On July 13, 2012, I vowed to see if I could feed my family a mainly organic diet and not spend more than the USDA deemed is necessary for the “thrifty” food plan for a family our size and age. I called this my Organic Grocery Challenge, and I planned to spend less than $156 a week using several strategies:
- Freezer cooking
- Subscribing to a CSA and freezing the excess produce we received
- Buy meat in bulk straight from the farm
- Eating several meatless meals a week
- Having grain based breakfasts
I was on target for my goal, and then things fell apart food wise. I found out that I had 57 food intolerances. I also found out that I had a small bowel bacteria overgrowth, so I went on a diet of just meat and veggies for every meal for 6 weeks.
Despite these setbacks, I still felt comfortable I could meet the Organic Grocery Challenge. However, since July, I have had trouble swallowing, often feeling like my throat was closing. I started narrowing down culprits to those things I love (and that are cheap)–beans, rice, apples. My new doctor suggested I could have a lectin intolerance, so I took the top lectin culprits out of my diet. By default, I ended up on a Paleo auto-immune diet, and I was back to eating meats, vegetables and peaches (the only fruit that doesn’t seem to bother my throat right now).
I could see my challenge slipping out of reach.
I stopped posting updates, though I continued to take pictures of our groceries and keep my receipts.
For awhile, I tried to find a way to make the challenge work.
And then I decided that enough was enough. My health is my most precious commodity. As a mother, a wife, and a writer, I cannot function without my health. And right now, my health is being restored through food. Food is my medicine. I would never consider not getting some medicine just so I could stay within my budget. I would find ways to make my budget work around the medicine I need. Right now, that is what I need to do with food.
To further complicate matters, we have decided to go gluten free as a family for 6 weeks. I don’t know if we will keep this up permanently; it is too early to see what the results are.
This may be a long way to say that I am keeping the Organic Grocery Challenge, but now it has turned into the Organic, Grass Fed Meat, Gluten Free Food Challenge. I am upping our budget to the USDA’s low cost food plan, which for a family our size is $203.30 per week.
I must admit that thinking about spending $813.20 per month on groceries makes me shudder, but for now, it may be what we need to do.
Kay Lynn says
I think you have the right priority. Don’t they say “without your health you got nothing”?
Michael @ So You Think You Can Save says
Well, you had a fantastic plan but there was no way you could have seen your health issues throwing a big monkey wrench in there. Ah well. It sounds like you have a new plan to aspire to that is based in realistic expectations, and if it helps you stay on the path to health, I can assure you the extra cost will be well worth it.
Midlife Finance says
Health is #1. You have to do what you have to do to feel and get healthy. Hope you’re back to your normal self now. $800 is a bit on the high side, hopefully you can reduce it a bit later.
I agree it is on the high side. However, that also includes our bulk purchase like a 1/4 cow, 1/2 hog and veggie CSA for 20 weeks. Still, I would like to get the number down a bit.
“my health is being restored through food. Food is my medicine. I would never consider not getting some medicine just so I could stay within my budget.”
Good for you! I may pay more for all organic food now but if it keeps the doctor away I look at it as health insurance. I would gladly forgo other things so my family can eat healthy food.
yes, more and more I am realizing how very important healthy eating is.
Paul @ The Frugal Toad says
Your health is without doubt most important! I try to buy organic when I can but it is tough when the price is so high!
You are right, organics can be very pricey, especially in the winter. I love the CSA in the summer.