I think this is the last of the questions from How My Grocery Budget Works (find the first set of Q&A here)… Hopefully I’ve answered all of your questions!

Raw-milk-jug Janelle wondered… I do have
one question though…what do you say about the warnings about drinking
raw milk while pregnant? Aren’t there a lot of risks to that? I’ve been
staying away from it since I’m pregnant…just to be safe.

there are warnings about drinking raw milk while pregnant, but with all
of the research I’ve done into drinking raw milk in general, they don’t
concern me. In fact, I’ve added more raw milk to my diet since being
pregnant, because I believe it to be such a great source of nutrients,
especially protein and calcium, among many others.

Here is
a post that I wrote a while back on raw milk and it’s safety, with a
few links at the end. And for a much more detailed look at raw milk’s merits and safety, check out this post from The Nourishing Gourmet. Another great place to go is www.realmilk.com.

Julie asked- I have
purchased sucanat in the past and baked with it, but we go through too
much sugar right now in our baking and tea drinking.
But, there aren’t coupons out for this stuff and it seems we would need to replace it fairly often. Any suggestions?

A couple of suggestions:

  • Buy it in bulk. I know that Azure Standard carries these healthier
    sugars, Sucanat in 50 lb bulk, and Rapadura in 33 lb bulk. I’ve done
    the price breakdown before, and it definitely makes them much cheaper.
  • Try doing baking that includes more fruits, such as bananas or
    apple sauce. This helps to cut down on the need for as much sugar and
    can be a healthier choice.
  • Try cutting down sugar in recipes by small increments, and see how
    low you can get it, without compromising taste. Adding things like
    cinnamon, vanilla or some dried fruit (raisins are always good) can
    help to make something taste sweet, while using less sweetener.
  • Substitute honey sometimes, if you can get unpasteurized honey for
    a good deal. It is much sweeter than sugar, and so you can usually cut
    down the amount required by half. Here is an old post of mine on how to use honey in your baking.

Nola asked: I would
love to hear about what raw honey is, vs. not raw, sometime…I’ve been
trying to find the answer and can’t figure it out.

Honey jars Basically, it’s the difference between honey that has been pasteurized, and raised above 120 F. Even in the regular store, packaging should label whether the honey is unpasteurized or not. Raw honey contains many nutrients, as well as enzymes which are killed at high temperatures, so it’s always best to choose unpasteurized. My understanding is that the labeling laws are not really clear, so some honeys labeled “unpasteurized” could be somewhat heated, and many of them are also strained and/or filtered, which can remove some of their natural nutrients, though usually not too many. Best buys for honey are usually from smaller companies and a slightly thicker and less clear liquid (the really clear, thin honeys have been processed).

Image by Indigo Goat

Nola also asked: My
question is that in the last part you say you have $50 left and list
some things including toilet paper, ziplocs etc. do you also buy all
your other household supplies out of that? Like I am talking for me
that would be things like the natural cleaning supplies, vinegar and
baking soda for cleaning, kleenex, the odd thing like that?

I suppose I forgot to mention some of those things. Toilet paper comes out of the $50, as do ziplocs. All of our cleaning supplies and even beauty supplies come out of our grocery budget as well. Most of what we use is very simple, especially for cleaning. I buy a lot of baking soda and white vinegar for those purposes. When I do buy beauty products, they often come from Azure, in the co-op part of my budget (toothpaste, deodorant, lotion, diaper cream). Other cleaning supplies, like liquid laundry soap, Bio-Kleen Bac-Out, my all-purpose concentrated cleaner and dish washing soaps, are also part of my co-op orders. And I don’t buy Kleenex- I’m the mean Mom who says to just go get some toilet paper cause it’s cheaper. :)

How much on average do you pay for beef, whole chickens, etc., and do you eat them for every meal? How much do you eat?  (From milehimama)

First of all, we don’t eat meat for every meal. We rarely eat it with breakfast, and with lunch usually only in the context of dinner leftovers, and occasionally some sandwich meat (once or twice a month?). In our dinners, we eat meat about 4-5 times a week. Even then, it isn’t usually a meat-based meal (a roast with veggies, chicken breasts with rice, etc.). Instead, it’s usually meat added into a meal, or cheaper cuts combined in more complex dishes- so lots of casseroles, soups and stews, meatloaf (with veggies to bulk it up), salads or Mexican dishes where I stretch 1-2 chicken breasts or 1/2-1 lb of beef to stretch and feed us all (maybe even leftovers). So while meats are a very regular part of our diet, I wouldn’t say that they compose a really large percentage of our diet.

To make up for this, I use a lot of eggs, cheese, beans, legumes, whole grains, and some nuts and seeds to round out the protein that we eat. I also try to use as much soup broth (made from actual bones) as I can, because this helps our bodies to utilize the protein that we do eat much more effectively.

With this last purchase of grass-fed beef, I bought 100 lbs at $2.09 per lb. This is a pretty good deal, and part of the reason I got it for so cheap is because I opted for the front of the cow, rather than side or hind, which has more utilitarian cuts (ground, stew, chuck roast, etc.). This doesn’t bother me, as it’s more affordable and suits my style of cooking anyways.

For whole chickens, these days I am paying about $7-12, depending on the size. These are free-range, but not certified organic. You can see in this post how I try to absolutely maximize them and turn one into several meals (which still works with our family size).

Did I get to all of the questions? Anything else you’d like to know about how I do my grocery budgeting? Ask away!