Today I realized this month is my 2 year anniversary of starting this blog and embarking on our food awakening/adventure! That’s 2 years of (mostly) not shopping in a grocery store and trying to source a local, all organic diet for my family. What started out as a 1-2 month experiment is now our way of life and I still love this way of buying our food, and so does Dan, by the way.
For us, eliminating trips to the grocery store has been great, but I have a sense that this is a big obstacle for some people who want to get their budget under control. I completely remember how confused I was in the beginning myself. I had no real clue about bulk buying and just dove in head first. I remember wishing I had someone to tell me, “for a 3 month supply, you need to buy 5 lbs of this, 5 lbs of that” etc… I had no idea how much our family consumed, how long I could store foods or even really how to prepare home cooked meals….
Left to my own devices, I dropped a lot of money for a few months in a row and bought a bunch of bulk goods– waaaay too much of certain things, not enough of others. I went back and read over my blog posts on this site, and had to laugh at some of my projections about how long some of the food I initially bought from Azure Standard would last us. I estimated I was buying a couple months’ supplies, but 2 years later and we *still* have grains and legumes from that very first Azure drop! We are almost through most of the different varieties of beans I bought, but still have a lot of grains. I think my big mistake was to buy items we normally never ate and didn’t have a clue how to prepare, like amaranth and millet, and assume I would just learn everything I needed to know. Another mistake was definitely simply buying too much all at once not knowing that our dietary preferences would evolve away from grains towards the Paleo Diet. If I knew then what I know now, I would have focused our bulk buys of dry goods on nuts, seeds and some gluten free grains like quinoa, kasha and rice.
Given all the grains and legumes still in our pantry, our food spendings are comparatively low. I don’t have exact numbers anymore, but these are the ranges of our monthly spendings on food for a family of 4 + baby (keep in mind I eat like 2 people since I am nursing), excluding eating out and also excluding the large preservation quantities of tomatoes, apples, peaches etc that I buy in season:
$110 farm CSA veggies
$120 fruit from OGC
$36-54 raw milk
$50 Thundering Hooves meats
$50-300 various vendors (spices, nuts, flour, oils, maple syrup, canned tuna, mayo, ketchup, cheese etc)
total appx $373-648 (I’d say 75% of months fall into the lower category)
That being said, I think there’s a lot of benefits to eating and shopping this way, and I love helping people have access to good foods through PGP’s food buying group. I have been wanting to develop a more systematic way of helping people who are interested in saving money, buying in bulk, not shopping at the grocery store etc, so that they don’t have to go through a trial and error process the way I did. I am thinking about developing something like manual to everything you would need for x number of months of healthy home cooked meals, with appx dollar amounts attached to it to give an idea of how much money you’d be spending (and hopefully saving over other ways of buying). If you are a PGP member you would also be able to source all the ingredients through our food buying club.
For example, for a family of 4 on the Paleo diet, a monthly food package could look like this:
- 20 lbs meats $100
- 8 dozen eggs $30
- fresh produce $200
- 5 lbs coconut and other nut flours $20
- 5 lbs selection of raw seeds and nuts $20
- misc oils, sweeteners, spices $20
This could easily be scaled up, so someone who wanted to stock up on frozen goods and non-perishables could simply multiply the lbs/month by number of months they want to stockpile to get a total number of pounds needed. Then all they would need to buy on a weekly basis would be perishables like fresh produce, eggs, dairy etc and that could also be arranged for through the food buying group.
Does this sound like something you might find useful? What else should I include? Recipes? Storage tips? Must have kitchen gadgets? Sources of suppliers? How to make farm-direct connections and build relationships with vendors? Please tell me in the comment section.