We're in the final week of our challenge. The challenge was not to see how much we can do without, or to save money (though that was definitely a nice perk), but to really make us think about our food choices. We have a pantry and freezer full of food from our harvest last year. By having such a limited budget, we really had to make ourselves eat what we grew or bought at the farmer's market. We also had to think about exactly what we were spending our limited money on. That benefit alone made it easier to eat well. Though I did end up buying our baby some snack food early on, it really wasn't a healthful choice when I read the ingredients. I'd much rather spend our money on fresh fruit, or cream (to make desserts, or ice cream), or anything that's Real. Rather than resort to fruit-flavored "puffs," we can just cut up some real fruit (yes, this means planning ahead because part of buying the puffs was to have something to snack on in the car). I've got to admit that the first month or so of the challenge was rather easy. I loved that we did such a good job at canning and freezing such a variety of food to feed us for so long. I knew exactly where the food came from because most of it was from our backyard. Talk about local. There were some weeks that I actually just bought stuff to get up to the $25 that we didn't even need right away. It became more challenging when we wanted things that that were Real and we don't make at home, but cost a bit more. We really enjoy aged cheddar and that generally put us over because the cost. We felt that it was worth the extra cost because of the taste and that it fit well into our diet.
Another benefit of this diet was that it was nourishing - in more ways than one. It feels really good to be connected to the food you eat. Back in the day, everyone grew their own food and the city life was exotic. Now, many people don't know even the basics of gardening and farms are exotic. Here at Main Street Homestead, we don't have a farm, but even with just growing our own produce it feels like an accomplishment. And, of course, it's much healthier for you to eat Real than it is to eat the processed junk. It's not just the word "healthier" but your body actually feels healthier.
This is how we spent our food budget for the last week of our challenge:
Flour - 50 lbs (yes, a lot, but we'll use it): $16
Vanilla extract: $1.99
Milk: $2.19 (the price went down!)
Brie cheese: $2.99
Brown sugar: $1.49
That's a total of $24.66
Jaimie wants to buy more vegetables the week after our challenge ends (those roasted parsnips and beets were just too delicious), but I highly doubt we'll be going back to the $100 or more a week we used to spend.