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Author Topic: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget  (Read 73032 times)

Offline JenniferC

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Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
« Reply #45 on: June 08, 2008, 08:39:22 PM »
I am in awe!!  I have spent the last hour reading this thread from the very first comment in February.  I just got my box of goodies to begin my NE courses and was just planning on exploring, but I am so excited now about what is ahead for me.

It seems that many of you are "veteran" whole food eaters and I am not.  I have been eating this way for a couple of years now, but I have teenagers that are fighting this change, although they have seen the benefits to the change in our food and lifestyle in so many ways. (They will come around!  Can someone start a thread dealing with how to get your kids to buy in?) I think that this particular information, the way to eat healthy foods on a budget, is information that will be the most important to me.  I already do some nutritional consulting and this is the number one issue that comes up.  I am also a public school teacher and as rewards I have a cooking day in my class when I teach the kids (and parents if they want to come) how to prepare some healthy, organic, afterschool snacks.  I have to pay for whatever I decide to make, so I am loving this thread!
Thanks for sharing and I so look forward to all of the advice and information I will get from all of you!
  ;)

Offline JenniferC

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Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
« Reply #46 on: June 08, 2008, 08:40:58 PM »
Well, what do you know.  The next topic is how to get my kids to buy in!!  I think I'll be here all night!!
:o)

KellyT

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Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
« Reply #47 on: June 29, 2008, 04:35:01 PM »
Amanda -

I finally went to see your website. I loved it!!!

Thank you again for all your info.

:) Kelly

Offline AmandaL

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Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
« Reply #48 on: July 01, 2008, 08:43:08 AM »
Thanks Kelly! I have been very busy giving talks to "mothers groups", church groups, and groups of women in affluent communities.  There is much need for nutrition educators in the middle/upper incomes -- we are all underserved when it comes to proper nutrition.  I am looking forward to finishing my cert and really going gang-busters with my business.

Wife, mother, food lover, advocate
www.mydailydiner.com
Healthy Eating Specialist
Whole Foods Market, Arlington, VA

Offline Jo-Ellen

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Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
« Reply #49 on: August 29, 2008, 12:29:43 PM »
Hi,
I am so pleased that the practicalities of feeding a large family organic and whole foods has been discussed.  My husband and I have raised our four kids on such a diet and there are many times that we have had one of our parents living with us. We are also a home that has homeschooled, and my daughter is still homeschooling as a High School Junior. 
Our budget is around $200 to $300/ week, and this is due to the number of teens that appear and deplete the weeks worth of shopping in hours.  We live in the country and teens often spend the night. We do have a request that they bring any food they think we might not have and they will want.  But ten high school boys spending the night, with their parents supplying Subway sandwiches, sodas, chips and deserts, will still drain the fruits, bread, nuts, milk, and carrots or any other "sweet" veggie, and plead for more packaged cereals and bagels in the morning.    I have served 3 pounds of organic pasta, with home made pesto, garlic bread, 3 heads of brocolli, salad and drinks, apple cake for desert to hungry boys coming home from Cross Country running, and they are ready to eat in three hours.  SOOO.... while your kids are small, yes you can feed a family of four on $120-$200 a week. But teens are another issue.  We had at least three teens in our home for the past 6 years until this year, we only have two. 
On the brighter note, their friends make comments like, " I wish we didn't eat out all the time but had dinners like this."  ( Brocolli, stuffed squash, salad, rice...)
Or  " Your mother must love you to make food like this all the time.)  Or  "I never get to eat fresh asparagus, I love it."   So it makes a difference.
Also, my now 26 year old son calls to let me know what his east coast CSA has delivered and ask how to prepare it. 
My 19 year old son, who is studying in Moscow, let me know that string beans are impossible to find, but asparagus is in season so he made that.  ( I cannot remember him eating asparagus let alone cooking it!) He also let us know that strawberries, the good ones, are $30 a pint!!!!  We are blessed to live here. 
As for teaching parents about nutrition, I have been working with Kidspot Imagination Center in Sebastopol for a year now.  What I have found is that parents are interested in demos and information, but they are not signing up for classes (I only charge $10/class)   So I would be interested in knowing how to help parents sign up so that they can continue learning about whole food cooking.

JoEllen DeNicola
Nutrition Educator
heart2heartnutrition@gmail.com

Offline EmilyAr

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Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
« Reply #50 on: September 24, 2008, 10:11:59 AM »
This is definitely helpful, as I just moved here for school from Idaho and am noticing the cost of living, groceries especially are so much higher here, but these tips will help me next time I hit up the grocery store, thank you!

Offline AshleyRa

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Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
« Reply #51 on: September 29, 2008, 05:23:35 PM »
Amanda-
Thank you for sharing your detailed grocery planning with us all.  This is a great thread that I find very inspiring, helpful, and also not alone with issues that I face.
My family of three and I live off of one income, and we are also a part of the "lower income" population.  Just as Kelly and her husband, my boyfriend and I come from an upper middle class family.  We also are college graduates that made and still make sacrifices to better ourselves, each other, and our daughter. 
As a stay at home mother I feel that it is my responsibility to feed my family nutritious meals with the ability to stay within my budget; which is challenging to do consistently.  Even with attending the nutrition educator program for a few weeks, I have not seen major changes with my diet and my family’s diet due to not wanting to spend over are limit.  With the small changes being made, our budget has increased slightly. For a family that lives pay check to pay check, every penny counts.  That small amount could have easily gone to one of our many bills.  With that said, it is still a struggle to buy ALL organic products.
The "lower income" population needs support, education in nutrition, and a better grocery shopping system.  I believe your system of planning, and the steps of buying you take will work for me!  I think of the way I've been grocery shopping, and no wonder I have NO money!! Also, my health and my family's health should be just as important as paying the utility bills. I am excited try your system out and see how effective it will be!  ;D

Offline AmandaL

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Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
« Reply #52 on: October 02, 2008, 06:52:03 AM »
Hi there,

Just for clarification, you do not have to buy all produce organic.   There are many, many, many farms who practice sustainable methods of farming who do not get the certification because, at least here in California, there is a ton of red tape and it's costly.  Many small farmers just can't afford or manage the red tape.  Also because organic standards have become weakened/broadend, many farmers dont go the route of being certified organic on principle.   

There is a balance, and if you are on a tight budget visit www.ewg.org. The Environmantal WOrking group has a list of produce that you should buy organic.

My monthly budget lately seems to stay in the $700-800. 
Wife, mother, food lover, advocate
www.mydailydiner.com
Healthy Eating Specialist
Whole Foods Market, Arlington, VA

KellyT

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Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
« Reply #53 on: October 03, 2008, 05:43:40 PM »
I would add that an excellent book that addresses the issue that Amanda raised is "To Buy or Not To Buy Organic" by Cindy Burke (2007). I highly recommend it.

Offline ElleryF

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Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
« Reply #54 on: October 04, 2008, 05:06:32 PM »
This is a great thread.  Thanks for all of the shopping ideas and tips!  Another quick tip is that Rainbow Grocery in San Francisco puts out a bi-monthly 20% off coupon in the At&T Yellow Pages.  The next one is for use in October - it is only valid certain days of the week so be sure to check before you go (and I don't recommend going on the last day that it is valid - the place is a madhouse!).

It is a great time to stock up on bulk items, oils, teas, vitamins, supplements, natural cleaning products, paper products, etc.

Hope this helps in the cost savings.

Offline AmandaL

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Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
« Reply #55 on: October 10, 2008, 08:03:51 PM »
Here's an article called Grocery Savings Made Simple by Laura Rowley.  I am quoted at the bottom.
Wife, mother, food lover, advocate
www.mydailydiner.com
Healthy Eating Specialist
Whole Foods Market, Arlington, VA

Offline AmandaL

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Wife, mother, food lover, advocate
www.mydailydiner.com
Healthy Eating Specialist
Whole Foods Market, Arlington, VA

Offline SylviaG

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Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
« Reply #57 on: October 29, 2008, 01:44:02 PM »
Hey All,

I was lucky enough to find this post the first time it came out, yet , here I am reading it again. This Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget articlae has touched many. The original post gave so much inforamtionand the responses were wonderful and also added a great deal of information. After I read the post the first time, I was so encouraged by the thought of spending less on groceries and eating better, I began going to the grocery store more often so that my fruits and vegetables would be fresher. SInce than new stores like Fresh and Easy and Sprouts have emerged naer the community I live in. I still have to pick and choose very carefully but the nice thing is is that now I have choices. My 22 year old son loves the flavor of chicken that has not been pumped up with chemiclas and other junk. He has now given up all fast food ( 8 months now) he definitely feels the change in his health. He enjoys the organic fruits and vegetables and the freshness of the meals that I am preparing. Our food bill has gone down because I'm not throwing food out anymore like I used to....what a waste. I also get sale items but we have also learned to eat what we need not just eat until we can't move. Nuts and seeds have become snack favorites and freshly juiced items have also become a favorite late night snack attack junk food replacement. We have rediscovered our dining table and meal time together - with 2 kids in college and two busy careers our time together is not what we'd like, but when we can share a meal together with food that's healthy for our bodies, prepared with love and care we savor every bite as well as every minute. I am learnning to simplify my life and slow down (not easy to do). Taking my time shopping for the food that will nurish our bodies and sustain our lives has become one of the ways that I relax (weird, I know) but I'm thinking about my family the entire time and thinking about the people that I love is good for my soul. Okay, so this was all over the place but feeding my family healthy food on  budget has changed my life and my families health.
Happy shopping and good health to all.
SylviaG.

Offline DanielB

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Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
« Reply #58 on: October 29, 2008, 02:02:18 PM »
I spend between $120 - $200 per week on a family of 6 (that includes 2-80lb dogs that I homecook for).  We also eat only local, seasonal and organic (with a few exceptions).  That also includes plenty of organic meat (both for the humans and the four legged).  I enjoy seeing how other people shop for groceries.  Its been my hobby for the past 5+ years. ;D I am always irritated when I hear others say it costs too much to eat well. 

I don't know how you are able to do that, since I have been doing a lot of the things you suggested, and I have trouble spending less than that just to feed myself as an individual.  In fact, lately, I have noticed the cost of food has gone up, and I have found it extremely difficult to spend less than about $600 a month (about a year and a half ago, I did manage to go one month spending only $480).  Of course, I am an extremely active adult male with a high metabolism, but I still find that amazing.

I also cook all my food from scratch, shop at local farmers markets (in Berkeley), get the cheapest meat that I would consider to be healthy at my local health food store, and buy the discount wild fish at Trader Joe's.  I don't have room to grow any of my own food, but eat a few fruits and vegetables from my parents' garden.  I even forage wild food when I can, like nettles in the spring, but I still haven't been able to keep my food budget within what I would consider reasonable limits....  Right now, I'm spending more on food than rent, and I've been forced to live at my parents' place, because I haven't been able to come up with enough money to pay the market-rate rents in the Bay Area....  It's not exactly like I haven't been trying to get these costs down - I've been doing everything I could think of to cut back on food costs for the last year or so.

One caveats: some cost-saving measures that might work for other people are off-limits to me.  I seem to have a pretty extreme sensitivity to any type of beans, so I pretty much have to rely on meat as a protein source.  Dairy also doesn't work for me, but I do eat a bunch of eggs, which are often a cheaper source of protein than meat.  I also can't handle as many starchy foods as some other people can, and since the cheapest sources of calories (grains) fall in this category, I end up spending more than some other people would on other more expensive foods.

What I would actually consider a good budget that would allow me to eat a good variety of foods, including different sources of clean, lean animal protein would be about $700 a month.  If you're wondering how I could possibly go through so much money, I actually kept track of all the food that came into my house one month, weighing bags of produce as they came in from the farmer's market, and so forth.  The breakdown was something like this:

42 pounds of meat (including wild fish)
4 dozen eggs
135 pounds of fruits and vegetables
4 pounds of nuts
One 32 ounce bottle of olive oil and one of coconut oil
Some miscellaneous cooking spices
A little bit of coffee, tea, and herbal teas

Okay, that may be a lot of food, but almost nothing went to waste....  By the end of each week, my refrigerator was pretty much empty.

KellyT

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Re: Feeding a Family E4H On a Budget
« Reply #59 on: October 29, 2008, 06:00:21 PM »
Hi Daniel,

I am one of the two people that started this discussion. I also did my NE presentation on Healthy Eating on a Budget. My degree is in Economics and I work actively on our family's food budget (two adults, two 11 yr olds, one 6 1/2 yr old, and one 2 1/2 yr old). The parents are overweight and the kids are all in the 80-95%+ range for weight.

I had some thoughts about what you wrote.

To begin, Amanda has a very different situation than yours. She has two very young children and she has the ability to save money on food using "economies of scale". She can buy in bulk and use leftovers to create another meal. If you read closely, you will see she also gets a decent portion of her protein for free (fish).

In reading what you wrote, you currently spend about $600 per month, with an optimal spending of $700. That works out to $20 to $23 per day.

Before prices went up, I had used a baseline cost per day of $8 per person when working with families. That assumes no eating out. The government uses the same basic figures for their "moderate" eating plan. With the increases in food costs, I am now using a figure of $10 per day per person.

As an experiment, I have been tracking my exact spending since the middle of June. I have a jar that I put every receipt in for that calendar month. I make a receipt from the farmer's market. We basically do not eat out, but if we did, there would have been a receipt and it is in the jar. We are now running a little over $1700 per month, which works out to about $10 per day per person. Our food budget is higher than our rent as well.

It is definitely more difficult when a person has food allergies/ sensitivities/ or aversions. We can't use cow dairy so we buy very expensive goat milk butter and cheese (although we use less to balance out the money).

You mentioned that you are "an extremely active adult male with a high metabolism". That definitely adds to your food expense, as you need more calories than someone else.

I appreciate the details as to how much food you eat each month. I see that you consume 42 pounds of meat and fish per month. That works out to 22.4 ounces of meat per day. That is a lot of meat! You eat 4 dozen eggs per month. That is about one dozen a week, which seems reasonable: 1.6 per day (based on a 30 day month). You go through 4.5 pounds of fruit and vegetables per day which sounds like a lot, but that doesn't count the part you toss, like the skin. You go through 4 pounds of nuts, which is a little over 2 ounces per day. Seems reasonable.

You mention that you cannot tolerate beans and prefer meat and fish as a protein source. You don't eat dairy. Starchy foods are also a source of difficulty.

I would wonder if trying to find some types of grains or carbohydrates that you tolerate and like would help your expenses? Working with an experienced NC here or even a natural chef might open up some options.

Setting that aside, we can work on ways for you to save money immediately using what you already eat. The first idea that comes to mind is your protein budget. Generally people save money in this category by buying in bulk. However, we both know that the stores that are cheap in this category are cheap for a reason: they use meat we would not want to eat. Whole Foods has been advertising the fact that they will give discounts when you buy a larger quantity at one time. Perhaps they would be willing to do this at the meat counter. If you bought meat in a larger quantity and then froze it, you could save money. Some people buy it and freeze it raw for use later. Others prepare it, like portioning it into a ziplock bag or glass container with marinade, and then freeze it. You could also prepare it and cook it and then freeze it (like with meatballs). Amanda talked about purchasing chickens on sale for future use, which is one way she saved money.

Nuts are another item you could buy in bulk, if you aren't already. If you buy at the farmer's market, you could ask for a discount if you bought several pounds at once.

One way that many people here save money on their produce is buy buying frequently (to avoid spoilage) and by going "beyond organic", as Amanda says. Getting to know your growers at your farmer's market will let you know who to buy from. Maybe a grower is not "certified" organic, but maybe their practices fall within your comfort zone. They may have decided not to pursue the formal designation, as it is very expensive to do so. A good book on this subject is "To Buy or Not To Buy Organic" by Cindy Burke (2007). This book includes a discussion of the above plus an actual guide to help us with our decisions.

So, that is my way more than 2 cents.   :)

I hope some suggestions are helpful and that this discussion inspires you. I have been greatly inspired by this topic here at Bauman and thank you for bringing up this very interesting "case study".