For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. Jeremiah 29:11-14


Thursday, February 24, 2011

Grocery Shopping and Filling a Pantry

I spent some time this week watching a series of videos on the forecast for the coming year as far as grocery prices go. The videos were found on the Backyard Food Production website. The information in these videos made me even more determined than ever to closely evaluate where my food budget is going, how I stock my pantry and what items I choose to buy.

Here, we have many opportunities to avoid the grocery store, thank the Lord! I, for one, do not enjoy shopping at all. avoiding the grocery store is often difficult with a growing family and especially with growing teenage kids. Our menu is already fairly simple, and our pantry is generally pretty full. My goal, of course, is to get to the point where grocery shopping is a once every few months ordeal, but for now I am limited to one or two big trips a month. That is HUGE, considering I used to shop weekly for our needed items.

This week, after watching these videos, I have spent even more time evaluating what we buy and why. I already make most of our food from scratch, but there is always more I can do. A few areas still could use some pasta, crackers and lunch items for my husband. I buy very little ready made items, but still feel like I should be able to do more....always a work in progress.

Some of the things we have moved away from buying are:

  • bread
  • tortillas
  • yogurt
  • buttermilk
  • kefir
  • rolls
  • hamburger/hot dog buns
  • eggs
  • beef
  • chicken
  • potatoes (this last season we were able to grow enough to last through most of February, this year we'll try to make it through spring)
  • pickles
  • pickled beets
  • green beans
  • blueberries
  • raspberries
  • oregano
  • sage
  • mint
  • milk (part of the year anyway)
  • jams
  • syrup
So many things I want to add to our list of homegrown/made items. I'd much rather stock the ingredients to make much of what we use, eat and need than purchase these items already made. I've been "playing" with cheese making, having been somewhat successful with both farmhouse cheddar and mozzarella. Each time I make cheese, it gets better. In the months to come, I hope to perfect cream cheese, sour cream and feta. Being able to take these items off of my grocery list would be wonderful!

Another area that I've been looking at are cleaners and shampoo. I've made and used my own shampoo several times over the past year and liked it! As my family runs out of shampoo, I'm slowly transitioning us over to all homemade. I found some great recipes on a friend's blog. You can visit Freedom Acres Farm for recipes. They are so easy to make and have nothing "bad" in them like so many that you can buy in the stores do. As far as cleaners go, I am using more vinegar, baking soda and buying my dish soap in bulk from Azure.

Another area that I've changed is my laundry soap. I have been using Charlie's Laundry Soap since December. Even with our extremely hard water, this soap works wonders! I love it, can't say enough good about it. One 80 load tub has lasted me since the 13th of December. How's that for inexpensive. Best part is there is nothing in this soap that is's just that, SOAP! I can't say enough about this product. I saved up and bought 6 tubs of it all at once to save on shipping. Those 6 tubs will last me more than a year...gotta LOVE that!

While this is not even close to EVERYTHING that I am doing, I wanted to share a bit with you. This has been a big part of my thinking this past week. I'm always looking at what I am doing and trying to do more, or at least be more efficient with what I am able to do.

Given the recent forecast for our food costs this year, I am working even harder to do a better job at what I do. My garden planning this year is different, my canning and preserving goals are changing a bit and my focus is on simplicity and efficiency in it all. This was a big part of my thinking even before I saw the videos this week. I've seen the prices in our grocery stores here rise at alarming rates over the past few weeks and months. It's frustrating, at best, when you are trying to feed a growing family with limited resources AND trying to be as health conscious as possible at the same time!

How have your shopping, cooking and budgeting patterns been changing? Is the economy affecting this part of your life or are you to the point where you are providing enough of your own that you don't feel it as much? I can't believe that for a minute to be very true of most people, you are either feeling it at the gas pumps, the feed store or even just in the little you do buy. We are all feeling the pinch. What have you changed?


Mountain Home Quilts said...

One thing I have been looking at is how to trim our grocery bill. Not so much because of the economy but just because I think it's out of wack. We spend about $1000/month for a family of 6. And we have tried to eliminate purchasing a lot of the same things that you listed- yet we're still spending an arm and a leg. We do not eat out. At all. And we only buy organic products. I do shop Azure so that helps but when your Azure bill is $500 and you don't buy everything from them, it becomes hard to trim back!
One idea I've had is to eat less meat. Just to have smaller portions of it with dinner rather than a no-meat dinner. (Hubby would not go for that!) Since meat is one of our most expensive areas of spending, hopefully cutting back on it will help. We just started raising hogs and butchered our 1st two this winter. Hoping that the meat from them will help to reduce our food bill as well.
I've rambled enough here- sorry for such a long comment! :)

Regan Family Farm said...

Hi Valerie
Thanks for joining the giveaway. I've added another opportunity to win...just blog about it and get another five entries! Be sure to let me know if you do!
PS great post!

momoflots said...

You are so blessed to be able to grow so much more of your own food than we can!! I do enjoy being able to rely on my chickens and my garden - and this year we are looking at ways to up our harvest although a lot depends on our PNW weather!!! We have been trimming our groceries back as well and I also very rarely buy processed food. I have tried pasta and tortillas at home - but really - with so many kids it's hard to make enough to satisfy - especially with three teenage boys and whatever friends they bring by for dinner!!! I love knowing that whatever happens though - God will provide!! He has done that for us so very many times that I am confident in Him!!!

Hope your weekend is wonderful (BTW did you get much snow where you are?)


Farmgirl Cyn said...

Hey, Valerie,
I spent a lot of time today looking at the videos you linked to. Wow. Some scary stuff coming down the pike, eh? I just told my husband that I wish we had known some of these things years ago. Better late than not at all, I guess. Right now I feel too old to do a lot of what she is recommending! I put in a smallish garden, but nothing like what she is talking about. Fortunately I am a working member of a local CSA, and once the growing season starts I will be getting produce from there. I am wondering if I should maybe raise some broilers this spring. I could do maybe 12 or so...slaughter them...then get some layers. Lots to think about.
There also is the problem of electricity and what might happen if we didn't have power. Even though canned food is not nearly as good for you, I might consider canning a lot more than what I have in the past. Even canned chicken, beans, etc would be better than having none at all.

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