As I was making lunch yesterday, Nolan walked through the kitchen and asked what was for lunch. I replied, "Soup and just made bread."
Nolan (age 14) responded with, "That's it?"
Sarah (age 6), listening in the other room, chimes in, "Nolan, we are on a budget you know."
The truth is, we really don't have a food budget. I do my best to balance our financial capabilities with buying healthy and as much organic food and also as local food as possible. Of course during the growing season, we eat all our own veggies and I preserve some food. With our garden expansions each year this should increase, possibly even enough to sell a bit again. Our goal is to add two goats to milk. I moved the chickens from the barn to the smaller coops yesterday to bring us one more step closer to this reality.
But the truth is, we generally eat simple, healthy foods and still spend much more than I would like. I make soups and cook from our store of potatoes at least twice per week now. We also eat pasta with vegetables, rice with vegetables and very occasionally organic, local meat. For lunches we often have grilled cheese on homemade bread with pickles (that I have canned from our gardens). Breakfast is either pancakes (usually without syrup as it is just so expensive), organic oatmeal with raisins, or Cheerios(started this habit almost 17 years ago with #1) with bananas (the last nonlocal fruit I buy on a regular basis to help with the children's nutritional needs). For a family of eight, we nearly go through one pound of butter each day, nearly one gallon of milk, 1/2 gallon of juice (we do each have one cup of juice with breakfast), and about 1/2 - 1 pound of cheese each day. I generally buy monterey jack, non organic as the organic is still so much more. (The goats should help with this too.)
Including dog and cat food, the few non food items we do buy (toilet paper, toothpaste, dish detergent), and then the food items, I have estimated that we spend about $200.00 per week (a family of eight). As we work toward making more of these food and nonfood items ourselves, I hope this will slowly go down, not just for financial reasons, but also to meet our goal of being more self-sufficient and living lightly on the earth. Each packaged item purchased at market or the natural food store contributes in some way to pollution or the depletion of natural resources, even if I recycle every bit as recycling uses energy too.
What is your food budget, how much do you have to buy outside of what you grow and how many in your family?