless, skinless chicken meat from whole broiler chickens at $2.66 a pound is $6.13 a pound.  (This is based on a yield of 197 g from each 1 lb portion of whole chicken - see this link: http://www.nutritiondata.com/facts/poultry-products/650/2).

Chuck roast and turkey are lean, so I wouldn’t need to waste anything.  The lowest price I've seen for boneless, grass-fed chuck roast was $6 a pound.  The best I have been able to do for organic turkey was about $4.50 a pound, which is $6.15 a pound for the edible meat and skin alone.  (Based on 332 g yield from each 1 lb unit - see: http://www.nutritiondata.com/facts/poultry-products/804/2).

The wild Alaskan salmon at Trader Joe's is $7.49 a pound, which also drives up my average a bit.  If I average these four prices together, I get $6.44 a pound, which is not bad, but also isn’t a whole lot less than what I have been spending.  If I wanted to continue having a bit more variety, and also buying some of some more expensive kinds of meat, such as goat or venison, for example, this would probably drive up my costs further still.  I might not end up doing much better than I’m doing right now, at $8 a pound, since a good deal of the meat I’m eating is already ground meat that is $6 a pound….  And in any case, even if I sacrificed the variety that I have in my diet right now, I could only save about $70 a month, based on the prices I came up with.

I usually do buy things that are on sale, but it’s true that maybe I haven’t been shopping around or checking for sales often enough.  I tend to go shopping for meat once a week at most, except for runs to the farmer’s market, where I sometimes get grass-fed beef and goat….  But then I only have so much time that I can spare out of each week for shopping.

The one inexpensive source of calories I may have been overlooking a bit is nuts….  So far, they’re the cheapest source of energy in my diet, and I could probably be eating more of them than I am right now.

I bet I could get my food expenditures under $600 a month if I worked at it – but I doubt I could get them to say, $300 a month.  I’m guessing the hard minimum for me is closer to $550 a month, based on the prices I am looking at.  That’s still pretty expensive, and it’s kind of a problem.  I don’t really know what to do about that.  I guess one answer is to move someplace where food is cheaper, but I can't do that right now....
Title: Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: AmandaL on October 31, 2008, 06:54:46 AM
Wow Daniel, you have got it down!    Good luck to you. Move to Sac cheaper rent, and food! 

 I spend between $160-180 a month at the local farmers market here in Sac and get enough for a family of 4.  And we eat a lot of produce.    You might want to check out the Oakland Market.


Old Oakland
Farmers' Market
Location:
Ninth Street
between Broadway and Clay
Oakland, Alameda County (Map)

Open:
Fridays
8:00am to 2:00pm
year 'round.

Sponsored By:
City of Oakland

http://www.urbanvillageonline.com/
Title: Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: DanielB on October 31, 2008, 11:29:19 AM
Thanks for the pointers....  I think my problem is that I have been stuck inside the Berkeley gourmet ghetto, where everyone's willing to pay tons of money for organic food, and the merchants can charge a lot for everything.  I'll definitely start checking out Oakland, and maybe El Cerrito (to the north).

My parents claim the Magnani chicken market on Hopkins had organic free-range chickens for $2.25 a pound (that wasn't a sale price), whereas Whole Foods in Oakland is charging in excess of $3.50 a pound, so Whole Foods may not be the best deal around here.  (The meat section in the Berkeley Whole Foods was under renovations the last time I was there.)
Title: Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: AmandaL on October 31, 2008, 03:49:08 PM
Berkeley...home of the $6 peach.   ;)
Title: Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: DanielB on November 02, 2008, 02:07:35 PM
So, I've been to 4 farmer's markets in Berkeley and Oakland this weekend and three different natural meat markets (including the Berkeley Whole Foods) in search of deals, and I really didn't do too well....  It's not just Berkeley - organic produce doesn't seem to be cheaper anywhere in Oakland either, with the exception of persimmons at the West Oakland farmer's market (3 for a dollar).  It seems like a significant factor in the equation for these high prices must be on the supply side in the inner Bay Area, and not simply due to strong demand, since things were roughly the same price even in the poorest neighborhoods.

At the Whole Foods market in Berkeley no meat was on sale, although I was able to find rock cod at $6 a pound (the same as frozen fish at Trader Joe's).  The one really good deal I did find was Prather Ranch's family pack of 5 pounds of lean, organic, 100% grass-fed, ground beef for $25.  I'll definitely be taking advantage of that deal in the future....  Chicken and turkey weren't as good of a deal at any of the markets I went to.  The cheapest price on organic poultry was $3.69 a pound for chicken at Whole Foods, which works out to somewhere in excess of $8 a pound for the actual yield of lean meat.  Organic pork sirloin actually worked out better at $6.49 a pound.

Contrary to the perception of beef as wasteful as expensive, the grass-fed ground beef I was actually cheaper than any other source of animal protein I found.  I know a lot of natural health experts, like Dr. Mercola, think of grass-fed beef as one of the highest quality protein sources around, with a better omega ratio than white meat, and none of the issues with mercury that seafood has - so I'm guessing that relying on it heavily is probably one of the better cost-saving options available to me.
Title: Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: AmandaL on November 03, 2008, 06:14:11 PM
Wow I am really surprised by those prices.  Very high.  Our Whole Foods here in Sac always has something on sale in each meat catagory.  In other words, one tyoe of chicken, one beef, one pig, one turkey.  So on any given day I can get a variety of meats on sale. Time to move?  Time to invest in a big freezer and buy a local cow, pig, turkey, and lamb and some chickens.   

I love beef. :) 


Title: Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: DonnaC on November 04, 2008, 11:20:13 AM
I have been intrigued with this conversation.  I live alone, don't do much meal planning, and figure I spend too much.  So I've been reading all the responses and checked out your website.  The recipes look absolutely yummy.  You've inspired me to plan a bit more, only buy on sale, and be more creative about what I eat.  I will sure check your recipes and ideas often.  Thanks so much.  Donna Campbell
Title: Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: AmandaL on November 04, 2008, 02:22:59 PM
Hi there Donna, Thanks!

No plan = budget suicide. :)
Title: Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: HollyM on November 13, 2008, 05:28:38 PM
I just want to thank everyone who has added to this subject because it is something my family and I have struggled with for a very long time. I am just now learning how to do meal planning for a family of two, but I have a hard time eating right without spending everything we have. I have never had farmer's markets and organic products available like I do here in California, so that is a whole new experience for me. I have been reading and trying everyone's suggestions for planning on a budget and hope to perfect my shopping soon. Thank you all for the help....I sure needed it.
Title: Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: VanessaZ on November 20, 2008, 07:22:56 PM
The bones in the meat can be made into a very nutritious bone broth so they are not wasted.  I freeze my vegetable peelings, bones etc. and when I have time I make bone broth which is a very nourishing drink and depending on how you make it can be used as bullion in many recipes and it adds an extra bit of vitamins and minerals to your diet.
Title: Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: ElizabethZ on January 15, 2009, 02:52:33 PM
 I, like Holly, want to thank you for taking the time to share your grocery shopping/budget/planning with me.  We, recently, as a family have had to really cut back on our grocery budget.  I love to shop at Whole Foods and felt I was going to have to have to start shopping elsewhere.  I'm thankful for the tips: looking for sale items and getting only what is necessary for optimal health at whole foods and doing the majority of the shopping at Trader Joe's and Farmer's markets. 
I have a family of only 3 at home now that 2 of my sons are off to college.  It is incredibly motivating for me to start with my new budget for groceries knowing it can be done with some preparation.
Title: Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: AmandaL on January 16, 2009, 02:33:23 PM
Hi there, its been almost a year since my original post. I am happy to report few changes.  My budget still falls into the $120 to $200 category.  More items are being offered at our local farmers market now which means I buy less at the stores and more at the Market.  I no longer shop at "regular" for anything, keeping my grocery shopping to just Whole Foods, Farmers Market, and Trader Joes.

Now I alternate visits to Whole Foods and Trader Joe's, while hitting the Farmers Market each week.



 
Title: Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: DrewP on January 18, 2009, 05:25:56 PM
I echo the gratitude expressed in previous posts - thank you! I agree that the key to E4H on a budget is planning. I am currently working through NE105 (micronutrients) and am realizing the importance of varying the foods in your diet on a daily basis to ensure a complete set of vitamins and minerals from your foods. I was trying to figure out how to do this on a budget. Right now, I try to vary foods as much as I can on a weekly basis, but not daily. I'll go to the store and see that apples are on sale and buy a week's worth of apples. Next week I'll buy something else. I try to grow my own herbs to cut down on that cost, but does anyone have any tricks or nutrient abundant foods that are inexpensive?
Title: Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: AmandaL on January 18, 2009, 06:47:15 PM
traditional foods are very inexpensive.  Grains, beans, fruits and veg.  Try to make as much as you can from scratch.  takes time, but costs less.  In the cooler months I make one or two large pots of soups each week.  These serve as full meal or side dish for many days. 

In the warmer months I make large batches of grain salads (like pasta salads without the pasta!). 

Both are excellant places to put leftover veg and meat.
Title: Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: ClareB on January 21, 2009, 03:41:47 PM
Hello All -
I think this is a most timely discussion - we're all trying to get the most balanced nutrient density in our foods while we keep from spending too much. I just taught a class on budget meals and menuing at The Sacramento Natural Food Co-op this last Saturday - my focus was on a balance of simple vegetarian and meat(turkey and chicken) meals, with an emphasis on seasonal produce. I've found that in order to keep our primarily organic grocery bill for a family of 4 under $180 a week requires about a half hour of careful menuing every week - then I shop at the farmers market before going to the Co-op.

I find that buying bulk beans, grains, flours, dried fruits, teas and seasonings is a way to substantial savings - I always take advantage of the monthly specials as well. As you all said before, cooking your own food is the secret to both great economy and better health. If I don't menu, I spend at least 20-30% more in a week - I find that out when I relax in the summer.

In an interview with Bill Moyers recently, Michael Pollan said that those who cook for themselves enjoy better health - he said that it's true across the economic spectrum - even the poor who cook enjoy better health than the affluent who do not. If we can help people to cook more we'll all be healthier, wealthier and wiser. It needs to be simpler - one hour of planning, 2 hours shopping a week - and the joy of preparing nourishing foods for our families each day - getting everyone in the kitchen.

My daughter went away to college for the first time this year and was kind of excited at the variety of ethnic choices from the food service - Chinese, Indian, Italian - but she came home for Christmas and said she just wanted those black beans and quinoa she knew would be in the fridge - she missed the simplicity of our food.

I also live in Sacramento and would love to meet if you want to - I'm in the NE Thursday AM class -

Thanks - Clare Bonsall
Title: Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: AmandaL on January 25, 2009, 04:48:29 PM
Hi Clare, Nice to hear from you.  I would love to meet you.  Are you a member of the NANP yet?  You can get a student membership.  There is a Sacramento Branch and some really great people attend the meetings....which are not all that often!  I think they are quarterly.

www.nanp.org

I live in Gold River but head downtown fairly often for advocacy work.

Looking forward to connecting with you soon.   
Title: Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: ErinL on February 07, 2009, 06:32:00 PM
One other suggestion out there to anyone who is a practitioner and has a resale license (or anyone willing to do it), you can get a wholesale account with Frontier Natural Products. If you then go in with a couple of neighbors and are willing to collect sales tax (or already do because you sell supplements in your practice) you can then have a small co-op for cleaning, body care and paper products. This can really cut down on your bills when you're paying wholesale for these natural products.
Find out more here: https://wholesale.frontiercoop.com/application.php (https://wholesale.frontiercoop.com/application.php)

Title: Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: AmandaL on February 21, 2009, 05:28:00 PM
I recently wrote this article for my newsletter.  It was also posted on Mambo Sprouts. 

5 Budget Saving Tips to Sustainable Eating

http://www.mambosprouts.com/mambo-articles/food-nutrition/5-budget-saving-tips-to-sustainable-eating/
Title: Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: BethAnnB on March 03, 2009, 02:40:44 PM
We are a family of 6:  two adults and 4 children ages 4 - 10.  We spend about $800-$900 on food each month and that includes breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks..and beverages (coffee and wine) I rarely go to Whole Foods, only occasionally go to Trader Joe's or the grocery store.  I am finding the local farmer's markets to be way over priced for the produce they are providing.  I have, however, been pleasantly surprised by Costco who has been stocking more organic meats and produce, coffee, sundries and dairy products.  When I do go to the grocer I usually go to the bulk bins for beans, rice and seeds.  We do grow many of our own vegetables in a small garden that provide us with a decent amount of produce about 8 months out of the year.  Off season I try to get frozen veggies, especially when on sale.

I agree with the other responders...menu planning and sticking to the plan is the key to success in keeping to your budget.
Title: Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: KristenB on March 10, 2009, 12:00:41 AM
I think this post is great! Thank you Amanda for all the heads up on deals in town!  It is so inspirational and motivational that you can spend that amount a week with 6 of you... I'm working on it. I'm trying to just become super aware of what I'm spending. It's hard.  How do you not get out of hand?:) Thanks again!
Title: Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: KathrynW on March 27, 2009, 10:26:39 AM
I have decided to make my research presentation for the NE program on the topic of how low income families can improve their diets.  I am proposing a survey questionnaire for a target group.  I will have to limit the target group to English-speaking families, as I do not speak Spanish, which is the second largest group of low income families.  I hope I can find a way to help the immigrant community eventually but will need to plan to learn Spanish somewhere along the way.  In the meantime, any suggestions on where I should do my survey would be helpful.  I know a couple of Registered Dieticians in Santa Clara County and will contact them to see whether I could attend one of their community health fairs as a possibility, as well as contacting one of the food distribution groups linked with Second Harvest, but if anyone has other ideas, let me know.
Title: Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: KathrynW on March 27, 2009, 11:07:56 AM
Hello!

I have just begun the NE program, one week in and this is my first, albeit clumsy (!!)posting...   So many fascinating topics!  I have a strong interest in how we can educate and advocate around making quality food and E4H lifestyle choices accessible to low income populations.  I am particularly intrigued with the research presentation that 'CarolC' ( I hope you see this post!) worked on... this is very much what I envision doing.  We have a significant population of people here in affluent Boulder who live at or around the Federal Poverty Level, many of whom are Spanish speaking, many of whom are not.  The food stamp program, I don't know about WIC's distribution, offers "Farmer's Market Bucks" but we have a relatively short market season and really, the prices are pretty high. Wal-Mart becomes the shopping destination of choice...

I've been working a bit with our local food bank, Community Food Share, and have seen a very wide selection of offerings ranging from pure white flour, white sugar pastries in abundance, to organic pinto beans, apples and donated organic canned food items... 

Any others have similar thoughts?

Kathryn
Title: Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: BrendaF on April 15, 2009, 05:40:58 PM
Hi Amanda,

Wow am I impressed-feeding a family of 6 and 2 dogs for $120-$200 a week! Please let me know where you shop including the area you live and the store names. I would be curious to know what your typical weekly menu is too and how much meat you purchase.

I live in Portland Oregon and spend that much for just myself, 1 dog, and 2 cats!! I'm interested in cutting my food costs- I shop at New Seasons in Oregon and the food co-op as well as Petsmart for the pets-Eukanueba-all natural food!

Thanks for e-mailing back,
Brenda Fulle
bfulle@peoplepc.com
Title: Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: AmandaL on April 16, 2009, 10:35:16 PM
To clarify, I am a family of four. sorry about the confusion.

How to Shop on a Budget while eating Sustainably--UPDATED 4/6/09


Eating can be expensive. How do I keep my budget between $120-$200/per week, while feeding a family of four only Sustainable Foods?

It took practice.

At least twice a month and typically on Fridays, I hit Whole Foods and buy a week or two (depending on the next time I will get out there) worth of meat. I buy whatever is on sale. I spend $20 to $30/weekly on meat. Note: Rocky Whole Chickens are ALWAYS $1.99/lb and the butchers will chop them up into 8 pieces.

I also buy my dairy at Whole Foods. I buy Strauss or the store brand, 365. (365 is supplied by Organic Valley) I buy 1/2 gallon of milk, butter, and plain Greek style yogurt. I spend $15-$20 on dairy.

I also raid the bins for nuts, seeds, rice and beans. I only buy what is on sale. $20 Remember to refrigerate these when you get home!

That night I sit and plan our meals for the week using the items that I bought at Whole Foods. This makes all the difference. (DON'T GO TO WHOLE FOODS WITHOUT A PLAN. Always, buy what you need and eat what you buy.)

Saturday, I wake up and hit the Farmers Market (or the Farmers Wife depending on the time of year). I take $40 cash with me. I walk around once taking note of price and quality. I also take time to talk to the farmers. I find that many of our local farmers use organic practices (or beyond) but aren't certified. (note: sometimes I take $60, if I am planning on buying items like nuts, honey, preserves, eggs, bee pollen, etc).

I walk out of there fully loaded.

On the weeks I dont hit Whole Foods I stop buy Trader Joe's on the way home from the Farmers Market and pick up bread (organic sprouted 8 grain $2.99) and anything else I might need.

Items I don’t count for in this budget are: Fish. I am lucky to have a father and/or that goes fishing in Alaska and out the SF bay many, many times a year. I get the bounty of the fish.


Sound Like a lot of driving around? I get it all done in a matter of a couple of hours, once a week. Calculate how much time you spend in one week going in and out of the store, drive thru or other restaurants.

We don’t waste anything. I make most everything from scratch. We snack on foods that we would normally eat for meals just in smaller proportions. We don't typically eat out at restaurants.

My husband takes leftover dinners for his lunches.

Our breaksfasts are typically the same Eggs/grains/veg or yogurt/nuts/berries or panckaes made with freshly milled flours or leftover dinners made into breaksfast.

If I spend more than my budget allows in one week, I make up for it the following week.My monthly budget is between $480 and $800 (which is 120 to 200/week).
Title: Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: KarenL on April 17, 2009, 10:00:16 AM
I recently started the NE program in Berkeley this Spring and this post has been great.  I have a sister with a large family - mom, dad + 5 kids 2 - 18 yrs.  She lives in Utah and is low income and I she always feels uanble to make the really healthy food chocies for her family because the organic produce, meats, etc., cost more than she has allocated to her WalMart food budget.  Literally if she can't buy it at WalMart she doesn't get it and a treat for the family is the dollar menu at fast food places a coupel times a month.  I will share many of these ideas with her.  I will even look up to see if there are organic food delivery options to her area as having the box arrive periodically would be great for a busy mom.

Karen
Title: Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: AmandaL on April 17, 2009, 05:21:48 PM
5 Budget Saving Tips to Sustainable Eating
By Amanda Louden
February 8, 2009

Times are tough, and everyone (at least everyone I know) is counting pennies.   Food is often one of the biggest expenses, especially for families.    It is evident by the rise in fast food dollar menus that people are turning to inexpensive, low quality food in order to eat on a budget.  I believe that eating well (real food that’s sustainable) doesn’t have to break the bank.   In fact, eating high quality traditional foods such as beans, grains, fruits, and vegetables are very inexpensive and allow enough room in a budget for higher priced sustainably raised meat, eggs, and dairy.


Here are 5 Tips to eating well while remaining on a budget.


1.   Increase Produce
An average family of two parents and 2.5 children ages 6-17, should be spending a minimum of $160 per month on fresh produce.  $40 a week on produce is a lot of food, especially if you are shopping a local farmers market where good deals along with local produce are abundant.   

The Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS) states that a typical family meeting the description above consumes only $46.75 per month on fresh fruits and vegetables.   Instead of fresh produce people are eating too much fast food, snack foods, and other processed foods.   According to the BLS, the typical family consumes $336 in meals outside of the home each month.   That’s a lot of money going to food where quality is questionable. 

To give you an idea of how inexpensive produce can be, let’s look at a few of the items that I bought this past weekend at the farmers market.
 
1 large bunch of Carrots = $1 
1 large bunch of Turnips = $1 
1 large head of Kale = $1.50   
1 large head of Sweet Chard = $1.50   
2 Russet Potatoes = $1
1 large stem of Brussels Sprouts (approx 3 dozen sprouts) = $7.00

Soups and stews are a great use for vegetables, especially the weird ones!  Spending approximately $40 per week on a fresh fruits and vegetables paves the foundation for a healthy life.   

2.   Make Meat a Side dish
While recognizing that some people do better on vegetarian diets, most people do not.  I do not advocate for most people to give up meat.  I love meat and consume it in some form almost daily.  But meat, in all of its glory, is better off as a side dish.  Sustainably raised meat, eggs and dairy are a lot more expensive than their commercially raised counterparts.  Eating high quality sustainably raised meats are often the last step people take to eating well.  Small servings along side a heaping load of produce, grains and/or legumes is not only a healthier way to eat, but saves your greenbacks too.  By consuming meat as a side dish, you will be stretching those roasts and whole birds into multiple meals thus saving you countless dollars.

 
3.   Add Beans and Grains for a Source of Protein and Unrefined Carbohydrate
Beans and grains are cheap!  Combined together and, like meat, make a complete protein.   Depending on the bean or grain, the price can vary from $.50 to $3 per pound.  Personally, I like to wait for the more expensive items to go on sale and typically don’t spend more that $1.50/lb on any one legume or grain.   Combining beans and grains in a soup or salad create a tasty and versatile meal or side dish.

Some of my favorite beans are:
•   Black Beans
•   Black-eyed peas
•   Butter Beans
•   Cannellini Beans
•   Chickpeas (Garbanzo Beans)
•   Cranberry Beans
•   Edamame
•   Great Northern Beans
•   Kidney Beans
•   Lentils
•   Lima Beans
•   Mung Beans
•   Navy Beans
•   Pinto Beans
•   White Beans

Some of my favorite grains are:

•   Amaranth
•   Barley
•   Buckwheat
•   Brown Rice
•   Corn
•   Kamut
•   Millet
•   Oat Groats
•   Rye
•   Spelt
•   Quinoa


4.   Buy What You Need And Eat What You Buy
Why do we waste so much food?   There was a time (long ago) when I would throw out bags of spoiled or unwanted foods each week.   It’s so simple people BUY WHAT YOU NEED AND EAT WHAT YOU BUY!   Don’t buy the whole bunch of carrots if you only need two for a recipe.   If for some reason you don’t get around to consuming the two carrots, chop them up and throw them in your freezer until your next pot of vegetable soup.   Everything can be frozen.  Think of the large food manufacturers that make frozen foods and meals.  You can too.  Leftover produce, grains, beans, or meat make great additions to soup, salad or simply freeze them for later use…I give you permission. 
 
And remember, it’s only a “good deal” if you need it!  10 for $10 is only a good deal if you need 10!   My dear friend buys anything that is on sale.  She loves a bargain and will buy any sale item without have a purpose for “it.”   Say it with me, buy what you need and eat what you buy!

Consumers save money when they don’t waste.  We don’t waste when we buy only what we need.

5.   Get organized
Getting organized is extremely important for saving money and eating well.  It requires a “planning-shopping system” that works for you and your family.  When a plan is in place, it’s easy for consumers to buy only what they need. 

By getting organized and having a plan, a consumer can save both valuable time and money.   Having a shopping list that is derived from a meal plan allows the consumer to walk into a grocery store or farmers market with a purpose and shop efficiently.   When a meal plan is in place the age old question, “what’s for dinner?” is already answered, and relieves stress. Because a shopping list was created directly from the meal plan, you will have all of the necessary ingredients to make a healthy home cooked meal; and therefore, are less likely to pack up the family and head to the local drive through.

 
How do I do it?
 
•   Twice a month I stock up on sustainably raised meats, grains, and beans that are on sale.   
•   On Fridays, I meal plan.   I plan almost all of my meals, breakfast lunch and dinner.  A good place to start is with 4 to 6 dinners which seems doable for most people.  A shopping list is derived from the meal plan.
•   On Saturdays, I hit the farmers market and load up on my produce.  Then I hit the grocery store on the way home for anything else my family needs. 

Title: Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: DanielleL on April 19, 2009, 07:59:57 PM
First of all, this is all very informative, so thank you! I need advice for what may be an extreme situation... Any takers?? My oldest sister has six children... all boys in middle school and high school!! I was talking to her the other day and she is extremely interested in healthy eating for her and her kids, but the thing that's hard she said, is that all of her sons are extremely active and thus, have huge appetites. They all play football at school and during the summer season, and she wants to figure out a way to buy fresh and organic food, but she says that she can barely keep the pantry full when she comes home with new groceries, let alone afford to keep refilling it every day. Her husband works all the time and due to the economy they've had to decrease spending. My suggestion would be higher quantities of cheaper staple grains and such... but if the kids are that active and hungry they definitely need lots of protein too. Any tips??
Title: Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: KellyT on April 20, 2009, 10:50:56 AM
I need advice for what may be an extreme situation... Any takers?? My oldest sister has six children... all boys in middle school and high school!!

A book I like is

"How to Feed a Teenage Boy: Recipes and Strategies" by Georgia Orcutt (2007)
Title: Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: JasmineS on April 30, 2009, 09:30:53 AM
This is the best thread! I moved out of my parents' house in January to move to Berkeley and go to Bauman College. Budgeting and buying groceries has proven to be a huge challenge! I love to cook and I often buy more at the Farmers Market and grocery store than what i really need. I probably spend what a family of 4 would be spending, but i'm only feeding myself and one little kitty! :)  I've never actually taken the time to sit down and add up all of my food costs, and I think I am going to start. Maybe this can help me to save a little money and plan my meals better. Thank you so much for making me think about this before I end up broke!
Title: Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: MinoriaF on May 19, 2009, 02:56:53 PM
"Ditto" to the other comments thanking you for the timeliness of this post, and it's relevance to our economic times.  In follow up to KathrynW's repost of CathyC's intention to reach out to low income communities with this information... has anyone heard of any more movement to get Farmer's Market vendors part of the WIC Foodstamp program?

My cooking group Feast or Famine: Food for Thought regularly meets and provides meals for a community of people, where the participants contribute the ingredients of the meal, and we prepare it for them. 

It would be fantastic to expand the scope of this program to include people who cannot currently participate because of their income level. There are many people on foodstamps who'd like to (and need to) eat more healthfully.

I had recently heard that some of the vendors participating in the SF Ferry Building Farmer's Market were onboard to accept foodstamps.  But that may have been a rumor...

Many thanks and yours in health,
~ minoria
Title: Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: AmyS on June 04, 2009, 04:53:18 PM
What a fascinating discussion.  Joining a CSA has helped me quite a bit.  However, I would love to learn how to prioritize what choices to make, both both the environment and for my family's health, in order to stick within my budget. 

Thanks for addressing the subject of local, organic food on a budget.


 
Title: Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: ChristineBr on June 22, 2009, 02:49:45 PM
Amanda, I am so impressed by your monthly food budget.  We are a family of 5 and I also shop at T. J.'s (no whole foods near us).  I try to keep it to 120.00 a week but our problem is we go out too much.  That's my hubby's main vice.  I will definitely look at your blog but if ever you do workshops on budgeting and meal planning, I would love to attend.  I live in Folsom so not too far from you.  Thanks for all the great info.

Christine
Title: Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: AmandaL on June 22, 2009, 04:22:08 PM
Hi Christine, yes I teach several classes around town.  check out my website for local classes www.eatyourroots.org. 

Its not on there yet, but I will also be teaching a 5 week class here in Gold River in September.
Title: Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: KathrynW on June 22, 2009, 06:38:03 PM
Hello Amanda!

I have been following this thread since beginning the Spring NE course here in Boulder, having stumbled upon it as I explored the forum and searched for Baumanites who might be involved in educating underprivileged populations.   

Budgeting and economics are key components in this arena and you seem to do a nice job of making Eating for Health a viable option for those who might have limited resources.   The NE program focuses on using local and organic ingredients whenever possible (a rule I live by, from both health and environmental perspectives) and I notice that you don’t necessarily emphasize the use of organics on your website.   Thank you for providing the link in your Daily Diner blog to www.localforage.com  which focuses on “Beyond Organic”.  Brilliant!  The July 10, 2008 posting discussed Organic vs. Sustainable which served to remind me that we don’t need to be married to organics in order to educate people about nourishment and nutrition.   

Re:  Organic vs. non-organic, in teaching your classes and working with individual clients, how do you approach the subject? 

Thanks!
Kathryn
Title: Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: AmandaL on June 22, 2009, 09:02:51 PM
Hi there, I define sustainable (or as I like to call it traditional methods of farming).  Then I explain that some organic is sustainable and some is not.  Some farmers practice sustainable methods and for a variety of reasons (costs, taxes, principle) don't get certified organic.   It's important to get to know the people who are growing/raising your food.  One of my most popular classes is a "tour" of the local farmers market where I teach people how to open a dialogue with the local farmers. 
Title: Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: JessicaBa on June 23, 2009, 05:51:51 PM
Wow. All of this is truly great.

For those of you who don't know me, I'm the new Community Outreach Admin here at Bauman College. Completely in this vein, we've actually been developing our own E4H-based program for low-income residents called Transitional Nutrition. Currently we're focusing on those ex-homeless residents in transitional housing who are getting ready to reemerge into society. Our main tenet is building oh-so-important budgeting, portioning, shopping and cooking skills to enable them to practice a healthy and sustainable lifestyle. Talk about budget: some of them get by on $100/month for food. Try eating organic with that.

We're gearing to roll out the official program over all the BC locations sometime in the next year. For those interested in working with such a disadvantaged population, I encourage all of you to stay on the lookout for that: We're definitely going to need some strong and passionate people. The program itself is a thank you from Bauman College to the community, and (with the new Dept) a whole new direction for Bauman College. As the Community Outreach Department grows, we hope to develop more Nutrition Intervention programs like this for those that need it the most while providing funded opportunities for our students and grads that might not otherwise be available. It's still being developed, and we're mostly in the volunteer stage. But, if you want to get involved, or if you just have some great ideas, don't hesitate to email me: Jessica.Bauman@baumancollege.org. We can always use more good people.
Title: Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: KathrynW on June 23, 2009, 06:52:11 PM
Thank you, Amanda, for sharing this.   I so appreciate your perspective and approach.

And Jessica, I am thrilled to learn about the Community Outreach piece that Bauman is now introducing.  With such need, I am sure the program will be embraced.  I, for one, will look forward to hearing more and will be among those contacting you.

Best to you both,

Kathryn

Title: Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: AnnettaD on July 06, 2009, 11:48:40 AM
  I read many of the interesting posts in this thread and would like to add some of my own suggestions.  I live outside of Los Angeles and there is a group of healthy eaters in our neighborhood that started a weekly club. There is a monthly contribution and once a week an early morning run is made down to an organic farmers market in L.A.. The fresh harvest is then split into baskets for each members family to enjoy at a fraction of the price of individual shopping.
  I go to our weekly Redlands, CA farmers market with a friend so we can buy the larger quantities that are cheaper and both of us then have enough produce to share.  Not only is it cheaper but the excess does not spoil as it did when I shopped alone.
Title: Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: LaurieN on July 12, 2009, 03:42:35 PM
How do you do it?  I look for bargins however I spend an easily $50 by myself during one week and that is not getting everything.  Being a student it's more important than ever.  Any tips?
Title: Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: AmandaL on July 13, 2009, 07:21:34 PM
Hi LaurieN, start reading this thread from the beginning...there are a lot of tips!  Let me know if you have any questions. I spent 140 this week on our groceries and have more than enough.
Title: Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: Lee on August 05, 2009, 12:32:01 PM
This discussion has been most enjoyable to peruse!  Thanks to Amanda for the tip (introduced earlier in the thread) to plan meals AFTER shopping sales- great idea!  I also love the concept of cleaning out the cupboards by the end of the shopping week (with the exception of my 25 lb. quinoa and millet bags). 
Title: Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: DebraV on August 19, 2009, 12:54:52 PM
I frequently talk to members of my Girl Scout troop ages 12-18, who are convinced that eating healthy is too expensive.  Thank you for the great info and shaing blogs and etc that I can guide them to to help them see that this is not true.   One of the big expenses I have found is all of the eating outside of the home.   People need to take a few minutes to carry fresh items with them.   I understand that soda may be cheaper than bottled water but a refillable water bottle is cheaper still.   So we all need to just look an see where we want to spend our dollars and our time.   I have always cooked meals at home and find the time spent is very enjoyable and the little bit of tv I am missing is not an issue.  I will follow along on the posting to see what other great ideas you all present.   
Title: Great Deals in Petaluma
Post by: WhitneyK on September 18, 2009, 05:52:24 PM
In Petaluma, you can shop at the Alvarado Street Bakery headquarters (on McDowell Ext.) and buy 3 loaves for $5.  Also, at the Petaluma Creamery, you can buy organic cheese, 2 lbs for $5 (they have 5 types for this price.)  Also, if you can't make it to the Farmer's Market, Green String Farms on Adobe Rd. has good prices on fresh picked organic produce, straight off their farm.
Title: Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: DianeS on September 20, 2009, 07:57:55 PM
This thread, along with the current state of my bank account, are REALLY inspiring me to work on my food budget!!! I think I can really start to save some by adding back some quinoa and beans to my diet. I started tonight! :)

Thanks!
Diane
Title: Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: Irene Breck on October 01, 2009, 10:51:25 PM
"Ditto" to the other comments thanking you for the timeliness of this post, and it's relevance to our economic times.  In follow up to KathrynW's repost of CathyC's intention to reach out to low income communities with this information... has anyone heard of any more movement to get Farmer's Market vendors part of the WIC Foodstamp program?

My cooking group Feast or Famine: Food for Thought regularly meets and provides meals for a community of people, where the participants contribute the ingredients of the meal, and we prepare it for them. 

It would be fantastic to expand the scope of this program to include people who cannot currently participate because of their income level. There are many people on foodstamps who'd like to (and need to) eat more healthfully.

I had recently heard that some of the vendors participating in the SF Ferry Building Farmer's Market were onboard to accept foodstamps.  But that may have been a rumor...

Many thanks and yours in health,
~ minoria

I just started the natural chef training program at Bauman College in Santa Cruz. I am quite encouraged by many people's passion for helping those who are not able to afford E4H. I am looking forward to applying what I learned and make some difference for these people too.

In addition to money, time is also a rare resource for most of the families in the Bay Area. I was thinking about starting a cooking club for those who are too busy to cook. Some of the organic goods can be bought in bulk from the wholesaler. People come together once a week and take home pre-assembled healthy meals. Cooking together is much more fun and much less work. It can also help reduce the cost.

I would love to hear from those who has done similar cooking club to share some experience. I am not sure how to start yet.

Happy Cooking,
-Irene


   
Title: Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: JanetCa on October 02, 2009, 03:19:56 PM
Wow it has been really inspiring to read all of these posts.  It reminds me that it is possible to eat a healthy diet and have a reasonable budget.  Food is expensive and learning proportions and measurements of ingredients in a recipe in order to avoid over spending and wasting food is so important. 

As a new student at Bauman College I have been reintroduced to the incredible benefits of a healthy well balanced diet.  As a vegetarian I am exploring all the amazing ingredients we have living in this area and the abundant options for shopping for them.  Looking at family and friends, living here or other areas of the country, I realize that so many do not understand the value of a healthy food model and understand very little about food and eating well. 

I am excited to continue on this path and expand what is possible for those around me.
Title: Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: AnnaL on October 15, 2009, 05:21:44 PM
What a fabulous and on-target post - and it's been going for over a year!  As one who has lost significant income over the last year, my food budget is definitely being re-visited because it definitely needs to be reduced.  I was so accustomed to going to Whole Foods and other upscale markets and spending a bloody fortune on food and supplements, but I am being forced to cut way back so personally I really appreciate all of these wonderful tips on how to eat well without breaking the bank.  As a NE student, these tips will also help me guide clients on how to eat well on a budget.  This post could be published as a book!!!

Missy Leathers
Title: Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: LeahN on November 02, 2009, 10:58:04 AM
I LOVE THIS POST!!! Most of us are on tighter budgets these days, so this is extremely relevant. I've been struggling with parting from some items that I usually buy and changing the stores that I shop at. Just because all of my items don't come from Whole Foods anymore, doesn't mean that I can't make smart food choices at Safeway. Money seems to be one of the biggest issues when people are trying to make changes to their diet. I often hear, 'I can't afford to eat organic." Luckily, there seem to be more affordable products that are organic and environmentally friendly in mainstream stores.

You don't have to be rich to live a healthy lifestyle!
Title: Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: AmyZ on November 28, 2009, 09:46:41 AM
Hi Amanda and friends,

I am new to Bauman and am super excited about finally doing something professional with my hobby and passion. I LOVED the insight as I have a similar budget (120-200) per week and it is always a great effort to create healthy meals for my young children, husband, and 70 pound lab for whom I homecook everything (lucky dog!!)

Thanks for the detailed insight! Maybe, Amanda, you could write a book on just this:Feeding a Family on an Eating for Health Budget including recipes for humans and canines alike. I would be your first customer!!

Blessings on your meals,
amy
Title: Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: MollyF on November 30, 2009, 04:24:58 PM
Thanks Amanda very inspiring...I will take some of your tools gladly.
And thanks for all of your effort.

Molly
Title: Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: MichelleP on January 11, 2010, 01:16:26 PM
Where are the veggies on your list if you do not garden year round?  I spend 350 to 600 a week at whole foods.  No junk like processed stuff.  My cart is loaded up with fresh veggies etc.  I am so baffled, I don't see how everyone is being fed?  We are a family of 5.... 14 yr old, 4, 15 months and two adults.
Title: Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: KellyT on January 11, 2010, 02:18:08 PM
Hi Michelle,

I am one of the two people who started this thread. I can give you our family's food finances as a comparison. We spend similar to you.

I have a family of 6: two adults, two 12.5 year olds, one 8 year old, and one almost 4 year old. I have done an experiment since July of 2008: we keep every single receipt from purchasing any food, including creating a receipt after shopping at the farmer's markets. I break it down to a per day and per person amount. I also list how much I spend in 5 categories: Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, Farmer's Markets, Other Stores, and Eating Out. "Other Stores" include the Ben and Jerry's ice cream my husband buys at Safeway, the bulk things we might get at Harvest House, and the rare trip to Costco.

As a reference, the government puts out a guide to food costs using three price levels. A normal family of moderate to higher middle income generally spends $8 per person per day. This does NOT take into account spending on organic foods. The government does not make a distinction between quality of food when researching costs. This $8 amount also assumes all meals prepared at home from scratch.

People who eat mostly organic generally spend about $10 per person, per day.

Buying nearly all organic and eating a "Eating For Health"-type diet (with no supplements, as we cannot afford them), we generally spend $1800-$2200 per month on food, which works out to about $10-11+ per day each. We live in an apartment and have a 100 sq ft community garden plot. We are not able to grow much food to offset this cost.

I switched to a mostly raw food diet last July, although I am not a vegan. My food costs increased, especially due to certain organic raw products such as almonds and good local olive oil.  The rest of the family are omnivores. We do not consume any coffee, alcohol, or drinks other than water. I have one child with disordered eating (limited diet) and one with food allergies, so we use goat dairy instead of cow dairy, which increases our costs of things like goat butter ($6 per half pound).

Our food expenses for the last 5 months of 2009:
(TJ=Trader Joe's, WF=Whole Foods, FM=Farmer's Markets, OS=Other Store, EO=Eating Out)

August: $2095  ($748 TJ, $837 WF, $356 FM, $73 OS, $81 EO)
September; $2068  ($697 TJ, $1050 WF, $135 FM, $83 OS, $104 EO)
October: $2190  ($1026 TJ, $827 WF, $275 FM, $57 OS, $5 EO)
November: $1781  ($777 TJ, $789 WF, $87 FM, $111 OS, $17 EO)
December: $2273  ($939 TJ, $1140 WF, $0 FM, $68 OS, $126 EO)

We are going to try to grow more food and I am considering joining a local CSA, although the choices where I live are limited. We enjoy going to the Pleasant Hill seasonal farmer's market from May to early November. My higher spending on fruits, vegetables, and nuts will be offset by my lower spending on other foods.

I also used Christmas money to buy an Excalibur dehydrator and a Vita Mix blender. I have had the blender for less than a week, but see how it will help save money.

By the way, our yearly income is about $50,000 and we do not have health insurance. Eating well IS our only health insurance!

Best Wishes,

Kelly Tier,
stay home mom for 12+ years now hoping to help with the family finances





Title: Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: WhitneyK on February 24, 2010, 02:12:30 PM
Petaluma Bounty has a program for families that have a low income.  If a family qualifies, the produce cost is about 40% less.
Title: Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: TracyA on March 02, 2010, 06:13:47 PM
I also live in Sacramento.  I am curious where you go to a farmers market on Saturday morning? I am not fasmiliar with any local, although I am in Citrus Heights.
Title: Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: Gaylyn on March 22, 2010, 11:10:35 PM
There are several wonderful Farmer's Markets in the Sacramento Area. Here's a link to the one's in Placer County http://sacramento.about.com/od/shopping/a/placerfarmmkts.htm and the markets in Sacramento http://sacramento.about.com/od/shopping/a/farmersmkts.htm
Title: Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: EthanH on April 06, 2010, 12:29:35 PM
    Where do you shop for your foods? I and a lot of other people are amazed by food budget plan. I looked over several local produce stores and the only one i could imagine getting the most organic food for my money was Trader Joe's. Are you familiar with the local organic farmers ? Is that one of your budget strategies ?
Title: Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: AmandaL on August 18, 2010, 06:26:39 AM
Hi there everyone, Its great to see this thread still going.

My family recently relocated to the east coast and food is more expensive here. I realize how special and inexpensive it was to eat in Sacramento, CA (the Central Valley) where most of our food is/was grown.

On the east coast, I am buying from many of the SAME California farms but the costs are much higher as they are being shipped, handled, etc.  And they dont stay fresh as long, which is a big bummer. Californian's have it good!

Additionally, my kids are growing and everyday require more and more food.  Our budget has increased to approx $1,000/monthly, which includes expensive cuts of meat, which we eat infrequently. 

We eat a lot of beans and grains, which keep our costs low.  Although we buy mostly organic produce, its not all organic.  Our meats/dairy/eggs are always grass/pasture fed, however we eat very little of these foods. 


 
Title: Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: AmandaL on August 18, 2010, 06:39:42 AM
Also I wanted to share what a typical day in food looks for us:

breakfast: oatmeal pancakes made with a little goats milk and fresh fruit (or one egg and a handful of tomatoes, spinach, etc)

Snacks: fresh fruit, 1/2 sandwiches for the kids, salads for the adults

lunch: chopped salads for the adults, maybe a couple of ounces of meat.  I just packed the kids lunch for camp: 1/2 sandwich each (one had one slice of turkey and the other had  nutbutter and honey) and some fresh produce, homemade pretzel, and water in their thermos. 

Dinner: last night we had baked beans, a kale salad, and savory cornmeal/sweet potato cakes.   

Dessert: fruit and a couple of tablespoons of kefir cheese.


We drink tap water which we purify at home. I make a 6-8oz cup of coffee per day, and occasional wine---it's usually cheap! 

 

Title: Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: rpeterson3915 on September 16, 2010, 01:03:08 PM
Amanda,

I am so proud of the fact that you can spend what you do and feed your family in a healthy manner. It's so difficult to do so, I even work for Whole Food's with a 27% discount and still have trouble with a budget. I have a family of 4 and spend about $180/200 a week on food. We have a CSA that we pick up a box once a week, that's $50, grass fed meats and veg's. We cut back on meat due to cost and will only eat organic grass fed. The rest I spend at Whole Foods with a discount. I cook and prepare all the meals, no prepared foods at all. Please tell me now you do it, I did read on your posts some details but am still amazed. My son is 11 and very tall and slim and eats his weight in food everyday. Fruits and veg's and whole grains, nothing processed at all. It is not cheap to maintain this lifestyle. Please give some tips...
Thank you,
Rebecca
Title: Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: enis38623 on September 18, 2010, 05:05:16 PM
Would it be a little less expensive to go directly to some of the Farms to get most of my fruits and vegetables instead of going to a Farmers Markets or Whole Food Stores?  Because it sounds like living a healthier lifestyle can be really expensive and for someone like myself who has a family of 5 and can't afford to spend $200 a week on food, I wonder if this would be a better alternative.
Title: Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: lbanashek844 on September 21, 2010, 09:53:10 AM
Wow. I'm impressed on how little you spend and motivated to take a good look at what we spend weekly, monthly, yearly as a family of 4 plus 2 dogs. I know that it varies on how busy we are and how much time I devote to planning and preparing ahead of time. When we are busy we still eat healthy but spend more money on prepared foods.  I do notice that when I take the time to plan and prepare that I feel less stressful and more connected to what I'm eating. I'm sure my family feels the same way. Dogs too!!!
Title: Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: EstherPa on October 13, 2010, 10:51:06 AM
My family of 5 (2 adults and 3 children) spend between $200-$240 per week most weeks on all of our grocery needs (including the cleaning supplies).  We buy all whole foods or minimally processed (like spelt flour) and make things at home.  Where we live in Vermont, we do not have Whole Foods or Trader Joe's.  We do have local organic grocery stores and farmer's markets, as well as CSA's, which we have done in years past--not this year.  We buy as much as we can locally and feel good about our health, earth and supporting people in our own community, who love and nurture the land to bring quality food locally.   The financial piece is important to consider, of course, however, it is not everything.  We do spend a lot on groceries AND we are blessed by the healthy nutrition and vibrant foods our money offers us.  As well as our money blessing our local farmers and local employees.  Also, we make choices--we choose to buy at local quality 2nd hand stores for clothing, buy quality items when we do buy extras because quality matters in all things, and do a lot of hiking, gardening, having family meals with friends, and enjoying each other in rich ways that do not involve lots of financial cost.  Everyone makes choices.  Everything we do has a cost and a reward.  It is simply choosing where to put our attention and focusing on the richness we choose. 
Title: Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: Claudia Seman on October 18, 2010, 04:11:13 PM
Hi Amanda,

I am truly surprised on how you do it. I have 5 boys (but basically down to 3 (the little ones) and I would really love to make LOTS and LOTS of money to buy the right food in quality, quantity and also what I would really crave or want to eat. I am sort of like you in a sense. I shop (not so much now) @ Whole Foods (just love it only that to be honest is quite expensive some times), but what can we do...they have more than every thing! I also shop @ Trader Joe's and Sprouts. I used to buy every thing organic but to be honest (I am going through a divorce!), I can't afford it any more and I hate it because I truly know the importance. So now I am down to buying most of my fruits and veggies @ Superior Grocers  :-\. Is really inexpensive but not organic. What I buy organic is the unsweetened soy milk from Trader Joe's. Oh, I forgot to say that I also shop @ Costco:frozen berries, frozen organic string beans, spinach, corn, chicken, mozzarella cheese, organic eggs, double fiber bread, Colombian coffee (of course - I am from Colombia - ha!), wild (different kinds of fish), the peanut butter, toilette paper, paper towels, tomatoes, limes, that's pretty much it. I do not know but my food disappears so easily. And to be honest with you, I do not feel like getting even half of what I would like to eat. I would love to shop @ Whole Foods and be able to eat all kinds of different veggies, all kinds of fruits and nuts. They are my best friends because I read all labels and ingredients and there's not much there to get out there in terms of what is ready to go.
Title: Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: chefsarah on November 10, 2010, 07:23:45 AM
Wow! I don't have a family yet but even for one person I know how groceries add up. In training to be a personal chef, this thread is extremely helpful in knowing how to find a system that works. It looks time consuming, but once you have the system, it seems very simple. Right now I haven't been sale shopping as much, my focus being changing the way I shop/eat, but I'm so glad to see that a tight budget and holistic eating can be one in the same. I also really like that Amanda has one day she does all her shopping. I often lose track of how much I'm spedning due to all the "mini" shopping trips. Thank you ladies for all your wonderful and thorough comments!
Title: Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: virginiac010 on November 19, 2010, 12:12:50 AM
Amanda, Thank you for this long but beneficial discussion on eating for health for a large family while keeping cost down.  I shop weekly as well for my husband and I and we spend about the same amount as you but there is only two of us. This motivated me to be more cautious of how I spend and to only get groceries that are a necessity instead of what looks good.
Title: Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: ShiraH on December 20, 2010, 10:51:49 AM
This topic has spurred quite a discussion!

Just wanted to let you know about a documentary film I co-produced about this exact topic.  It covers food access for low-income families, and the notion that even if you have the knowledge and the access, it still takes an extraordinary amount of time and energy to eat healthy on a budget. 

The name of the film is "Food Stamped".  Check out the trailer to the film at www.foodstamped.com.  It premiered in October at the Mill Valley Film Festival.

We are currently doing community/institutional screenings.  If you would like to purchase the film for a community screening, please email foodstampedmovie@gmail.com

Title: Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: jenniferp859 on March 10, 2011, 11:10:08 AM
This is amazing, I really look up to this post. I have tried so hard to buy whole, organic foods and be on a budget also. Thankyou for this post. I am going to try this. I am assuming that obviously you have staples at home such as spices, flavorings different kinds of raw sugars, different kinds of salts..ect. ect. Anyways, thanks again for this post even though it was 2 years ago. I will benefit from this. Thankyou!
~Jennifer










Hi Kelly, thanks for asking.  First, for clarification, its a family of 6, INCLUDING the dogs--4 humans and 2 canines (although, dont tell them).  

It has taken me many years to get my grocery spending down.  I have maintained the $120 to $200 weekly budget for a little over two years.  My goal is to always get it down as low as possible while still eating well.   I live in Sacramento, so it might just be that groceries are less expensive here.  I don’t know...it would be fun to compare costs.   I don't buy in bulk and this does not include paper towels, TP, laundry detergent etc.  Just food.   I put everything but the farmers market on my Amex card so I am able to keep track and itemize all of our spending.  That has been a great tool, it really helps to see where our money goes.  :)

I grow a very small garden in the spring/summer/fall but not in the winter and because of its limited size is not a real asset in terms of saving $$.    

Here's how I shop:

On Friday's, I hit Whole Foods and buy a weeks worth of meat.  I buy whatever is on sale. I spend $20 to $30/weekly on meat.

I also buy my dairy at Whole Foods.  I buy Clover products.  I buy 1 gallon of milk, butter, whatever organic yogurt is on sale--there's always at least one brand at $.69.  I spend $20-$25 on dairy.  

I also raid the bins for nuts, seeds, rice and beans. I only buy what is on sale.  $20

That night I sit and plan our meals for the week using the items that I bought at Whole Foods. This makes all the difference.  

Saturday, I wake up and hit the Farmers Market.  I take $40 cash with me.  I walk around once taking note of price and quality.  I also take time to talk to the farmers.  I find that many of our local farmers use organic practices (or beyond) but aren't certified.  (note in the summer I take $60).  I walk out of there fully loaded.

After the farmers market I hit Trader Joes and pick up bread (organic 8 grain $2.29) and eggs (free range $2.99).   I buy one or two boxes of crackers and 1 box of cereal. I buy 2 cartons of OJ ($1.99/each).  I buy some of my cheese here too.  I also buy any peanut butter, preserves, olive oil, vinegar, tea, etc (as needed, usually once a month or once ever couple of months).  Sometimes I buy my meat here too--if there is a good deal on something.  I spend $30 -$50 tops.  (if I buy wine my budget goes up)    
  
After that, I swing by the regular grocery store and pick up a block of Tillamook Cheddar ($7.99) for my kids, and whole chickens for my dogs.  I wait until whole chickens go on sale for $.59 to $.69/lb (usually about 2x a month) I buy four and they usually total about $3 a bird.  These are Foster Farms and not organic--sorry pups!

  
Items I don’t count for in this budget are: Fish.  I am luck to have a father that goes fishing in Alaska and out the SF bay many, many times a year.  I get the bounty of the fish.

Dry Dog food.  I feed my dogs, chicken, rice, veggies and dry kibble. (the chicken, rice and veggies are accounted for in the above budget).  But the dry kibble is not.  In my budgeting it falls under "pet expenses".   The dogs also get and dog friendly leftovers.  

Coffee.  Although this probably should fall into my budget, it falls in my "entertainment" category as that is how I view it....pure joy.  I have it shipped to us right from the roasters and limit myself to 8oz per day.   I sip it in the morning usually before 5 am, while I read the paper in my quiet home.  It is my most favorite part of the day! (thats sad considering everyone else is asleep!  HA!)    

I spend $3 in gas to get to all my stores!  

We don’t waste anything.  I make most everything from scratch.  We snack on foods that we would normally eat for meals just in smaller quantities.   We don't typically eat out at restaurants.  My husband takes leftover dinners for his lunches.  

If I spend more than my budget allows in one week, I make up for it the following week.  My monthly budget is between $480 and $800 (which is 120 to 200/week)  

I write about meal planning on my blog, www.dailydiner.blogspot.com.  

Hope this helps.   Amanda

Title: Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: MiraD on March 11, 2011, 03:29:42 PM
In case anyone is interested here is the latest version of the USDA Food Plan pricing sheet. 

http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/Publications/FoodPlans/2011/CostofFoodJan2011.pdf

Title: Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: bridgettet302 on May 09, 2011, 10:33:13 PM
Good point and great discussions throughout this long thread! Eating for Health within a strict budget is the first question that pops up in any food related discussion. I believe that it will take serious fundamental changes in our agricultural system and mind set.

Would you rather put your money into delicious and healthy foods or the inevitable high healthcare costs of eating a poor diet?!

Surely a topic that will never be exhausted! Thanks!
Title: Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: eileenc855 on October 22, 2011, 03:29:45 PM
Very interesting and good thread. Congrats to Amanda for such amazing planning skills. I was curious though if everything you buy is organic/ grass fed such as the meat and dairy?
Title: Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: andriap969 on November 15, 2011, 09:00:05 PM
A great way I have found to eat less expensively is simply to eat simpler. The less ingredients in a recipe the better and if your using real whole foods and seasoning in a smart way you are more likely to get the proper nutrients that you need.

There are some great simple (and some more complex) recipes on one of my favorite blogs called "Vegan on a Budget"

Check it out...
http://veganonabudget.wordpress.com/
Title: Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: carolinem619 on March 18, 2012, 07:15:08 AM
Do you have any suggestions on where to get affordable organic meat (in bulk?) for our dog. We home cook for her but she has ongoing digestive issues since we adopted her a year ago.
Any butchers in Marin or Sonoma would be helpful to know about. Thanks!
Title: Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: Jeff on March 27, 2012, 11:47:08 AM
This is indeed a great thread. Staying on a budget while maximizing good quality organic whole foods is/can be a difficult task.  If you're really going to make it work, as Amanda noted at the beginning, you really need to take the time the first few months to do your research.  Where are the best and most reliable places to get the best value for the foods you need for your family?

And then you really need to determine what you have to have and what you can do without. For example, do you really need fresh blueberries when frozen ones may do just fine and are less expensive? Do you really need spring onions the moment they hit the grocery store shelves when waiting a couple days till the farmers market may save you a couple dollars?  The great thing in that with seasonal eating, you normally are buying the least expensive offerings in a given produce category (and at the same time being good to your body).

Another key thing that has helped me is staying on top of the sales and being willing to purchase in quantity when they appear. Whole Foods Market for example often has sales where an entire department (bulk, Whole Body, or a specific item) is on sale for a given time period, sometimes a day or two, sometimes just Saturday mornings. All the sales are announced in their e-mails ahead of time. If you haven't signed up for those communications or others where you shop regularly, you may be missing out on saving opportunities. Coupons from manufacturers or stores can really help. So many offer them now through their own sites or their Facebook pages. Many stores let you combine sale offerings with discount coupons.
Title: Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: francescaf019 on August 12, 2012, 01:17:19 PM
AmandaL
I work at Whole Foods and you should know that the Clover Milk company also makes the 365 store brand, it's the exact same product, so if you wanted to you could save an extra $ there too! 
Title: Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: cristinac935 on February 24, 2013, 05:48:25 PM
Hi,

It is quite an adventure to keep a family healthy even in the best of circumstances and focusing on high quality, healthy food is an essential step. Having said that, if a strict budget is in place then the adventure can turn into mission impossible at times. I have a family of four (and even though I love them dearly I am not including my three dogs and two cats in this case) and I spend between $250 and $300 a week.

I buy organic fruits and vegetables (fresh and frozen) as well as milk, milk alternatives, bread, juices and eggs. Legumes in general are usually in cans rather than dry because of the convenience factor, but also organic. I am Celiac so that means lots of GF foods as long as they do not fall into the "GF junk" category (cookies, sweets). Gf foods are, as most people know, rather expensive and most of the time unnecessary because you can achieve your GF goals by sticking to real, fresh items. Processed foods (even if they are GF) are not good for you anyway.

I have three meat eaters in the house although red meat is hardly ever on the menu. I mostly fix turkey and chicken for them. If they are clamoring for more, the occasional slice of bacon does the trick. Salmon makes it into the dinner plate at least once a week and so do sardines, anchovies and low mercury, water packed tuna. We are not big on peanut butter but love tahini and almond butter. We also eat lots of walnuts, pistachios, dried fruit and dark chocolate.

The one thing that helps me not overspend is flexibility when it comes to the menu. I buy according to the items that I find on sale. I also stock up when a good staple is on sale and I have an extra freezer with enough capacity for multiples loaves of bread, bags of frozen fruit, organic chicken and home cooked items. I love cooking for my family and friends.

I shop at different stores all the time. Sprouts has cheaper organic produce and Vitamin Cottage more affordable milk and milk substitutes. Of course I like Whole Foods but never, ever fall for the enormous deli money pit. It all looks delicious, but I can cook with my own two little hands.
We don't purchase alcohol (except organic Spanish wine for cooking) and bakery items are off limits except for birthdays and some other special occasions. I do bake at home frequently with decent (and healthier) results.

So there it is...Not a complicated strategy all in all...Respect the food. Respect the planet and do the best you can...It's a process.
Title: Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: shannonp505 on April 15, 2013, 01:08:34 PM
Thank you so much AmandaL for sharing ways to say money and shop on a budget.  Your post has really helped me to consider meal planning. I know with the meal planning it will help me to become more organized when it comes to cooking.  Usually I'm a spear of the moment type of cook.  Also, I'm now looking into our budget and what we actually spend on groceries in a week.  We shop in bulk and that gets quite expensive if we're not careful.   I love the idea if you spend too much one week, you adjust your spending the next week.  BTW I love your blog and can't wait to try some of your recipes!! :)
Title: Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: reneev326 on October 08, 2013, 10:48:12 AM
I appreciate this thread.  It really inspires me to look at how I spend my money.  I struggle with the meal planning and cooking from scratch.  I would appreciate any advice on how to prepare a shopping list. 
Title: Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: lydiar323 on October 10, 2013, 11:23:58 AM
Amanda,

Thank you for this detailed post. This is extremely helpful. I don’t have a family of 4 to feed, but this creates great guidelines for myself and future clients. I also have a smaller budget to abide by, so to see that it is possible to feed so many people (quality food) on such little money provides me with great perspective.

At first, I thought this is a lot of work. Now I realize this is great practice for eating for health, and planning out meals plays a huge roll in a healthy life style!
Title: Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: tainal387 on November 12, 2013, 08:06:28 PM
Hi Amanda, Thank you so much for this thread! I do feed my family of 3 on a budget of $150 per week. My husband and I sit down every Sunday to plan our menu for the week, then we hit the farmers market and the grocery store and  always trying to buy whatever is on season. This way it makes a lot easier to know what to cook for dinner and keeps me off those "little trips" to the grocery store and spend a lot of money.
Title: Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: bashdar on May 21, 2014, 11:10:44 PM
Thank you so much for this thread! I do feed my family of 3 on a budget of $150 per week. My husband and I sit down every Sunday to plan our menu for the week, then we hit the farmers market and the grocery store and  always trying to buy whatever is on season.


Title: Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: BonnieS on July 25, 2014, 04:17:50 PM
We are 2 adults on GAPS living in Manhattan, and food costs us $500/month/adult ($125/week/adult), or $1000 total per month.

We belong to a food club for pastured meats, and never spend over $7.50/lb for meat (if we shopped at the supermarket for sustainable, healthy choices in Manhattan, we'd pay twice to three times that, per pound).

For produce, we buy what's least expensive and organic. We go through about 6-8 pounds of vegetables per day (3-4 pounds/person/day), so it adds up.

In a month when we're more flush and can relax the purse strings a little, we'll maybe buy some fancy luxury foods like avocados and macadamia nuts and a couple of pastured steaks, and spend more like $1200.
Title: Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: mallorygru157 on September 09, 2014, 08:40:35 AM
Amanda-

You are truly an inspiration to me! My fiance and I are both students, and I have a few part-time jobs, so we are busy and truly on a budget. Food has been one thing that has been difficult for us to put an exact number on when we predict our monthly expenses. Plus, we just moved, so our kitchen "staples" are quite low to nonexistent, which adds a lot to our first few monthly budgets. I feel like I've been going to the grocery store every other day, just buying what I need for our next meal, and it's really taking a toll on our bank account! I love how you laid everything out, you buy what's on sale, and you're buying good quality food! I think it's a lot of work upfront, but you've made it easy for yourself in the long run. It's nice to see a friendly and attainable budget with food that's good for the family. My goal this weekend is to lay out a weekly meal plan for my family, and get to work! Thanks for sharing!

-Mallory

P.S. Luckily our dog is just a little gal (20 lbs.), and loves veggie scraps in addition to her dry food. So she is very easy to please!
Title: Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: yoyeeb895 on September 30, 2014, 04:22:38 PM
Amanda-

This is awesome. Thank you for the tips.

I have a family of 3 and I am the only one who really cares about the quality of food entering my body. I have gotten my BF to be about 50% on board and each day he becomes more aware and interested. I tend to buy fresh produce every 2 days and I try to go to some local markets in Alameda or the Berkeley bowl - I am thinking the prices are much higher at these stores. The meat gets really pricey too, so I am going to attempt Whole Foods meat that you find on sale.
 
Reading your post was a great reminder that driving 30 minutes every Sunday to shop at the Farmers Market is well worth it.

Either way, I make sure my last dollar goes to groceries. Many of my family members and close friends complain about healthy foods being too pricey, but I know that it's a price worth paying for. I prefer spending extra on food than "things" that I will not be needing in a few years. I think another part of this is that many people don't choose to prioritize eating healthy because of the availability of unhealthy foods (laziness) and also just breaking the habit of eating poorly. It's unfortunate! 

I haven't itemized our spending, but you just encouraged that. So thank you!
Title: Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: spencerk602 on September 07, 2015, 10:55:30 AM
Amanda,

Thank you for posting this...lots of good information and ideas in this thread! I live and grew up in South Eastern Wisconsin, and now that I am going back to school, working full-time and have my own apartment (And a dog!), it has been a struggle to create a budget for my weekly groceries that still allows me to eat well and still have money leftover! My budget that I try to stay under each week is $50-$60 (This is for 1 person as I purchase raw dog food at a local holistic pet food store which would go under pet expenses), however if I have a week where I need to stock up on staples then it may be $80-$90.

Each weekend I decide on 2-3 recipes that I want to make, and purchase my groceries based on that. If I already have some of the ingredients in my pantry I try to find dishes to incorporate them to help save costs. I try to make dishes that I can make a lot of and then freeze the leftovers to save for a day when I'm too tired to cook, or too busy. We have a great farmers market where I live and I love going there, however I don't always get time to go to the grocery store as well as the farmers market in one weekend.

I am interested in looking into purchasing a share from one of our local CSA's to cut down on costs as well as support our local farms in Wisconsin, however, has anyone had any experience with this before? How much do you generally need to invest and do you feel that it truly helps save on grocery costs? Do you feel as though you get enough of a variety of fruits and vegetables, or do you still feel the need to supplement a lot from your grocery store?

Thanks!
Title: Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: Nori on September 09, 2015, 09:22:52 AM
You probably know about www.localharvest.org and the Weston A P Foundation to locate others interested in sharing.  I have purchased directly from growers and split through our local WA Price chapter membership. What is delivered: cuts and ground meat, (optional bones, offal, tail, tongue, etc, which are priced per item).  We agreed in advance how many pounds people wanted and they generally got 50% of weight in cuts (roasts and steaks, evenly divided usually) and the rest in ground meat.  The price per pound worked out to $8.50 a pound, which is a huge cost savings. 


I fronted the cost of the whole animal, bison in this case, and people reimbursed me upon pick-up.  I had to transport the delivery from the local airport (the bison came from Missouri) to the place we used for pick-up.  One needs a good scale to weigh out each portion.   The key item is having a large enough freezer. I got our 3 cubic foot freezer from Craig's List for $50 a while ago-- well worth it!


For fruits and vegetables, I belong to a CSA and get a weekly box, which I do supplement with other seasonal produce from local farmer's markets.  The farm gets funds for those upfront costs like tractor repair, seeds, starts, health insurance for the employees, irrigation supplies, etc.  We have belonged for 20 years to the same farm.  We pay $24/medium box although by paying for 3 months' worth, we get a  discount on that price. 


Some farms combine meat and produce but I think it is a tough business model, in general. 


Hope this helps.
Title: Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: wendys582 on October 22, 2015, 12:11:33 PM
WOW!  I'm so glad this is helpful.  When I first became the sole provider (in terms of shopping and cooking) it was a bit overwhelming trying to find less expensive food and still have it be high quality.  Buying in bulk was good in theory but I found I wasted a lot more and bought things I didn't need.   Clipping coupons was never really an option because they never seemed to apply for anything I would buy.   

I over spent for many years.

Several years ago, I started "interviewing" my friends and other moms at the park about how they grocery shop.   It all came down to meal planning for the savvy ones.   Thats when the adventure really began.  ;D  At that point I had two things in mind: Saving $$ and eating high quality food.   By shopping around it became evident that there was a better way to shop.  I figured out a routine that worked for me and then last year started my blog hoping that others might benefit. I am so pleased that someone might find all of this helpful!  YAY!

Sure, print it out! Sure we can get together!  I've got lots of other tips too!  you can email me at amandalouden@hotmail.com
Title: Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: wendys582 on October 22, 2015, 12:15:12 PM
Hi, I found your post very helpful and inspiring how you are able to feed your family on a budget in Sacramento, I also live in Sacramento.  I follow similar shopping habits by buying what’s on sale for that week at whole foods, and I also go shopping at the famers market on Sunday.  I will also shop at Costco for my organic eggs 2 dozen for $6.35, goat cheese 16 for $6.25, organic dates, organic sprouted pumpkin seeds, organic frozen fruits, organic almonds, and organic chicken.  The savings at Costco is almost ½ the cost and I find the products are better quality then trader Joes and the same products that I find at whole foods.  Thanks, Wendy
Title: Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: misswoo on December 15, 2015, 11:24:28 AM
This thread is extremely interesting to read. Not least since it takes our ideal world of desiring healthy nutrition for ourselves and our families and puts it into the practical reality of finances, choice, and the influence of mass marketing.

I live in the Austrian Alps in Europe. It has been a good ten years since since chain supermarkets have provided a wide range of organic products and seasonal, locally grown produce. These food stuffs can also be found at eye-level on the shelves - an indicator of persuading consumers to purchase easily, as opposed to hunting for, better quality and health-giving goods. I have also noted that price has rapidly changed, certainly if a supermarket chain picks up on a brand that carries diversified product range which can meet many demands, from oils to nut spreads, cereals to pasta, seeds to nuts. I spend 40% less on organic produce that five years ago and can even buy the new exotics like chia, goji and algae - normally the realm of the hardcore health food shop.

I can eat organic, fresh seasonal foods, including eggs, grass-fed butter, linseed/olive oil and enough food for my personal week on $40. I buy to eat: in other words, I don't do a 'just in case' impulse purchase, or buy something before it runs out. I make sure I use all my vegetables and fruit before buying a new batch - so might end up with a rather interesting and creative soup before I replenish!

I would say my cupboards and fridge have good feng shui with positive energy; psychologically I don't feel lack or have a poverty mentality. For me, it just seems to make sense to eat what I have - instead of overconsuming. Which is what we could all do, whether we are organic and conscious healthy eaters or not, whether money is an issue or not. Cupboards that are rammed with ingredients, however quality-based, might do the opposite to inspire meal choices. Foods that spoil quickly or get lost in the background past sell-by-dates might end up in the compost bin - an example of global food waste. In trying new products, that bulgar wheat might not be to your taste, so give the packet away to a friend. And, whilst I am mindful that this model might work for my budget as a single person, I still feel reverence to the bigger picture - to simplify and not waste; to respect the local farmer's hard work; and eat well. Which certainly helps in not over-spending too!



Title: Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: Nori on December 19, 2015, 01:43:54 PM
Such a great philosophy-- to avoid waste, a very important standard in my family of origin.  Amazing to me is that some folks dislike leftovers and will toss anything not eaten.  Yet another approach is dumpster diving, something I learned about reading FARM CITY by Novella Carpenter, albeit for her voracious pigs. It's not all packaged foods that she found-- perfectly good produce that was being replaced by newer stock. A recent article on seafood waste was stunning-- 50% is tossed because it spoiled before being cooked or consumed.  Companies like IMPERFECT are doing their best to get people to change the way they purchase produce.  There is still so much more to do in this realm.


I enjoyed reading your post. 
Title: Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: anasuya on December 21, 2015, 09:56:40 AM
I appreciate the idea of adding an awareness of feng shui to the pantry, ie. keeping it organized and easy to navigate. I am so in-need of a pantry re-org myself and it's on the top of my list to have done before I greet the new year.

Apparently left-over meats are higher in histamines and so some people who are sensitive to histamines react poorly to them. I wonder if the people I know who are turned off by left overs have this issue.

It is amazing to read how much food waste there is.

My sister keeps a board on her fridge which lists what veggies are inside so she is reminded to eat them before they go bad.
Title: Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: Nori on December 22, 2015, 07:52:17 AM
I am very curious to know any correlations between aversion to leftovers and problems with high histamines.
[/size]
[/size]This year I did a talk on acne and eczema (Community Conversations) and the matter of high histamine foods was mentioned as a potential contributing factor to both conditions.  Foods that block the enzyme DAO (Diamine oxidase) that decommissions histamines can be blocked by eating certain foods:      [/size]Diamine Oxidase (DAO) blockers: alcohol, black, green and mate teas, energy drinks (which are also high in histamines).  Also some medications are high in histamine, which could have an additive effect: http://www.diagnosisdiet.com/histamine-intolerance/ (http://www.diagnosisdiet.com/histamine-intolerance/)
[/size]And some people are born with low levels of DAO. Supplements that help some include vitamins C and B6, as well as adequate copper (the latter is usually not a problem). 


     
Title: Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: neetam478 on September 09, 2016, 11:09:46 AM
This forum is awesome.  I am a new student and trying to get my way around.
Title: Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: Marlina E on September 16, 2016, 04:52:28 PM
Welcome! Glad you are liking the content. This post in particular has been popular for so long.  And there are tons more amazing shares and discussions in our forum. Glad you are here!
Title: Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: travisrehard on October 31, 2016, 06:12:51 PM
This discussion was split from a previous topic, hence the way it sort of jumps into discussion below, but you will get the idea.... - M.E. Moderator

I spend between $120 - $200 per week on a family of 6 (that includes 2-80lb dogs that I homecook for).  We also eat only local, seasonal and organic (with a few exceptions).  That also includes plenty of organic meat (both for the humans and the four legged).  I enjoy seeing how other people shop for groceries.  Its been my hobby for the past 5+ years. ;D I am always irritated when I hear others say it costs too much to eat well.

I as well get very irritated when I hear that it cost too much to eat well.  Yes it can become pricey if all you buy is high end Organic foods from supermarkets. Purchasing cheap food is like buying cheap gasoline for your vehicle, yes it may get you where you need to be but why would you choose to continue to experience terrible fuel economy (low energy) at the expense of a few dollars.  Eating well does not break the piggy bank if you know how to shop and prepare foods properly.  Thumbs Up!
Title: Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: kyliejohnson on November 25, 2016, 09:02:34 PM
This is a very inspiring post. For someone who cooks every meal at home (on too much of a restricted diet to trust eating out at restaurants) I find myself going to the grocery store a lot and spending a lot!! I usually shop at Whole Foods, New Leaf, or other small local health food stores, and avoid stores like Safeway. I always try to make enough dinner for leftovers, occasionally meal plan, and try to purchase mostly organic. I've never actually tracked how much I spend monthly on food, and to be honest, don't pay enough attention to price labels at the store...I buy what I need and just suck it up. However, this post has inspired me to keep track of next month’s grocery spending to see if there is room for better budgeting. I also like the idea of going to the store once a week for meats and plan meals based off your purchases. I find myself going to the store most often for veggies and protein, so it would be nice to minimize that by a little thoughtful planning.

I've always wondered does cooking your own meals and buying organic, whole foods actually save you money versus eating out and buying meals on the go?
Title: Re: Feeding a Family and Eating For Health On a Budget
Post by: lisas872 on February 03, 2017, 07:55:45 AM
That is amazing!  Inspirational.  I have a family of 4 humans (one is 4 months so she doesn't count for food yet) and a dog and I think I spend about $275 a week on food, plus we go out to dinner fairly often.  Would you be willing to share a typical food planning week with us?  You mentioned you food plan for the week on Sundays.  That is where I get stuck so often and away wind up throwing away food at the end of the week and it KILLS ME!
Title: Re: Feeding a Family and Eating For Health On a Budget
Post by: lizetrojas on March 01, 2017, 02:03:46 PM
Wow this is very good information, thank you for that. I spend about the same as you an we are a family of two. Being new to trying to get everything organic or farmers market I think I need to do more planing. How difficult did you find it starting your own garden? That is something I want to start doing too.
Title: Re: Feeding a Family and Eating For Health On a Budget
Post by: sdemaria on March 25, 2017, 11:30:02 AM
What a great topic and wonderful insights in this forum.
I have been passionate about cooking on a budget since i was a raw vegan college student and my choices of what to buy and where, were very limited.  As a mindful parent now I believe in both providing and teaching our children with the best possible resources we can get and sometimes that comes with a higher price.  Nonetheless is well worth it and with a little planning and conscientious decisions we  have been able to stick to our budget.  I wanted to share what has worked for me.
1. I try to have a monthly budget as opposed to a weekly budget. This gives me more freedom to play around with my choices and to not have to stress about each purchase. It is also a great treat when i have a little bit extra $ at the end of the month and get to   splurge on something i normally wouldn't buy.
2. I actually do not shop at large retailers. I became member of our local coop and get a discount some people find it cheaper to buy on sale products and organic items from large retailers but if you look closer most of this products come from abroad, have a lot of packaging and that is some of the ideas i am trying to avoid all together,
3. I buy bulk for all of my staples. Both bulk bins and case purchases are my friends. This is one of the reasons a monthly budget is better for me too. most stores give you a 5% to 10% discount to buy bulk ( and bring your own container) and buy unbroken cases. Some of the items I get are. Local olive oil,  rice, oats, dry beans, granola, almonds , almond milk, quinoa, whole wheat pasta, almond butter,  nuts, sea salt, apple cider vinegar, castile soap, rice flour, coconut oil, herbal teas, all spices, miso paste, coffee. Some of this stuff last for more than a month.
4. I usually buy my produce and meats or fish at the farmers market. Most of the seasonal produce at a very reasonable price so we get creative  and eat mostly in season. ( in the winter when there is not a lot of variety we buy some organic frozen staples or some farmers can their surplus and they are delighted to share the love with you. )  I am a vegetarian but my children and husband are not so I buy a large piece of meat and clean it and portion it at home. same with the chicken and make chicken broth.  We also utilize EVERY part of the veggies  and meat and try to minimize waste.
5. Cheese, eggs an dairy. We have 5 chickens at home so we get eggs from them. We get our milk at the farmers market in a returnable container so  the price comes down a lot and there is no waste. cheeses and butter i buy at the local coop and usually buy it bulk.

I hope this inspires people to explore their local options instead of always going to Whole Foods, nothing wrong with that but it is so incredible to get to know your local farmers and share the passion they feel for what they do. It connect us. It humanized what we eat and heals the soul.
Title: Re: Feeding a Family and Eating For Health On a Budget
Post by: Nori on March 25, 2017, 03:48:42 PM
Wow!  This is what people did before WW2-- family farms and self-sufficiency.  Do you also grow vegetables in season?
Title: Re: Feeding a Family and Eating For Health On a Budget
Post by: sdemaria on March 25, 2017, 08:13:28 PM
Nori, it is work but it is well worth it.
We try to grow our own vegetables. however we are very close to the bay and we do not get a lot of sun or warm weather so we grow potatoes, hearty greens and a lot of lettuces.  I also have a living wall inside with herbs!
Children really benefit from seeing and experiencing this process.  We also buy a lo of whole grains and process them ourselves. My older son loves to help me roll the oats and mill the corn.
Title: Re: Feeding a Family and Eating For Health On a Budget
Post by: mouali on March 30, 2017, 10:04:58 AM
This topic is very important for any family trying to switch to real food on a budget. We are a family of four ( single mother with three children ) I spend so much in grocery shopping a month and reading all of you guys experiences has inspired me to take a close look and at what I can do to still eat fresh local foods at an affordable price. Tank you for sharing!

Massiva
Title: Re: Feeding a Family and Eating For Health On a Budget
Post by: nlea on April 10, 2017, 04:40:17 PM
Hi -

This post has inspired me to start tracking the amount of money I spend on groceries/food. I have never thought much about budgeting when it comes to food, I don't want to sacrifice what I want to eat because of cost.

Now, since joining Bauman, I really want to focus on buying only local and organic, which will definitely increase my costs. Before, I tried to buy organic but probably only did 30% of the time. I have started going to the farmers market, and we use Imperfect Produce 2x a month (a local CSA that is discounted because the produce is "imperfect" and would otherwise be going to waste), but I'm looking for other ideas so that I don't have to sacrifice quality if this becomes expensive.

Any other ideas besides farmers markets and CSA boxes? I live with my boyfriend so there are just two of us to cook for.

Appreciate any insight!

Thanks,
Nicolette
Title: Re: Feeding a Family and Eating For Health On a Budget
Post by: ttreu on April 12, 2017, 03:20:50 PM
I know the original post was submitted years ago...back in 2008...but this is very relevant in my life.  I am sure budgeting for food is a struggle many people have on a daily basis regardless of what year it is.  For me, I am fortunate to not worry about where I am going to get the money for food but rather how not to waste food or the money used to pay for it.  I generally shop at Whole Foods or Oliver's where I can buy all my organic meat, dairy and produce all in one place.  I find it more convenient to shop there instead of driving all over town for different items, and I'm willing to pay higher amounts for that convenience.  Problem is, my eyes are bigger than my stomach and I end up composting 25% of the produce I buy.  Yay for composting, but I am essentially composting my money instead of just the scraps in my kitchen.  I am trying to be better at menu planning and organizing my week to rein in my spending.  Not an easy task.  I love perusing the farmer's markets too and find myself buying more delicious things to fill my stomach and the fridge.  So I would like to thank the original author for helping me to connect with this goal of smarter shopping and menu planning allowing me to fill my wallet instead of the compost pile!!
Title: Re: Feeding a Family and Eating For Health On a Budget
Post by: taylorplatisha on May 01, 2017, 01:35:02 PM
This is really helpful, as I try to keep our grocery costs around the same amount per week and planning meals does make a huge difference for us too. Great tips on taking only a certain amount of cash with you on farmer's market trips, I will be trying that when ours open up this week!
Title: Re: Feeding a Family and Eating For Health On a Budget
Post by: melisawebster on May 15, 2017, 11:16:35 AM
I agree that it is possible to eat healthy with organic, grass fed, pasture raised 100%. I do it with a family of 5! As this is the way to be proactive about your health. There are sales at every place that you shop. You can buy things ahead of time, freeze them for later. Costco and BJ's also have organic, grass fed and pasture raised items so that is helpful to buy in bulk as well. It is such an inspirational way to feed your family and know in your heart that they are getting nutritional value in everything that you buy!
Title: Re: Feeding a Family and Eating For Health On a Budget
Post by: wendicarlock on May 17, 2017, 08:42:28 PM
I'm new to the Nutrition Consultant program and am always looking to cut any kind of waste possible.  This is a great thread with a lot to work with to cut spending and still feed my family well.  Thank you all so much.  I look forward to reading the different blogs and learning more through this course and all of you!
Title: Re: Feeding a Family and Eating For Health On a Budget
Post by: resham on August 07, 2017, 07:25:06 PM
Hello
As far as eating on a budget , I think wastage of food can lead to spending more than one actually needs. I have noticed with young kids who are picky  and small eaters , the inability to finish food leads to wastage of food. My goal at home is to plan to cook the portions that would be actually consumed. Will need to put a plan in place to get the portions right. It is a work in progress.
Title: Re: Feeding a Family and Eating For Health On a Budget
Post by: jhannon on August 10, 2017, 09:31:19 PM
Hi all!
I have enjoyed reading through a handful of these posts! Eating on a budget has been a conversation at our house too that started out a little *sensitive* and has now become one of our areas where we dream and enjoy (took some time, like 3 years haha)! My husband and I have been reading different books together recommended by Bauman College, and I have been very blessed that he jumped on board the organic, non-GMO, local/farmers market way of cooking and eating. He read the Nourishing Traditions Cookbook, and was a changed man! This cookbook is of my biggest recommendations to people who are interested in organic/sustainable/healthy living, and I think it helps with the conversation of budget. The author does a great job at casting vision for WHY organic/local foods and HOW those foods nourish, strengthen, and heal our bodies. Which I think big picture vision, then allows for (hopefully!) better conversations on how to prioritize money for food. Money can be such a sensitive subject, but I really believe with great vision and great purpose, budget conversations can eventually be productive and place you and your family on the same page! I also have learned there isn't a "right" number for a budget (even though I would love there to be!) because each families needs are so different--from allergies to likes and dislikes. So I have learned over the past four years, that it takes time to catch a groove, figure out what foods work for you, which farmers markets vendors you like, and how to make the most of all the nutritional yummy food you've been given!
Title: Re: Feeding a Family and Eating For Health On a Budget
Post by: lizacarter on August 29, 2017, 02:03:56 AM
This discussion was split from a previous topic, hence the way it sort of jumps into discussion below, but you will get the idea.... - M.E. Moderator

I spend between $120 - $200 per week on a family of 6 (that includes 2-80lb dogs that I homecook for).  We also eat only local, seasonal and organic (with a few exceptions).  That also includes plenty of organic meat (both for the humans and the four legged).  I enjoy seeing how other people shop for groceries.  Its been my hobby for the past 5+ years. ;D I am always irritated when I hear others say it costs too much to eat well.

Hi Amanda
Well done you!! I think people just use the cost as an excuse to make themselves feel better.
What better present can you give yourself than good health and loads of energy!
Title: Re: Feeding a Family and Eating For Health On a Budget
Post by: AshleyIreland on August 29, 2017, 10:09:06 AM
Happy Tuesday!

I wanted to share with everyone that Sprouts has a really good selection on local and organic foods.

I usually check their weekly ads on Monday nights and write down everything that I need or that's on sale.

https://www.sprouts.com/web/guest/specials/-/flyer/store/206

I also heard that Amazon just bought WholeFoods, and Amazon is going to cut down prices !
:)

ashleyireland
eatingforhealth69803
Title: Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
Post by: rosaleedrose on September 08, 2017, 02:01:13 AM
I know how it feels to spend a lot on groceries, we spend $100 -$120 a week on average for our family of three.  I try to look at it this way; by purchasing more healthy and organic foods we are making an investment in our health and the overall well being of our planet.  To me that makes it all worth it!

I totally agree. However if there's a way to cut spending while retaining the food quality and quantity, which the OP seems to have found, I'd totally go for it!
Title: Re: Feeding a Family and Eating For Health On a Budget
Post by: jenniferbanaszak on September 27, 2017, 01:46:19 PM
Hi all,
I am a single mom of three and am always trying to find ways to make my grocery budget stretch.  I don't know how prevalent the store Grocery Outlet is in your area but they are here in Northern California and have a great organic section (the one in Petaluma has a huge section) with products at up to 50% off retail.  You can really find some great bargains here, I really don't know what I would do without them. 
I have a small backyard and not a whole lot of room for a garden but I have a few potted vegetables.  A couple of friends and I get together before we plant and decide who will grow what and then we all share our veggies, it works out great for us.  Friends and I also buy in bulk together and split our purchases which can really bring the price down on things.  And of course shopping to your local grocery adds saves a ton, I always plan my meals according to what is on sale at my local store.  Hope someone might find this helpful, thanks for reading!
Title: Re: Feeding a Family and Eating For Health On a Budget
Post by: denaloijosedwards on November 07, 2017, 09:13:14 AM
I am impressed and inspired.  I work hard to plan meals, include my family and share the tasks.  I can now see areas that I can make improvements and save a little more money and a little more time.  Most of the time, I enjoy going to the store and enjoy sending my 9 and 13 yo to the store for life experience.  It teaches them about food, money and the work it takes to manage a family.  I am fortunate enough to participate in a CSA and to be walking distance from a major health food market, my CSA pick up and the weekly Farmer's Market.  WOW, until I wrote that down, I didn't realize just how fortunate I am in this regard!
Title: Re: Feeding a Family and Eating For Health On a Budget
Post by: courtneymckiernan on November 09, 2017, 03:33:28 PM
Hi there!

This post was really inspiring and helped me reflect on the ways in which I attempt to maintain a budget while eating local, organic, whole foods.  I have definitely made improvements over the years but I still find that convenience wins out most of the time, and I find myself spending quite a bit of $ on just my fiancé and I.  I buy most of my organic foods from Aldi or Trader Joe's, but there is no way the bulk or even majority of what I buy is local.  This is one of my only options during the winter months (I'm from Rhode Island), but during the summer and fall I can easily stop by a few farm stands/farmer's markets on a weekly basis.  I'd like to start extending the availability of local, organic, whole foods by canning/fermenting what I can buy during the summer and fall months.  Is there anyone who has any tips or resources in order to point me in the right direction?  Keep in mind I have zero experience with canning and only slightly more experience in the kitchen cooking in general :)  It's been an enjoyable (but admittedly slow) process!

Any advice or opinion is well appreciated!  Maybe there are more ways to extend the local, organic season in New England?

Thank you!
Courtney
Title: Re: Feeding a Family and Eating For Health On a Budget
Post by: stephenrose on November 28, 2017, 04:13:00 PM
One thing that people don't account for when considering the cost of nutrient-dense foods, versus empty calorie foods, is that nutrient-dense foods, although generally more expensive on a per calorie basis, require fewer calories to satisfy the body's nutrient needs than empty calorie foods. Reseach indicates the brain continues to signal hunger when mineral and vitamin levels have not been satisfied. When consuming empty-calorie foods, people eat an extremely high amount of calories and still do not meet the body's nutrient levels. So, although empty calorie foods are often cheaper, when you adjust for the amount eaten, they are no longer as budget friendly.

Of course, if you include the long-term healthcare costs of eating empty calorie foods, then they are even less budget friendly. The can literally bankrupt a family if a family member develops heart disease, diabetes, or cancer as a consequence of eating low nutrient foods.
Title: Re: Feeding a Family and Eating For Health On a Budget
Post by: sherrig on February 02, 2018, 07:31:58 PM
Though the 2008 post has been a while ago, I thought it was interesting that grocery shopping was done first and then recipes were made.  I have looked at the grocery flyers first to see what the sales are,  looked at recipes, and then went shopping.  She goes to several places to get all of the food for her family.  I don't have that much time to go to that many places, but it is good to see how people save money and still buy quality food for their family.  I appreciate this post.  Thank you.
Title: Re: Feeding a Family and Eating For Health On a Budget
Post by: joshpinnick on February 21, 2018, 11:59:21 AM
This is a fantastic thread that highlights the inextricable connection between healthy eating and finances.  There is so much noise and misinformation in the public sphere when it comes to the conversation of food quality, nutritional value, price value, etc.  The journey has been an evolution for me and my family (2 adults, 3 children) as we've progressed to a whole food centered diet.  One family member has 2 auto-immune diseases and others have shown symptoms that were attributed to inflammation.  Removing processed foods has been instrumental in our journey and food quality/sustainability are now non-negotiable.  As we started this journey 10 years ago, we were shocked at the doubt and criticism we faced from family members as we implemented a whole food approach.  It shows the power of noise, misinformation, and marketing that have infiltrated common sense as well as the trade offs that people are willing to make.  We're constantly refining our approach but at the moment we have a seasonal garden that yields a fair amount of fresh vegetables in the summer months and we're balancing our purchases from Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, Costco, Kroger, Vitacost and TerraSoul.  We're spending about $1800-$2000 a month, but my goal is to get this down to $1500 by being more mindful of what we're consuming.  All part of the journey, thanks again for the helpful posts!
Title: Re: Feeding a Family and Eating For Health On a Budget
Post by: emmabishopp on March 20, 2018, 05:37:52 PM
This is a very helpful blog stream. I have just started the nutrition consultant course and the first thing my family back in the UK said to me was "well it's ok if you've got plenty of money then you can eat well but otherwise it's pretty difficult" and I really wasn't entirely prepared for how to answer that. It truly made me think that if I do become a professional nutritional consultant this will be an issue I need to be prepared to answer with helpful, realistic answers and suggestions that can be put into practice with ease because organic, fresh foods are more expensive generally if you purchase them in the regular grocery stores.  The easier we make it for people to change their eating habits the more they are likely to do so. It also made me realize that I will need to be sensitive about how to approach this issue too particularly as I hope to support cancer patients who are likely to have a lot of medical expenses. I plan on making a note about some of the suggestions on here.  I'm not sure exactly what is available in the UK now where my family are but if I do see clients eventually they are likely to be in California and these suggestions will be extremely useful. I also need to start using many of them for my own family. I know we spend way too much on food and I'm ashamed to say we often waste it too.  This program is going to be life changing I can see.
Title: Re: Feeding a Family and Eating For Health On a Budget
Post by: christinecrespo on May 29, 2018, 11:54:33 PM
Hi, I am Christine Crespo and I am very excited to be here. I am a new student so I am trying to navigate through this site. I hope to read and participate in these exciting topics I see. Thank you for sharing and making me think deeper on these critical issues.
Title: Re: Feeding a Family and Eating For Health On a Budget
Post by: daniellesisneros on August 29, 2018, 10:53:00 AM
Amanda, thank you for sharing your budget with us, it's very interesting. I shop at a lot of the same places you do (except I'm in the bay area), always looking around for the best bargain. I love that you cook your pet's food and include them in your budget, I used to do that too (I fed my cat a raw food diet). I am excited to get back in the routine of cooking at home--I'll be budgeting for a family of four as well because I'm moving back home. I'm convinced I'll be able to reduce the grocery bill by introducing new recipes to the household (much healthier ones, too!). I am usually pretty good about letting nothing go to waste. I, too, stress an importance on organic animal products. I'm looking forward to reading more of your blog about how to feed a family a healthy diet on a budget! Thank you again for your post!
Title: Re: Feeding a Family and Eating For Health On a Budget
Post by: krystaljordan on November 01, 2018, 12:22:15 PM
Thank you Amanda! I love this topic & the thread has me in amazement! Everyone seems so much more organized than I am when it comes to grocery shopping. I do make a weekly grocery list and shop when I can (usually during the week while most people are at work). I will definitely buy things on sale if it's something I like but don't research much. I just buy what I am in the mood for. I am single with no kids so it's just me. I don't limit my budget too much when it comes to food & it also helps that I am vegetarian with vegan tendencies(I enjoy cheese and butter here and there) and I enjoy cooking and creating new recipes.  I think it would be a good idea for me to try & keep track of what I am spending just to figure out how much I could be saving.  Also, it does help tremendously that I live in the midwest and the farmers market is within walking distance.  If I had to guess, I would say I spend about $100 per week on food & that is just for me but includes snacks, coffee and occasionally red wine & an occasional meal on the go.  You all have inspired me to keep track of my food budget. It only makes sense.
Title: Re: Feeding a Family and Eating For Health On a Budget
Post by: sharicasolo on November 29, 2018, 10:08:23 PM
Wow! Amanda, this is so impressive. I often hear from people how expensive it is to eat healthy. I find it to be true, but I do what I can. I would rather spend more money on quality food then less money on garbage foods. I would make you cringe as a single person with 3 animals I don't even know what I spend weekly. I need you give me a food budget! I probably spend about $100-$150 a week on food for just myself and that doesn't include, pets or bulk items. I don't like driving all over the place so I am a one stop shop kind of girl. I don't buy foods because they are on sale. I plan my menu then buy foods, maybe I should try your way. I am not a very good shopper. I find the meats at wholefoods to be quite expensive and in general I just don't like shopping there. I think because it is always so busy and I am not familiar with the store. I usually end up at the grocery store about 3 or 4 times in a week. I always need something, usually fruits, veggies or meats. I rarely go out to eat. I am in CT so I don't know if food here is more expensive than where you are. I certainly enjoy the farmers markets when I can get to them. I do feel as though I get more for my money there and I am happy supporting a local farm.  You said you make most things from scratch. Do you do any canning or preserve foods in the off season? Thank you again for sharing.
Title: Re: Feeding a Family and Eating For Health On a Budget
Post by: JessieWinsted on November 30, 2018, 11:06:01 AM
What a fantastic topic!
As a single mom of two young boys, working full time in the Bay Area, affordability of healthy food is something I think about daily!  We regularly hit the Saturday farmers markets for produce and order the ingredients we don't find at the market through a farm delivery service weekly. I started utilizing this shopping method when I realized that the lack of time was an obstacle for me when shopping for good food on a budget. It isn't often I have time to stroll through the grocery store with kids in tow! The kids love the Saturday market with music, flowers, samples and other kids, which makes shopping even easier and more fun. The other benefit is that kids meet the folks who grow the almond trees, keep the bees and pick the fruit.
However- we still spend a "fortune" on good food. For myself, two boys and a carnivorous boyfriend, I spend around $200 per week on food, not including an occasional night out or splurge on wine or other treats.
Title: Re: Feeding a Family and Eating For Health On a Budget
Post by: micheleheusinger on December 06, 2018, 06:35:27 AM
I find this topic enlightening and fascinating.  Food budgeting seems to be the only area that my husband and I cannot agree.   
I plan my meals out weekly.  I make a grocery list according to how the store is laid out.  I make enough that we usually can get two meals out of whatever I make (ex: chili, chicken soup).  I also make enough for lunches.  Yet, no matter how organized I am, I simply cannot get my grocery bill under $250.00.  It's even higher when I have to be cleaning supplies and paper products.  This number does not include my Amazon Prime or Thrive Market orders.. Nor does it include  my husband's weekly shopping trip or my monthly trip to Whole Foods. 
I have been trying to only by S.O.U.L foods.  We do not have any Farmer's Markets open this time of year.  I had never thought about it until starting school at Bauman College.  I'm from the Buffalo, New York (Western New York Region) area.  We don't have many places to get seasonal foods this time of year and we don't have a winter growing season.  It's too cold. 
We do have a garden and I did can all of out tomatoes this year.  That only gave me six jars of tomatoes and they are gone already.  We froze our peppers, those are gone as well. 
I'm looking to freeze and can more next year and that should help.  It's difficult to buy local, which would be less expensive, when there is no place to buy.  Therefore, I am left with the commercial grocery stores, which I know charge more than I could get it locally. 
I only buy organic fruits and vegetables and meats and pasture raised eggs.  Actually, i believe I buy just about everything organic, grass fed, pasture raised and non GMO.  It drives me husband nuts but I refuse to eat or have my  daughters eat the commercial processed foods. 
Maybe I need to learn how to budget better.  Unfortunately, at our grocery stores, the organic grass fed meats are never on sale.  I have only seen the organic produce on sale once in a great while.  it seems that it is easier to eat within a budget and healthier in other areas.  At least that is what I've noticed.   
I know I need to do something though, my budget, or lack there of, is not good at all. 
Title: Re: Feeding a Family and Eating For Health On a Budget
Post by: mollybrownlee on February 19, 2019, 09:52:22 AM
Amanda, this is so impressive! Thanks for sharing. I spend $300-400/week on all organic food for just my husband and I. I will have to use some of your tips. Thanks!
Title: Re: Feeding a Family and Eating For Health On a Budget
Post by: erinlong on May 22, 2019, 11:13:18 PM
One of the ways that my family has been able to shop better and eliminate waste is through a meal planning app called Real Plans, though I know that there are free versions of other apps available.
https://realplans.com/

What I like about it is that I can schedule the app to split the week up, based off the date that my local markets announce their new sales (sales begin at most of the stores in my area on Wednesday, so that's when my week begins). Once I know what's on sale, I can select recipes or import my own recipes that utilize those ingredients. It creates a shopping list, based off the quantities in each recipe, which prevents accidental over purchasing. If one recipe in the week calls for, say, 1/2 a head of cabbage, I can either double the recipe or select another recipe for later in the week that also uses cabbage, so I don't have food languishing in my fridge. Leftovers are then eaten for breakfast or lunch!