Thursday, December 16, 2010

Living on USDA Budget, Update 1

It's halfway through December, and here's where I am so far by the USDA Food Budget Allowances. I'm using the lowest budget, the 'Thrifty' budget. In actuality, this is almost all I will spend for food for the whole month since I put away much of what I bought, although I will need fresh cream for coffee before the month is over.

I have spent $146.34 (before tax of 2.5%) which is 97% of the 'Thrifty' budget @ $5 per day, or 81% of the 'Thrifty' budget @ $6 per day. The eggs and some of the meats are free range, but nothing else is even organic except a 10 oz. bag of coffee that was on sale. 100% of my meals and snacks are eaten at home.

Another thing to keep in mind is that beans and grains, even though less expensive, are not allowed on my food protocol (although I sometimes cheat a tad). As far as I can  tell, the USDA Food Guidelines do not address folks with dietary restrictions, but are aimed at the average diet. 

My food expenditures break down in general categories like this:
Dairy (eggs, cream, yogurt, cheese): 24%
Meat: 29%
Fruit/Vegetables: 15%
Staples that will carry over like flour, spices, olives, ketchup: 17%
Other Groceries (coffee, bread, crackers, canned tomatoes): 15%

However, I have also consumed the following foods that were either purchased before December, or canned/frozen/stored from my garden.
Butter 1 lb
Olive oil, unknown (forgot to measure!)
Rendered lard or tallow for cooking ½ lb
Chorizo, ½ lb
Lamb neck bones, 1½ pounds
Bacon, ½ lb
Ground Beef, lamb and pork 5 lbs
Thanksgiving Turkey leftovers, ~1 lb
Thanksgiving Dressing and gravy leftovers, 2 meals
Green beans from pantry or freezer, 2 meals
Winter squash from root cellar, 2 meals
Apples from root cellar, 2 desserts
Clafouti from cranberries and pears on hand, 2 desserts
Poached pears, 2 desserts

The meat portion of my budget is really hard to figure. I bought a pound of prepared (not free range) breakfast sausage, a half-pound of Lebanon bologna lunchmeat, and splurged on a pint of oysters for oyster stew that stretched over 4 meals. The rest of the meat money went for free range pork shoulder on sale (and sausage casings) to add to the donated venison I have on hand to make sausage. I estimated the sausage will last 3 months, so I only included one third of the costs for the pork, and one sixth of the cost of the casings, which should make more than 3 months' sausage.

A big expenditure in January will be a variety of cultures to make cheese, and extra milk. I have no idea how to spread that amount out since some of it may go to waste, depending on my failure rate!

I can see tracking food expenditures over just a month, or even several months, will not give me a complete picture because I "put foods by" either freezing, canning or storing foods in the root cellar. I'm hoping that a full year will give me a good snapshot, though.

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