Tag Archives: budeting

Retirement Frugality: Budgeting Meat & Vegetables

MEAT

In general, chicken is the cheapest meat available, then pork, then beef, with veal being the most expensive. (When I figured this out from perusing years’ worth of USDA data, I stopped buying veal.)

I found a write-up about turning a 3 lb. pork loin into at least 4 meals for 2 people: a roast, sweet & sour, chow mein, and a pork chop meal.

That’s 8 meals. I researched a price per pound for natural pork loin, so I could figure how many meals I’d have to make to get to my magic .25/portion or more realistic .50 ?

I found a price, $3.99/lb. For a 3 lb loin, If I make 8 meals as in the write up, it’s $1.50 a portion. If I can do 12, it’s $1 a portion. And given what I found with the chicken as well as this research, I think an actual, realistic target price per portion is $1 for meat.

The only ways I can see around this are:

      • Abandon the idea of eating organic/natural meats, or
      • Do that (above) AND buy bargain meats only, or
      • Become vegetarian.

We eat “breakfast” one day a week, and lunches are left overs or catch as catch can. That makes 15 meals a week I need to budget for, and there are two of us, so 30 portions. We eat meat for 2 meals a week, so the cost of the protein for those days should be around $4. (We might, or might not, have sausage or bacon with our “breakfast” meal.)

How do  I use this to figure meats I can afford OR decide which meats I can’t?

The most realistic quantity I can come up with uses 1/4 lb of meat for 2 portions. At $1 per portion, that means:

 Any meat I buy has to cost $8/lb OR less!

The pork price I found fits ($3.99), so do the bulk chicken thighs ($2.49) I’ve been using. Ground beef at the local small green grocer, at $8.99/lb does NOT.

chicken-pig-cow


VEGETABLES

This year, I worked hard to find a way to reduce our vegetable cost, and managed to save about $100 by not buying a December share and full farm share, as we have in the past.

Instead, I bought a 1/2 share and a second share (at a different farm)  which starts earlier than the farm we’ve always used. This gives us fresh produce longer, but requires more work on my part retrieving it, meal planning, etc.

We spent approx. $600 this year for the farm veggies. That covers 8 months. Assuming there are 4 weeks per month, it’s $75/month, 18.75 per week, or .63 per portion (for 15 meals, 2 portions each).

This leaves us $125/month of our stated budget ($200 a month) for everything else: supplies, condiments, etc. And, as long as DH is working, that’s realistic. When he retires? I think I need to find ways to do better.

Meat & veggies aren’t going to be the answer! I don’t see how I can cut much more. As it is, we’re paying bulk prices for months’ worth of food up front, and retrieving it ourselves to avoid delivery fees.


I forgot Stew vegetables for winter! I run out of some, if not all of these every winter: carrot, celery, onion, parsnip & potato. What I have left right now are carrots & onions.

There was a huge quantity of carrots in last December’s share and I bought a 20 lb bag of onions from the farm sometime late fall.

I guess I need to do the same with all the stew veggies this year. Fifty lb bags of “chef” potatoes show up in the fall in some markets, I’ve never bought them as I want organic.  I need to ask the co-op about this or the farm(s)…

In general, we can’t use up wholesale quantities of perishables. I don’t have room to store them and we can’t eat them fast enough. But I hate going out midwinter for a 3 lb bag of onions!

Instead of making up 1/2 made casseroles, etc. like I did in 2019, maybe I need to make up/freeze stew veggies, like the stewed tomatoes and salsa verde I already make?


Assuming we will need to spend 1/2 of what we currently use? That will have to come from supplies and other foods, if possible. That’s another blog!

 

 

A “Free” Mortgage Payment?

“Family Food Supply” is the name of a pamphlet I got a while ago. This one is from the Metropolitan Life Insurance Co., 1934.

Okay, I’m a sucker for publications like this, I’ve confessed that already. But my point about there’s not much new in the “How to save money” world is demonstrated, again, by this old publication.

In a section entitled “Further Guides to Food Thrift” it says: “It is the penny saved on a pound of butter, and the few cents saved on sugar, eggs, bread, which add up to a neat savings account, because these are the things most often purchased. (According to one inflation calculator, a penny in 1934 is equivalent to .18 in 2014 money.) It also says:

  • The most expensive food is not always the most nutritious.
  • Staple foods that keep should be bought in as large quantities as can be stored.
  • Spoiled food is usually a sign of poor marketing, careless meal-planning, or bad house-keeping.
  • Most families need to spend from one quarter to one third of their income for food.

All of which, with more modern framing are things you’ll find out there in the “how to save money on food” blogs, articles, etc.

The first one is still true exactly as stated. The second is the basis for people who stockpile. The third isn’t usually framed that way any more, as “poor marketing” and “bad house-keeping” are not viewed in the same fashion as previously. And the fourth? That’s the only one that’s actually really different.

The average  American, these days, spends  less than every other citizen in the world on food, or < 10% of their income for food.

See below.

http://www.ibtimes.com/us-spends-less-food-any-other-country-world-maps-1546945

But of the money we spend, we toss 25% of the food we buy! See below.

http://money.usnews.com/money/blogs/my-money/2013/04/02/how-much-food-does-the-average-american-waste

I admit that’s only .25 on the dollar. But if you add those  up, then the .25 you toss from every food dollar can be used for heat or clothes or ? It’s not a huge amount, but when was the last time someone told you something you could do to save .25 of every dollar you spend, without spending an extra dime to do so?

Want to know how much you could save? Take a rough estimate of your income, for every $1000 you make, you’d get back $25. ($1000/10 = food dollars, or $100. 25% of those food dollars = potential savings = $25.) In our case, this adds up to a chunk of change that doesn’t seem insigificant at all. I could make a mortgage payment from it! A “free” mortgage payment once a year sounds good to me! Maybe you could do the same?