Spin-off: What do you spend on groceries if you buy ALL organic/natural foods? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 27 Old 01-16-2010, 08:29 PM - Thread Starter
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I'm always impressed (and depressed, lol) by people with extremely low grocery bills. I know that if I started shopping at Aldi and the salvage store in town I could probably cut our grocery bill in half.

Ten years ago when my three stepkids were with us 1/3 of the time I used to shop that way, and our grocery budget was $200 a month, which included several take-out meals. But then I made a goal of buying ALL organic produce and grains and humanely- and naturally-raised meat, and our food bill has skyrocketed.

I think I do almost everything I could do to make buying this kind of food as cheap as possible, but it's still our biggest expense outside of our mortgage payment. I would love to hear what other people spend and any suggestions they have for keeping those expenses down.

FTR, I'm not here to judge those of you who don't do this. I'm just interested in seeing an (organic)-apple-to-(organic)-apple comparison.

Formerly New Mama to Henry, born August 2005 and Silas, born November 2010.
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#2 of 27 Old 01-16-2010, 10:18 PM
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well im in the same boat, we spend wayyy too much. We just started an organic sustainable farm csa that is down the street from us and we love it! we do 30$ of produce a week from there and 30$ a month right now of meat which is nothing I may have to do more... We got 1 whole, organic, pastured chicken like 6 lbs and a small steak. So the chicken last a week for meals and now I have a ton of broth which is great.

Once a week we do tofu, well for 2 days
once a week we do beans usually lentils and rice indian style for 2 days
once a week we do meat
and on weekends its usually pancakes

I try to bake bread once a week too

We do raw milk

So the csa is 150 a month
and our whole foods is usually around 100 a week so 550 at the least. I know its ridiculous but its also soap, shampoo, diapers, dog food

I usually buy bulk rice, lentils,flour
swiss cheese, organic pastures milk, eggs, yogurt, butter, maple syrup, pasta, pasta sauce, spices, organic sugar, raw local honey, tea, o and then there's the herbal stuff, vit d, sambucas, whatever seasonal additives etc.

The csa has helped a lot because i dont have to think about produce i just deal with whatever they give me. Then i buy off of our list and really stick to it, but I dont and now they have their friday sale there and I always end up "taking advantage" of that which increases our bill
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#3 of 27 Old 01-16-2010, 10:23 PM
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I posted in the other thread that we spent about $1000/month (crazy - actually it may have been an overestimation) last year for 2 adults and a toddler, and I'm hoping to get that down to $800 in January by really watching what I spend, making better use of the pantry, baking my own bread and making a "price book" for the different supermarkets we use. I'm aiming to get it lower than that.

We eat mainly organic: all organic/free-range animal products and raw milk and 90% org fruits, veggies and grains/beans. Most food is cooked from scratch and I had a garden last year, canned jams and pickles, froze a ton of fruit. The thread below is a similar one from the Traditional Foods forum, where people seem to have higher grocery bills. It's interesting to compare - I feel weird asking my friends how much they spend on food!


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#4 of 27 Old 01-17-2010, 12:40 AM
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About $600-700 for two adults, a toddler, and one very hungry one on the way.

We do raw milk, almost all organic produce, local free-range and pastured meats, honey or maple syrup for sweeteners, and farm eggs. We're also big meat-eaters and have meat for dinner every night, so that makes it a lot pricier.
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#5 of 27 Old 01-17-2010, 12:43 AM
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$200/week is our average I think, for DH, 3.5 yo DD, and me. We buy a few things conventional that aren't on the dirty dozen, mainly because we are in the upper midwest and I can't afford all organic in the winter - usually brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, avocados, sweet potatoes, collards, stuff like that. Meat is about 75% organic, local, grassfed. DD and I are grain, dairy, soy, corn, and egg free, DH eats gf bread for his lunch and eggs at b-fast. I think this is pretty frugal for what we eat - no prepared foods, hardly anything out of a can or frozen. I place a high value on good food, DD needs the most nutrition she can get due to her food intolerances, and thus I spend a good deal of time on shopping/meal prep. I shop at the regular regional grocery store chain for our few conventional things, the co-op, Trader Joe's, our local gf store, farmers' market, Azure Standard buying club, beef from 1 local farmer, chicken, eggs, and lamb from another, and pork from a third, and I buy a few specialty things online like gf almond flour.

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#6 of 27 Old 01-17-2010, 01:09 AM
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We do about $200-250/week, all vegetarian, but lots of eggs and cheese. This however includes a 6 pack and bottle of wine every week plus going out to eat once a week. We also live in a super HCOL area.

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#7 of 27 Old 01-17-2010, 01:37 AM
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We are a family of three. We spend about $700 a month when you add up our monthly grocery costs and divide our annual big purchases (CSA and bulk local meat) by 12 months. This is all organic, pastured organic eat, wild caught seafood, and lots of loal foods.

I could probably shave it down by a hundred a month and still be all organic, but I am a big foodie and choose to spend a little more than I need to in order to indulge my hobby and our taste buds.
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#8 of 27 Old 01-17-2010, 09:43 AM
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We spend about $500 a month for a family of three. Until this month, 98% of our groceries were purchased at Whole Foods. This month I decided to purchase Organic/Natural milk, eggs, butter, jam, and almond butter at Costco. While shopping I noticed quite a few products on the shelves at Costco that we normally purchase at Whole Foods, so next month I might purchase more from there.

Our family consumes meat or fish two to three times a week, I purchase quite a few gluten free produts, and dairy replacement products made from coconut and soy.

Married. Mom to 1. Due 10/12.
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#9 of 27 Old 01-17-2010, 04:15 PM
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My husband and I were spending $150/week to feed the two of us. He's vegetarian, I'm not, so meat was minimal but included. Lots of dairy and fresh veggies, which was the bulk of our costs. We recently had to trim our food budget, so we now do the meat and dairy as organic/humanely raised/local when possible and everything else is mainstream grocery store. We have cut our grocery bill down to about $80-100/week this way. Once finances loosen up, we look forward to going back to all-organic.

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#10 of 27 Old 01-17-2010, 06:11 PM
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We shop exclusively at Trader Joes and spend about $250.00/month. This includes some cleaning and hygiene products.
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#11 of 27 Old 01-17-2010, 06:42 PM
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Last I calculated it, which was probably a year or more ago, I think we were spending about $800/month including pet supplies and toiletries. This is for a gluten-free, dairy-free, cane-sugar-free family of six eating organic/local as much as possible and very few packaged/processed foods. Also gardening and freezing produce, and buying in bulk as much as possible.

I've stopped calculating because I shop only every few weeks, my shopping is based on buying mostly sale stuff in bulk, filling in a few food gaps (eggs, some winter produce like cabbage and carrots, whatever we run out of that truly can't wait, etc). So it can vary considerably month to month based on what is on sale and what we run out of, and also based on our available funds, which can vary by month.

About five years ago we were spending $1200+/month with similar standards, so I definitely think we did well to get it down to $800. But I don't buy things like packaged cereals, milk alternatives, fancy sauces or condiments, packaged snacks except for rice cakes and corn chips, sweet "fun" food like fancy dried fruit, etc. I buy and cook more simply now.

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#12 of 27 Old 01-17-2010, 07:32 PM
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We buy whole foods. If we buy something like chips, we just get crappy Ruffles or something, because it's a one-off, just a small bag of chips at a gas station.

We don't always buy organic, but we buy organic whenever we can. For example, we don't have a source of organic bread flour, but we buy organic wheat flour.

We don't buy organic Eggland's Best, we get local eggs instead for $2.50 a dozen.

We buy organic produce whenever we can, but we are limited to greens, tomatoes, carrots, celery and fruit, for the most part.

All these qualifiers later, , we eat mostly organic, a very high percentage whole foods, and our "household" budget is $350/mo. We typically spend $200 on food.

Here's a list I've posted before explaining how/why we do it on the cheap.

Why Our Grocery Budget is So Low

1.Mike has a job wherein he eats two meals a day for free five days a week.
2.We get $150 worth of food from WIC every month.
3.We get $60 in food stamps every month.
4.We get $40/yr in Project Fresh.
5.We pick free, wild berries until our fingers fall off.
6.We garden.
7.My in laws give us tons of grass fed beef and venison.
8.My husband and kids catch fish.
9.We buy seasonal produce in bulk and can/freeze/dry/root cellar it.
10.We watch sales.
11.We bake virtually all of our breads.
12.I make our yogurt, cream cheese, sour cream, cottage cheese and ricotta.
13.I make snacks/desserts rather than buying them.
14.I make homemade mixes.
15.We make our own condiments- mayo, BBQ, ketchup, pizza sauce, salsa, syrups, salad dressings, etc.
16.We buy in bulk, especially spices.
17.We buy store brands.
18.We buy dry, not canned beans.
19.The only meat I eat is fish.
20.We make our own veggie burgers and veggie sausage

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#13 of 27 Old 01-17-2010, 08:58 PM
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Well I feel a little better knowing that I'm not totally out of line here!

I spend between $600 and $800 a month for 2 adults and 2 children (who are both dairy free) and dinner guests several times a month.

I shop almost exclusively at Whole Foods except for the occassional -we're out of something that can't wait a few days- because I simply don't have the patience for reading labels at regular stores and trying to find things that dont' have any high fructose corn syrup or partially hydrogenated oils etc. and that are dairy free.

I have got to change something because this is really a stretch for us. But hopefully we're done moving (3 times in 3 years) and I can get my garden going this year and cut out bill a bit even if it's just for a few months this summer. And I really *need* to start meal planning - I know that would really help me, but I just haven't found a way that is going to work for us yet.

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#14 of 27 Old 01-18-2010, 01:29 AM
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We eat almost all organic & vegetarian. We use to spend over $1000 a month on food, I had gotten it down to about $900, but this last month was the first time we got it to $530!!!!

My goal at the moment is $500. For us this is a huge, huge accomplishment, I realize to many people that is a lot of $$, but for us we have cut our bill in half! This includes everything we buy at the grocery store (food, vitamins, plastic bags, coffee) and all eating out, which at this point we don't eat out but 1-2x a month get a cup of coffee out. Organic coffee is a big expense, I have cut back but can't seem to make myself quit!!! I also tend too over eat and this is a problem I am working on! I cook mostly from scratch and bake all our bread, tortillas, bagels, and treats. Organic dairy is quite and expense also, we eat a lot of eggs, and the only soy we eat is tofu maybe 2x a month. We only shop at our local HFS, Trader Joe's, and Farmers Market. try to buy what’s in season and cheap at the FM & we grow a summer garden so I have jam, sauces, and a little bit of frozen veggies left.

I meal plan and write out a list of groceries, I add up the estimated cost and if it goes over my goal I cross off things. DH always brings his lunch to work, doesn't mind left overs and loves bean, rice, and cheese He also likes wine and buys a bottle or two a month even though it's not on my list (like $6 bottles)!!

This is basically what we eat-

oatmeal, egg sandwiches, scrambled eggs and veggies, egg tacos, pancakes, peanut butter and toast & fruit, bagel and cream cheese

usually left overs, whole wheat pasta w/veggies, veggie sandwiches, salad with grains and nuts, pb &j

dinners- this is my basic weekly template
homemade pizza and salad
bean tacos, homemade tortillas (w/cheese and salsa)
veggie burgers and brown rice (packaged veggie burgers)(easy night when dh works late)
big pot o' soup and homemade bread
stir fry or lasagna or something simple
2 night of left overs

I buy in bulk and stock up when I see deals. I aim to spend $100 a week ($70 at grocery store, $30 at farmers market), plus about $100 more a month for deals, vitamins, and incase I go over

I bake 2-3x a week...usually bread or rolls, bagels, sweets
once a week we make tortillas, I prep everything and my dh likes to make them

Hopefully we will grow even more this year in the garden an be able to trim it down to $400 a month BTW, we are two adults, a 4yo and 20mo.

Things I would like to try & do trim cost-
find a veggie burger recipe I like
make our own yogurt (kids eat a lot)
make our own almond milk (see if it's cheaper)
we are getting chickens in the spring
find a local source for milk?
do a big cooking day 1x a month and stock the freezer so I don't slip up when not prepared!

Being unorganized and unprepared always seems to cost me $$$!!

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#15 of 27 Old 01-18-2010, 02:16 AM
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Back when I was still buying only organic foods, only grass-fed meat, as much local as I could, we were spending $800-$1000 per month for a family of five. Now we're a family of four and not eating 100% organic foods, out of necessity. I just can't sustain that kind of diet with the income I have, or don't have, as the case may be.
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#16 of 27 Old 01-18-2010, 08:33 AM
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We probably spend about 600/month (excluding meat, eggs and milk), less May-Nov when we have a CSA. The CSA is 20/month, but it shaves about 40/month off the grocery bill. We buy pastured meat in bulk, which is about $800-1000/year. Raw milk and eggs are $12-15/week.

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#17 of 27 Old 01-18-2010, 11:18 AM
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ok, we live in Eastern PA--in an area with a lot of farms--and we buy probably 95% organic. if we want apples and organic aren't available, then we'll buy apples, yk?

so, when we buy organic with more processed than normal--and this includes meat, dairy, and produce--we spend about $200-$225/wk. Now, this feeds a man who eats for two (he's a body builder), a vegetarian, and a 16 month old child who eats about as much as i do (he's also vegetarian).

when we buy organic with less processed, our normal cook-at-home with the most processed food we buy being ezekiel bread, then our bill comes in around $175 per week.

i might also point out that my DH uses a lot of oils--cod liver, flax, udo's perfect blend (i also use these other two), and those can cost a pretty penny. a bottle of the CLO for example, costs $22. it lasts about 1-2 months, so long as he is also using other oils that do cost less. But, we also buy very high quality olive oil, etc--i'm sure people could find cheaper--and it's about $10-12 per bottle.

so, to an extent, we are buying very expensive product.

we don't buy a lot of paper products or cleansers either. we do have toilet paper which we buy every month or six weeks (recycled), and we buy dr bronner's castile soap every 2-3 months, and shampoo/soap every 6-8 wks.

so, yeah, on average, $175-200 per week.
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#18 of 27 Old 01-18-2010, 01:37 PM
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We're a family of three and vegetarian. DH does the food shopping and buys organics, and until last summer, we were spending about $200 week on groceries (which included items for lunches).

Last summer, we joined a large, established food coop in Brooklyn (with about 15,000 members) and are spending about $80 per week on all groceries. We have to each work at the coop three hours per month but that, in my opinion, is a small price to pay for such a huge reduction in food cost. The coop provides almost all organic and if not organic, at least locally (as in tri-state area) grown. The coop is able to provide such low prices because 1) labor is provided by the coop members; 2) it is a non-profit so the mark-up is minimal; 3) stuff like spices, beans, etc. are bought in bulk. In fact, DH recently paid 22 cents for a jar of thyme! The thought that we previously paid so much more for the same items makes me cringe. Food coops are becoming more popular and I love the concept of people taking control of their food supply!

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#19 of 27 Old 01-18-2010, 03:03 PM
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We spend about $1,000 per month on food for a family of six, but we don't buy all organics -- so I'm not much help.

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#20 of 27 Old 01-18-2010, 07:11 PM
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Eat less animal products. Organic cheese, milk, meat, etc. is really expensive. If you cut that way down you should be able to eat (mostly) organic for way less. Grains, beans, (most) produce is going to be cheaper. Also, look into farmer's market and buying from farmer's who might be organic but don't want to/can't afford to be certified. Also, if you have a produce store, often times they'll have stuff that's on it's last day or so way cheap. In the summer I get huge bags of heirloom tomatoes for $1.

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#21 of 27 Old 01-19-2010, 12:03 AM
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$600 per month for me, dh, 5 yo ds and almost 2 yo dd.

we shop, trader joe's, azure standard/unfi, and occasionally whole foods.

i buy everything in bulk and from co-ops that i can (4 gallons of maple syrup for $35/gallon, 25 pounds of organic oats for $16 etc.).

we're trying to get it down to $500 or less but i just can't seem to do it.

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#22 of 27 Old 01-19-2010, 04:55 PM
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For a family of 2 adults, 1 pre-schooler and a 9.5 mos old who puts his 4 teeth to good use, about $160-$250 a week. I've started buying fresh flowers again, so that's in there, too. Recently, though, I've started purchasing some of our organics at Dominicks - like milk, apples, onions, potatoes, string beans. I purchase all of our meats from Whole Foods. However, I am going to try a subscription to a CSA and see how that works for us. I've switched up a bit to purchasing the meats that are on sale in larger quantities.

What we go through a lot of are eggs (some times 2 doz a week) and bread. I have stopped purchasing organic bread. The Rudy's I like to buy is over $5.00 a loaf at Whole Foods. I could buy it in our neighborhood store for $3.89. We've moved, though, so, now, I just focus on no HFCS. Organic eggs range from $2.99/doz for tiny eggs to over $4.00 for large eggs.

I do reference the dirty dozen and purchase organic for things on that list, but, for other items that we eat a lot of, like avocados, I purchase conventionally raised as they are not on the dirty dozen list.

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#23 of 27 Old 01-20-2010, 09:46 AM
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We buy mostly whole foods and make things from scratch. We buy raw milk, grass fed beef, pastured eggs, pastured chicken, raw honey, produce, etc from a local farm and/or farmer's market. I buy wheat berries and grind our own flour. We make our own bread, biscuits, muffins, tortillas, granola, granola bars, etc. All dinners are completely from scratch. We buy a few items from Costco (such as organic canned tomatoes, toilet paper, etc). We buy many things in bulk- rolled oats, sucanat, beans, rice, etc. I buy our vitamins and coconut oil on vitacost.com. Our personal care products are from Whole Foods- their 365 brand. Our monthly grocery bill for 4 of us (soon to be 5!) is about $400-450 a month. It REALLY makes a difference to make things from scratch. We hardly buy any processed foods anymore (with an occasional box of organic mac n cheese, organic cereal, and organic crackers for convenience). I have seen a huge drop in our grocery bill since we started doing this.
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#24 of 27 Old 01-20-2010, 10:08 AM
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Originally Posted by kdmama33 View Post
Back when I was still buying only organic foods, only grass-fed meat, as much local as I could, we were spending $800-$1000 per month for a family of five.
This. But, we're also gluten/dairy/nut/egg/refined sugar free, so things get a bit more expensive when you add a special diet on top of an organic only diet. We also probably have to spend another $200ish or so on top of that in fish oil, probiotics, and multivitamins.

It's insane. We have a CSA full year, and we also found a buying club that lets us get a lot of our things in bulk for near-wholesale, so that helps a lot....

ETA: We rarely buy processed foods either. But coconut milk yogurt, coconut milk kefir, a good quality vegan cheese, and locally grown grass fed meats are expensive.

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#25 of 27 Old 01-20-2010, 11:21 AM
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I would say we we eat about 70% organic. There are certain fruits and veggies I don't buy organic because the price differential is so steep and/or they just don't seem to carry them where I shop (bananas, broccoli and herbs come to mind), but I try. I also do not usually buy organic butter or cheese (but we do buy organic milk and organic yogurt).

I would guess that our bill is about $120/week for a family of four. The usual bill for the big shopping trip is about $80-90, and it seems like we usually have to run out for a few more things (milk, usually) once a week or so. That includes TP, soap, and toothpaste, but not cat food and litter (which we buy at the other grocery store). We are about 95% vegetarian and we make our own bread and have a garden, but I do not can or preserve. I cook from scratch a lot, we don't do a lot of processed food, and we don't buy vitamins or supplements.

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#26 of 27 Old 01-21-2010, 10:06 AM - Thread Starter
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OP here...

I haven't listed what I spend on groceries every month because I haven't been very good at tracking. I *aim* for $600 a month, but that's laughable. I'm sure it's closer to $800 - $1000.

One of my goals for this year is to track more carefully and bring the amount of money we spend on this stuff way down. I re-did my price book (and am actually using it) so it's easier to use. I've started comparing prices with other stores (not just our co-op, UNFI or Amazon). I checked out a salvage store in town that I've been meaning to go to (but they didn't have any organic stuff). I've been searching online for coupons for the few packaged foods I buy. I've started paying attention to the sales flyer that I get for UNFI every month, and buying off THAT...ditto with Frontier. (I can't believe that spices are HALF what they are buying from the bulk bins at our co-op!)

I'm looking a lot more carefully at what we're buying. I dried a ton of strawberries & apples that we picked last spring and fall, so I no longer buy my son the Just Tomatoes dried fruit (that cost about $5 each, and that he can eat in one sitting!) every time we go to the co-op. I've stopped buying coconut milk yogurt. (I was making my own for a while, and may get back to that.) I found a potato pancake recipe we like, so that's a super cheap, relatively healthy and yummy special breakfast for us.

I'm considering buying a SECOND stand-alone freezer so we can buy more meat in bulk. I know eating beans and rice is cheaper, but after being vegetarian and then vegan for 10 years I feel like eating good quality meat is what brought me back to good health. (This is just ME and my personal opinion.) So I'm not about to give up meat or even cut back...I'll just have to work around that.

I forgot to mention that we're gluten-, soy- and corn-free. Also mostly dairy-free. So that makes things a lot more difficult. But I'm determined to do what I can!

Formerly New Mama to Henry, born August 2005 and Silas, born November 2010.
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#27 of 27 Old 01-26-2010, 04:11 AM
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Great thread! I don't feel so out of place here. For 2 adults and a 3 1/2 yo, we spend about $600-800/mo. All organic groceries at our local co-op, plus supplements/oils/toiletries online at vitacost.com. DS has egg/nut allergies, and we have recently gone low-gluten/wheat (not entirely free). DS and I eat organic chicken 2x/mo, DH is pescatarian, so the whole family eats wild-caught fish 2x/mo. We do oat milk, coconut milk, and raw milk kefir.

New Mama... you mentioned you make your own coconut yogurt - would you mind sharing the recipe? I love the SO Delicious yogurt, but it's pretty pricey. Do you use dairy or non-dairy starter?

Originally Posted by New Mama View Post
I've stopped buying coconut milk yogurt. (I was making my own for a while, and may get back to that.)
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