Today I am going to wrap up my posts on grocery budgeting by discussing trade-offs. I don't know where you find yourself today, but I find myself limited. I am limited in so many ways, but in regard to how we eat I am very limited in #1 money and #2 time. This is honestly not meant as a complaint - it is just a reality most of us must deal with. As I have mentioned before, we have made sacrifices in our budget to make more room to spend on quality food. But we all have our limits. As a family of 6, being already tied to a mortgage, having costs for homeschooling our children, etc., making things work on one income can be challenging. If you don't have to concern yourself with limiting your monthly grocery bill I am sincerely glad for you! What a blessing! But for those of us who do have a limit, let's talk about how to navigate some tough decisions to make the budgets we have work.
As I mentioned in my last post, in order to truly eat according to what I do believe would be 100% ideal I would have to sell a kidney or something. I wish that we could eat all organic, pastured grass-fed meat. I would love to eat only organic pastured eggs. I would love to eat all organic local produce, and more of it. I wish we could do a full GAPS diet for a year or two and maintain a diet lower in grains than what we currently consume. I have racked my brain time and time again for ways to get more for our money and ways to increase our budget, but we simply cannot at this time afford to do all that I wish we could do in regard to healthy eating. I feel like we are blessed and have a decent amount to spend on groceries - it is just that eating super healthy is also super expensive!
So how do I do the best I can with what I have? Well, I have to decide what is really important to me when we make our grocery lists each week. There is a lot to consider here, but here are a few of the things I think about:
- Is my bottom line simply inexpensive and easy food? OR
- Am I willing to make things from scratch if it will cost less? How much am I willing to make?
- Does 'organic' matter most to me, or am I more concerned with price or with buying local to support the local economy, even if that means eating conventional produce and meat instead of organic?
- Is the quality of meat I eat of most importance (e.g. animal welfare conditions, organic), and am I therefore willing to fudge on the quality of other foods or simply eat less meat so I can afford the best meat possible?
- Or is it more important to me to eat less grains and more meat, even if the meat I eat is not as good of quality?
Now these are some of the questions I consider when trying to make our budget work, but if you find all of the things I am thinking about overwhelming, please remember this is just where I am at on my journey. We are all at our own places on our own journeys, and it is a process (see "getting healthier in baby steps"). But I bring up these thoughts because they can be helpful things to consider when deciding where to put one's money each week. I want to make very informed decisions when it comes to what I buy. Something does have to give, but I don't want to just be a victim of lack of knowledge or circumstance. I want to make an informed choice regarding what I prioritize and what I settle for.
So what matters most to you when it comes to what you eat? What are you willing to trade off and what are you not willing to trade off in order to eat within your means?