Friday, June 22, 2012

Grocery Budget Update

A harvest in May
May's grocery total was $176.99, quite a bit more than April's. Most of that is still meat, milk, organic yogurt, butter, cheese and olives, along with some fresh and frozen fruit. The good news is that June will probably come in very much under budget, unless there is a great sale on meat and I stock up.

The garden is giving me a fair variety of items now, besides chard and red amaranth greens I have tons of small tomatoes, a small amount of lettuce that I'm babying through the heat and yummy new potatoes. I got a few handfuls of purple beans before something ate them. I think it was a pesky squirrel which also ate my first cantaloupe. I did however get revenge and mr. squirrel is no more.
First eggplant

The eggplants are beginning to trickle in along with squash, peaches, plums, green onions, with corn and more varieties of squash and potatoes to come. Does the garden pay? I think so, though I haven't had time to total up all my expenses and harvests yet, I do think that it will pay big time, even with having to pay for city water to grow it.

The chickens are still a bit in the red, since I'm feeding 4 pullets and a rooster that aren't laying eggs. But once these new girls begin to lay I think we'll see the numbers begin to change. Besides, how can you calculate the advantage to the new garden space of having it scratched up and manured by the chickens? What value can you place on the number of bugs and grubs they eat, reducing the numbers of things that might munch on the veggies?

In other news I'm making yogurt. I really hate that so much of the time a gallon of milk costs less than a half gallon but I can't drink the gallon up before it goes bad. So I've been culturing my own yogurt and this should also get the grocery budget down. I've taken to having fruit and yogurt nearly every morning for breakfast, so go through it pretty fast.

Also of note, many of my tea herbs have been big enough to harvest and dry so I'm no longer buying tea, but drinking home grown. You can see more pictures of my garden harvests and my garden at my gardening blog;, The Edible Garden

Even if you can't have a garden, you can save a lot of money by buying staple items in bulk and learning to make your own convenience mixes and 'fast' foods. It's easy to buy oatmeal, dried fruits and nuts in bulk and make your own granola. There are great recipes out there to make your own biscuit mix, cake and cookie mixes, even seasoning mixes for tacos, hot sauce and many more things. It doesn't take that long to make a bulk batch once in awhile, then you'll always have it on the shelf, for much less than the price you pay at the store. And you can use much healthier ingredients and leave out all the chemicals.


  1. Hi Mary, I enjoyed reading your grocery account of May. Do you buy organic milk to make your yogurt? My husband doesn't eat it and I was wondering if one could just make a small amount? Do you have a yogurt maker? You are doing very well at your grocery budget of $176 for the month. I do some of the things you do and haven't tracked mine for awhile. Nancy

    1. Nancy, so glad you are enjoying this. I don't buy organic milk because it is ultra-pasturized, meaning heated to a much higher temp than ordinary. This denatures the protein and it's not as good for making cultured products like buttermilk, yogurt or cheese. I don't have a yogurt maker and you can make any amount you want. I usually make about 6 jars at a time; widemouth pint jars, which I put into hot water in a roasting pan, add room temp yogurt, a couple tablespoons per jar and warmed milk, about 95-100 degrees. Stir it up and put the lids on the jars. I keep the whole thing in the oven (no pilot light on this one tho) and when the water cools add more hot water to it. With the heat (my kitchen does not get AC) it sets up in about 24 hours. In the winter cover with a towel and set it next to the wood stove to stay warm. It is pretty runny, especially after you disturb it the first time. But not sour like some yogurt is. One of the reasons I buy the organic yogurt is that is doesn't have any binders, thickeners or preservatives in it, just pure cultured milk.