Sunday, August 25, 2013

Thinking About Grocery Budgets, Chickens and Travels

Etsy search: "Red hen painting"

So I've been thinking about grocery budgets lately, and it is just this CONSTANT tug-of-war within me.

I totally agree with this article, written by Haley of Carrots for Michaelmas, yet we aren't consistent with local, sustainable purchases.  Mass-produced meats really really bother me, and while Tyler agrees, he is also an advocate for lowering our food budget.  Some weeks we do awesome with local food, and honestly, some weeks there just isn't as much meat available, I guess this is a good introduction into the true rhythm of famine and feast, so to say.

$15 for a chicken is a good bit of money, and while I am able to glean LOTS more from local chickens (fat for cooking, the organ meats, carcasses that produce a VERY hearty stock), it still is hard to rival the conventional chickens at $5 a bird and the "sorta" organic birds at $8 a bird.  We usually (90% of the time) stick with the "sorta" organic birds.  It's really frustrating for me.  I don't like making compromises on our food, as we have both come to agree with Hippocrates, who said, "Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food," but I ultimately feel like until we get our car payed-off, it is easier to justify less than great consumer purchases.

Thankfully, we owe just a bit above $3,000 on our car.  So, so, so close (we started with $12,000+ in January 2012).  If we can manage to have it paid-off before filing taxes, than any refund can be geared toward our next goal.
Speaking of birds, our chickens started laying eggs! And the day we learned that they started laying is the day that one of the laying hens died.  Ironic!

I had placed a piece of a tree branch in the hen house and apparently it wasn't secure because one of my sweet, beautiful Rhode Island Reds met her death beneath the thoughtfully placed branch, when it fell and crushed her.  I cried like a baby.  We didn't eat her, and I sort of felt better about that.  Not quite at the point of raising meat birds on our own yet.  How spoiled am I that that isn't a necessity?!  My great-grandmother HAD to kill a chicken, if she was to put meat on the table at night.  What a woman!

We are hoping to take a vacation in October, which is due to sweet friends of ours getting married in North Carolina.  Here is the catch...Tyler will have half, .5, of a vacation day left.  Flying is out of the question, unless there is some crazy awesome way to get plane tickets for $200 a piece.  So, train or car?  Is it worth taking unpaid leave (seems so crazy!)?  We briefly thought of going sans children, but Jo is still my cuddly nursling just a few times a day, and if we bring Jo, well, I just feel terrible leaving our princess behind.  Is driving through the night, alternating shifts, totally crazy talk?  Could we actually get sleep on a train?  And for the record, will my husband's boss even approve unpaid leave?!?! Well, I think our work is cut-out for us; we should start with finding-out if unpaid leave is ok, and how much might be allowed.  But please still share your thoughts!

Making this wedding will set-back our goals for car-payoff but I know in my heart of hearts that this wedding is important.

PLEASE share any tips or ideas about traveling with kids...and to come full circle, any opinions on temporarily eating crap-ishly in order to pay-off car debt sooner.

"Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food"

Blessings to you!!! Have a wonderful week!


  1. Funny, I just went to a wedding reallllly far away. We didn't want to take the trip but felt the wedding was really important as well! My SIL and I drove up with the 3 little boys and my brother flew in to meet us (busy with work). Then on the way home (in order for my bro to get back to work on time) we drove through the night. We thought with 3 drivers to rotate it wouldn't be that bad. WELL. It was not very fun, one of the kids did not sleep well in the car (didn't see that one coming!), and we got home sooooo tired. My saving grace was that Logan didn't go so I was able to sleep when I got home Sunday afternoon! I haven't taken a train before but I might be doing so with Landon next month (for a much shorter trip). We looked into it for our wedding as well but the prices were much higher than expected and it would have taken longer than driving.

    As far as food goes, I say do whatever makes you feel at peace! I hate shoveling out a few more dollars for certain organic foods, but if I feel better about life, I think it's worth it. :)

    1. Thanks Jen! Your advice is hot off the press! :) I'm sorry it was not fun...most that I have heard is the same, in regards to driving. The train trip would actually be a couple of hours shorter, factoring in that we wouldn't have to do food/drink/potty stops. It also wouldn't put a ton of mileage on our already nicely aged car (11 years old). What a blessing Logan was able to let you sleep!!! I'm so glad!

      I'm really a black/white sort of person...I'm not good at moderating but I'm very good at saying either yes or no, so for some time I know that I'm going to either say no no no no no (and save about $40/week) or say yes yes yes yes yes and just take that much longer to pay-off. Thanks for helping me think through this and remember how I function! :-P

  2. My thoughts on food...

    Jason and I desire to purchase the highest quality foods we can for our family. Right now that means we eat some of the "crap." We do our best to choose the healthiest options that our budget allows. For example, I would love to be able to feed the kids more Kashi granola bars etc but the reality is the store generic is what we can afford right now.

    We do our best to get our meat from local butchers because the meat has gone through less hands/processing. One way we did this well was to use Christmas money to purchase a bulk freezer pack of meat (chicken, beef, pork, bacon etc) from a local butcher and we are just now down to the last few roasts/odds and ends. Is there a butcher in your area that does something similar to this that you could take advantage of?

    Long story short - we are eating some of the "crap" now so that in the (hopefully) near future we can eat how we want to with ease. By not stretching our budget too thin now we are setting ourselves up for more comfortable living in the future. We allocate what we can to the grocery budget and do our best with it. Some weeks we are able to get more than other weeks. This week is tight for us, really tight. So we picked up carrots, potatoes and onions, pulled a roast and did a crock pot meal that will feed us for several days!

    While I wish we could make a few different food choices I have to accept where we are at now and where we want to be in the future. For us, a short period (which I understand may be a couple years) of eating as healthy as possible on a tight budget will hopefully lead to a larger food budget in the future and allow us to buy the organic, local and "clean" foods we desire for our family.

    I hope that ramble made sense. I get where you are coming from. It is a struggle to know if we are making the right choices for our families. For us, I know the "right" choice is doing my best to feed us as healthy as possible, as cheaply as possible. The day will come when we won't be so "strapped" and I will be able purchase all sorts of wonderful, organic foods. Until then, we make do! I try to think long-term about this and know that getting our debts down is really the #1 goal. Once they are eliminated we will have so much more financial freedom and that is the ultimate goal for us! The faster we eliminate the debts, the faster we can increase our grocery budget!

    I rambled again...sorry ;) Good luck in your decision making and just remember that only you know what is best for you and your family! Just follow your "gut" and you can't go wrong :)

    1. Thanks Shelley! I really really agree with where you are coming from. A deep freezer is a GREAT idea. It's been on my 30-day buy list for about 365 days, haha!!! Prioritize, Suzette, prioritize!! Your rambles are much appreciated. There is a local grocery store that does just that, has the entire cow shipped in and then slaughters it. I have even found local pork marked down down down in the "quick sale" bin. It's refreshing to know others are right where we are! save save save!

  3. I agree with the deep freezer suggestion. Ours is always a life saver. In terms of the meat... you do the best you can with what you are given. While sort of organic may not be as great as local, eating homemade is probably better than eating processed, eating at home is likely healthier than eating out, and just being aware of what you're eating is better than mindless consumption. It might be that right now you are being called to focus on other places the world could use attention- like embracing NFP, raising chickens, or making breastfeeding a normal part of life. So, be sure to look at the whole picture. Balance your perspective by considering all the improvements you *have* been able to make and consider how wonderful it is that you still have room to grow, goals to meet, etc. When we started trying to eat more sustainably, I started buying a lot less meat. We get a lot of our protein from beans and I tend to use meat as more of a flavoring.

    The Prudent Homemaker has done a good series about how to feed your family on 40 cents a day. I am almost certain she isn't buying local, organic meat but you can glean some good information and recipes from her.

    Bravo on the debt reduction! That takes a tremendous focus!

  4. Thanks Becky!!
    "It might be that right now you are being called to focus on other places the world could use attention - like embracing NFP, raising chickens or making breastfeeding a normal part of life." I just want to swoon and cry tears of joy! You are so so great! Thanks for showing me this. I truly never even considered this. I just might write this on a piece of paper and tape it up to read - it's that inspiring to me. :D
    I am excited to check-out The Prudent Homemaker, thank you! Blog Land is so full of wonderful reads.


So glad to hear from you! All conversation is welcomed, within good reason and kind intentions.