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.