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7.12.2011

Pantry and Garden low-spend challenge

Full disclosure- this was not my idea. Erin over at $5 Dinners is doing this this month as well (also- I don't know how to embed links on Blogpress on my ipad, so I'll come back and link things up later, I promise, but you should check out $5 Dinners anyway!). Literally the day I read her post I had decided not to buy any more produce at the grocery store for the indefinite future- my garden is producing enough now that we should be well stocked. Right now (were I home- I'm on vacay at the Harlan resort in Nebraska... and in case you're not in on the joke, it's definitely not a resort) I could go out to my garden and get new potatoes, kale, baby romain, bib lettuce (rabbit eaten, but there nonetheless), zucchini (so, so much zucchini already), young onions, rhubarb, shell and sugar snap peas, and even a few peppers. And if I wanted to get creative I could also pick green tomatoes (no way I'd cut my harvest by doing that, but I could...), cabbage leaves, squash blossoms, and any number of the "baby" veggies growing. And should I feel the need to supplement, I'm not precluding myself from the farmers market or local produce from the co-op.
My "veggie pantry," or part of it- my massive zucchini patch.

As for everything else, what do I need to buy? Milk, which I will get at the co-op. I'm set on meat for a while (I do need to order more chickens... the baby kind...). I've got 75+ lbs of wheat, 25+ lbs of oats, about 20 lbs of spelt, several lbs of brown and white rice, about 30 lbs of beans. I may need to pick up honey at the co-op as well, and perhaps cheese. Oh, and eggs, since my chickies aren't laying yet (soon hopefully!). But I really don't think I need to hit the store for anything other than milk in July, and I'm going to see how long beyond that I can 1) go without buying any produce that isn't local, esp. grocery store produce, and 2) go without setting foot in the conventional grocery store. That sounds fun, right?

But I said low spend, too. Erin set a monthly budget for herself of $150 to buy milk and stuff. That's a little less than $40 a week. I need to buy about
a gallon of milk and 18-24 eggs each week, plus incidentals. Milk is $4 a half gallon, minus the bottle deposits, which works out to (rounding up) $5 a week for milk. Eggs are 3.50 a dozen, so $7 a week for eggs. Cream is $3 after the bottle deposit. What's my total? Where's my calculator??? :)

So that's like $15. Throw in a little for incidentals, I think $35 sounds reasonable. So that's it. $35 a week for groceries. From now until the end of August. From there on we will re-evaluate, but I really think this is sustainable.

For those of you thinking "what? How can she do this???" remember I am (very unfairly) lucky to have the world's largest deep freeze that still has a respectable amount of beef in it left from the half beef I bought from my dad last fall (that should last until Thanksgiving), the 20 chickens I recently sent off to freezer camp, and assorted pork products from my in-laws (not to mention my stockpile of stock, frozen beans, bread, some fish, frozen fruit sauce... I'm telling' you, it's a big freezer). Much of what we eat will come from this, and I'm not counting the amount I spent on these items. But I will tell you that, broken down monthly, our beef costs about $25 a month. My chickens cost about $6 each to raise (not counting housing). I'm not exactly breaking the bank with these things either. And the nice thing about making bulk purchases like this (other than being cheaper per lb) and stockpiling in general is that, should you have a few months where finances are a little tight, you can cut back your grocery budget, or not buy groceries at all- either way you don't have to worry one bit about whether or not your family will eat (and we all know that sometimes, having one less thing to worry about is HUGE).
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