My family and I recently completed a 4-week long experiment in which we aimed to drastically reduce our spending on groceries and continue to eat well, perhaps even better than before. If you’re curious, here are our weekly meal plans for the month.
Seasonal produce: A dilemma
Did we make it? Yes and no. Yesterday I explained the way in which we succeeded. Today I’ll expand on how and why we didn’t.
A whole bunch of seasonal produce opportunities presented themselves last month. We had a plethora of zucchini and (red and green) tomatoes from the garden which needed to be processed in order to preserve them for later. In addition, I negotiated a screamin’ deal at the farmer’s market for a case of peaches one night and a bag of nectarines another. Although I wasn’t sure whether or not it would taint the experiment, I went ahead and spent the money required to do the produce “projects” ($72.23 in total). I just couldn’t let peach, tomato and zucchini season fade away while I ran the $200 experiment.
Here are the projects I did to preserve the season’s bounty:
Piccalilli – using red and green tomatoes from the garden
Curried Zucchini soup – using zucchini from the garden
Garlic Zucchini soup – again featuring zucchini from the garden
Here’s the breakdown of what I had to purchase for each project and the associated costs.
Together the projects yielded 7 quarts of piccalilli, 9 quarts of soup, 5 peach crisps, and 1 quart of nectarine sauce. Not bad for just over 70 bucks.
Initially I thought this was a one-off, and that my regular grocery budget wouldn’t have to account for bonanzas like this. But then I remembered apple season is coming up. And pomegranates, pumpkins and squash are here. Then our oranges will ripen… It’s never-ending. And thank goodness! What joy and deliciousness these seasonal treats provide. I’ve got to make a little room in the budget for stocking up on such treats when they are plentiful. It turns out there will always be something!
In the long-run, buying lots of seasonal produce at its peak of freshness (and lowest price) and preserving it (frozen or canned, solo or in a dish you’ve prepared) is a very economical way to eat healthfully. While $40 seems like a lot to spend on stone fruit in a single month, next month we won’t have to buy any, but we’ll be enjoying it all the same, along with whatever is newly in season. And that’s a good thing, as you-know-who says.
Tomorrow, read how we did with eating out during the $200/month grocery experiment.