Saturday, April 7, 2012

More About the Grocery Budget

The chickens
So now I have chickens again. I bought 4 pullets just coming into lay and a young rooster (so I can hatch my own chicks to raise for meat).

Now that I have 2-4 eggs every day, they can replace part of the meat I would usually eat. Will the chickens pay? From previous experience I know that they will. In the past I had more hens and enough eggs to sell, covering the feed bill, meaning my family ate eggs for free.

While buying pullets costs more, you end up with exactly the number of hens you wanted, as usually there will not be any mortality at this age, unless there is some kind of accident. And no, eggs will not clog your arteries or any of that other silly stuff the scare mongers are trying to sell you. That happens to come from eating store bought, industrial eggs from chickens that are fed a totally unnatural diet and kept in very close quarters. (the government regulations say they only have to have about as much space as a sheet of computer paper per bird!).

Studies have shown that free range, pastured hens produce eggs that are actually very good for you, with more good cholesterol and less of the bad, less saturated fat, more beta carotene, the vitamin A precursor, more omega 3 fatty acids and more vitamin E. You can read more about this at Mother Earth News.

While right now there is no pasture on my land my girls get a good lot of weeds, grass, clover and veggie trimmings every day. Instead of buying regular laying pellets, which are full of GMO corn and soy, I bought wild birdseed, containing milo, broom corn and sunflower seeds. Besides this they get some worms and grubs from the compost and garden every day. So I think my eggs are probably at least a close second to full free range pastured ones.

On to the grocery budget. While March's total is not much lower than February's it is a bit lower, $142.05. A lot of that is for tea, coffee, olives and organic corn chips. Along with some cheese, onions, sweet potatoes, sour cream, cheese, yogurt and milk. And I haven't spent any money at the grocery store in April yet.

Having been slowly rethinking my spending and not buying a number of items, like garbage bags, I've been pondering what to do about the pricier items on my list. Coffee, tea, corn chips and olives are not cheap. Some of my herb plants are getting big enough to start picking and today I realized I still had a quart of spearmint from my mother's that I dried last fall. So beginning today I'm cutting the black tea with herbs. When I have enough tea herbs to go around I'll quit buying the black tea and probably won't buy coffee, either, just drink tea.

I could give up the corn chips, or just buy them once in awhile for a treat. (I love salsa and sour cream with corn chips for a snack). But I won't buy non-organic ones.

The olives are a problem though. I love the marinated olives from the store deli and eat a few every day with a drizzle of the oil on my salads. I do this instead of eating a heavy dressing. So I'll have to think about a replacement. Although when I ran out this week I did just start using some balsam vinegar on my salad instead.

I"m pretty sure that April's grocery bill will be much smaller than March's. I've received a windfall of free produce and my son has some extra meat in his freezer he want's to give me before it gets too old. The garden is growing exponentially and I'm sure by July I will practically be a vegetarian.


  1. Lovely my dream garden has chickens in it.

    1. I think every garden should have chickens in it!

  2. I totally agree about the chicken's diet, eggs, and factory eggs! My three hens get to run in the yard each day. I never buy food. They get bits of meat from my food--fat, bones with meat, anything left on my plate, broth/fat on whole wheat bread.

    A produce market gives me produce for them. They have not and will never eat chicken food. Plus, there is all the produce scraps from my house. Right now, they are enjoying the dropped mulberries from a tree right outside their pen.

    1. Linda that is great! Sometimes I get lucky and get produce trimmings from the grocery store, but I can't always get there in time before it's tossed or someone else picks it up.

  3. Mary, you are doing the right thing for your chickens, do let them out on the grass if you can. They will eat weeds and seeds that are nutritionally better than store-bought chicken feed. Potatoes, Jerusalem artichokes are great for chicken feed too, so plant some of those if you can. Their diet will be just fine, keep doing what you ARE doing. If the eggs are nice and bright colour, the chickens are just fine!

  4. Raymond, there is no grass in the desert. Wish that there was. So right now the chicken pen is basically a big compost pile; I toss in everything I would put in the compost. I am also working on planting more greens like collards and chard for them. Even with extremely hot weather I'm getting 3 eggs almost every day, with an occasional day with 4 and sometimes two, so I figure I must be doing something right.