Sustainable Food Budget Challenge


Crunchy Chicken has convinced me to join another challenge.  In this challenge, we’re supposed to try to buy healthy, sustainable food while limiting spending to what we would get in food stamps.  For the two people in our house, that would be $323 per month.  Currently, our weekly grocery bill this time of year has been about $150, since we eat breakfast at home, bring lunches to work, and eat most suppers at home, too.  That number goes down in the summer because all of our fruits and veggies are grown at home or at my family’s farm. 

We’re supposed to buy sustainable food, which can be local, organic, sustainably grown, etc.  I personally classify food based on my own set of sustainability requirements, in the following hierarchy:

  1. Grown, raised, caught, or made by family or friends.  We grow a lot of our own veggies in season, get fruits and veggies from my family’s farm, both our families make maple syrup, Ed’s family raises pigs and now will also be raising turkeys (more on that soon!), we have beef in the freezer from Ed’s cousin, my aunt and uncle make honey, Ed catches fish and shellfish, etc.
  2. Locally grown and family farmed.  I buy milk and eggs that are hormone and antibiotic free under the brand “Farmer’s Cow” which is a co-op of Connecticut farmers.  Their eggs are great, and until I get my own chickens, they’re the best I’ve found.  I also frequent farmer’s markets in season, to get what we don’t produce ourselves.
  3. Natural, humane, organic when available, if #1 and #2 aren’t possible.

There are a few things I avoid: food shipped long distances from other countries, expensive packaged food.  Of course there are exceptions (chocolate!!!), but I do the best I can.  I also try to make things on my own instead of buying them (like tortillas, pasta, pizza dough), since it’s healthier and saves money, too.

I plan to go to a monthly farmer’s market with my mom on Saturday, and we’ll see what we can get there. 

Do I think we’ll stick to the $323? Nope! But I’m going to try.  The cost of living is high here, and the number doesn’t seem to account for that.  By relying on foods we’ve frozen or preserved in season, we’ll keep costs down, and we’ll also clear out the cupboards in preparation for the new season.  No matter what, I’m sure we’ll eat well and at least save a little money this month.

Are you joining this challenge? Do you have any tips for me?


Filed under Food, Living from Scratch, Local Agriculture, Sustainable Living

8 responses to “Sustainable Food Budget Challenge

  1. ctdaffodil

    I’m not sure of any tips – I am going to try it out too – I get to shop on the higher end because there are 4 of us – but I wish that the farmer markets were open now….its a long ways off here in CT.
    The PYO fruit farm I go to won’t start until summertime…and heard that the farmer market in the next town over may not happen this year (space issues). I’m starting spinach and lettuces in the sun room today – in window boxes.

  2. You will probably save a lot of money with that new pantry! Besides buying dairy products I pretty much only shop to stock the pantry. People give me weird looks because when something we use is on sale I stock up. I calculate out that we use the product say one time per week so 26 will last us six months and if the expiration date goes that far I’ll buy all 26. I do this with condiments, canned goods, pasta, apple juice, and soups. Hopefully I can make most of those myself eventually but for now this system works well for us. I should do a write up on my stockpile, now that you’ve got me thinking about it.

    Enjoy the farmers’ market! I go almost every week in the summer and have the best time. It doesn’t hurt that it is held up on the shore so I can sneak out to the beach while I’m there.

  3. Out here in this part of California, we have farm stands up and down our main road. When in season, they sell fruit, vegetables and nuts that they grow. One particular place takes the money they make and puts it towards their daughter’s college education. You can get some great locally grown food from these farm stands and save money too!

  4. Oh nice one, I once had our budget down to $100/wk, and then my sister who lived with us moved out, and I found we could get by on $70, these days we work longer hours, and have been buying more prepared food from trader joes (i do read labels, and lots of their stuff comes from California, which I realize is really big, but when they said shop locally I think they forgot how big the states on the west coast are).I also shop seasonally, and so do many others the asparagus were huge and almost gone. But I’m to try and get back $70/ wk. There go my weekends, Ill probably end up spending them cooking.

  5. I don’t know if we could do this one. Although our family is frugal in all other aspects, we tend to spend more on our food budget because we like good quality food. Another factor that influences our food budget is time . . . perhaps I’m making excuses but between caring for my daughter, our home, and preparing dinner (you know I’ll always refrain from saying that I cook because I just am not good at it), my hubby tends to buy lunch most days because he works fairly long hours and likes to maximize his free time playing with our daughter and biking to work. So, just with his lunch budget alone, phew! I know, I know, I could pack his lunch for him and for a little while I will or he will but then inevitably something comes up.

    To be honest, I do not know how know how families on food stamps manage. I just pray that they are getting help in other ways too.

  6. Green Mamma- I agree. We value high quality food and scrimp elsewhere so we can afford it. I’m doing the challenge as an exploration, but I don’t expect we’ll make it on that budget.

  7. I signed up!

    I believe you can do it! For as long as I’ve been involved with grocery shopping while I’m home with my parents, our budget is usually around $150 for 3 people. Granted, my parents aren’t as keen on buying “sustainable” but they do stock up when there are sales and use coupons found online.

    Good luck 🙂

  8. That Crunchy has some great challenges. In the summer, when we have CSA, our grocery bills are very small. Now we’ve used up nearly all our frozen goods from last summer and are buying everything at the store. It’s a thought-provoking challenge. I wish I had some tips for you. All I can say is good luck!

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