Sunday, August 14, 2016

Our Grocery List: How I Feed Two Adults for Less Than $50/Month!



I've just written "16 Tips to Get Your Grocery Bill Under $25/Person Each Month" in which I shared with you some of my personal guidelines for buying food on the cheap. Well, as promised, here is my actual grocery list along with the breakdown of prices for each item. You will see that, on average, I feed two very active adults for less than $50 a month. 

A Typical Month's Grocery List  
-Organic Tamari 
-Bulk Oats 
-Bulk Rice
-Bulk Beans 
-Bulk Organic Flour or Wheat Berries 
-Cooking Oil 
-Yeast 
-1-2 luxury items, such as herbal tea, lemon juice, nuts, raisins, or seasonings

Canning Supplies (July-Oct. Only)
-lids
-vinegar
-sugar 
-salt
-spices
-produce 

Here is the price breakdown for my grocery list:
Item
Source
Package Quantity
Price
Used/Month
Price/Month
Organic Hard Red Wheat Berries
Honeyville (online)
50 lb bag
$1/lb
10 lbs
$10
Pinto Beans
Bulk Food Depot
2 lb bags
$0.98/lb
4-5 lbs
$3.92- $4.90
Brown Rice
Bulk Food Depot
25 lb bags
$0.60/lb
4 lbs
$2.40
Organic Tamari
San-J brand from Bulk Food Depot
20 oz bottles
$8.12 ea
10 oz
$4.06
Oats
Bulk Food Depot
5 lb bags
$0.85/lb
½ -1 lb
$0.42- $0.85
Sunflower Oil
Hain Pure Foods Brand
(grocery store)
32 oz bottle
$8.29 ea
32 oz
$8.29
Dry Active Yeast
Red Star Brand from Bulk Food Depot
1 lb
$4.66/ lb
¼ lb
$1.17




Total
$30.26 - $31.67
At about $30/month for staples, that leaves about $9-10 for luxury items and seasonings. This bring us up to $40/month, so where is that extra $10 coming from? Well, don't forget that I also can my own fruit and veggies for the winter. I estimate that this costs me about $10 each month, if you spread the cost out through the year. Here's how I got to that:

I can about 300 jars a year. Canning lids are 16 cents apiece, so 300 lids comes out to $48.  I already have enough jars that I don't have to buy any. Canning is much more expensive if you buy the jars from the store, but it is very easy to get free or cheap jars from garage sales, curbs, flea markets, etc. Have your relatives keep an eye out for you. If I bought reusable tattler canning jar lids, this would cost me less over time, but I just don't have to money to pay for them up front right now. I grow all and can all of my own vegetables, which is why you don't see any produce on my grocery list.

White sugar costs about $0.60- $1/lb.  I estimate that I use about 15 lbs between canning and a little for regular cooking/baking, probably less, but let's round up. At $0.80/lb, that comes out to about $12. 

A gallon of white vinegar costs $2.40. I'd estimate that I use about 4 gallons, so that costs me $9.60. 

Spices are really variable so let's  just say that I spend about $10 on spices. I also use a 4 lb box of canning salt (I use some of this for other purposes, other than canning), which cost me $2.75 at the Bulk Food Depot. 

This year, I also purchased $40 worth of canning tomatoes, peaches, and peppers at the farmer's market, so we'll add that to the bill. 

Total that all costs $122.35. Divided by 12 months, that comes to $10.20/month. That $10.20 combined with about $30 worth of staple items, and about $10 worth of luxury items, brings us to about $50 each month. 

A couple of notes on some of the items on my grocery list:
Organic Red Wheat Berries
These only cost $5 more than the non organic wheat berries from Honeyville, so I feel like I can afford to go for the organic. It is also the food that we eat the most of, so I especially want it to be organic. They do not sell organic wheat flour, so we just grind our own fresh, which is more nutritional anyways and give me the option to sprout it first

Honeyville is a company that sells bulk food online. They have really great prices on certain things, especially wheat. The real bargain with them, though, is that they only charge $5 for shipping anywhere in the United States, no matter how much you order. 

Beans
I buy pinto beans, because they are generally the cheapest beans. I bought them for $0.98/lb at Bulk Food Depot in Athens, OH, but you can generally find that at a price close to this in most grocery stores. 

Rice
I buy brown rice because it has more nutrients than white rice, although it is more expensive. I can buy it for $15 for a 25 lb bag at Bulk Food Depot. This is an excellent price and you won't generally find this price at grocery stores. I'd recommend buying rice in bulk, although I haven't found a lower price than this at any other bulk food stores. The brand is Riceland Foods. 

Organic Tamari
While some might see this as a luxury, we really love tamari so we make an effort to fit it into our budget. Although organic is about twice as expensive for soy sauce, I definitely think it is worth it to avoid unneccessary additives and exposure to the many agrochemicals that are sprayed on soy. 

Sunflower Oil
While I cannot afford organic oil (although I really wish I could), I can avoid GMOs buy purchasing oils made from crops that I know are not genetically modified. I generally go for sunflower but if I cannot find that, I go for peanut oil. I do not buy as much cooking oil as one might expect, because I supplement it with home canned lard. 

Yeast
Because I bake all of my own bread products, I do use quite a bit of yeast. While it isn't a huge purchase, it is worth it to go for the 1 lb packages of red star yeast that you can purchase online or from bulk food stores. I got mine from Bulk Food Depot. If yeast is not in the budget, I will simply make my own sourdough. Sometimes I will make sourdough on top of using yeast as well, just because it is delicious and healthy. 

Sugar
You may have noticed that I did not include sugar on my monthly grocery list. It is not that I do not use it, although I try to keep it to a minimum. I included the sugar that I use in the canning supplies just to make this a little less complicated. I use most of that sugar for canning, though, as I prefer to use natural sugars in my every day foods. I do not buy these as I make my own maple syrup and my father raises bees, so he supplies me with free honey. While organic sugar is too expensive (it costs 2.5x or more what regular sugar costs), I can by non GMO sugar made from sugar cane. Domino sugar, which can be found in most grocery stores, now has non-GMO project verified products at a low price. 

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2 comments:

  1. I had to go back to your previous post to find out that you don't buy dairy. So now I'm curious, what kind of meals do you make? What about pancakes and other such things that require milk?

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    Replies
    1. Hi Micki-
      I make all kinds of meals! I don't meal plan at all, I simply make what I have a taste for, what is in season, and what I have on hand. Because of this, my food is actually extremely varied. It's hard to say exactly what I eat, but here are a handful of dishes we eat often:
      Enchiladas, Tomato Noodle Soup, Tortillas with beans and fixings, Pasties or Calzones, Peanut Stir Fry with Potstickers and Rice, Fried Egg Sandwiches, Gravy and Mashed Potatoes, Pancakes or Waffles

      When a recipe calls for milk, I simply use water instead- I swear you really can't tell the difference. If I'm making a chowder, or something along those lines, I will add a couple of handfuls of flour to make the soup thick and creamy. In place of butter, I will use sunflower oil, coconut oil, or lard, depending on which makes most sense in the recipe.

      As far as cheese goes, I just omit it or try to make recipes that don't rely on it to be good. I know, cheese is delicious, but it's just not a necessity for us, and honestly, kind of makes both my partner and I sick after not eating it for a long time. When I make enchiladas, I make them extra flavorful (making my own refried beans, sauce, and tortillas) so that cheese isn't necessary for them to be good. I do have a weak spot for pizza, but can also make that very flavorful by making my own sauce and loading up on fresh vegetables from the garden. When you have all the toppings you love, I actually prefer to have less or no cheese so that their flavors can shine through. Although it is a very different being all together, nutritional yeast can make food savory and cheesy, I often have some of that on hand to put on top of beans.

      I also have a weakness for cream cheese, so every couple of months I might buy a small container of it using my "luxury item" money and have it on homemade bagels to satiate my cravings for it.

      Another item that I make at home is mayonnaise, which actually doesn't have any dairy in it. It is just egg, vinegar, and oil blended together, which makes for white, creamy mayo. This can be used as a dairy substitute as well. It can even be seasoned differently for different purposes. For example, I will sometimes add a little lemon juice to make it taste like sour cream, which we love to put on enchiladas and burritos.

      Hope that helped- thanks for reading!

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