If you are on a budget you have probably noticed that the amount of food you can buy with your budgeted dollars is shrinking. Each month you’re getting just slightly less food than you did the prior month. Twelve months of slightly less food adds up to a sizeable reduction in how far your food budget goes each year. This has been going on for many years now and most of us are feeling the pinch most acutely. And by us I don’t just mean people trying to get processed food out of their families lives. I mean everyone.
Maybe though those who are trying to move away from processed food are having an even tougher time of it. Lets face it, real actual high quality food can be expensive. Not to say that there aren’t many ways to make real food more affordable. Most of us still have room for improvement in the area of reducing costs simply by eliminating expensive processed foods. But what if you’ve eliminated expensive industrial foods and still need to reduce your food budget?
Many are faced with a difficult choice: Do I sacrifice quantity of food or quality? Do I skip lunch each day since the options I can afford are poor quality? Or should I eat the best poor choice I can afford? Or maybe a third choice of good quality filling foods that are not remotely nutrient dense? What kind of yardstick can people use to make these choices?
My plan is to talk thru these questions and hopefully come up with some decent, simple rules we can use to help reduce the day to day confusion. I believe that the key to managing successfully lies in a personalized plan for each of us that takes each our families unique needs into account. First though, before we dive into the detail of building our plan, I want to exhaust one last potential way of reducing your food bill without painful sacrifices in quality or quantity. That way is seeking groceries online.
What!?!?! The shipping cost alone kills that idea!
I don’t think so … but, yes this used to be very true. But with new services like Amazon Prime Pantry available to Amazon Prime members plus regular Amazon Prime free 2-day shipping, and many more food sellers offering free shipping for orders over a certain dollar amount we start to get into the land of possible real savings even though we are shipping food.
We’ve been buying a smallish percentage of our food online thru US Wellness Meats, Tropical Traditions and of course Amazon for a couple of years. Since I started the inventory of food available has grown exponentially. Used to be it was hard to find anything organic or unusual and if you did it was virtually guaranteed to be way overpriced. I find that is no longer the case. Many companies are making a powerful push to enter or expand their share of the grocery market online. This means they are ramping up inventories and taking a close look at pricing to ensure they are competitive.
So what does this mean for you and your tight food budget? Well, you now have one more option for finding affordable food. An option with nationwide and not just local competition. One that ships directly to your door. If making time for cooking and shopping is really hard for you this can be a huge help. Lots of real food options are simply unavailable locally in vast sections of the US as I brought up in my post on Walmart. And yes, Walmart is getting deeper and deeper into selling groceries online too.
Granny is Giving It an All-Out Trial Run
I live some distance from stores that sell a lot of real food. I have a Walmart nearby and just one supermarket. To find more varied grocery options I have to go to Austin to Whole Foods, Sprouts and Natural Grocers and lastly Costco. Used to be I’d stop by while running errands in town but with the boys grown I find I’m just not near these stores very often anymore so I’m going out of my way often in heavy traffic to get to them. Lately I’ve been upping the amount of food we order online just a bit and so far I’m impressed with the results! I’m not sure that I’ve saved alot without some further analysis, which I plan to share the results of in upcoming posts. But I am completely sure I’ve saved alot in gas and general wear and tear on both myself and my car :-).
I’m going to convert all of the things I would have bought in Austin to online orders instead, with the exception of Kalona dairy like cream and butter and the things we buy locally either at our farm or the farmers market. I’ll be posting updates from time to time to my email list. I’ll share a post here on Granny’s Vital Vittles when I feel I’ve worked out how viable the plan is and if it is possible to actually save money this way. I know I’ll enjoy working this out and I hope you’ll enjoy sharing what I find out! The plan is to share quite a bit of detail about what we are actually buying which could be enlightening all by itself. I’ll include price comparisons with local supermarkets too as I am able.
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Photo by Bill Branson, National Cancer Institute