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Food and Money

October 14, 2011

Although we bought the property to become more self sufficient, this summer has actually found us to be less so, and I can tell from our grocery bill. I always scoff when I see those articles about secret ways to save money (we already do them all), I was always a little bit skeptical about how much money you would actually save doing homesteading-lite. For us that meant eating personally hunted/caught venison and trout, home raised eggs (and occasional chicken), purchased whole pig, a fair amount of home grown produce, and a lot of home cooked beans. The truth is though, I didn’t think that all of this saved us that much money, but now I am convinced that it does. Maybe not that much, but enough to make a difference.

I still make the majority of our food from scratch, and we still buy the good local french bread and a lot of cheese. Since we moved into the camper though, I’ve stopped making beans or breads (mainly pita and naan), and we almost never use things out of our chest freezer (it isn’t currently on the property). While Mr. B and I used to previously squeak by under $80 a week on groceries, we now spend around $100. That extra food money used to go into an envelope and get used for dinner out or the random week we wanted to buy the whole salmon fillet. Now there isn’t any buffer, and I find it incredibly stressful. Part of this could be due to increased food prices, but it is also true that not keeping a garden, buying the pita, and not using what you have on hand has increased our food costs by almost $1000 a year.

The point of this post isn’t to be all “poor us” or to say that it won’t change (it will), but just to say that it does make a difference. I was inspired to write this post after reading a really interesting article in the NY Times (Back to the Land, Reluctantly) about a mother who starts being food frugal by growing and doing more in the kitchen. The comments on the article seemed to split about 50/50 into people who were astounded by this (lots of calls for a book) and those who pointed out that this was the norm in America until recently. The author herself points out “I figured, if peasants in 11th-century Sicily did all this, how hard could it be?” I think that the grow your own/cook your own movement has gotten a bad rap lately, or maybe is just experiencing backlash, but it can be an honestly good way to make do with very little.

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