This following post is from a new Food Club member, who is showing that eating locally and healthily can be cost-effective and easy. She’s using the $5 Challenge by USA Slow Foods to feed her (rather large) family on less than $5 a meal on food primarily from our Food Club and Whole Foods. Check it out!
I am a working mom with four small children. I often hear people say that they can’t afford to eat fresh/organic/local/gourmet foods, and try to convince me that it’s cheaper to grab fast food from a drive through or a premade frozen casserole. So, this week I calculated up what my meals really cost us, and here’s what I came up with: seven meals, averaging $19.82 per meal, or $3.30 per person. Now, my children are young (though they eat a lot!) so if we say instead that I am feeding four adults, instead of two adults and four children, that is still only $4.95 per person.
Here’s how I did it…
I had a few things in my pantry for these meals: a head of garlic, olive oil, stale bread left over from Christmas Eve dinner (used to stuff the chicken), salt and pepper, dried cumin, chili powder, and apple cider vinegar.
At Whole Foods, I bought a lemon, onions, whole wheat tortillas, two cans of black beans, cheddar cheese, a can of tomato sauce, spaghetti noodles, sunflower seeds, millet, fresh ginger, and a head of red cabbage, for $33.50.
From ALFN, I bought pork chops, rainbow carrots, red potatoes, baby romaine lettuce, a whole chicken, sweet potatoes, broccoli, beef tips for stew, jalapenos, sweet red peppers, organic baby lettuce greens, minute steaks, purple hull peas, ham hocks, baby bok choy, and shiitake mushrooms for $108.30.
For breakfast, lunch, and snacks, I also bought breakfast sausage, two dozen eggs, two loaves of bread, a loaf of banana bread (a treat, since normally I would just make this!), two pounds of apples, baby spinach, and two pounds of pecans for $45.47 from ALFN.
So, that’s one week’s worth of groceries for six people for $187.27. I know the meat and bread are a little more expensive than I if I were to buy them from the grocery store, but knowing where my food comes from and that the beef comes from well-cared of cows, matters. The vegetables may be cheaper (sometimes, though often not) at the grocery store, but the taste doesn’t even compare when I buy some weird breed of vegetable that was picked long ago before it was ripe and shipped across the country. And 21 meals for six people averages out to $1.49 per person per meal – how’s that for a dollar menu? I do keep my pantry stocked with things like beans, grains, oils and vinegars, jam and nut butters, hummus, etc. and we make good use of leftovers.
Also, about “fast” foods – I work until 5 o’clock every day and my family eats at 6, so all of the weeknight meals below take about thirty minutes to cook. Driving to the drive-through and back, waiting for the food to “cook” and unpacking it doesn’t really shave a lot of time off that thirty minute home cooked meal.
So, here were my meals for the week…
Smashed red potatoes
Stuffed whole chicken roasted with broccoli, lemon, and sweet potatoes
Beef stew with onion, red potatoes, onion, and carrots (in the crock pot)
Roasted veggie burritos with sweet potatoes, black beans, red and jalapeno peppers, onion, cheddar cheese, and spices
Spaghetti (I make the sauce in the crock pot so it can cook all day) and salad
Purple hull peas cooked with ham hocks
Millet cooked with black beans and fresh ginger, with red cabbage, shiitake mushrooms, carrots, sunflower seeds, and apple cider vinegar and olive oil.