Thursday, March 7, 2013

Food budgeting & money-saving tips for the #6IngredientChallenge

Six Ingredient Challenge buttonJoin the Six Ingredient Challenge hosted by Hobo Mama and Anktangle!

We're on a six-week path to eat more whole foods, guided by one simple rule: Buy foods with six ingredients or fewer. And we're blogging about our journey on the way.

This week we're answering the question: How's your budget? What money-saving strategies have you been employing?

You can see all the responses to this question today at this link-up post at Hobo Mama and Anktangle. If you're a blogger who's published a response, please post the URL in the linky below so we can visit to read. If you don't have a blog or haven't published a response, feel free to provide your answer in the comments on this post on either Hobo Mama or Anktangle.

Next week's writing prompt is at the end of this post along with posting instructions.

To join in the Six Ingredient Challenge anytime during the six weeks, visit the sign-up page for a list of posts and to link up!

My answer:

I definitely agree that eating more whole foods is a hit to the pocketbook. When we first started pricing out even one discrete thing like organic milk, it was shocking to us the difference in price. When I priced out raw milk … well! That just went over our limits there.

With the Six Ingredient Challenge in particular, though, we'd come to a lot of those revelations and compromises already, so it was really just trading in a few random items for others. And, frankly, if you've been trying to work with organic/natural convenience foods, then switching to the same from-scratch ingredients can actually be cheaper!

I know, for me, reading Michael Pollan's In Defense of Food is what fired me up to "vote with my dollars" and use my food purchases to tell stores, manufacturers, and producers what sort of food I found important. This challenge is just allowing me to do that even further. From that book I also learned how little Americans spend on food as a nation and historically, so that freed me a bit from the pangs of frugal-guilt I feel upon choosing the not-on-sale organic over the highly discounted conventional foods.

However, I'm not at all suggesting everyone can or should make decisions like that — when we don't have much money for food at all, we also have to make do with what we can afford. That might be weighing the decision to buy produce at all rather than the choice between organic and conventional.

Some budgeting tips I'd pass on would be to prioritize the food you want your family to eat in the quantities you need, and then worry about the quality (beyond the minimum of "is this safe and edible," of course!). If you have the choice to buy some things organic, thin-skinned fruits and veggies and dairy are my top picks. Making large quantities of from-scratch meals and then freezing the extra portions are a good way to save since you can buy, for instance, meat and cheese in bulk packages for less per serving than the smaller ones. If you have a deep freeze and a yard, take advantage of storing garden produce for year-round use, and check into getting a share of a whole animal if you eat meat. Also, this seems almost too no-duh to me to include, but we nearly always buy store brand of packaged or canned foods, because they're usually a lot cheaper and just as tasty.

I hope that limiting ingredients hasn't put too big a strain on anyone's finances these past weeks — and I hope you'll share how it's going in the linky at the end!

Please join us by blogging or journaling about the writing prompt each week. We'll introduce the prompt each Thursday and host a link-up for the answers the following week.

Start formulating your answers to Writing Prompt #6

What are you learning about your body through this challenge?
Your family's rhythms and routines? Your feelings about food?

Writing prompt #6 guidelines:

  • You have till next week to think of a response to the prompt. Post your response on your blog anytime by next Thursday.
  • Next week's post (3/14) will have a writing prompt linky where you can link up your response.
  • If you don't have a blog, you can leave your response in the comments on next week's post (3/14).
  • Copy and paste the header below into your post to tag it as part of the challenge.
  • Responding to the writing prompts is optional and just a fun extra way to play along! We encourage you to at least think out a response.

Header code for your writing prompt #6:

Simply copy the code in the box and paste it into the html box of your blogging software to appear at the top of your response post.

Link up your answers to prompt #5!

How's your budget? What money-saving strategies have you been employing?

This linky list is now closed.


Unknown said...

I've definitely had a sticker-shock when pricing milk before, and for me that was even more incentive to just consume less cow milk in general.

Thanks for your money-saving tips!

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