Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Not Thrifty?

Someone left this comment in response to yesterday's post on my Facebook page: "Did you (adventures of a thrifty momma) write this blog? I dont see how its "thrifty" when you purchase it thru WIC." (cut and pasted directly from the Facebook page) Excuse me?  How is only spending $3.50 for dinners for nearly a week, the cost of a gallon of milk (on sale) and a head of lettuce at the grocery store I shop at, for a family of 5 not thrifty?  I'm not including Sunday's vegetable lasagna in there, because I have no idea how much that will cost, since it has been so long since I've made it, but I'm sure it is a hell of a lot cheaper than a Stouffer's vegetable lasagna ($12-13 for Stouffer's as opposed to maybe $5-6 for homemade?)In all fairness though, I am using things acquired at previous times to feed people during the week, so let's look at exactly how thrifty those meals are by looking at how much they cost and how I did it so cheaply.

Monday was a leftover night, so essentially free, since those would have been budgeted into the meals they originally came from and most people probably would have let them go to waste.

Today is corn & potato chowder night.  The corn was bought at the farmers market, in season, and frozen by me, so cost about $0.25.  The potatoes, onions, and stock were free, since the potatoes were from my mom's garden, the onion from my garden right here on the trailer park lot, and I made the stock from scraps most people would throw away.  A single tablespoon of olive oil, a little flour, a little thyme, and some salt and pepper would all be pennies.  If I paid for the milk used, cash out of pocket, it would have been about $.30 for the recipe.  I decided to supplement the soup with some bread and decided to use bread I got from WIC last week for free rather than making some in the interest of time and if I was paying out of pocket for the bread, I would have made it, but for the sake of argument, lets include the full price of the bread used, maybe a quarter of the loaf (if it was homemade, we probably would have eaten the whole loaf), so the full meal for the full family cost less than $2.

Tomorrow, I plan on making venison stew for dinner.  The venison was professionally processed, at about $0.70 a pound, and I usually use a bit less than a pound of meat for a meal for the family, so let's call it $.50.  Throw in some carrots from my garden, some peas I picked and froze out of my mom's garden, potatoes also from my mom's garden, maybe a little onion from mine: all free; venison stock I made, also free.  A little milk, a little flour for thickener, you have a stew for a few pennies more.  I haven't decided if I'll make bread, dumplings, or use some of the store bought bread, but anyway you slice it, it would be $1 or less.  Oh, look: another meal to feed 5 people for under $2.

Thursday is spaghetti night.  To be honest, I don't remember which sauce was made with tomatoes from my garden, which was from someone else's garden given to me, and which I bought from the farmers market when at the season's peak.  At most I would have paid about $.50 for the tomatoes I made the sauce from.  We generally use less than 1/2 pound of meat for the meatballs in a meal, so with the other ingredients in the meatballs, that part of the meal would be about $.50 as well.  I usually don't use quite a whole box of spaghetti, but for the sake of argument (and/or unusually hungry kids) let's say I do, so that's another $1 for the whole grain pasta, bought on sale.  Another $2 meal!

Friday's taco night.  I didn't actually buy the tortillas, since they were gifted to us, along with a whole bunch of other food back in December by a local homeschooling group, but, if I did, they would probably be about $1.  A head of lettuce, as I mentioned before, costs about $1, but we'll only use a small part of it for the tacos, so maybe $.20 worth.  The taco meat is leftover (and frozen) from last time we had taco night, so $.35 or free, depending on how you look at it.  Cheese, I bought in bulk quite a while ago and cost $33.49 for a 10 pound block, so let's say we use 1/2 pound (probably more than we actually will use) for a cost of $1.67 for the meal.  Tomatoes we'll do without, since they are out of season and the crap at the store just aren't the same as local, fresh tomatoes.  We'll only use a few tablespoons of sour cream, so the cost will be minimal there too.  All in all, this will be by far the most expensive meal for this time period at a whopping $3.50 or so (of which I actually paid about $2.50, since I didn't pay for the tortillas), to feed a family of 5.

Saturday's dinner of boneless, skinless chicken breasts, baked sweet potatoes, and sauteed green beans might sound the most expensive, but it is actually the cheapest meal for this time period.  I go the chicken breasts for free as part of my payment for helping harvesting a relative's chickens back in November.  The sweet potatoes were bought around Thanksgiving (yes, they keep that long if kept in a cool, dark place) for $.25/lb.  We probably will have about a pound to a pound and a half, so we'll say $.40 for the sweet potatoes.  I'll top them with a little butter and brown sugar and/or cinnamon, but the cost of that will also be minimal.  The beans were from my garden so they are free.  The butter for them was bought on sale for $2.25 a pound and I'll only be using a few tablespoons total, so maybe $.30 to $.40 for the meal.  That brings the total for that meal up to a insane $.75 or so.  For a family of 5.

Holy cow!  That person was right!  Six dinners for a family of 5, costing a total of $10.25, less than a cost of 2 crappy Little Caesar's pizzas when you include the tax.  Absolutely shameful and not thrifty at all.


  1. LOL... Some people just don't get it. I wouldn't stress over it; even with a cent by cent explanation they wouldn't. I made my venison stew tonight... venison was free, since we shot, cleaned, butchered, and processed it. Carrots were $2.69 for the 10 lb bag, and I used 4 carrots, not even a pound worth, so call it $0.25. Onions I got for free, potatoes were paid for in another recipe but would have cost about another quarter if I had paid for them FOR this meal... I used some flour, and some spices. I'd say the cost of the meal was less than $2.00, not counting the bread I made. With that in there, I'd put it up to $4.00, simply because I used actual bread flour (I'm still learning); but I made 2 loaves, we ate one, and 3/4 of the stew is going into freezer containers for a later meal. Not all our meals are this cheap, because we're a tad better off than you and we buy more meat I suppose... but I admit to eyeing up the squirrels out back. ;)

  2. Thrifty isn't just about buying things at grocery stores or anywhere. It's about making the most out of what you have and can get where ever it may be. When we were actually using WiC, we only got milk, cheese, and the vegi's. To save money, I started working at a farmer's market for an organic farmer. I spend $75 a week and feed a family of 5 on that. That allows me all organic produce, amazing eggs, and grass fed meats. We don't hunt or own our own chickens yet, but I'm proud of what I've been able to accomplish. Don't let others get you down because they are failing to realize how resourceful you have to be when you're faced with eating nothing. We were at that stage 6 months ago, and I made it work. If there's a will, there's a way.
    Glad to know I'm not the only one that eyes the animals in the backyard...every time I see quail, I think mmmm tasty.

  3. I think you are awesome. You stretch a dollar and a vegetable farther than anyone I know. Your family is lucky and blessed to have you. Do not give a second thought to people who feel the need to be critical. There will always be someone to say unkind things unfortunately.

  4. Wow i guess no matter what kind of blog you write or story you share there will always be people with a negative word to share. I am in awe of what you are doing here. In Australia it is much more expensive so I am not sure how many people could get by that frugally. As an example for your beef you figure $1 /pound is that right? here i buy lean ground beef and it is about the equivalent of $7 or so US / lb and the cheapest (higher fat) ones would be about $3-4/lb

    my friends back home in the states cannot get over how much we pay for produce and meat here. Veggie patches are getting more popular here (we had a great one in our old house but this one is too shady). we have chickens that give us eggs at least and grow herbs.

    keep up what you are sharing and ignore the negative folks!

  5. The number I'm figured for meat is based on the processing fee for venison (deer) my husband hunted. We don't buy meat, with very rare exceptions, so I have no idea how much meat costs at the store.

  6. lol, I adore you. Some people will never understand the choices you have to make and that using WIC for the few staples it covers may be the line between eating and not eating that week. Don't let them get you down. You are amazing and inspiring.

  7. I wonder what that person actually considers "thrifty". Who cares where you get the food from (well, as long as it isn't stolen)? The WIC program and food stamps are for people who need them, does that person think we really want to be on these programs? Besides, you could still be on the WIC program and have a job. Heck, we are on food stamps and my husband has a full time job. It's not what we want, but it's what's happening now. It's not a forever plan. Keep up the great work Mama, and don't let others get to you. Thrift On!

  8. Yup, for a while there, my husband was working full time, getting as much overtime as he could and I was working part time (before we realized it was tearing our family apart and LITERALLY killing me, all for a net increase in income, once you figured the added expenses of gas, etc, of about $5 a week!!!!) and we STILL qualified for food stamps!

  9. keep up the wonderful job you are doing for your family. People just don't get it. It is so much more important to be home with you kids and raise them yourself. People frown on those of us who put our family first. Hold your head up and be proud of the job you are doing. Nothing is greater then caring for your family. Keeping you and you wonderful family in my prayers.