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#1 of 20 Old 01-12-2008, 06:36 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Hi!

I have been trying for over a year to become a mainly TF foods family, but bounce back and forth from month to month because of a few stumbling blocks. Can you help?

The main problems I have in making this a reality are:

- every change I need to make (especially around meat and dairy) involves a substantial increase in our grocery budget. While I have a little bit of wiggle room by adjusting our budget in other areas, things are tight - and food is just more expensive in general in Canada I think. Any suggestions on how to do TF on a budget?

- with a baby and toddler I find grocery shopping prohibitive! I can't figure out how to get to the various stores/markets etc. to purchase quality foods with the two of them. Any ideas? The grocery store with it's gigantic carts and wide aisles seems to convenient right about now....

I would very much like to move more in this direction, and am sure some of you other mamas have figured out ways to make it work in a sustainable way.

Advice much appreciated!

Kimberley
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#2 of 20 Old 01-12-2008, 12:52 PM
 
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My suggestions for what it is worth:

Buy some raw milk for drinking- but use regular milk for cooking (or even cheaper reconstituted dry powder milk, but not as healthy) Now, I would buy regular raw milk for drinking, then skim the cream to make butter (so 2 for 1 price) Most cooked dishes are heated to a point of killing the good stuff anyway- so save yourself a little and change slowly on that one. Also, you can use pasteurized milk to make yogurt- since you heat the milk anyway to make yogurt, and then make yogurt smoothies for drinking. (in place of milk)

I also try to find a local farmer to buy from which is much cheaper than any market prices- is that an option for you?

Cheese- same deal, get some good cheese for eating, but for cooking, at least to start off, use pasterurized cheese since it is getting cooked anyway.

Meat- hunting and fishing increase meat supplies for a minimal price. Next, I have been making stock, and then thickening it and serving less meat more gravy to stretch the meat further. Making thick stews with veggies and some meat can also stretch the meat. If you have ground meat, you can stretch it by adding mashed beans. Another option if you have freezer space for it- buy a whole or a portion of an animal at one time- usually butchering is in the fall though. My sister and I went in together and each got 1/2 of a beef one year and that was nice. I know other people have done it with lamb, or pig.... Find a local farmer to sell a cow, then divide the portions between you and whoever else is interested- you get the most for your money.

Now, shopping with kids. I have 5, I have a few tricks LOL. (I have 2 3 yr old twins, and a 1 yr old baby, plus a 6 yr old and 8 yr old) I like to put the baby in a baby backpack carrier when I am going into stores- especially small specialty stores. He is out of the way, can't reach anything, and 9 times out of 10 is not fussy in there- will fall asleep, wake up, look around- the few times he is fussy it is because I stand still too long and swaying helps, but normally he is not fussy. I used this for my twins also and it worked. If the baby is too young for a back pack carrier a front pouch carrier works the same- or a sling. Now the toddler- I allow my toddlers to carry the shopping basket (if I know the store doesn't have the little baskets, I take one along for them to carry (or a bucket works) I stress that, as long as you listen, you can carry the basket. If you are not listening, and if you are grabbing things form the shelf, I take the basket. THey get a few warnings especially in the beginning. I also have them get me things from the shelf- can you hand me that so I can look at it... they love to give me things and it allows them to touch stuff but in a safe and permissive way. If there are books, I tell them can look at a book gently, and help them put it back when they are done. If I put them in a small stroller I make sure they have a snack or cup, and maybe a book, or I let them pick up free literature to hold, they love that. THey can still hold the basket if they want, so long as they don't open anything. If something smells, I will hold it down to them and say mm can you smell it... I try to be as quick as possible so we can end on a 'good' note, and they learn it is fun- then as they get better and better at it, I can go a little longer. I make sure to plan trips for when they are normally agreeable and happy- and avoid those kind of stores when i know my toddler is hungry, and especially tired. For me this means trying to hit those first thing and going early in the day before lunch. If I know i have a few stores like that to hit, I try to take a fun break (there is a toy and book store near the one health food store by me)- so we go in there a minute to play and relax before continuing. Lastly, if I can, I hit them before hubby goes to work, or when he is home and can watch the kids, or hit them when someone is watching my kids- if i have a doctor apt, dentist apt, etc. I spy is a good game to keep them occupied for a few minutes-- I spy a bear- very good it is on that box. I spy a flower... yep that was the one.... meanwhile I can shop, and they are busy finding what 'i spy' so they aren't getting hyper and running off etc.
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#3 of 20 Old 01-12-2008, 02:07 PM
 
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Kimberley,
I feel your pain - We are the same way budget-wise... I live in a small city, so our prices are not very competitive, and our options are LIMITED at best.
*I try to really focus on buying the best of what we use the most of... For us this is milk and cheese. I only use raw cheese for crackers, and organic (pasteurized) for cooked.
*For instance chickens here are not that horrible a price, so we buy these alot - same for eggs. Beef (like a roast), however would cost about $30 a meal, so this almost never happens - So we eat a lot of ground beef also.
*When you buy the veggies that are in season, they are cheaper. In the summer I can get tomatoes for really cheap, but now they are $4.00 a lb. I want tomatoes, but I can buy a ton of root veggies right now for cheaper.
*I also keep repeating to myself what Joyce Meyer says "pay now or pay later (the doctor)".:
MOST of all, keep trying - it is frustrating, but I feel our whole family is better for it!! I try to add one thing at a time and then thoroughly incorporate that into my life. Then I do not focus on the cost - (this is what our raw milk costs)... or this is how I make oatmeal - then I move on to the next important item -
Otherwise you are looking at a mountain and it is hard to BREAK it DOWN to little bitty baby steps that we can handle.
I hope this encouraged you, and did not confuse you - :
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#4 of 20 Old 01-12-2008, 02:26 PM
 
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We are on a tight tightbudget also. what I find is currently working for us, is to have meal plans for the week. Start off by taking inventory of everything you have right now, plan meals around that, then start moving forward and purchase ONLY what you need that week. Like PP said, if you put more gravy in your meats, it stretches them further. Also make cheap side dishes like greens,potatoes and stuff like that to help be more filling. Its hard for us to get raw milk around here, so Icant help you there, but everyone has good pointers so far. Good luck!:
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#5 of 20 Old 01-13-2008, 09:04 PM
 
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I like the suggestions in the back of Nourishing Traditions, like making "stir fry" stews, fish patties, and making a pot of stock once a week.

What sorts of things do you have for meals now?

Mama to Munchkin  and Chickadee ...and co-parent to 3 additional bundles of energy!
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#6 of 20 Old 01-13-2008, 10:58 PM
 
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Here are some ways that we have saved money:

joining a CSA
buying directly from farmers
doing a lot of shopping at our local farmer's market which goes even thru the winter
This spring we will start a huge garden and hope to grow almost all of our produce for the year. We are also getting hens and toying with the idea of goats.

I think your best bet, would be to befriend some farmers. Good luck
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#7 of 20 Old 01-13-2008, 11:05 PM
 
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I'm actually in Canada Can you find raw milk? I have to go to the States to get it - and factor in the transportation costs (fortunately only $25) in my food budget.

What works:

PLAN YOUR MEALS!!!! You will eliminate any grocery wastage this way, and only buy what you need.

Buying whole chickens really helps, and they are generally affordable even if pastured, and one chicken usually does 3 meals for us (one of which is soup-based from the stock made from the bones).

One or two bean-based meals a week isn't going to kill you, and organic beans are pretty cheap. You can cook them in bone broth to make them more nutritious.

If you see something for cheap on sale, if you can, borrow from next week's budget and get it, stick it in the freezer or pantry, and plan on one meal of whatever it is next week.

If you eat bread, make it yourself. Decent bread is pricey.

Buy whole or parts of beasties whenever you can. We have 100 lbs (well, we're probably down to 80 or so now) of cow in the freezer - range-raised, minimal grain (sadly not completely grassfed) that was pretty cheap per lb.

Can you garden? That can drop the grocery bill in the summer, and you can store lots for winter frozen or lactofermented.

I don't know exactly where you are so it's hard to be any more specific... if you're anywhere near me (Victoria BC) PM me and I can maybe help more. I've been able to trim our grocery budget down by about $40/wk by making some small changes, mostly in the planning.

ETA: on the shopping thing - can you do it on your own on a day when your DP takes care of the kids? I'm lucky DH's parents live in town here, I drop DD with them and do all my grocery shopping. It's not impossible with DD, I just find I spend SO much time getting her in and out of the car. But I do like to take her to the farms occasionally because she likes it, and she gets to see animals at one of them.

Postpartum doula & certified breastfeeding educator, mama to an amazing girl (11/05) and a wee little boy (3/13).

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#8 of 20 Old 01-14-2008, 01:14 PM
 
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Spughy,

Can you tell me about your raw milk trips to the states please?! Do you take the boat to P.A.? Do you bring your kiddo? What store do you buy it at? This might just be an adventure we have to do!

I'm sorry Kimberb, we spend far too much on groceries, my only tip is to meal plan (even casual meal planning helps). I have, at times, HALVED the money spent on groceries simply by planning the usual meals we enjoy - amazing how those 'extras' at the store add up.

Also, it gets easier shopping with the kids, you'll get your own little bag of tricks to help ease it all along. I LOVE shopping alone though!
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#9 of 20 Old 01-14-2008, 02:40 PM
 
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Well, I live a few blocks from the Coho Ferry (the one that goes to PA) so it's easy for me to walk down there - with the stroller and kiddo - and hop on the ferry. It leaves at 10, comes back at 2, so you have just enough time in PA to hit the hfs and grab lunch and then you get back on the ferry. If you take a child, it's more cost effective because you can only bring back $20 worth of dairy, but babies get customs allowances too So I can bring back 5 gallons at a time. The only thing illegal about it is that it totally goes over the weight limit on the basket of my stroller!

Lemme know if you want to go with us sometime - we usually go down on Saturdays, maybe once a month or so?

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#10 of 20 Old 01-14-2008, 03:00 PM
 
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i dont think all the meat you buy HAS to be organic/grassfed, ect. to still be TF. at my local big box grocer there is usually chuck roast fro 2-3$ per lb, which makes a great pot roast. also i usually buy chicken that is not organic, i simply cannot afford 3$ a lb chicken and get the 1$ a lb chicken instead.
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#11 of 20 Old 08-25-2008, 02:50 AM
 
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great idea to take the coho!!! i'd totally be willing to go once a month and pick up extra, i have 3 kids, so how much milk could i bring back?
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#12 of 20 Old 08-25-2008, 10:36 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by simplepamom View Post

Meat- hunting and fishing increase meat supplies for a minimal price.
While I do think hunting is cheaper than buying good meats, I do have to say it's definitely not a "minimal price" - in addition to the hunting licenses, you'll have to pay for the processing, which can be hundreds of dollars (unless you learn to do it yourself, but that's a little scary and very labor intensive). And the initial investment is kind of high - extra deep freezers (we have two), hunting weapons (rifle, bow, etc.) ammunition, camo clothing and such, gas spent driving around looking for a good place to hunt, lots of time in practicing (especially with archery)....

I love that my husband does it, but it's NOT a cheap way to come across meat! Its just not like it was in the 'old days'.

Definitely fishing though. For less than $20 (American money), you can supply your family with tons of fish if you have a mind to!

===

On the other hand, the OP might want to look into local sources for beef and such. While the initial expense can still be high, if you can swing it, buying a half of beef (or other meat) can really make it cheaper in the long run, depending on who you get it from.
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#13 of 20 Old 08-25-2008, 11:00 AM
 
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Originally Posted by lisa78 View Post
great idea to take the coho!!! i'd totally be willing to go once a month and pick up extra, i have 3 kids, so how much milk could i bring back?
Disclaimer: math at 7 am is not my strong point... 4 people X $20 worth of dairy = $80, at nearly $9/gallon is about 9 gallons. From what I saw, the closest HFS to the ferry doesn't stock that much at one time, you would probably have to call ahead and make arrangements. Good luck! Oh and 9 gallons of milk weighs approximately 4 zillion pounds so I hope your kids are approaching pack-animal age or you take a car.

Postpartum doula & certified breastfeeding educator, mama to an amazing girl (11/05) and a wee little boy (3/13).

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#14 of 20 Old 08-25-2008, 11:04 AM
 
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Originally Posted by MamaInDisguise View Post
While I do think hunting is cheaper than buying good meats, I do have to say it's definitely not a "minimal price" - in addition to the hunting licenses, you'll have to pay for the processing, which can be hundreds of dollars (unless you learn to do it yourself, but that's a little scary and very labor intensive). And the initial investment is kind of high - extra deep freezers (we have two), hunting weapons (rifle, bow, etc.) ammunition, camo clothing and such, gas spent driving around looking for a good place to hunt, lots of time in practicing (especially with archery)....

I love that my husband does it, but it's NOT a cheap way to come across meat! Its just not like it was in the 'old days'.

Definitely fishing though. For less than $20 (American money), you can supply your family with tons of fish if you have a mind to!
: I don't even want to think about what my husband has spent on rifles, ammo, gear etc. over the past year. OTOH, my sister hunts and spends pretty much nothing on it except licenses and gas. Well, ok, and she bought a zodiac, but that's multi-purpose. And she and my DH DID go out and get a moose a few weeks ago, and that's a fair bit of meat. If it had just been her doing the preparations, it would have been cheap.

I come from a hunting family, and IMO the vast majority of the stuff DH has spent money on is COMPLETELY optional.

Postpartum doula & certified breastfeeding educator, mama to an amazing girl (11/05) and a wee little boy (3/13).

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#15 of 20 Old 08-25-2008, 11:47 AM
 
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Here's my typical shopping list for a week.
Right now I can only afford organic produce and dairy. No raw right now, so we aren't drinking straight milk. We're making it into Kefir and yogurt and consuming it that way.

2 large boxes oatmeal-$8
2 doz organic fertile free range eggs-$9
2 gallons organic milk-$12
4 blocks kerry gold butter-$16
CSA box of organic local produce-$25
2 chickens, pastured but not organic...only buy when on sale - $10
1 large pork roast (the first day eaten with carrots and potatoes, the second day shredded with BBQ sauce on sourdough bread)- $10
5 lbs unbleached flour (still only up to 50/50 on my whole wheat to unbleached flour ratio in my bread)-$4
5lbs whole wheat flour - $5
1 head of cabbage - $3
3lbs brown rice - $3
1 lb black beans - $1.50
1 lb navy beans - $1.50
2lbs Tillamook aged cheddar-$8 (on sale)
2 pkgs organic string cheese-$8
2 cans wild salmon - $8
ave about $2 a week on kombucha ingredients.
Total- $134

This is my typical list, but doesn't include seasonings....

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#16 of 20 Old 08-25-2008, 11:50 AM
 
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Oh and 9 gallons of milk weighs approximately 4 zillion pounds so I hope your kids are approaching pack-animal age or you take a car.
ROTF!!! You almost made me spit almond-buttery-toast all over my keyboard!

Very naughty. LOL

My 9-yo STILL isn't much of a pack animal... just has no muscles. My 3-yo will enthusiastically TRY to carry anything I'm carrying. But I think even one gallon of milk would be a struggle for him after a bit.

SAHM of Kayla (11/98) Hunter (8/03) Jo (1/04) : Jared (2/05) Camelia (12/07) Hope/Chance (11/08) and Jack (12/09)
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#17 of 20 Old 08-25-2008, 12:02 PM
 
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hunting just may save us this year, if dh is lucky when deer season comes.

we have a gun anyway, for protection of our animals. so its cost doesnt figure into it. no license required because we own 5 contiguous acres on which he can hunt a deer. (he got one year before last... didnt try last year, will try again this year for at least one) so the only cost for us is the processing. (listen, i processed the last one. it was AWFUL. it is def. difficult to eat all that meat after having removed the spine, trachea and connective tissue from it all. this from a woman who butchers at least 50 chickens a year. a big animal is just different. more. )the processing for deer here is no based on weight. its about $80 per deer, flat rate. you might get 50lbs of meat from a young white tail buck. it is still a 'bargain', but not dirt cheap.

Hi, I'm Tabitha. I'm a homeschooling mother of four: ds (11) dd (9) ds (7) ds (5) And I'm expecting a fifth in 2014! Find me at http://www.omelay.blogspot.com
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#18 of 20 Old 08-25-2008, 02:20 PM
 
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Wow! I wanna live where you live! As far as I know, even if you're hunting on private land here, you have to have a license and report it to the div. of wildlife. And only $80 for processing is awesome. If DH gets an elk this weekend, we're looking at somewhere between $200-300. Ouch.
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#19 of 20 Old 08-25-2008, 11:42 PM
 
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Another thought - gardening saves us tons on groceries. Just tonight I harvested a pound of green beans, three bell peppers two cukes, six large tomatoes and two cups or so of grape tomatoes. And my garden is actually pretty meager.

In addition to the fresh veggies, learning to preserve it can help winter food costs - I make pesto sauce, tomato sauce, salsas, and lots of fruits that I find $1/lb from U-pick farms and farmer's market are now canned as jams and in light syrups for fruit crisps and the like.

Even in the city you can garden in containers and still get a good amount of produce from your harvest. The initial input doesn't have to be too high.
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#20 of 20 Old 08-26-2008, 01:27 AM
 
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Wow! I wanna live where you live! As far as I know, even if you're hunting on private land here, you have to have a license and report it to the div. of wildlife. And only $80 for processing is awesome. If DH gets an elk this weekend, we're looking at somewhere between $200-300. Ouch.
Mmm, but elk is worth it. Yum.

My sister's doing the moose herself, with guidance from a former meat inspector. She managed to do one hindquarter before I left, so far looks pretty good! Yeah, large animals are a pain, but I think once you get used to it, it's not so bad, plus it's a once-a-year kind of deal anyway.

Postpartum doula & certified breastfeeding educator, mama to an amazing girl (11/05) and a wee little boy (3/13).

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