Day 363–Our Year In Review

budget

What is going on with the time? It seems like the months are moving in warp speed. It is hard to believe our year experiment is almost up! I’ll be reworking the blog a bit (and hopefully not crashing everything!) and returning on January 1 to start again, this time with a new challenge and a slightly different twist.

This is the time of year when everyone is doing some kind of retrospective on the past 12 months and since we started out with a year challenge, it seems fitting that we will do this, too.

The goals of our family challenge were threefold:

  • Eat at least 75% of our food from local and/or sustainable sources
  • Spend no more than $100 per week on groceries
  • Increase our walking destinations.

How did we do?

Well, we did pretty well for our first time out! Overall, we kept our average spending to just under $100, but missed our mark of 75%. Here’s how the numbers break down for the 43 weeks that I recorded our budget and menu (I’m missing 9 weeks due to schedule craziness, vacations, and whatever else was going on, but I believe those weeks would probably even out to about the same numbers).

  • Total amount spent on groceries:          $4,199.51
  • Grocery $$ spent on local food:             $2,684.91
  • Percent of food budget that was local:  64%
  • Average spent per week:                            $97.66

That averages included our Christmas and Christmas Eve feasts, which were way over budget (but also supremely awesome). I did not include trips to Whole Foods as local, although they were organic and sustainable, because they did not reflect a direct payment to farmers. So for the year, almost $2,700 of our food budget stayed within our community. I’m pretty proud of that!

Where we have not done so well is increasing our walking to local destinations. That is definitely going to be on the agenda for next year.

I personally had some good health outcomes this year. I dropped 15 pounds, lowered my overall cholesterol by 17 points and raised my good cholesterol by several points.

More importantly, I have met some wonderful new people, reconnected to eating seasonal foods, reignited a love of cooking, learned how to can my own food and all around, just had a great time!

What’s next?

Here are some goals for next year:

  • Work on my food photography skills
  • Incorporate more plant-based dishes into our diet
  • Visit our local farms and include our experiences outside the farmer’s market

What would you like to see in this blog for next year? More recipes? Fewer recipes? More research-based information?

I’ll see you back here in 2013–just a few short days away. Have a happy and safe New Year!

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Day 301–Starting Week 44–Budget and Menu

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween! (Photo credit: eschipul)

Happy Halloween! I hope everyone has a terrific holiday. As much as I would love to give out Play-dough or apples to our trick or treaters, I have to say that in the name of time and budget, I caved and bought candy. Give the people what they want is the mantra of the day 🙂

Our budget this week will hopefully make up for some candy transgressions. We have a diet heavy in fall vegetables and hearty fare like pumpkin, squash and sweet potatoes. Our budget is great! At $98.43, we are just a bit under our target of $100.00. We are “paying” ourselves back for field peas and kale that we bought, blanched and froze earlier since those stock up items were not included in our weekly budget.

This week’s budget:

The Produce Box (lettuce, broccoli, apple cider, butternut squash, apples, tomatoes, potatoes): $23.00

  • Trader Joes (peas, frozen fruit, soy milk, yogurt, orange juice): $28.43
  • Locals Seafood (shrimp): $10.00
  • Mae Farm (mini boneless ham): $15.00
  • Rainbow Farm (chicken thighs): $12.00
  • Maple View Farm (buttermilk): $4.00
  • The Mitchell’s Freezer (field peas, kale): $6.00

What are we eating this week? Here is our menu!

Menu

Wednesday–baked sweet potatoes, leftover quiche, salad

Thursday–Curry chicken and potatoes

Friday–Shrimp and broccoli over rice, salad

Saturday–Baked ham, field peas, kale, biscuits

Sunday–Ham, pea and broccoli pasta

Monday–Leftovers

Tuesday–Stuffed butternut squash with apples, pecans and ham

Have a wonderful week and enjoy all those great fall veggies!

 

 

Day 212–Starting Week 31–Budget and Menu

Now that our suitcases are unpacked, the beach toys are put away and the sand is (mostly) vacuumed up from the car, we’re ready to get back on track with our locavore menu. It has been hot here, but not the insane hot we had in early July. Just our regular ol’ dog days of late summer in NC. I’ll still take this over ice storms any day! Still, the heat and the tremendous rains we have had mean that berries are almost completely gone from the farmer’s markets. We still have peaches, though, and that makes me happy!

Our menu this week represents some of what is best about late summer–plentiful seafood, corn, tomatoes, cucumbers and peaches. At $120.27, our budget is over by a lot, but I ended up ordering TWO produce boxes–one a mix of veggies and fruit and one just fruit so I have enough to can and make my sweetie some blueberry muffins for work. Also, I am stocking up on some staples (frozen mango and organic beans and rice) and those will actually last several weeks. But, all-in-all, I went over budget and will try to get back on track next week. Here’s what we got:

  • The Produce Box (peaches, blueberries, sweet peppers, corn, potatoes, tomatoes, cantaloupe, watermelon):  $36.00
  • Hillsborough Cheese Co. (mozzarella): $6.00
  • Harvest Farm (eggs): $4.50
  • Locals Seafood (scallops and shrimp): $28.00
  • Farmhand Foods (local hangar steak): $15.00
  • Trader Joes (frozen mango, lemons, yogurt, black beans, kidney beans, Ezekiel bread, soy milk): $30.77

Here is the menu for the week!

  • Wednesday–Shrimp and pasta; fruit salad
  • Thursday–Olympic Salad Building (Saladpalooza w/a new name)
  • Friday–Scallop risotto with roasted red peppers
  • Saturday–Grilled, marinated flank steak w/rosemary roasted potatoes
  • Sunday–Leftover steak and mushroom risotto
  • Monday–Turkey tacos with salad
  • Tuesday–Make your own flatbread pizza

Have a wonderful and healthy week!

Day 185–Starting Week 28–Budget and Menu

green beans

This week has been a busy one! The mid-week Independence Day holiday has my schedule all mixed up, and I’m a bit late getting out our weekly budget and menu, but that is life, right? We are a bit over budget this week (mostly meat for the holiday) at $105.70. Since I had to work on July 4th (outside!) I was not about to cook. Mae Farms prepared pulled pork gave us more than one meal and prevented me from having to cook (I love them!) Here is the list of what we bought this week:

  • The Produce Box (tomatoes, watermelon, peaches, corn, green beans, squash, snow peas, plums): $28.00
  • Mae Farm (pulled pork barbecue, steaks): $38.00
  • Other farmers market (cantaloupe, blackberries, potatoes): $10
  • Trader Joes (frozen fruit, soy milk, butter, yogurt, wine, turbinado sugar): $29.70

What are we eating for the kingly sum? Here is our weekly menu!

  • Wednesday–Pulled pork barbecue sandwiches, potato salad, cantaloupe
  • Thursday–Tomato sandwiches, watermelon and blackberry fruit salad
  • Friday–Grilled steaks, corn on the cob, snow peas; peach cobbler
  • Saturday–Out–date night!
  • Sunday–Pasta with grilled eggplant, squash and tomatoes
  • Monday–BLT sandwiches, homemade pickles
  • Tuesday–leftovers and/or quiche

Day 169–Starting Week 26–Budget and Menu

We are almost halfway through the year already! Where did the time go? I feel like I will blink and it will be Christmas again (I think I just depressed myself). If time flies when you’re having a good time, I must be having the mother of all good times (and I think maybe I am!). The markets are just loaded with goodness this week–I’ve really had to curb my food hoarding tendencies. We came in under budget this week at $95.69. Our menu includes one night of Ellie cooking (hence the spaghetti taco menu, which she assures us is amazing).

Here is how our budget breaks down this week:

  • Produce Box (peaches, blueberries, green pepper, eggplant, onion, tomatoes): $23
  • Homestead Farm (1/2 chicken): $9.00
  • Calico Farm (fresh mozzarella): $4.00
  • Locals Seafood (skin on flounder fillets): $18.00
  • Hilltop Farm Organics (squash, zucchini, potatoes): $6.50
  • DJ’s Produce (okra): $2.00
  • Trader Joes (frozen mango, yogurt, soy milk, taco shells): $30.19
  • The Mitchells (paying ourselves back for 1 jar of jam): $3

What are we having for $95? Here is our menu for the week!

Menu

  • Wednesday–Farm fresh salad with cukes, tomatoes, green peppers and blue cheese
  • Thursday–Cornmeal dusted flounder, corn, sautéed okra and tomatoes
  • Friday–Panini alla Margherita, cucumber spears, peach cobbler
  • Saturday–Spaghetti tacos
  • Sunday–Balsamic marinated chicken, grilled eggplant and squash
  • Monday–Quiche, sliced tomatoes
  • Tuesday–Leftover buffet