Last July, I set the goal of spending less than $200 per week on our organic produce and grass-fed meat. I thought that we’d be able to do this easily by freezing some items from our CSA and eating a lot of beans.
The plan went well for the first two months until I discovered I was intolerant to many vegetables, grains, gluten and beans. I went on a Paleo auto-immune diet and watched our grocery bill soar. However, I hadn’t given up yet.
When I gave up was when my son’s intolerance test came back and he had almost all the same intolerances as me, including vegetables, grains, gluten, fruits and beans.
Our Grocery Bill Will Always Be High, Won’t It?
I’ll be honest, I had a month of feeling a bit sorry for myself and feeling like there was no way to save on groceries and that I just had to get used to outrageous grocery bills until we healed and could eat more foods.
But then I read the Prudent Homemaker’s posts on how to save on groceries. Sure, a lot of strategies don’t apply to us right now, but one thing I gleaned was buying in bulk. Even if we are on a special diet, we can still buy in bulk.
Then, I read that Jessica at Good Cheap Eats is having a pantry challenge. I never understood the point of a pantry challenge in July when so much seasonal produce is so cheap.
But, her pantry challenge and the idea of buying in bulk go together, in a way.
My Pantry Challenge
For the month of July, I’m going to spend much less on our weekly groceries and simply eat from the freezer and the CSA box. That will free up a few hundred dollars to stock up on seasonal produce to preserve for the winter.
The challenge this month is not so much to spend less money as to use the money I have to stock up on low priced produce for the winter months. I’m hoping this pantry challenge will help me get a bit ahead and lower the grocery bill throughout the year.
The grocery budget for July is $750. I’d like to use at least $500 of that to stock up and fill the freezer and pantry. The other $250 will be used for basics that we need like rice and soy milk, fruits, and oils.
The First Week of July
I started the challenge on July 1st, and Whole Foods put organic plums on sale for $1.99 a pound. I’m sure I could get non-organic at a better price, but we feel it’s important to eat organic, especially as our bodies heal.
I bought 40 pounds to preserve and about 4 pounds for us to eat fresh. I simply peeled the plums, diced them, added some Fruit Fresh to prevent browning, and put them in a quart size freezer bag. (It took about 8 to 10 plums to fill the freezer bag.) Then I added 1 cup of organic apple juice to the bag and sealed. We ended up with 21 quart bags of plums. That’s not enough to last us through the winter, but the purchase was within our budget and will give us a nice treat every two weeks or so when we get bored of winter fruits.
I also stocked up on gluten free flours on Amazon and bought a 5 lb. bag of almond flour, 4 small bags of brown rice flour, and 4 small bags of sorghum flour. The gluten free flours on Amazon are as cheap as I can find them, but if you know of another good source for gluten free flours, please let me know.
My son and I are both off nuts for now because of intolerances, but we can have sunbutter. I love it for an afternoon snack with apple slices. However, a jar of organic sunbutter is $9.99 at our local store! Instead, I purchased 6 jars on Amazon for $6.63 per jar. Still expensive, but much better.
All told this week, I spend $282 on groceries. That will be enough to see us through our regular groceries until the 13th. On regular groceries for two weeks, I spent $83.45, and on bulk plums, organic apple juice and my Amazon purchase, I spent $198.55.
I have $468 left for the month, and we are planning to buy organic blueberries at a u-pick farm in the next week or two when they become ready. Can’t wait!