How I Saved Over $2k on Groceries
so far this year…even with the cost of inflation!
This year has just been a crazy, challenging year. Throw in the rising cost of inflation, and it’s obvious that finances have been one of those challenges. It's been a year of getting by the best we can, so I’ve been avoiding seeing where we fall in our budget. Last month, I finally bit the bullet and reviewed our financial reports.
And I couldn’t believe my eyes…
….our grocery expense was DOWN by OVER $2,000.00!
How could this be???? Was the report accurate? With groceries nearly doubling in cost, how did this even happen?
As I thought back to all the intentional changes we have been making over the past year, I realized we were finally seeing and experiencing the results of all the hard work and effort we had put into creating a more SUSTAINABLE kitchen.
And with regards to the quality of our food? It got BETTER!
Here is a list of, what I consider, the top 5 actions we took to create a more sustainable kitchen:
- We bought a milk cow
My family consumes about 4 gallons of milk a week. I had been paying $8/gallon for organic milk (NOT grass fed, NOT raw, just organic). That’s $32/week ($1600/year). Additionally, the cost of yogurt seems to have doubled in the store. So, we started making our own yogurt at home as well, using our raw milk. Added bonues: Not only have we saved money, our nutritional value has skyrocketed as a result of consuming raw, 100% grass fed milk.
But what about the cost of feed
? Clarabelle has more than paid for herself. First, by providing us with a calf. The value of the calf has helped offset the cost. Additionally, we had two bottle calves that Clarabelle was able to take on. That girl has provided us with nutrient dense milk, given us a calf, and saved two calves from our beef herd. She is worth her weight in gold. Additionally, when I have a surplus of milk, I am able to sell our milk to local friends. Overall, we have figured that Clarabelle has been able to pay her feed bill and provide our family with free milk.
- We started raising & harvesting more protein
As a beef & producer, we already have unlimited grass fed beef at our fingertips. Our children have an egg business, so we’ve got that area covered as well. And although we love our beef, sometimes you just want to mix things up a bit. Last spring, Organic, Free Range chicken hit $10.79/lb! We were buying one package a week at approx.. $15/each ($780/year). That’s when we decided that done was better than perfect, and although we were not set up to raise pastured poultry, we had enough of a set up to raise meat birds, in a healthy outdoor environment. They would be fed 100% organic feed and I wouldn’t have to worry about my chicken being washed in a chlorine solution like it is at the store.
We purchased 25 Cornish Cross and built a chicken run & shelter using whatever material we could find around the ranch. In addition to raising them, we harvested the birds ourselves. After processing the birds, we sold half of the inventory to our beef customers (we have learned that farm direct, organic chicken is a highly desired product). The money we made from selling half of the flock, covered the cost of raising all of them. We then had a freezer full of organic, clean chicken at no cost to us! It was such a successful venture we just harvested our SECOND batch of birds.
- We increased our bartering
I’ve always been a HUGE fan of bartering. Because bartering doesn’t just benefit you, it benefits everyone involved. This year, I really worked at improving in this area. I made sure to be more aware of foods that I needed but couldn’t provide for myself. I took the time to really look around for who might be able to meet that need, and then, I took the RISK
of reaching out to others to initiate the idea of bartering. This can be intimidating. But in my experience, I have found that MOST people want to barter. And that bartering is contagious! Once people hear about it, they want in, too.
And bartering didn’t just help my grocery budget, it worked in other areas of my life…haircuts, advertising, computer work, etc.
- We built our inventory of what we could buy in BULK
This was a hard one that took time. A LOT of time. As ranchers & farmers, we don’t always have a bountiful cash flow that allows me to buy whatever I need in bulk. So, each month I would pick three items that I would buy in bulk. As the months passed, and I had more items on hand in bulk, the more money I would save, allowing me to buy even more in bulk. Now, after about a year and a half, most of our pantry essentials are being purchased in bulk. Because the stockpile is up, I only need to replace a few items each month. As a result, the grocery order has maintained itself financially, but I’m getting more bang for my buck. (I purchase all my bulk pantry items from Azure Standard).
5. I adjusted the way I cooked at home
First, I adjusted the way we ate and started to simply eat in a way that worked for us rather than trying to fit “accepted meal ideas”. For example, my kids don’t like to eat eggs for breakfast in the morning. But they love to have a scrambled egg as a mid morning snack. Whole foods replaced many of our previous processed snacks (which are very expensive). I started to replace snack foods with nuts, cheese, dried fruit, and popcorn. All healthier, whole food options that I can buy in bulk. (Popcorn is a great replacement for crackers. So much healthier and a fraction of the cost).
Second, I learned to cook depending on what I had on hand rather than revolving grocery shopping around what I wanted to cook. With adjusting to purchasing so many whole food ingredients in bulk PLUS our garden, rather than coming up with a meal plan, I’d instead decide what we would eat by seeing what was being offered to me, and put together a meal using those ingredients. Sometimes we just snacked on snap peas we harvested directly from our garden. And whatever vegetable was ripe, that’s what went with dinner.
Cooking just got easier! Experience started to naturally sink in and cooking wasn’t such a burden to me. Where as a year ago it was a big deal for me to make our own bread, I’ve done it so much, it now just comes naturally. Everything from sandwich bread, to baguettes, to hamburger buns, and more. I have most recipes memorized and can do it in my sleep 😉 The more you work in the kitchen, the easier it becomes. So if you are just starting, hang in there…it gets better
And one final encouragement before you head off to create a more sustainable kitchen.
Something really important…
Something you should notice as you read the list above...
…everything was simply an improvement or increase to things we were already doing. Bottom line….IT’S A PROCESS! This did not happen over night. It took time. It took refinement. It took working that ‘sustainable’ muscle until it finally started to show itself. I’m sure in another five years, my list will look a lot different (hopefully!). And in addition to saving money, you will find the most fulfilling contentment in the freedom and liberty you create by exercising sustainable living.