I was recently asked by a reader how much we spend on our grocery bill using whole foods. My answer... approximately $100 a week for 6 people, 2 dogs, 2 cats, 28 chickens and 3 goats (oh and the hamster :P lol)
Let me explain how we are able to do this.
Here's the don'ts...
1) I do not buy organics unless they are on sale for less than the conventional variety. Do not be swindled! My father is a farmer (17+ acres of vegetables that he sells to grocery stores, restaurants etc. ) and the fertilizers and such that he uses are actually milder than those used by a local organic farmer. Organic farmers can still use pesticides, they're just regulated by what types they are able to use.
2) I do not clip coupons. I have friends that will yell at me for this one (hi J :) but the foods that we eat do not usually have coupons for them...the coupons are usually for pre-packaged, processed foods...which leads me to....
3) I do not buy pre-packaged foods. The are way more expensive and the nutrition has been compromised.
4) I do not buy refined, white foods...flours, sugars, pastas etc.
Now, here's how I make our small budget work for us.
1) I buy local and buy in bulk whenever possible. I can or freeze the excess for the winter months. Buying local is "green" as it doesn't need to be transported as far (less fuel and emissions) but even more important than that, you are supporting a local farmer!
3) Buy in bulk whenever the price is good. This is a continuation of #1, but seriously if I can buy a 50lb bag of wheat berries for 28$, it makes much more sense than buying it by the lb at 1.69$. Also, having food set by in storage is something we've talked about before. It's always wise to have a food storage that you can pull from when times are lean...never mind in the case of an emergency.
4) I write out a menu in advance and then make a shopping list from that. I also have a basic list (pantry, freezer, dry storage, health & beauty care etc.) of all the items we use on a regular basis. This is a great reminder for when I'm having a spacey moment and need to put our grocery list together.
5) Count the cost of gasoline and go shopping 2x's a month vs every week. This is a new thing for us and what a blessing it has been. Also, the more you are at the store, the more apt to buy convenience food you are! (note...I do go to a farm for 4 gallons of raw milk once a week...unfortunately it just doesn't last any longer in our house :)
6) Plan some easy meals into your menu...this helps to avoid the fast food/ pizza runs. I have some meals planned that I can get on the table in 15 min.! Remember the basics...eggs and toast, oatmeal, real peanut butter and homemade jelly! These cost pennies and are easy and quick to make.
7) I don't serve meat with every meal. I try to serve some form of legumes at least 3 times a week. Not only are they healthy, they really help the grocery budget! :)
8) Look for alternative foods that are healthier...AND...cheaper! I can buy peanut butter at a Whole Foods store for the same or LESS than some of the sugar laden, chemical versions! And the added benefit is having the kids be able to watch the peanuts being ground :) (okay..this Mama likes to watch too! lol)
9)Anything that can be made at home is apt to be cheaper. We were given a beautiful pasta maker for Christmas and it costs just pennies to make our own pasta now....and the flavor and texture is sooo much better! Homemade laundry soap, cleaners, shampoos etc. are all going to be much cheaper and healthier. Plan one day a month and make them in bulk...then it's fast and cheap ;)
10) Look for foods as close to the way the Lord made them as possible...not only are these less expensive, they are usually much healthier.
I could go on and on with this list! I hope this has answered some of your questions and I'll try to post our next 2 week menu so you all can see the basic foods we eat :)