A while back I posted about a personal frugal challenge, to spend only $50 per month on groceries. There were a few clauses and exceptional circumstances to this limit, but it was a working goal in May and June. I thought I'd post an update on how the challenge went in June, and let you know that I'm continuing it this month.
We missed the mark in June by about $20, spending almost exactly $70 on groceries for the month. As usual, dairy accounted for a significant part of the total. We buy organic milk and cream, going through 1 1/2 to 2 gallons of milk per month, and one or two pints of cream. Even though we used a $1 coupon each time we bought milk, it's still pricey.
The big shift in June though was that the local farmers' market is now in full swing, and I simply could not find it within myself to say no to locally grown fruits and berries. We don't eat a great deal of fruit, because we try hard to eat seasonally. And other than apples and melons, neither of which is close to ready yet, we don't grow any fruit ourselves. So it's very hard to pass up the opportunity to get something that's an annual treat when we've mostly gone without fresh fruit since last summer. Then there's the added bonus of directly supporting local farms, something that's personally very important to me. Yet even just buying a pint of cherries, blueberries, or strawberries each week accounted for at least three dollars. It doesn't sound like much, does it? But 4 weeks x $3 is $12, and that's almost 25% of our food budget goal for the month. We also bought some locally produced cheese, which turned out to be excellent, at the farmers' market.
There was a significant offset in costs thanks to our garden though. In June we had far more lettuce, zucchini, kale, chard, cabbage, and fresh herbs coming out of the garden than we could keep up with. A good bit of produce got put up for later consumption, and this will be an ongoing task throughout the summer. So we had little need for fresh produce other than onions and garlic. And of course, our laying hens continued to provide us with nearly free eggs.
The other budget buster for June was, once again, soda. I don't want to blame this one on my husband, because heaven knows I drink plenty of the stuff if it's around. But I will say that the purchase happened when I sent him off to the grocery store alone. He saw a "good deal" and couldn't pass it up. So we spent a whopping $22 for five cases of soda. Clearly, this stuff is a menace to our frugality efforts.
I had been drinking homemade watermelon shrub from last summer as a substitute for soda, but we ran through our supply of it rather quickly. My husband also got into the habit of charging a container of tap water with his CO2 tank leftover from his homebrewing days. He was using that and some fruit juice to make himself mixed drinks. As much as he liked this, he succumbed to the temptation of a promotion, and we're now back to drinking soda by the can. I can see I'm going to need to put more thought into good substitutions for soft drinks.
Things are more or less on track for another shot at the $50 Grocery Challenge for the month of July. The garden is now producing tomatoes. And we harvested about 90 heads of garlic. So we're pretty well set to go without needing to buy any produce, other than a little fruit, for this month. I'll let you know how it goes.
Four Cornerstone Meals for Frugal Living
$50 Monthly Grocery Challenge: How it Might Be Done