I feed my family of five on roughly $125 a week which includes everything we need for the house including diapers, wipes, paper goods, soaps, detergents, deodorants, etc. It’s not easy in the slightest. I don’t think my parents could have even filled up a grocery cart for that amount when I was in high school. Maybe when I was growing up? I’m sure even then it was a squeeze.
I could go into the “I used to”s like:
- I used to buy directly from farmers.
- I used to buy in bulk (though I still do that to a smaller degree).
- I used to shop at Farmer’s Markets.
- I used to shop at the co-op.
- I used to buy local (though I still do this for a few things).
- I used to be able to go over budget if necessary.
…but let’s face it, that’s kind of depressing.
I haven’t shopped at the co-op for more than a small amount of spices or a few whole grains since April of last year, but at that point we were down significantly from previous years. I’m giving up my co-op membership so that I can spend the $150 on local ground beef from Share. I’ve been holding on to my membership thinking that things will get better or that we’re just talking temporary set-back instead of reality.
The reality? This isn’t a temporary set-back. This is reality.
I had to switch the kids to peanut butter and jelly tonight after seconds (or thirds and fourths for a certain child who also proclaimed that he had a hollow leg) so that I would have something to send with my husband for dinner tomorrow night. I don’t know where the kids are putting all that food…all three of them are tall and skinny.
I’m trading my co-op membership for bakery outlet bread (because let’s face I can’t realistically add anything else to my plate), peanut butter (the least crappy version I can afford), and the grape jelly I made from the two five gallon buckets full of concord grapes that I got for free this fall (plus the low sugar pectin and a small amount of sugar I bought so that it’s still tart).
Oh, and for the record, I take back what I said in 2009. The more jobs you work, the longer the hours you work, the less feasible something like a garden becomes. In reality, the last thing you want to do is head out to the garden. What you really want to do is sleep and spend what little time you have left with your children.
The problems with accessibility to food (and to a growing degree affordability) all still exist in spades. Gardening, though? There’s a certain degree of privilege that exists for those who can afford to garden, especially when you broaden the word “afford” into non-monetary realms. My insisting otherwise in 2009? Nothing but the naiveté of privilege.