Friday, March 29, 2019

Plastic. Trash. Waste. Sigh

So, as my kids get older my budget goes up.  As my values change, my budget goes up.  I know that I'd be able to keep my grocery bill super low if I shopped at the 99 cent store for produce.  But damn, everything there is wrapped in plastic.  Everything.  And what happens to the plastic?  Nothing.  It gets put into a landfill where it lives forever.  Or it ends up in the ocean.

I was happy to find TerraCycle, which recycles many many things.  But I recently found out that you need to have a recycling program with them.  And they are limited.  Fine, I figure - maybe I can just find a place that has a program with them, so that I can recycle those damned chip bags. 

But no.  There is no way to search for locations. This makes me sad.  I have two bags of these and no way to recycle.

There are things that I can do to reduce plastic waste.
- Buy my fruits and veggies loose, and use my own bags.  We are very good at this.
- Buy rice, grains, beans, chocolate, nuts, seeds, in the bulk bins.  Done
- Drink water from the tap.
- Buy condiments in glass.  Glass is infinitely recyclable.

But there are things that are just harder.  Not impossible, just harder.
- Meat.  I suppose I could buy it at the butcher and ask them to put it in my container.  We don't eat much meat.  I do buy canned chicken, and cans are at least recyclable.
- Bread.  For awhile last year I was baking bread.  But then my husband fessed up that he doesn't like this bread for sandwiches.  So now we are back to buying bread at Costco, and two loaves comes with THREE PLASTIC BAGS.  Ugh.  Same deal with gluten free bread, sigh.
- Cheese
- Milk (I can't bring myself to spend the $$ on the glass bottled milk, because dayam, my kids drink a lot of it.  I should think about switching to cartons, which are also recyclable).
- Snacks.  You can't get EVERYTHING in a bulk bin, though I wonder if I could just start buying tortilla chips fresh from a restaurant, and get them in a paper bag?

So we recently returned from spring break, and we did some things well, others not so much.
Good things:
1.  We stayed in a house.  We stopped at a grocery store and I brought my reusable produce bags.
2.  I brought my cheese from home!
3.  We brought water bottles, and bought ice cream in cartons.
4.  We ate lunch out one day at a real restaurant and use real silverware!
5.  I took our picnic basket with plates, cups, silverware, a wash cloth, towels to dry dishes, a small cutting board, a knife, some tupperware containers.
6.  We prepped quite a bit in the hotel for the last 2 days of the trip.  I learned how to make nachos in the microwave on part of a takeout pizza box.

Not good things:
1.  Eating out on road trips - first, there's the little plastic containers of ranch.  Sigh.  Then there's the stop at In N Out.  I didn't specify a drink.  So my spouse comes with water.  Fine, but I have water in the car.  In N Out gives you a plastic cup with a plastic lid and a plastic straw.  Geez.
2.  That real restaurant gave plastic and styrofoam takeout containers. 
3.  A lot of our prepped food was granola bars, and that's a lot of waste.
4.  Those little shampoos in the hotels.

I guess it's just a process.  Keep trying, it's all you can do!

Saturday, January 5, 2019

It's January! 2018 Grocery summary

Well, this poor old dusty blog of mine, eh?  There are things I want to write here, but with kids, running, just doesn't happen.

This past year, I set a grocery goal of $7800, or $150 a week.  This goal was a bit higher than 2017 of $7000.  My kids are growing, I'm getting busier, (we all are), and I wanted to "put my money where my mouth is" - so to speak - on buying local.

Well, we were doing "OK" this year, though I noticed by running average was around $151-152 for much of the year.  About 3 weeks before the end of the year, I did some math.  We had 3 more veggie boxes to be delivered (for $125).  The math told me that besides that, we had $232 left for 3 weeks.

So I decided to give it a shot. The best way for me to do that is to meal plan - so I created a google doc, and started filling it in.  I found a decent price on a very small ham for Christmas.  I found a sale on organic potatoes.  I planned some beans & rice curry dishes and lentil soups.  We (my big boy and I) ate some oatmeal.  I made homemade bread.  My spouse bought me some gluten free bread from a local bakery for a Christmas gift, which TOTALLY doesn't count against the budget.

Apparently I haven't lost my meal planning mojo, because I found myself with $50 left the morning of December 31.  So I did what any self-respecting meal planner would do, and I spent that on meat and treats - because I'm not rolling it over to next year.

In the end, I came in at $7789.01.  Almost $11 left for the year.

Below is a graph of my grocery budget since 2001, minus a few years when I was pregnant with #2 or had a baby/ toddler, and apparently didn't give a shit.

That spike in 2014 was when I was working super hard to lose that second baby weight.  I was successful!  A lot more protein that year.  2011-2013 are completely missing.

All in all, we aren't doing too badly.  Most of the increase in the last year has been due to produce - I get two boxes delivered each week, for a total of $65 a week.  That's more than a third of the budget.