Figuring the Cost

Farm food It occurred to me that I should figure out how much we actually spent on the farm food? I knew what the total was and how long the food is available, but haven’t done any kind of costing for it this year.

Every week we get a slug o’ veggies, usually some herbs, etc.

A week ago, Tuesday, we got: spinach, mixed greens, pea sprouts, and lettuce. We had soup 2 nights from the spinach ( a cold spinach/avocado soup, a spring tradition here, yummy!) and I used the mixed greens in salads, cooked some of it, etc. We had spinach and lettuce salads with other veggies. The last of the mixed greens and spinach were dealt with yesterday.

Yesterday I got spinach, 2 heads of lettuce, a bunch of radishes, kale, bok choy, chard, argula, cilantro and dill.

Last night’s dinner was HM hummus, with lemon and dill. The salad had a little cilantro in it, and more of last week’s lettuce. Tonight’s salad will use the end of last week’s lettuce.

Despite my not keeping track last week because I was still sick, I have figured it out. The farm costs about $28/week, which works out to about $4 a day, if you only do dinner with it. That’s almost exactly what the allowance for food on SNAP (food stamps) is.

However, because we both work at home, we frequently use some of the farm food for lunches, but don’t always. So, say we use the farm food for 3 other meals a week, that’s 10, which drives the cost per meal down to $2.80, or $1.40 for each of us, daily.

This doesn’t include whatever food I manage to put aside.

It hadn’t occurred to me to start with the $ amount for food stamps, but it’s a good idea! If, God forbid, we ever end up needing that type of help, then our expectations will already be there. The problem is of course, that the $4 a day should cover EVERYTHING, veggies, meat, shampoo, etc. And to get there, I have a LOT more adjustments to make!

What I’ve done with the menu plan idea (See here.) is to greatly reduce the amount of prefab, frozen, and restaurant meals we’re eating. Making better use of what we have (Also see this.), wasting less, etc. It all helps. Anything I set aside from the summer glut or grow here is also a bonus, as it reduces the expenses. But I need to do better reducing the other costs!

Meat I pretty much have done this with the new menu plan, we only eat it 2x a week, on Friday and Sunday. I’ve discussed how I reduced what we pay for already.

That leaves everything else: anything other than meat and vegetables. And that’s a lot! Paper products, frozen foods, baked goods, health/beauty items, pet supplies, cleaning supplies, etc.

Frozen foods here are ice cream, meats, and vegetables. I have an ice cream maker, I always plan to make ice cream during the summer, but don’t always do so. I need to more often this year, like weekly. Being us, we buy expensive ice cream, so making our own will be cheaper, almost guaranteed!

Baked goods here are mostly bread and crackers. DH has been making bread every couple of days. We actually don’t do much other baking, although yesterday I found organic blackberries on sale, so this morning I’ll make a blackberry cobbler.

Paper products except for costing out and trying janitorial supply sources, I haven’t seriously tried to find a way to reduce our costs here. I located a janitorial supply company that sells to the public nearby. I keep meaning to, and keep forgetting, to buy a roll or 2 of TP and paper towels (our usual paper products) to see if we like them?

Health/Beauty items I’m not sure how else to reduce costs here. We’re using up the end of a bulk shampoo buy I did 2 years ago. I’ll have to buy shampoo again before the year is out, but that’s the first time in 2 years. (There was a good sale, I had lots of coupons and they doubled coupons up to $1 So I bought every bottle I had a coupon for.) I get bar soap from a friend who raises goats and makes artisan soap. She makes a 10 lb block for me about every 18 months and I cut it into bars. We also use Dr. Bonner’s baby soap, cut in 1/2, for DH’s shaving soap and at the kitchen sink (my hands dry out in the kitchen, I wash my hands too often). Deodorant is the only other thing we buy regularly. I buy it when I find it on sale. I’ll have to buy some of that soon, we’re using the last tube. Toothpaste we buy about once a year, the rest of the time we use the samples provided by the dentists.

Photo by Crystal de Passillé-Chabot on Unsplash

Cleaning products — this is an area I can work on! Because I’m so scent sensitive, I’m careful about only buying unscented products. The availability of these ebbs and flows. Six months ago, there were 3 different types of unscented dish soap at our local market. Last time I looked, there was 1. This means I tend to buy mulitples when I can afford it, because I may not be able to find the product in the future. I wouldn’t mind decanting a gallon of dish soap into smaller, more usuable containers, if it didn’t make me sick! Laundry detergent I have the same issue. I should check with the janitorial supply company for these. Wood cleaner/polish I finally found a set of products which doesn’t make me sick. Also fortunately, their office is nearby. My plan is to stop by before winter and see if I can’t buy a gallon of the stuff! And then there’s trash bags, but I finally found a cheap source of those, UNSCENTED, at our local cheapo market. Dh bought a box of hefty bags that is so stinky I opened it outside 2 months ago. They still stink! He can use them for workshop stuff, NOT bring them in the house or put them in my car to go to the dump! After 2 months outside, open, they STILL stink!!!

The usual/standard advice in “save money” books is to make your own cleaners or buy whatever is on sale. I do make some of my cleaners and use vinegar, baking soda, etc. as much as I think is sane but I can’t just use whatever is cheapest because of the scent issue. This means that except for buying in bulk or from a janitorial supply company, I really can’t cut here, unless I’m willing to live in a house which makes my allergies worse.

No one has convinced me yet that microfiber cloth or essential oils actually clean things. As far as I can tell, microfiber cloths are just fine terry cloth and essential oils just make things smell good! I can and do mop my kitchen floor every now and then with lemon oil and water, but it’s not to clean the floor, it’s to make the kitchen smell good! I do it AFTER I’ve swept and then mopped the floor!

Fortunately, I can use some scents, as long as it’s scented with natural oils, like lemon. I do this myself, because it’s just not worth it to use something that’s supposedly all natural scent to discover the binder, which they didn’t count, is something which I react to!

This cost/expense reduction project needs more work!


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