Lean and Green

Yeah, it’s no secret that I like to stretch my dollar bill (other instances of my thriftiness/cheapness/saving money like it’s my job here, here and here). Groceries, are no exception. BUT although we like to get a lot o’ bang for our buck, we also like to buy as much local, organic and generally wholesome food as possible. All winning categories in our book. In order to keep our finances in tip top shape, I make a budget each month. I try to anticipate all our expenses for that given 30 day period, and we make every effort to stick within those predefined budgetary guidelines for that period of time. Do we fail sometimes? Oh yeah brother, we crash and burn sometimes. But sometimes we actually exceed our expectations, too! Albeit, rarely 😉 Just keeping it real. Our predefined weekly budget for groceries is $50, and in complete honesty, we rarely exceed this amount, other than a few dollars extra here and there.

Yes, there are only (2) of us in the house. No, we are not feeding a bus load of teenagers. So, $50 in my opinion has been a very sufficient amount of money for us to consistently cook almost all our evening meals, and to pack our lunches daily, as we probably eat out 1-2 times a month, if that. The key is planning your meals ahead of time, and knowing when to stock up on daily essentials. Here is a snapshot of everything we got this week, our grand total $48.76.

Groceries on less than $50 per week
Local Organic Groceries for Less than $50

Before I made my Day Zero list, one of the things that really bothered me about our groceries, was our meat. We were a Tyson Chicken family for sure. In all honesty, I just did not feel good about buying food that I was certain had an unethical production process. Can I source where everything comes from with my shopping trip today – no way! But we are getting closer! Our chicken for instance now comes from a small production farm about 20 miles away from where we live {Aunt Betsy’s Chicken, Brighton Michigan}. That is awesome, in my book! Plus, I have an Aunt Betsy, so that makes me like them even more. The farm offers tours, so you can check out the life of that little clucker for yourself, if desired. Plus, at less than $3 per meal (we try to use a 1/2 lb or less per meal), I couldn’t justify not spending those few extra dollars to have more piece of mind about where my meat came from.

Local, Organic groceries on $50 or less
Weekly Groceries: Meat

We also try to get our fair share of fruits in veggies up in haarre, up in haarre. Felt compelled to throw that in 🙂 In winter, in Michigan, there are not a TON of options for local greens and fruits – but I do know that the farmers market carries some leafy greens and such that are grown in a hoop house during the winter months. A few times a month in the winter we head down to the market to supplement our groceries with some fresh eggs ($2.50 for a dozen), and we often get some spinach and other veggies, depending on what’s available that week. This lot of groceries doesn’t include any market finds, but even when we head on down to grab some loot at the farmer’s market – we still stay right at our $50 mark. Here is a snapshot of our weekly dose of fruits n’ veggies.

Inexpensive Groceries
Fruits and Veggies

Another way we’ve tried to make our purchases a bit more local, is through buying our milk from a metro Detroit dairy. This is probably Jay’s favorite move, cause their milk is goood. Like 2% taste like whole milk good. Like creamy goodness good. The milk comes from Calder Dairy, in Carleton, Michigan, which also offers tours, and I always think that is a good indicator when the doors are open wide. I’m all about quality of life for those cows, must be my Wisconsin roots {Mom}. Plus, it comes in a glass bottle that we return every week, so the non-waste aspect is also nice.

Organic, Local Food on less that $50 per week
Weekly Groceries

As mentioned, one of the biggest things {I think} for cutting down on food costs, is to buy items in bulk when they are on sale, and to plan your meals ahead so that you ideally only go out once per week for groceries.

Weekly Groceries on $50 or less
All the Basics

Each week, we try to stock up on a staple, so past weeks help bolster our shelves with lots of whole grain pasta, onions, and potatoes – which are items we eat in a lot of our meals 🙂 This week, we tried to grab bread while it was on sale, etc. So just to provide a recap, this is what we got, and what we spent. Drum roll, please.

  • (2) Cascadian Farms Granola $4 ($1 coupon)
  • (2) Ken’s Dressings $3 ($1 coupon)
  • (4) Organic Anjou Pears ($1.49/lb) $2.69
  • (1) Strawberries $1.67
  • (1) Bolthouse Farm Baby Cut Carrots $1
  • (1) Meijer Brand Frozen Peas $1
  • (1) Meijer Brand Tortellini $3
  • (2) Meijer Wheat Bread $2
  • (1) Domino Brown Sugar $1.67
  • (1) White Sugar $2.50
  • (1) Garlic .50
  • (1) Kraft Mozzarella $2
  • (1) half-gallon Calder Farms Milk $3.29
  • .6 lb Chicken Breast, Aunt Betsy’s Chicken $3.91
  • 1/2 lb Chicken Thighs, Aunt Betsy’s Chicken $3.29
  • 1 lb Pork Chops $3.95
  • 1 lb Turkey Sausage $4.99
  • (1) Stoneyfield Yogurt $2.29 ($1 off coupon)
  • (1) Earthbound Organic Lettuce $2.54 (.75 off coupon)
  • (1) Blackberry $1.19
  • (1) Peanut Butter $1.99
  • (1) Butter $2.29
  • $54.76 – $2 in store coupon (ArborFarms) – $4 Mperks Coupon = $48.76 Total 

So although not all of our food came from the farmer next door, we are trying to edge a wee bit closer to more sustainable purchasing with our groceries, while maintaining a budget as well. We are excited about the small changes we have started to make!

Interestingly enough, the USDA estimates that the most economical food plan would cost $87.30 a week for a family of 2. With a little bit of deal searching and some organizing, you can totally snag some stellar deals!

3 thoughts on “Lean and Green

  1. Awesome! Calder was Jack’s “milk of choice” before he stopped milk altogether. I am mystified, to be honest… We are a family of three but one of those three is a toddler. I try to limit to $100 a week for groceries and I cant even always do that! We do the local/organic thing when possible too but… I still cant wrap my head around it. What am I doing wrong? We dont even buy meat anymore which was always the biggest number on the receipt. Do you go to different stores? I have considered keeping track of prices and going to several stores to get the lowest but, haven’t convinced myself yet that the extra gas wouldn’t make it even anyway. I do know prices are higher in DE but double? Definitely not. You have me scratching my head. One thing I am doing this year is more food from scratch for health/environment/MONEY reasons. I hope it helps me!

    1. When we first got married, Angel, we were spending close to $100 a week for the two of us so it has definitely been a process! I’ve find slowly over time that stocking up on stuff we use every week has been very helpful. We eat lots of pasta – so I’ll get like (5) of those when they are on sale, for $5 total. We also, went to THREE stores this week! They are all within a mile of each other, so if you are able to just do a hop from one to the next, that can help too! These ones are so close that we usually just walk to them all when the weather is nice. Usually we just do Meijer and Arbor Farms when we buy our meat. Smaller shops like Arbor Farms sometimes have weekly coupons – we never go without our $2 off $15 coupon, which they distribute every week. 🙂

      The last point you made I think has rung very true for us. We have been cooking in a lot more, so we rarely buy pre-made meals anymore. If you can plan your meals in advance, it helps you to avoid buying things you don’t need/won’t use. Even the less expensive pre-made meals, are a few bucks a pop. Usually you can make something from scratch for quite a bit less.

      Last, I look for coupons for items I know we buy consistently – like the Stonyfield Yogurt. I try to wait to buy it when it’s on sale, and I have the coupon, if possible. You can do it! It took us a long time to get to this point, so it’s been a learning process for sure. Good luck!!

      1. Thanks! I do need to be better about coupons. I will admit I am useless in that department. Maybe 2014 LOL. I rarely buy anything “processed” anymore. I love to cook. That might be part of my problem though… I am always seeing mouth watering recipes on pinterest and rushing out to the grocery store for random items. I think I will take your advice and do a little more “meal planning”.

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