A Real Food Grocery Budget

Over the past several months, I have received quite a few e-mails from people inquiring about my grocery budget.  It tends to fluctuate with the seasons, and what I have on hand in the pantry.  Some months we have a lower budget, while others are higher.  During the summer/fall months, I try to stock up on produce to tide us through the winter (through canning & freezing), to avoid buying expensive produce out of season.  
You will notice that my grocery list does not include any pastas, cereals, canned veggies, etc. We choose to spend our grocery budget on more nutrient-dense items, which are more nourishing, and also more filling.  I also try to avoid items that are highly packaged, when possible.  Most of the items we purchase are organic, and we strive to purchase locally as often as possible.  You will notice, though, that I do have some “compromise” items, in order to stay in budget.  
Our baking has certainly decreased, since adjusting our grocery purchases (although we bake our own bread).  We make our own butter, so it is not used gratuitously in baking.  We enjoy savoring it spread over a piece of homemade bread, instead.  We are also able to make our flour and sugar supplies stretch by not having a constant supply of baked desserts filling the cookie jar.  We do occasionally indulge in a batch of brownies or ice cream, but they are a special treat.  
I also do not purchase items like disposable napkins and paper towels.  These items are not sustainable, and they take away from what I could be allotting toward food purchases. Making our own cleaning/laundry/cosmetic items also allows for allocating more of our budget toward “real food” items.  
I have noticed an increase in the cost of some of our grocery items over the past several months, due to the overall rise in costs commercially.  We have also increased our grocery budget to accommodate my gluten-free needs.  Overall, we have found that bulk/wholesale purchases through local or national co-ops have offered the best prices for ethically-grown real food items.  
If you have seen my weekly menu plans, you will notice that I include vegetarian meals about 4 days a week.  If I roast a chicken, I will make it stretch throughout the week by adding a bit to various recipes.  I also prepare nutrient-dense homemade stocks, to get full use of the chicken. 
We ate basically vegetarian meals for ethical and economical reasons for years, but after more research over the past year, we have eliminated soy products, and reintroduced some responsibly-grown meats to our diet.   (I recommend reading this article concerning “Vegetarian Myths“.  You’ll need to type in an e-mail address to read it, but you won’t get spam.)
We’ve never felt healthier (in fact, this is the first year that we haven’t had large medical bills!), and consider good nutrition to be a way of being good stewards of our bodies to glorify God. Real food is an investment in our health (“preventative health insurance”), and we can also choose to invest in honorable causes/growers by where we choose to purchase our food.  
So, here is lengthy overview of my grocery shopping!  I combine monthly co-op ordering, along with occasional stops at local stores/farmer’s markets.  
Here is an example of a “higher budget” month:

Eggs- $28
Cheeses- $40
Raw Milk- $64
Meats/Fish- $20 (whole chickens, ground turkey, or canned salmon; shop sales only & stock up)
Seasonal Produce- $50 (less, if we are growing veggies!)
Flours/Baking- $40 (If not gluten-free, this cost would be about $25 for us.)
Raw Honey-$10
Pantry Staples $30
Grains/Legumes/Nuts/Seeds- $20

Total: $302 
In each category, I have listed typical items that I keep on hand.  Some items last for multiple months, so their cost is spread out over time, and allow for variance in what we choose to purchase.  
Baking Items
Azure Standard

2 lbs. Teff Flour… $4.30

1 lb. Coconut Flour… $5.30
5 lbs. Whole Wheat Flour… $3.75… or… Kamut… $4.95 (this lasts a couple months)
1 lb. Tapioca Flour… $2.10
5 lbs. Brown Rice Flour… $7.40 (this will last for a few months)
1 lb. Arrowroot Powder… $2.30 (this will last for months!)
10 oz. Baking Powder… $2.35 (this will last for a few months)
Local Grocery Stores
1 lb. Sorghum Flour… $3.29
1 lb. Gluten-Free Baking Flour Mix… $3.63
1/2 lb Flax Seed Meal… $1.50
4 fl. oz. Alcohol-Free Vanilla Extract… $3.49
1 lb. Baking Soda… $1.09 (also used for cleaning/cosmetics)
2 lbs. Organic Sugar… $2
Azure Standard
Depending on what’s on sale, I will purchase meats in bulk, and then stretch them over a couple months.  Here are some examples of items I have purchased:
10 lbs. Whole Fryer Chickens… $20.60
12 lbs. Ground Turkey… $28 
Local Grocery Stores
Some local”natural foods” grocery stores will occasionally have free-range meats on sale, and I will purchase smaller amounts, if there haven’t been any bulk sales lately.  
1 Whole ‘Fryer’ Chicken… $7.50
2 (15 oz) cans Alaska Wild Salmon… $5
1 lb. Nitrite-Free Bacon… $3.99
Organic Seasonal Produce
Azure Standard
20 lbs Gala Apples… $19.28
10 lbs. Carrots… $9.50
1 lb. Garlic… $4.10
3 lb. Leeks… $3.30
10 lbs. Potatoes… $8.10
Farmer’s Market
2 bunches Kale (or other greens)… $5.00
2 lbs. Sweet Potatoes/Yams… $2.50
3 lbs. Squash… $2
Raw Milk
Local Dairy Co-op
5 1/2 gallons Whole Raw Milk… $64 (this is mostly for Gen, since we’re not nursing)

Cheeses (all cultured & hormone-free)
Local Grocery Stores
128 oz Whole Milk Nancy’s Yogurt… $9.36 (also available from Azure)
16 oz. Nancy’s Cultured Cottage Cheese… $3.75 (also available from Azure)
8 lbs. Tillamook Monterey Jack Cheese… $27.12

Local Grocery Stores
So far, I have not been able to coordinate the cost of free-range eggs into our budget, so we use “regular grocery store” local eggs.  Having chickens would really help! 
20 dozen Large Eggs… $28
Raw Honey
Local Store or Farmer’s Market
24 oz Raw Honey… $8.38
Azure Standard
1 gallon Raw Honey… $23.10 (this will last for months)

Pantry Staples
I don’t typically buy each of the oils/vinegars every month, as they have an extended shelf-life as pantry staples.  So, our budget allows for some variance in our purchases.  I typically keep my purchases in this category around $30.  
Azure Standard
36 oz Organic Peanut Butter… $7
16 oz Lemon Juice (preservative-free)… $3.90
4 oz Bulk Spices…$3.00 (also from local grocery stores)
32 oz Raw Apple Cider Vinegar… $2.45
12.7 oz Red or White Wine Vinegar… $4 (lasts for months)
32 oz  Olive Oil… $12.55 (this will last a couple months)
14 oz Coconut Oil… $8.10 (also used for cosmetics) Also available from Mountain Rose Herbs.
12.7 oz Sesame Oil… $4.60 (lasts for months)
14 oz Coconut Milk… $1.75
5 lbs. Yellow Popcorn… $4.75
Local Grocery Stores
12 oz Organic Maple Syrup… $7
64 oz White Vinegar… $3.98 (also for cleaning/laundry)
34 oz Grapeseed Oil… $7 (lasts for a couple months)
26 oz Real Salt… $5 (lasts for months)
12 oz canned Evaporated Milk… $0.43 (for making mayonnaise)
1 box of Tea… $2.33
3.5 oz Unsweetened Cocoa… $4
These items are also pantry items with a long-shelf life, and supply us with meals for months! I typically buy these items in 5 lb increments, but I don’t buy all types of beans, etc. each month.  I keep my purchases in this category under $20 per month.  
Azure Standard or Local Grocery Stores
5 lbs. Green Lentils… $3.50
5 lbs. Pinto Beans… $5.15
5 lbs. Navy Beans… $5.90
5 lbs. Red Beans… $4.95
5 lbs. Black Beans… $5.85
31 oz. Garbanzo Beans… $3.35
5 lbs. Raw Sunflower Seeds… $9.90
1 lb. Sesame Seeds… $3.10
5 lbs. Steel-Cut Oats… $4.25
5 lbs. Brown Rice… $5.15
5 lbs. Millet… $4.95
33 oz. Quinoa… $7.75
2 lbs. Almonds… $9.95
1 lb. Raisins… $2.15
Local Grocery Stores
1.25 lbs. Ground Buckwheat… $5
1.5 lbs. Whole Grain Teff… $6
1 lb. Walnuts… $5
1 lb. Hazelnuts… $8
For more Works For Me Wednesday ideas, visit Rocks in My Dryer!
For more Kitchen Tip Tuesdays, visit Tammy’s Recipes!  
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