I just realized that I haven't done a grocery budget check up in a while, and I wanted to encourage you all that contrary to popular belief, going organic can be done on a budget!
Just to recap, I give myself $250 for the grocery budget each month. We use the cash system and are a family of 5 (although Willow technically doesn't really count yet since she's just starting to eat real food here and there). For the month of March, I was $20 over-budget. This is unusual for me, but it was the first month where I was making a real effort to buy as much organic and natural foods as I could. April is nearly over and I am again slightly over-budget by $10.
Here are some of the ways that I've been able to pull this off:
1. I started with a pretty good stockpile of staple items like tortillas, flour, sugar, rice, pasta, shredded cheese and canned tomatoes. I am not throwing out the food I already had, I'm just replacing it with better options as I run out.
2. I am shopping at more than one store each week. This is actually not anything new for me, but my normal Safeway and Albertsons have been replaced with New Seasons and Fred Meyer. In addition, I go to Franz Bakery Outlet and stock up once a month on organic bread, and occasionally stop in at Trader Joes. I've found that they have the best everyday prices on organic chips, tomatoes, and bananas plus I like to buy my wine there. :)
3. I'm making more things from scratch. Okay, so I haven't decided if this actually saves me money, but I do know it IS healthier for us. The type of things I'm making from scratch include waffle mix (post to come on my favorite recipe), muffins, cookies, brownies, bread (and bread attempts), seasoning mixes, kids snacks, baby food, and pizzas.
4. The last two weeks of March we had to resort to eating from the pantry. I had to get really creative on my meals because two weeks into March, I was down to only $30 in my grocery budget! We ate A LOT of Mexican food those last two weeks.
5. I make up a menu plan each week. I HATE wasting food. Especially organic food. By making a menu plan each week, I rarely have to throw out food because I forgot about it. I make my menu plan based on three factors: what sounds good, what I have on hand in the fridge and what is on sale that week. If you've been around, you've probably seen that I assign a day to each meal. I don't actually follow the planned meals by the day, but by having the plan, I know that I have all the ingredients at home for roughly 4-5 meals that week. Then I pick which one to make depending what sounds good to me.
One other thing I wanted to say.......going organic is a process. Things look a whole lot more organic around here at the first of the month than they do at the end of the month. Don't beat yourself up for that. I'm not! If I had unlimited amounts of money to spend on food each month, of course I could be. But I don't, so I'm not. We've been able to eat a whole lot healthier and less processed with the changes I've made so far, and that's what I'm choosing to focus on. You should too!
Here are some shopping trip highlights of the last two months.