What to do when you don’t own a farm…

Over the Christmas holiday, I got my Burpee seed catalog. The joy it brings me is crazy. I sit in my favorite chair and read the descriptions of each veg and tree and berry and dog-ear the pages of the things I’d like to try. I visualize myself harvesting said produce and canning, freezing and drying it all from my victory garden. I can almost taste their beauty and freshness as I plod around in my slippers, sipping my coffee.

Then I look outside.

We don’t live in the country. I have one small raised bed and some empty pots. I can’t even till up the earth in my suburban dwelling and plant long rows of heirloom tomatoes because we are planning on moving by August 1, when our lease ends.

So what’s a girl to do this year?

I have been reading one of my favorite blogs, Heavenly Homemakers as she treads on the sensitive topic of what do you spend on groceries. That blogger has transformed a large portion of her yard into vegetable gardens. I will admit it – I am jealous.  But back to the subject of what is spent on groceries: This has been one of my greatest heartaches of our new city…the grocery stores (The other heartache being away from our families.) I know that may sound crazy, but it’s true. I LOVE saving money at the grocery store. It’s very difficult down here.  I still think I do a pretty good job, though. I feed our family of five healthy, non-processed (for the most part) whole foods for about $250.00 – $300.00 a month.

Say that again?

Yes, it’s true.  This is what I spend. And we are not starving, as our waistlines will show you. We are also big eaters. My hubby is 6 foot 8, my boys are 13, 11 and almost 10. We can wipe out a pizza a minutes.

After talking to my sister about how we do this, she suggested I write about it here, on my blog. So I am going to.

I don’t clip coupons.  I don’t have a victory garden (yet). I don’t have a farm. I live in a city where our grocery stores are HEB and Walmart. That’s it. Neither one of those bad boys double coupons and neither one have options for discounted groceries like I was used to. We also rarely eat out. Now, I realize that right there – I lost some of you.  We have found that now that our boys are bigger and no longer can be satisfied with a kid’s meal, it’s costing us $40.00-$50.00 when we eat out, unless it’s to grab a slice or a dog at Sam’s Club. So we rarely eat out. It takes a bit more planning, but it’s doable.

So topic #1 has been announced:

What do you spend on groceries each month?

Does this include toiletries? Yes, it does.  Does this include cleaning supplies? Yes, it does. Does this include wheat? No, it does not – and I make all of our breads and baked goods from scratch (with minimal exceptions).  I am getting more wheat in February. It will cost me about $6.00 for each 25 pounds I buy. A steal. I will buy 150 pounds of wheat berries.  That should last us a little over 6 months. So, for $36.00, we will have over six months of delicious homemade, whole wheat baked goods. Sandwich bread, rolls, hamburger and hot dog buns, cinnamon rolls, tortillas, bagels, pancakes, waffles, cookies…ah, cookies – how I love you! When you think about the fact that 1 loaf of storebought whole wheat bread is upwards of 3 bucks and we easily go through 4-5 loaves of sandwich bread in a week, how can I not do this?

Now back to the garden. I have thought and thought about it and this girl is going to plant some seeds next week.  I am thinking squash. Seriously. I am pretty sure our chances of having a freeze are over. Let me remind you of where I live: Find your US map and go to the very, very bottom of Texas. The most southern part. That’s right. In the Burpee catalog, we are the subtropic zone. No apple trees for me. No cherries either. But we can grow papaya, guava, citrus, banana like no one’s business.  I am going to plant more than I planted last year. I am going to freeze it. I am going to till up my yard a little, too. Really. I am going to plant some rows of beans and tomatoes and get those in early. I am going to have a harvest, even in our rental house. And when we find our perfect permanent home, watch out, Burpee catalog!

That’s all for today. I need to get these boys finished with their school work and bake some bread today. 🙂





6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Elaine
    Jan 17, 2011 @ 11:52:08

    Enjoyed your post and many will benefit from the helpful things you post. Happy planting!!


    • Janna
      Jan 17, 2011 @ 12:55:45

      Thanks, Elaine. You are such an encourager to me! I am looking forward to having my hands in that dirt!



  2. Erin
    Jan 18, 2011 @ 21:30:23

    I think the beauty of this post is that, for a lot of us, it is much closer to where we can see ourselves. I do not live where I can raise chickens and do not have a huge lot for vegetables, but your grocery budget makes me think of the things I can do, and I can save money so we have more to give. Amen, sister!


  3. Rhonda
    Jan 18, 2011 @ 23:41:33

    Janna, I’m so proud of you! Sounds soooo good and like maybe Tommy’s eatting lots of veggies, or will be!


    • Janna
      Jan 19, 2011 @ 10:08:32

      Rhonda – thank you! Yes, he is much more adventurous on the veggie front. He still prefers raw over cooked, though. The other night we had cucumber slices as a side dish!



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