I have noticed that one of the things that kill people's budgets is an inability to organize shopping. Today and tomorrow I am talking about that very subject. Today is weekly shopping, where you buy food for that week and make few bulk purchases; tomorrow I will be talking about largely making bulk purchases and occasionally stop at the market for dairy and produce.
So why shop weekly?
I am not a fan of shopping more than once a week. The idea of wandering through a lovely out-door market with wicker basket picking food for the next three meals is a charming idea but impractical. I live outside of Denver which means snow. Even in May. I have seen frost on the ground even in June. And I have a life. A busy one. You remember that I have ten kids? A once a week shopping trip helps me to keep my life open for all the crazy things going on. Plus, the more frequently you shop, the more you spend. I have a budget and I shop weekly at the close health food store. I do go twice a month to Costco for frozen berries, butter, cheese, eggs and regular pasteurized cream. I do a mad haul and freak people out. I get three pounds of berries, eight pounds of butter, one gallon of cream, 8 dozen eggs (to supplement my farm eggs), and 10-12 pounds of cheese. I went monthly when I had a smaller family but trying to store 16 dozen eggs in the fridge with room for my weekly ten half gallons of raw milk just would not happen. I also go only once every other month to the larger, way freaky hippy health food store to get more obscure items but it is by the rec center so I go during dance class.
How to plan a weekly trip:
You will need to start by keeping track for at least two weeks of how much fruit and veggies your family eats. I start with the sales ad. I bring it to dance class on Tuesdays and I see what organic fruits and veggies are on sale. I usually buy organic carrots, apples, cabbage, broccoli and whatever is on sale. My regulars tend to be low priced but heavy on the nutrition. I also see if staples are on sale, things like coconut milk, grass fed butter, eggs and the like. If they are, I stock up. I plan on about 20# of produce a week. I have a weekly $50 to spend on produce and stocking up. I buy coconut water and coconut milk by the case and if I am running low, then I make sure to put in an order and two if it is on sale. We will eat mostly cabbage (69 cents a pound) that week if I need to allocate more money to stocking up, like the last week when I bought a lot of grade B maple syrup.
I also dedicate about $15 a week to flours and grains. When I make my list, I check my supply of organic and unbleached all purpose, bread, and coconut flours. I buy my main grain in bulk three times a year so this is where I buy other grains I might also be interested in such as rye and millet. I also buy steel cut and rolled oats as well as rice.
When the MSG and nitrate free sausages go on sale for less than half the price per pound that I pay for pastured hog, I'll get some. Pastured hog is the hardest thing to find in stores and tends to be way pricier (three times as much), I have a hard time passing up this price. We eat meat at the evening meal each day and I have a daily budget of $35 and I try to keep my meat portion at $20. This means we have more meat if it is cheaper but I try to keep to four pounds a day for my family. If the sausage will be on sale, I take the difference that I would have spent on meat and drop into higher priced meat or more meat for other meals. I would recommend planning on an average of 1/3# of meat per adult or child over the age of ten or twelve and 1/4# for a younger child per day at a minimum. If you are not buying meat in bulk, then do the math to see how many pounds a weak you need. If you have two adults and preschooler and a toddler then your weekly trip would be 9#. If you plan on a maximum price per pound that you are comfortable with (mine is $5) then you know your upper budget amount, in this case it would be $45. So, if you are able to moderate $5 meats with lower priced meats (organic chicken from Cotsco at $1.74/# and Sprouts sausage at $1.99), then you might be able to buy a few higher priced meats (pastured nitrate-free bacon at $8/#) and still come in under budget.
Eggs and Dairy:
Some of my dairy does not come out of my regular grocery budget of $1,050 a month. We made a choice to give up some other things in order to have money for quality raw milk which totals $250 each month. I use two gallons a week of local pasteurized milk for cooking and making yogurt, one half gallon of cream, four pounds of butter, and four dozen eggs from the store and two to three from a local family. I will need to allocate more money for eggs because my sweet connection is moving to Texas. My weekly egg budget is $21, my butter is $14, my cheese is about $25, my cream is $16, my cooking milk is $8 which translates to $59 a week plus my $62 raw milk which is $146.
This is the category for herbs and spices and specialty ingredients I might need (coconut milk) as well as an average cost of coconut oil and honey for which I allocate $25 a week.
The bottom line:
Including my raw milk my weekly grocery budget total is $361.50. If you take out the raw milk it brings it down to $299.50 a week. This includes the higher price for eggs that my budget will start having to accommodate this month. It means less money in savings in each month but that is the price we pay for our health. My previous budget of one year ago was 900 a month ($225 a week) and did not include raw milk, had less meat, had conventional butter. As our kids have grown (more teens, bigger kids, the baby is eating) and a desire to include only high quality butter our month budget went up $150 a month to $1,050 ($262.50 a week) but did not include the raw milk of $250 a month (when we cut out copays for asthma medication (see my post on that HERE) that was not all difficult to afford. If you include all my food expenses including the higher amounts I am paying for things and the raw milk, then my monthly budget is $1,375. So, I feed twelve people (two adults, three teens, and seven children) an organic diet and raw milk for $362 a week. This means that each person (averaged) in my house eats for $3.75 a day, or $26.25 a week, or $1,448 a month. So, if you have an average household of four my figures would work out to $121 a week or $483 a month for an organic diet and raw milk. That is not too shabby at all.
Linking up to Fat Tuesday!