We’re two adults, and I’m exclusively breastfeeding our 5.5 month old. We usually share meals with friends a few times a month. The $190 cost includes $50/month for our CSA, which is local, organic food.
$190/month is not a super low figure as compared to the U.S. average. We eat almost exclusively organic produce. We also eat [happy?] cage free org eggs and a mixture of organic and non-organic milk, and cheap but deeply unhappy animals/meat [once a week]. I bake our bread and make pizza dough from scratch. We eat mainly from scratch; our guilty, expensive food is ice-cream. We don’t have snacks like chips or candy in the house, because if we did I’d eat them in about 30 seconds.
Goals-- we’re not there yet.
Two goals I have for the next six months (before Noah’s first birthday) are: transitioning to organic local meat, staying under $210/month as we do that. I’d also like to drink only organic milk.
Even as I write about keeping costs down, I’m reminded that in the U.S. we spend a very small fraction of our income on food, as compared to other countries. We have tons of other lines in our budget that are taken at face value (gas!), but for some reason food costs are considered negotiable.
That’s a long way of saying I’m not trying to make anyone feel guilty. I’m more interested in thinking through how eating local, organic, food can be affordable, and how we could get there. I’m all about slow change, because I think slow is sustainable.
So here’s the breakdown of where we are right now::
$400 for CSA for 8 months of the year. This includes fruits and vegetables, coming out to $50/month. The $400 is paid up front, leaving about $140/month for regular monthly spending. I can't say enough positive things about our experience in a CSA (Red Fire Farm)
$75/month trip to Market Basket. At Market Basket, I get eggs, milk, cheese, onions, frozen berries, and non-perishable staples (risotto, canned tomatoes, flour, sugar, beans, oil). Dairy is a major grocery expense in our household. We probably consume way to much of it. Going only once/month to the grocery minimizes our spending on snacks and saves a bit of gas (we drive about 25 minutes to the MB in Burlington).
$20/month Trader Joe’s. We get a couple of ready made meals a month, perhaps a dessert if we’re visiting friends, as well as their whole wheat pasta, ww cous cous, pesto and maybe some cheese.
$25/month McKinnons, Somerville. We buy a few chickens and usually one piece of red meat/month.
$20/month Target or 7/11 for milk/extras. Target sells Stonyfield Organic 2% milk for about 70c less than the other fat percentages (3.29/half gallon), 7/11 sells Garelick Farms 1% super cheaply- $2.69/gallon.
I always have this weird tension between trying to save (or break even) and eating well right now. It seems to make sense to try to do both, right? Somehow the obvious is hard.
Noah is also going to be starting to eat actual food in two weeks, which may not lead to a significant increase in our budget, but may...I'll give an update in six weeks on our progress towards organic meat and milk, and how much it’s cost.