My Healthy Food Budget: Week One April, 2013

April Week One Healthy Food Budget: $66.58

Short and Sweet this week!

The subscribe & save order from Amazon made up a big chunk of my spending, so I tried to hold off buying any groceries unless it was really needed.

Dining Out: $18.24
Groceries: $48.34

Amazon Subscribe & Save: $28.40 total = $11.19 Wild Harvest tuna (6pk) and $17.21 pure maple syrup

Market Basket + Liquor Store $12.29: bag o’ navel oranges, cauliflower, bananas, broccoli, Nellie’s eggs (w/ $1 coupon) and wine

Open Meadow Farm $7.65 (pre-bought meat): 1+ lb ground grassfed beef

About My Healthy Budget

My healthy budget goal is to eat seasonal (local if possible,) home-cooked meals while sticking to a $400 monthly budget for all food including groceries, dining out, entertaining, vitamins/supplements, and gardening.

There’s two of us eating (mostly) 3 meals per day. DH occasionally eats take-out lunch at work, & that $ comes out of his personal cash stash.

My Healthy Food Budget: Month End March, 2013

March Week 4 Healthy Food Budget: $73.49

Happy Easter! March was a good month! I’m below my $400 budget, and spring is coming! Soon, I’ll be planting my veggie garden! Life is good!

March Month End Food Spending Total $388.51

Heading into April, I have prior months’ spending credit just shy of $83. I might need it in the summer when local produce test my budgeting skills. Blueberries don’t come cheap!

Spending Details

I was organizing my pantry, and decided that the unopened packages of Bob’s Red Mill gluten-free xantham gum and tapioca flour might be more useful to someone else, so I donated both to the local food bank, giving myself a small credit of $13.72 back to grocery spending. But even without the adjustment, I would have made my budget anyway.

Bob’s Red Mill products were on sale at 20% off. OSJL prices are already very good for Bob’s, but their occasional 20% off sales are when I do a major stock-up!

I debated buying the Domino sugar on sale this week. $2 for a 4lb bag. Disappointing that the last time I purchased sugar, it was a 5 lb bag. Dominos reduced the bag size, while keeping the price the same! Easter is the last holiday for awhile, so it probably won’t go on sale soon.

We don’t use much white sugar. DH uses a little for his AM coffee, and I use it for preserves and occasionally for baking. But I refuse to buy sugar unless it specifically states “cane sugar” as the ingredient; I don’t trust other generic sugar that only lists “sugar” because it’s probably beet sugar which is GMO.

Dining Out: $33.10 / Total $95.65
Groceries: $40.39 / Total $292.86

(Sat, Tues) Ocean State Job Lots $34.21 Two shopping trips for Bob’s Red Mill products on sale: Rolled oats, (2) sesame seeds, (2) chia seeds, whole flaxseeds, baking soda, lentils, cornmeal and (3) 5lb bags of Bob’s Red Mill whole wheat flour. Yes, I’m loving the local whole wheat flour, but it’s nice to have a few bags of commercial flour for backup.

(Tues, Fri) Market Basket Total $19.90: 2 shopping trips for bananas, (2) organic fuji apples, (4) grapefruit, (4) navel oranges, (5) minneola oranges, (2) mangoes, broccoli, KA white flour (sale $2.99), (4lb) domino sugar (sale $2), and a splurge of (2) Cadbury creme eggs.

Where I Spent My Grocery Dollars This Month

Foodbank pantry credit (13.72)
Whole Foods 72.19
Trader Joe’s 70.76
MARKET BASKET 57.86
Ocean State Job Lot 34.21
Open Meadow Farm 23.11
Brookline Farmers Market 21.70
Four Star Farms 15.00
Seven Acres Farm 7.50
Penzeys Spices 4.25

About My Healthy Budget

My healthy budget goal is to eat seasonal (local if possible,) home-cooked meals while sticking to a $400 monthly budget for all food including groceries, dining out, entertaining, vitamins/supplements, and gardening.

There’s two of us eating (mostly) 3 meals per day. DH occasionally eats take-out lunch at work, & that $ comes out of his personal cash stash.

My Healthy Food Budget: Week 3 March, 2013

March Week Three Healthy Food Budget: $109.13

A large amount of spending this week, but with 9 days left, I feel I’m in good shape with $84.98 for the rest of March.

I’m absolutely loving the local flour I bought earlier this month. The barley flour is awesome in muffins and pancakes. I’m hoping to organize a few recipes to post.

And the local Zorro whole wheat flour has been a little challenging for yeast bread, but I think I finally broke through the issues. I’ll be posting more on that soon.

March Food Spending Total $315.02

Dining Out: $15.50 / Total $62.55
Groceries: $93.63 / Total $252.47

Lots of veggies and fruit this week. Yum. Plus some other essentials.

(Sat) Market Basket $17.62: Balsamic vinegar, salsa, 2 lb bag o’ lil cutie clementines, broccoli, 2lb onions, minneola oranges, avocado, bananas, organic half & half creamer

(Wed) Whole Foods $28.66: Mango, organic fuji apples, grapefruit, organic fennel bulb, organic baby bok choy, 5 lb bag o’ organic carrots, organic celery, organic corn tortillas, Kerrygold cheddar, and (USA) cashews.

(Wed) Trader Joe’s $26.12: Organic plain whole yogurt, raw almond butter, organic half & half, TJ’s pasta, walnuts, organic raisins, and (2) fair trade dark chocolate.

(Wed) Market Basket $13.23: 5lb bag o’ mandarin oranges, mushrooms, red grapefruit, minneola oranges, and bananas.

(Wed) Penzey’s Spices $4.25: garlic powder – and free cumin and free cinnamon (coupons)

(Thurs) Seven Acres Farm $3.75 :1 dozen jumbo eggs

About My Healthy Budget

My healthy budget goal is to eat seasonal (local if possible,) home-cooked meals while sticking to a $400 monthly budget for all food including groceries, dining out, entertaining, vitamins/supplements, and gardening.

There’s two of us eating (mostly) 3 meals per day. DH occasionally eats take-out lunch at work, & that $ comes out of his personal cash stash.

Easter Ham Compromise: Trader Joe’s

My mother-in-law has offered to pay for the Easter ham.

I knew it would be troublesome to knowingly cook a Smithfield brand ham. Whether it’s Smithfield, or one of their hidden brand like Carando, it’s all you can find at most local supermarkets!

But how could I even suggest that she pay for a natural brand like Wellshire or Neman’s, which sells for at least 3x the amount of a cheap Smithfield ham?

My husband told her that we could pay for any extra expense, but she insisted that it was fine to purchase a more natural brand…but I still feel it’s inappropriate, so I compromised and picked up an “uncured” Trader Joe’s spiral ham which was less than half the price than the Whole Foods Market offerings.

No, it’s not antibiotic free, and I’m positive it’s not humanely raised, but it’s got a lot less sodium and there’s no added nitrates (except for the naturally occurring).

It’s not the perfect ham, but it makes me feel a little better than if I had to purchase the regular supermarket Smithfield hams.

Let’s just hope it tastes good and there’s no complaints! :) Happy Spring!

My Healthy Food Budget: Week 2 March, 2013

March, Week Two Healthy Food Budget: $36.83 spent

Great week. I tried very hard to keep my spending to a minimum, and it worked! We got take-out Chinese on Saturday and I picked up a few items at Whole Foods on Monday.

March Food Spending Total $205.89

After spending $36.83 this week, it brings the total for the month to $205.89, leaving $194.11 for the rest of March.

Dining Out: $22.60 / Total $47.05
Groceries: $14.23 / Total $158.84

Whole Foods Market (Monday): $14.23 – organic bananas, 4lb bag o’ navel oranges, organic apples, and 4 cans of Muir Glen tomatoes.

Yes, I know I promised myself that I wasn’t going to spend any money on commercially canned tomatoes, especially when there’s a boycott for General Mills/Muir Glen products! But it was a such a good sale (2/$4) and I had double coupons, which brought the unit price to .75 each. I couldn’t resist!

I am still confident that I’ll have enough personally frozen and canned tomatoes until summer, but I’ll keep the Muir Glen cans in my pantry for emergencies.

So, going forward, I expect that the $200 I have left will be enough for the rest of March!

About My Healthy Budget

My healthy budget goal is to eat seasonal (local if possible,) home-cooked meals while sticking to a $400 monthly budget for all food including groceries, dining out, entertaining, vitamins/supplements, and gardening.

There’s two of us eating (mostly) 3 meals per day. DH occasionally eats take-out lunch at work, & that $ comes out of his personal cash stash.

My Healthy Food Budget: Week One March, 2013

Week One Healthy Food Budget: $169.07

I’ve been posting budget updates on a monthly basis, but I wanted to return to posting more often, with details of what I’m specifically purchasing…so here goes!

March Week One Food Spending $169.07

I went a little crazy, which is normal for the first week of the month!

It’s like a celebration with a fresh new $400 to spend. Or maybe psychologically I thought I should spend that sweet $70 left from last month, burning a hole in my pocket. ;)

Dining Out: $24.46
Groceries: $144.61

So, for the rest of March, I have $230.93 to spend but I’m shooting for light spending next week. I’ll be going to the winter farmers market on Saturday, and I’ll probably need more fruit, and hopefully that will be it (besides our weekly take out treat.) If I can keep spending down for week 2, I don’t think I’ll have any problem sticking to the budget.

Where I Spent My Grocery Dollars

  • Whole Foods Market: $29.30 for organic apples, 5lb bag o’ organic carrots, organic celery, Theo chocolate, cashews, bulk sucanat sugar, olives, Manchego cheese
  • Open Meadow Farm: $23.11 for pork shoulder roast
  • Four Star Farms: $15 for 5lb whole wheat and 2lb barley flours
  • Brookline Winter Farmers Market: $21.70 Stillman’s Farm: pork sausage $14.70 & Silverbrook Farm beets, potatoes, swiss chard.
  • Trader Joes: $44.64 for California olive oil, Zinfandel wine, organic plain yogurt, feta cheese, (2) organic raisins, raw almonds, shelled pistachios, peanuts, 2lb clementines, (3) loose navel oranges, (2) bananas, mini baby-bel cheese (for DH)
  • Market Basket: $7.11 last bit o’ shopping for organic apples, oranges, and bananas

clementines little cutie oranges

About My Healthy Budget

My healthy budget goal is to eat seasonal (local if possible,) home-cooked meals while sticking to a $400 monthly budget for all food including groceries, dining out, entertaining, vitamins/supplements, and gardening.

There’s two of us eating (mostly) 3 meals per day. DH occasionally eats take-out lunch at work, & that $ comes out of his personal cash stash.

Brookline Winter Farmers Market

Yesterday, we drove to the Brookline Winter Farmers Market located in the Arcade building (318 Harvard Street).

It’s a small, but effective market. A little bit of everything you need. The vendors I noticed were two veggie farms, a hydroponic farm, a meat farm, a seafood vendor, plus bread, cupcakes and popovers.

The reason we went in the first place, was to meet Liz from Four Star Farms to purchase their fresh-ground wheat and barley flours. I haven’t used the flour yet, but I’m really happy that I found a local grain grower! It’s not something that a lot of farms grown in the New England area.

four star farms barley flour

The farm grows wheat, triticale, spelt, barley, buckwheat, and corn, and they sell as both whole and flour. I can envision white food buckets in our workroom filled with whole grains, ready to be freshly ground in my soon-to-come grain mill.

It was kind of a pain to drive from our area, but if we lived closer, I would absolutely go all the time. There is a public parking lot in back of the Arcade building with free Sunday parking (normally metered) and there is a Trader Joe’s within walking distance, among other shops.

Life is good!

My Healthy Food Budget: February, 2013

February Healthy Food Budget: $330.72

This was a great month! I spent $71 less than my $400 budget for the month!

It seems a lot easier to spend less in the winter, so this will allow me a little spending cushion for summer, when I know I spend more. Or if I do well next month, I might use the excess to pay off the whole meat delivery I received in January.

February Food Spending $330.72

Dining Out: $121.52
Groceries: $209.20

Dining out spending wasn’t bad, considering we had a sit-down Valentines night dinner at a local Italian eatery for an extra splurge.

I was amazed at how little I spent at the grocery store. Inspiration was sparked by the Good Cheap Eats 1 Month Pantry Challenge. I didn’t hold myself to any specific rules or timeframe, but I made a conscious effort to refrain from purchasing ingredients when I knew there was something that could be cooked from my pantry, fridge or freezer.

For instance, I skipped the Winter Farmers Market last weekend because I still had kale, cabbage, beet, celeriac, potatoes, and sweet potato left from the prior week’s shopping trip. All I needed at the store this week was some fruit; I was able to use what I had on hand for meals all week.

I’m also finding inspiration over at the $100 a Month blog. Mavis, the author, hopes to feed her family of four with an average of $100 per month. She has a spectacularly massive garden, complete with egg-laying chickens, and it’s very educational to read about her adventures. I’m fascinated by her “reclaimed” food posts. ((Thanks for the recommendation, Angela))

Lastly, I’m excited because I found a local grain grower; We’ll be meeting up with her at a local farmers market on Sunday. To start, I’m trying bags of zorro wheat and barley flours. If it’s as wonderful as I hope it is, the next step might be a grain mill to grind my own flour.

Where I Spent My Grocery Dollars This Month

Total: $209.20
Market Basket 63.43
Trader Joe’s 44.74
Whole Foods 37.68
Winchester Winter Farmers Market 30.65
Open Meadow Farm 25.20
Seven Acres Farm 7.50

About My Healthy Budget

My healthy budget goal is to eat seasonal (local if possible,) home-cooked meals while sticking to a $400 monthly budget for all food including groceries, dining out, entertaining, vitamins/supplements, and gardening.

There’s two of us eating (mostly) 3 meals per day. DH occasionally eats take-out lunch at work, & that $ comes out of his personal cash stash.

Organic Tomatoes Are Stressed, But More Nutritious

Yesterday, I read a fascinating article at NPR.

There is a new study suggests that organic farms grew tomatoes that were 40% smaller (than conventional), BUT were actually significantly higher in vitamin C, sugar and lycopene.

Their reasoning is because organically farmed tomatoes are “stressed-out” more than conventional due to less pesticides. The organic plants are forced to fight off pests naturally; the additional stress equates to additional production of stress-fighting compounds like Vitamin C and Lycopene.

Yes, we need to further investigate this study’s conclusion, but when I was researching tomato hornworms and cabbage worms last summer, many experienced gardeners advised that it was better for the plants to have a few pests because it made them stronger. It does make sense when you really think about it, doesn’t it?

The extra bonus is there’s so much more to a tomato than vitamin C & lycopene, so just think of all the tiny un-known micronutrients that are bursting from a responsibly-farmed tomato. Can’t get that from a lab-created vitamin!

tomatoes from my garden last summer

Organic Bugs Me

Yeah, sometimes eating organic gives you a surprise or two.

This afternoon, I was cutting off bits of the farmers market celeriac and plop, out fell a small (dead) worm. SURPRISE! GASP! EEK!

I tossed it in the trash, but then I also noticed another teenie one on the counter that was slightly wiggling. Tossed that one too.

So, what’s more gross? A couple of occasional worms or pesticides? I’ll take the bugs thank you!

Finding them always make me gasp and flutter, but it’s worth it when you know exactly where your food is coming from. Hey and bugs have to eat too, right?