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Frugal Challenge: Lowering the grocery budget

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    Frugal Challenge: Lowering the grocery budget

    I know this is supposed to be for recipes. I have found that recipes are where you start, when it comes to food. I currently spend about $4-12 per meal for my family of 8. This includes everything from the vinegar to pickle things, to the animal food to get the eggs. Some special meals cost a lot more. (Easter blew my budget for the month) I am usually pretty good at keeping our grocery budget way under control. If you have read else where, we fish, hunt, garden, raise animals, make our own kraut, cheese, butter, ice cream (when possible) jam, pickles, etc....

    With all of this work, one would think my per meal costs would be much lower!

    I have found though that to keep my food costs very low two things need to happen. Either we eat the same three meals everyday, without the variety of fruits and veggies the kid love OR I am feeding them the same thing everyday for a week until the next huge sale at the store. I'm not complaining. I am so glad we have food! I just want to see if may be I can "spice things up" for us without spicing up my pocket book costs.

    We regularly eat lentil soup, vegetable soup from the garden, pinto beans and greens, stir fry, chicken legs with a veg and rice, steamed catfish with steamed veg and rice, salads from the garden, egg plant casserole (when in season), burritos with homemade tortilla's when in season, split pea soup, oatmeal or eggs for breakfast, and leftovers of whatever for lunch. I don't have any fruit in season at home right now, so I buy about 6 pounds of apples a week. (They are usually gone with in a day or three). The kids love fruit and so do I. Bananas are gone to quick for me to justify buying them. Any ideas?

    #2
    Do the kids like dried fruit? If so, consider adding more fruit bearing shrubs and trees. Maybe some nut trees, too. Almonds and hazelnuts do not take long to bear. Your chickens and goats will benefit from this, too, though it might be hard to keep the goats away from the young trees and shrubs.
    "There is some ontological doubt as to whether it may even be possible in principle to nail down these things in the universe we're given to study." --text msg from my kid

    "It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men." --Frederick Douglass

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      #3
      They do...do you know of some faster bearing shrubs...besides hazelnut...our pears took about 5 years to bear...

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        #4
        All the bramble type berries, but I think you've mentioned you already have that....I found that aronia/chokeberry bore in its the second season after rooting. Of course the shrub was still tiny, so it was not much fruit. I think the growth rate will be exponential for a few years, so I'll get a great crop soon. Some varieties are sweeter than others....Gooseberry had fruit in its second year too, and by the third year there was plenty to make jelly or pie. It is too tart for me to eat out of hand, but my husband claims to like it raw. I imagine its cousins currants and jostaberries would be just as quick, and sweeter, too. If you can get a hold of the gooseberries from England, they are supposed to be much, much sweeter than the North American tart ones.... The N. American native plum grows shrubby if you don't prune to a single trunk and keep the root sprouts cut. I think it will give a few fruit by the third or fourth year. Those will not self pollinate well, though, so you need more than one....I'm just starting goji berries this year. They are weak seedlings now, but my understanding is that they are quick to make fruit. They are a woody vine, that can be sheared to branch out and grow more shrubby. They are only lightly sweet and can be used as a taste contrasting element in savory dishes....Oh, and how about elderberries?

        By the way, aronia and goji berries have cash crop value right now as they are a bit of a nutritional fad. They get added to some commercial "health drinks. (Got a farmers market nearby?)

        I have a thought about how to buy bananas and make them last. Slice and dry those, too. It is a good project to do indoors in winter when you'd be trying to put some heat in the house anyway. I don't know if other people are able to dry their bananas to crispy chips like the ones in the store, but mine come out chewy. A chewy dried banana slice has intense flavor and takes much longer to eat than a bite of banana. If the kids could be persuaded to treat them as candy, only having one or two pieces at a time as a little treat, then a bunch of bananas would last weeks instead of days.
        "There is some ontological doubt as to whether it may even be possible in principle to nail down these things in the universe we're given to study." --text msg from my kid

        "It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men." --Frederick Douglass

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          #5
          I don't know if other people are able to dry their bananas to crispy chips like the ones in the store, but mine come out chewy. A chewy dried banana slice has intense flavor and takes much longer to eat than a bite of banana. If the kids could be persuaded to treat them as candy, only having one or two pieces at a time as a little treat, then a bunch of bananas would last weeks instead of days.
          We can dry bananas like a fruit roll up. The only down side is our current dehydrator uses a lot of electricity and it heats the house like a furnace. I want one of those solar dehydrators. That might be a winter project. Currently I have a bunch frozen for smoothies on Sundays. It was the only way I could keep them from wolfing them down.

          The N. American native plum grows shrubby if you don't prune to a single trunk and keep the root sprouts cut. I think it will give a few fruit by the third or fourth year.
          We have these and persimmons we pick wild. I jam the plums when we can get to them with all the thorn vines, snakes, and chiggars. The persimmons are about half mystery to me. I make a pudding, but it hasn't turned out except once.

          Oh, and how about elderberries?
          You just reminded me I need to buy some....I have been meaning to for ages.

          By the way, aronia and goji berries have cash crop value right now as they are a bit of a nutritional fad. They get added to some commercial "health drinks. (Got a farmers market nearby?)
          People here hate fad foods. I tried purple potatoes and got an underwhelming response. I love fad foods, may be I could sell it. I don't know. I wanted to grow goji berries, but no idea how.

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