Monday, July 9, 2012

Finding Our Way to Ethical Eating




I've mentioned many times before that Dave and I take great pride in our garden and immeasurable satisfaction in feeding our family from the patch. Last summer, the garden was thriving. We harvested over 17 kilos in Tomatoes and ate fresh each and every night.





We noticed that we needed to spend much less at the grocery store and were still eating really healthy, nutritious foods.

Winter has been quite the opposite. We've been lucky to harvest a few handfuls of Kale and Rocket every couple of  days. Everything has slowed right down, the peas and beans yielded next to no fruit and the broccoli didn't even flour.

Yet we still find ourselves being as frugal as possible when we hit supermarket. Not necessarily because we can't afford to spend more, but rather, we enjoy the challenge of eating well and still having some cash in the bank.


Since having a garden, my interest in organic produce has increaced. Knowing what we grow at home is free of pesticides and chemicals is a great feeling. What we put on the plate is always as fresh as possible, retaining maximum nuterients. Yet when I buy fruit and veg, I never buy organic. The price tag and the 'a-little-less-than-fresh' look always put me off.

Maybe it's silly to put the health and wellbeing of my family at risk for the sake of a few dollars. But it's likely that not buying organic is not actually doing that anyway. Maybe, i think.


Never the less- I'm setting myself a little task. Kind of like this one, but different.



Over the next few weeks, in an attempt to become a more conscious and ethical consumer, i'm going to explore a few different approaches to feeding my family on a budget of $150. I'll look into what types of food we can eat for $150 when we shop for organic food, local food and run of the mill supermarket stuff.


First week we'll eat what we usually do (from coles or woolies or aldi), second week we'll eat only organic and third week i'm going to put food miles as the first priority, meaning i'll only buy local produce.



In the mean time, I'd love to know a little about how you shop and *gasp* how much you spend. 

Do you shop once a week, do you buy organic where possible or exclusively organic? Do you prioritise eating local produce? What's important to you in feeding you family?

I'd genuinely love to hear your thoughts/practices on this so, lets talk.

I'll be honest, if we have green stuff on our plate, I think i've done well.


105 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. yeah, really? And do you only buy organic at your market or do you go there for fresh LOCAL produce? We went to our farmers markets on the weekend to scope it out- most was from within the state but not all organic.

      xo em

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    2. We have the same dilemma - there are no organic fruit/veg stalls at my little local farmer's market... fresh fruit/veg yes! Organic, no!

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  2. I eat from my neighbour's kitchen. Ha!

    We get our organic delivery once a fortnight - $60 - and I spend about $250 a fortnight at Woolworths/Aldi buying 90% organic. I'll then spend another $30 at the local butcher (he does organic and it's ahmazing!) and $60 at the organic whole food shop on extra fruit/vegies and tea/dairy/pasta/

    x

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    1. ahahah true that! I hear you have awesome neighbours, like, probably the best?!

      gotta hook me up with your delivery people- was getting a drop from Aussie Farmers but opted out!

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  3. http://sydney.foodconnect.com.au/

    food connect is great - weekly boxes with local and pesticide-free (they work with organic farms and farms working towards organic) fruit and veg.

    not sure if they have options near you?

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    1. That looks like a great organisation Belinda! I'm heading over to look into it now!

      xo em

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  4. Ive got a veggie patch on my balcony best thing I ever did tastes so much better, fresher you should read little veggie patch co book it's so good! I agree with farmers markets I buy organic there it's amazing and so worth the no sleep in on Sunday's! Haha you should look into. I don't think woollies and Coles organics are that good not as much choice as the normal fruit and veg and deff too high in price!!

    Steph x

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    1. I agree re coles etc! Yes, the farmers markets are the way!

      xo em

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  5. Em your three week plan sound so good! I am so excited to hear how it goes for you. We do the farmers markets every two weeks and buy LOTS and because its so fresh is last two weeks or longer! All the veggies we buy are organic but unfortunately the markets don't have organic fruit. So our fruit is all local but not organic. The bread is all organic and delicious! We buy heaps, slice it and freeze it. We get our dry goods like rice, grains, seeds, legumes, beans, almond/soy milk and condiments from oomph, organic + or the little growers market at Kincumber. We have a lettuce garden with never ending lettice. Its lot easier for us being just a couple. I can imagine it being harder to shop for a whole family like this. I have never looked at what we spend on food, I think its a lot cheaper for us not eating meat and dairy. I should calculate what we spend though out of interest. Really keen to see how you go!

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    1. Hello m'lady! I was rather pleased to click on your profile and have your identity revealed! Thanks for commenting.

      Interesting re, the non organic fruit- it must be much harder to farm organically?!

      xx

      no dairy? how do you do it?

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  6. My supermarket bill is outrageous! Easily hitting $400 a fortnight for a family of five, with lots of little mini-shops for bread and milk etc to tide us over to the next big shop. I'm a bit like you when it comes to organic - I flinch at the price. I'm probably more conscious of fresh and local. One thing I am strict over now is meat/eggs/milk. No more Coles/Woolies brand, no more supermarket meat. Only free-range and ethically reared. We just had a massive meat order delivered direct from farm. I expect it to last us months. But like you, if my girls eat broccoli, I'm happy, even if it isn't organic. Looking forward to the results of your experiment.

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    1. Hey Greer,

      the mini shop is KILLER huh! Thats what does me in. These days I try and only do my one weekly shop and then if we don't have it- we don't eat it!

      We just watched food inc and i'm with you re. the meat!

      xo

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  7. I get my fruit & veg delivered weekly from Marks Fruit & Veg (online order) $39 a box which easily lasts a week or more. He gets it all from the markets. Tastes better than supermarket stuff. Then I spend $100-$150 per week at Aldi/Coles. I agree with you that you don't need to spend a fortune to eat well/healthly. Meal planning saves is so much $.

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    1. meal planning- thats the ticket!

      A fruit veg box sounds like a great idea too

      xx

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  8. This is my first year of winter gardening and we haven't had a thing outnof it yet, i put everything in way too late waiting for all the end of summer stuff to die down. I'm going to dig up more of the lawn and have a specific winter vegge garden next year. We spend about 250 nz a week and buy about 10 per cent organic. I got out of the habit of making a specil trip to the organics store as i'd often come out empty handed due to age of the stock.

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    1. we were trapped in the same way- didn't want to pull out the summer crops but then planted too late for winter.

      We have just put in two new garden beds so it doesn't happen again!

      xx

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  9. Hi Emily, I was getting a local organic box delivery, but I have to say it was very expensive. I bought the essentials (bananas, carrots, potatoes, greens) and bought a mixture of organic and non-organic from the supermarket. But I wasn't happy with it. I hated buying my fruit and veg from the supermarket and we just couldn't afford to buy everything organic (either from the box scheme or from the local organic store). Then I discovered FIG, a local organic food co-op. And I couldn't be happier. We go every Monday and get our box plus other extras. It's mostly local and it's fresh and we can afford it! Organic bananas are $3 a kilo (they're that price in Coles!), carrots are $1 a kilo (!), beautiful organic eggs for $5... I could go on. Lovely bunch of people, and lovely space for the kids to play outside. I now buy all my fresh stuff there and we're growing a fair bit too. I still think we spend too much overall, but I'm hoping all my hard work in the garden will pay off towards the end of the year and we'll need to buy less. I have battled with this organic food challenge for years in the UK and now here, and have joined up to countless box schemes and the like - buying a bit here and bit there. But you end up spending so much. And it makes life so complicated. I like simple, and I like what co-ops stand for. So I'm delighted. Look into it. (P.S. Sorry about lengthy comment, but you got me on something I could talk all night on!). x

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    1. you must tell me more about FIG- i'm going to google it now but will have to get all the details from you!

      xo em

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  10. Man, I could rabbit on about this topic forever lol. Personally I try to buy as much organic produce as possible. We were getting ours delivered for $60 a week, however I have found the farmers market to be SO much more affordable (plus, I like to 'fondle' my produce before I buy ;) ) The mob we buy from every week is local too, so that's a bit of a bonus. I have just started drinking fresh vegetable juice, but unfortunately I can't afford to buy all of the produce for that organically.

    About 80% of our diet is vegetables, so we spend roughly $40 a week on organic produce, $60 a week on non organic produce (for juicing), then I just buy a little bit of meat (from the supermarket) and bits and pieces from the health food shop (cacao, nuts etc.). So probably about $150 all up on groceries a week :)

    We're just trying to start a veggie patch, but I have the WORST luck trying to grow things. Don't know how I manage to keep two kids alive ;)

    Can't wait to see the results of your mini-experiment

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    1. Michelle, if there is one thing that is right and true, it's that a good fondle goes a long way.... ehum... at the farmers market.... of your fruit and veg... ehum.

      Are you juicers? Do you juice daily? i need to know more about this too!

      ahahah as for the kids (still being alive) i wonder the same thing!

      xxxx

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    2. LOL... Yep, we are "juicers" and juice daily. I have three juices a day, my husband has two. Initially I thought it was pretty expensive, but I have found that most days I don't eat nearly as much food so it's kind of balancing itself out. The increase in energy I have..well that in itself is enough to keep me going :) I certainly don't see us stopping any time soon!

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  11. We get a box of organic fruit and veg every week... only $35 (through CERES fair food... only in Melbourne) and I top it up with organics from the farmers market and groceries through local grocers (and our own apartment balcony veggie patch!). I avoid the big supermarkets if at all possible. I don't find that I spend much more through buying organic and avoiding the supermarkets because I buy groceries in bulk, I plan a bit more and I make use of the vegies I have whereas I used to often end up throwing things out. It's funny that you say the "little less than fresh" look of organic veg puts you off... but if you have your own garden, you would be used to seeing them as they really are?!! I find the opposite now... the overly polished look of vegies and fruit in the supermarkets really puts me off. I'm happy to pay a little extra (though I rarely do) if it means knowing where our food comes from, avoiding chemicals and being more conscious of our habits. Our biggest conscious decision though now is meat. We eat little of it, and when we do, only from organic local producers. Anyway, I could go on but I've already written a novel, sorry. The only extra thing to say though is that this is our ideal... it doesn't always happen and I try not to beat myself up too much if it doesn't. Looking forward to hearing how you go...

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    1. CERES makes me want to live in Melbourne, Joanna! It look amazing and is so great for community!

      As for the 'little less than fresh look' - I mean that the produce is actually 'a little less than fresh'! I'm very used to seeing produce from our garden, firm, bright goodness without cling wrap! The organic at woolies and coles never looks great- but after watching food inc- i think i know why!

      Meat as a treat- i've been inspired by hugh (river cottage) on this one!

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  12. Oh, meant to say that I was also buying a lot from the markets too at one stage, but I don't anymore because the co-op is cheaper. I still buy bread from the markets and chemical-free mushrooms, though. It's all a bit of a juggling act. While I might pick up a bag of potatoes in the supermarket if I have to, I won't buy bread there. I make bread (which really cuts down bills) and occasionally as a treat, we'll buy organic sourdough (I'm hoping to make this myself one day!). For me, it's just important that we eat good basic ingredients. Chemical-free fruit and veg (most of the time) and I avoid anything that shouldn't be in the list of ingredients. Which is why I only buy plain yogurt for example... OK, have just realised that this is now lengthy comment #2. So I'll end it there :-)

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    1. i've just had a brain wave- i'm going to email you

      xx

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  13. What a fantastic haul of tomatoes you got last year! I love the sound of your challenge and will enjoy seeing the differences you find with price and quality. I shop organic between Coles, Woolies and my local organic shop where I spend most of my money. We have a small veggie patch at home and so far this winter have been mostly enjoying leafy greens. Buying organic does cost more but with menu planning and cutting down on meat the bill isn't toooo bad:).

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    1. You're so right about menu planning, especially when one meal can be stretched so far!

      thanks so much for commenting Catherine!

      xo em

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  14. Hi Em,

    I shop alot - every couple of days at least, so over the week I get specials from Coles and Woolworths, visit the butcher and go to a continental vege store where they do bulk foods and spices. If possible, we go to the markets to get fruit and veg, but it depends how the weekend is going. We don't buy organic (for the same reasons you stated & don't spend a certain amount per week, just shop for what we need, always look out for specials, and if something is too expensive, we skip it. For us it's important to eat only free-range eggs and chicken, and we try and get grass fed beef as often as possible. Like you, if we have something green on the plate I feel happy - if not, pretty guilty!

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    1. ahaha oh yes, the 'pretty guilty' for a green-less plate! I know that feeling all too well. But there's always the frozen peas! Those life saving little beauties!

      xo em

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  15. I love that you are doing this. $150 is my budget as well (its meant to be anyway - its been more like $200 these days with 3 kids still needing nappies). I would love some more creative tips on making it go further and still get good, healthy food for my family.

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    1. NAPPIES! they will kill your budget!

      okay bree, let see what we can come up with

      xxx

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  16. Vote for farmers markets here. We have a great one in Marrickville that has a mix of certified organic and 'fresh farm' produce. We go every Sunday morning and spend around $30-40, which includes organic yogurt and fancy bread as well as a weeks worth of delicious veggies.
    What we don't get a lot of is fruit, as we buy it as we need it or else it just sits around and goes to pooh. It's not that we don't eat it, we just have a blind spot to fruit bowls I guess.

    We chose to do this rather than Food Connect, which we used to be members of. We found food connect wasn't sending us a box worth of usable food. It was a bit of a roulette.- hello more kale than anyone would want to eat! And sometimes would send weird things like warrigal greens, which are poisonous unless cooked properly and we found at the end of a long work day you don't want to be pissing about trying to experiment with not being poisoned. You want to have a selection of food you know what you are going to do with.

    The rest of the dinner food is usually purchased by the cook (husband) and I do the big supermarket shop with my little helper during the week, when we need it. Neither of those I can name a figure as I have no clue, it varies.

    And BEFORE the baby, we used to get 20% of our weekly food from our garden. Oh poor potager how we miss you.

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    1. wow, thats some pretty good fare for $30- $40! Well done you (and lets not even mention 'the cook' ;))

      xo em

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  17. This is so interesting! $150 is just under £100 which I think is a lot to spend on food. But maybe groceries cost more in Australia than they do in England. I spend around $150/£100 a week on all groceries including stuff like nappies, shampoo etc and find that is is easily enough.

    When we were seriously hard up I spent around £60/$91 on food a week. It was hard work but we did it. You really have to take a good hard look at what and how you eat, it's a good lesson. And the sad truth is the less money you have, the harder it is to eat ethically (unless of course you have enough land to grow your own). Farmers markets and organic produce are often more expensive than the local supermarket, although totally worth it of course!

    Good luck Emily, I am looking forward to seeing how it goes. :-) xx

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    1. mmm yes, I think I can do food and cleaning products etc for the $150- so it mustn't be ONLY food I suppose. But i think food is expensive here... maybe...? ;)

      It is a good lesson to live on a tight budget- i think it's good every once in a while!

      xo em

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    2. Food is cheaper in the UK if run of the mill brands but if you want anything with grains and healthy it's more expensive than here.. Meat costs LOADS more and veggies are much smaller... mum and I compare price per kilo lots on skype ;)

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  18. interesting topic! We spend about $150 a week (2 adults, 4yo & baby). I try to buy groceries from Foodland (an SA grocery shop & they have labels to point out Australian owned brands!) I also visit my local butcher & fruit & veg shop. I haven't given organic food much thought, my main focus has been on supporting local businesses (that don't provide an organic option). hmm, I'll think on this!

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  19. I always think I spend too much in the grocery store, but in reality, I don't think I do. I shop every week. One week I'll spend like $100 on food and the next week I only spend a little to fill in the holes - pick up more milk, another loaf of bread, or more fruit (something like that); however, my husband hunts and fills our freezer with meat. That helps us a lot. I'd love to shop all organic. I really, really would, but it's too expensive. I do buy things organic here or there when I can. I hate the thought of eating pesticides and feeding them to my kids. Unfortunately I don't seem to have many options.

    ~FringeGirl

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  20. Since we aren't in Australia, I'd imagine things are different. USA doesn't ban many toxic chemicals that are banned in Canada and Europe (I don't know about Australia.) That being said I try to buy organic. I also find that it's less expensive to buy whole foods and cook from scratch instead of buying processed. It takes more time, so I still haven't switched over 100%. Good luck!

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  21. What a fab idea, Em. Can't wait to follow along and see how you go.

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  22. I like to but as much organic as I can from the markets. But for us, the markets are also about supporting local farmers. It's about the bigger picture.

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  23. Something I've been meaning to do for a long time, but just haven't got around to it as it just seems so much more effort, but it's not really and certainly worth it. Thanks for inspiring. Hope it goes well!

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  24. I'm another vote for Food Connect - yeah you don't know what you're getting but I kind of like the challenge of cooking with new stuff. We just get the mini box of fruit and veg and then supplement it by ordering by the kilo of stuff we know we'll eat tons of, like apples and mandarins. We're a lot less picky about our veggies and I'll just cook whatever rocks up xxx

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  25. Our budget is $150 too. I vote for farmers markets - we have a few quality stalls at our farmers market that are organic or pesticide-free, and it's obviously all local and sustainable too which is a huge bonus. I refuse to buy any fresh produce from the supermarkets - the farmers work so hard and get paid nothing! Lately we've also been shopping at our main Central Market in Adelaide - there's two great organic shops we go to regularly, and if they don't have organic they will have a minimum spray option. That's where we also buy organic meat and dairy. We tried a CSA food box for a while and I only stopped because the pick-up location wasn't suitable for us, but if you could find one that does delivery I highly recommend it - the produce is always fantastic! I look forward to reading about the results of your little experiment! x

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  26. We also budget $150 a week for groceries for the four of us (two adults, a 3.5 year old and a four month old.) This includes all our meat, fruit, veg, dog & cat food, consumables and the occasional packet of back up nappies for if we run out of cloth. Using cloth nappies, making my own laundry liquid and making as much as possible from scratch has really lowered our grocery bill. It was getting up to $200 at one stage until I changed how I did things. Rhonda at 'Down to Earth' blog has been a great inspiration.

    We do most of our shop at Aldi, get the other bits and pieces from Coles and buy the best looking fruit and veg they have to offer, or I head to our local fruit barn. There aren't any farmers markets close to us. We aren't big meat eaters, we don't eat much dairy and drink soy milk. We have a veggie patch out the back too and are waiting to harvest our Winter crops, though we have a never ending supply of lettuce, basil and parsley! If we don't spend the full $150 we put what is left aside for those weeks where we run out of shampoo, toothpaste and deodorant all at the same time! Or else we plan a special meal, like salmon steaks. :)

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  27. Hi Emily. I have been trying a few different ways to shop this year, in an effort to save money. This is what I have discovered....We have two adults and three kids.

    I have tried shopping fortnightly. This hasn't worked for me as I was doing way too many little top ups and I was actually spending more!

    Markets? I love the idea but find it hard to put into practice as we have had heaps of rain, weekend sports or sick kids. I just don't get there consistently so, I end up shopping at Coles Woolies or somewhere.

    Tried the local fruitshop. Great at first but then quality wasn't so good.

    Here's what has been working for us. MEAL PLANNING! Massive dollar savings. Also, I was noticing that if I ran out of yoghurt, snacks, bread or milk, that I assumed that I needed to do a massive shop.So by meal planning and making our own yoghurt, baking our own snacks. (I have made a recipe folder of easy, quick and nutritious snacks and meals), baking bread (bread machine) and always having powdered milk on hand in case milk runs out...I only really need to top up on fruit mid week. For general groceries I shop as much as I can at aldi's and for other items, I shop at woolies or coles. I tried buying in bulk at organic shops etc. but, that didn't work for us. By meal planning and being a little more organised with cooking and shopping, I have reduced our weekly shopping from $330 to $250 per week. I could reduce this even more I am sure but I am happy at the moment with my achievements. I do aim to buy natural or less chemical cleaning products, organic hair/skin products and we do not buy lots of processed food. Hope that helps...if it didn't bore you ;)

    I am interested in what everyone else says though as I would love to hit the under $200 mark.Might pick up some great tips

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  28. I seem to spend around $150 a week for our family of four, this includes all food and bathroom/kitchen/cleaning stuff. I shop once a week and meal plan so I only buy what I need - I found this has saved me a lot of money and stopped 'impulse' buys which end up sitting in the cupboard/fridge unused for weeks. If it's not on the shopping list, I don't buy it.

    Not sure if you plan your meals a week in advance but I would recommend it...it works for me anyway!

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  29. A little while ago I went on a little organic fest for a couple of weeks. But good quality organic produce is EXTREMELY hard to find up this way... so I'm back at woolies again now. Although we do buy some meat and veg at the market sometimes.

    Our veggie patch is looking pretty miserable this year too. What's with that? Perhaps we need to declare war again? xx

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  30. Never buy organic from the supermarket, i go to the Farmer's Market to top up anything our garden can't produce & our hens are laying eggs through Winter (not all of them & in -6C nights, they are amazing) then we go to the supermarket for the rest, i try to go every 8 days, stretch that weekly shop & zero take away. We make our own dough & pasta (amazing with our hens' eggs) & we're SO ready to start a proper farm & get out of suburbia, love Posie

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  31. That is so cool that you got 17kg of tomatoes from your summer garden. I'm very impressed and hope you have better success next winter. We're also starting a veggie garden and dwarf orchard so hopefully we will have an abundance of fruit in about two years and veggies much sooner. We are in the process of trying to eat seasonally, which is easier with recipe websites that you can search for ingredients and they give you recipes to suit.It's also heaps cheaper eating in season, although I haven't mastered it yet as we seem to still spend a fortune at the supermarket. Good luck with your $150 grocery budget, we may try to do the same!

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  32. Fantastic post. I am just about to, 'take the next step' to say and move out of the family home. This post has given me lots of food for thought and ideas as I start to think about food shopping and budgets. Look forward to hearing how your challenge goes :)

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  33. I only shop at our local fruit and vege. Have for a long time now. I eat a really healthy diet with training, and it has everything I personally need. It is however a little more expensive than woolies or coles. But I have personally found that woolies and coles fruit and vege do not last, and the day I bit into a rotten apple was the day I decided never again to purchase fruit and vege from woolies.

    I would love to grow our own veges. I did with my mum in a place we lived in, in canberra. It was awesome, had 3 big rows of vege patches already ready to go. We had luck with the broccoli, cucumber, tomatoes, lettuce, and some herbs. I think to give that to my little people would be ace. I have always thought a unit would not cut it. You have inspired me to green thumb these little people, and attempt a mini vege garden on our balcony.

    I wish you a great 3 weeks of shopping, cooking and figuring out what is the best for your family. It is a hard job juggling the food money.

    I think we spend too much sometimes. Up to $150, and sometimes $200 if we need the other household products.

    x

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  34. Great post Em! One of my favorite topics :) I was just thinking yesterday how fortunate we are living on the Peninsula to have not one but two super affordable and fabulous organic farm gates to buy our produce from. We are committed to eating 100% organic. That is our priority over pricey haircuts, regularly buying new clothes, new shoes, eating out etc; We grow some of our food and fill the gaps at the farm gates and occasionally buy organic produce at the supermarket if I run out of something. We stock up on organic butter at Aldi, cheapest by far and we buy organic meat either at supermarket or health food store. For anyone making the change to organic or buying a bit of organic I would have to say buying organic chicken and meat would be at the top of my priority list. Unfortunately the laws for what defines free range are very dubious - and certainly don't cover what the animals are fed. The other thing I would add to this conversation, that may seem slightly off topic is the issue of food waste. I think a lot of households buy too much and then throw out food at the end of the week and start all over again the following week. Our spend varies each week from $80 - $150. I am working on breaking the habit of doing 'a big shop' each week. It really is just a habit. It is more fun to stretch my cooking imagination and come up with dishes from what we have on hand rather than stocking up each week. Good on you for doing this challenge and starting the conversation. Such an important one! x

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    1. Nikki, i live on the Peninsula as well, i moved here 6 years ago from down the F3 & i still don't know about these hidden gems! Where are these farm gates that you buy from?

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    2. Hello neighbour! Old Cape Shanck road between Browns Road and Jetty Road is where you will find the incredible Rosemary and her organic farm. She is open Thursday, Friday, Saturday 9am-1pm the earlier you get there the more choice you have. And then up the road from her are the gorgeous George and Georgina who pick the vegetables from the ground while you wait! You don't get fresher than that. If you want more info email me at nikkifisher@iprimus.com.au

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  35. I love organic food and I think it's great to try to buy local food, but sometimes where I live is very difficult to get this. And expensive. Too expensive. I hope that soon people are aware of the benefits of organic food and local food, and maybe it can become into something more accessible. For now I have some beautiful plants of basil, mint, parsley, oregano and thyme, plus a delicious red strawberries. You're doing a GREAT job Em, keep it up!

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  36. this post is so inspiring. i've been dreaming about a little veggie patch to spruce up my meals. i know what you mean about groceries being expensive, i spend $60 a week of my student budget on woolies. i would definitely look forward to a post concerning how to shop a little more frugally here in aus.

    fusee-de-poche.blogspot.com

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  37. great post.

    for me it is balancing cost and ease with local/fresh produce.

    i have been using coles online delivery for basics and then local for milk/cheese/yogurt and fruit & vegetables.

    watch organic. i have family who are organic dairy and chicken farmers. there are many 'tricks to the trade', i think local and ethical grown/treated/free range is better than organic.

    will be watching and reading for more posts on this.

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  38. What a response! I'm literally staggered at the amounts people are saying they spend on food. No wonder we don't have any money! To me, eating organic Meats (& most especially, olive eating organic meats), is super important because I want to avoid antibiotics at ALL costs. We've started shopping at our local growers markets, which is pretty cheap. But it's not organic. I spend a stupid amount at our local organic grocers, on a few trips a week. We need help. Help! Kellie xx

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  39. I am LOVING this post Em!

    We spend about $150-$180 a week on groceries. I get a box from CERES ($50), top up from local fruit and veg market, then do aldi or woolies organics (mostly), deli, and butcher. I am reducing our meat consumption (agree with the meat as a treat - I LOVE Hugh!) and I make our own bread by hand (no machine for me!) and any cakes, biscuits for treats too. We have also planted out two vegie beds, and are slowly building that into our routine. The only issue is having our neighbours kids visiting all the time which brings the arvo tea count from 2 to 4 to 6 to 8 pretty quickly. And ALL my hard baking gets devoured in one go! I do resort to feeding them biscuits from a packet now and hiding the good stuff!!! But it is great to see my two kids enjoying their food when it has been made by my own hands with so much love.

    The dream is still to move back down to Tassie one day and live a truly inspired and simple existence. But in the meantime we are making do with what we have and rising to the challenge!

    Em xx

    p.s. A catalyst for our change was reading Michael Pollen's book In Defence of Food. Brilliant book.

    ReplyDelete
  40. I am really excited about this post and all these comments!

    There are just two and a bit of us...Baby C is fourteen months...and we spend at least $150.00 on our weekly shop! And I don't buy anything special! I try to buy fruit and vegetables that are in season and we don't eat much meat. Maybe it is because I am from the States where food is a lot cheaper but to me $150.00 a week seems outrageous! And I meal plan! I feel l like I spend all this money on food and it isn't even the find of food...organic and free range...that I would ideally like to feed my family!

    I am really looking forward to this little series!

    ReplyDelete
  41. I am also totes amazed how cheaply everyone is doing their groceries! I am so so looking forward to some tips. I meal plan, but would love love some tips on how to stretch out the meals and get more creative :)

    ReplyDelete
  42. Crikey Em, what a fab response! I'm loving reading about everyone's shopping and eating habits.

    I reckon we spend around £75 a week on groceries (so about $110 aud) but it can easily go up to £90ish if we run out of toilet roll/washing powder etc (why do they always run out during the same week) Thankfully we don't have to buy disposable nappies too often as we use reuseables but if we have to they can push the price up even further.

    We've worked hard over the last year to make use of the really great greengrocer and butcher that are in our village. We love to support local businesses plus the prices are brilliant (surprisingly cheaper than the supermarket most of the time) plus it's all locally produced and really fresh, and you can buy exactly the quantity you want rather than the pre-packaged fruit and veg in the supermarket - half of which always ends up on the compost!

    We sometimes buy organic, especially bits for Phiney now she's started eating, but on the whole it's really expensive. I've found that when it comes to meat the best way to get organic though is by experimenting with different cuts - like organic chicken thighs, which are so tasty yet are way cheaper than the horrid, watery chicken breasts in the supermarket.

    We're doing really well with our own veg - sweetcorn, beans, peas, strawberries, courgette, carrots, potatoes and more. It's the best thing ever. So satisfying to know we've grown it, that it's free of any toxins or pesticides and it tastes so good.

    Of course, we do head to the supermarket once a week - for tinned stuff, cereal, milk etc and I have to say our local (Morrisons, about 3 minutes down the road from us) is really great for meat and fish.

    I agree with so many people above - mini shops are killer, and we're trying to be better at doing one shop a week and if we don't have it after that, we don't eat it. Plus meal planning is a big thing for us. So easy, so much better value and it takes the stress out of the daily 'what do you want to eat tonight' dilemma!

    Can't wait to hear how your challenge goes. And such good posts as always Em. You're an awesome blogger you know, lady xx

    ReplyDelete
  43. I spend about 150 (but that includes the shameful disposable nappies, which are on their way out) for the three of us and the cat. I get my fruit and veg from the farmers market every week, or the excellent family-run fruit and veg place down the road from me. They sell bags of avocadoes for $2 so I want to marry them.

    I go to the health food store every couple of weeks and stock up on stuff from their bulk bins - cereal, flour, nuts, seeds, pasta, lentils, beans, quinoa, that sort of thing. Get some good organic yogurt, butter and milk (and use them sparingly cos they're expensive!). Also look out for lip balms, baby wash etc here. I make my own laundry and all-purpose cleanser. easy peasy and the laundry liquid will last me almost a year - and it works! Nobody was more surprised than me. Going to make my own soap and lip balms next. And scrubs. Scrubs are easy. the Down to Earth blog is very good for stuff like that, if you haven't checked it out already.

    The rest I get from one of the supermarkets every Sunday. I quickly meal plan before I shop and I ensure I've got a thorough list. It's a process and I get better every week xx

    ReplyDelete
  44. This is such a wonderful idea,
    We tend to buy most our stuff from Coles, Woolies, Aldi, fresh fruit & veggie shops, I try to buy organic as much as I can but some days I do go for the cheaper things.

    ReplyDelete
  45. I find that groceries cost waaaay more in Australia than here in Germany. And organic is much cheaper here too. I'm kinda freaking out about how much more expensive life is going to get for us once we move home.

    And I shop every couple of days which I think ends up costing more than doing 1 big shop. I can never go in for just 3 things (as Oli likes to remind me!). We buy organic meat and get an organic fruit/veg delivery once a week. It really is quite reasonable here.

    Thanks for bringing this up. I'm going to keep an eye on how much I spend every week on food as at the moment I really have no idea. This scares me. xx

    ReplyDelete
  46. love this post and reading all the replies. it's certainly a topic that people feel passionate about and LOVE talking about!! cuttings costs and eating clean is something i strive to do for my little family of 3 (husband, 2yo and myself..oh and the cat!), but it can be so hard on our tiny budget! our weekly shop is between $80-$100, plus the midweek bread/milk top ups. i alternate weeks between Coles and Aldi, and use the Aldi week to stock up on veges from the fab fruit market next door. i try to meal plan and cook in bulk, preparing soups and snacks at the start of the week and freezing portions. we don't buy a lot of meat as i'm a vegetarian, but when possible, the guys at husbands work all buy a cow (sounds so odd!) through a butcher friend and split it up. hubby comes home with a huge portion, which he will cut into steaks, stir fry portions etc and we bag and label everything and into the freezer it goes. as for buying organic, the $$ make it hard. i do when it's affordable, but often it's standard produce for us. We buy free range eggs and chicken. i sometimes do the local farmers markets, but i often find them to be quite expensive, however i do notice an improvement in quality. i have a small vege patch which is not giving us a lot at the moment! i'm also saving money on chemicals and cleaning products by converting to Norwex! i'm not even using products on my face anymore, and am really happy with that :) can't wait to see how you go with your challenge!

    ReplyDelete
  47. I'm looking forward to hearing the results of your little experiment. Our weekly grocery bill is ridiculous for just three people and I buy organic only sparingly. We do eat quite a lot of meat though, so that is probably a good portion of the cost. I might have to look into buying an 1/8 of a beast as you have.

    I'm actually trialing abandoning meal planning to see if I can instead just use what I have in the fridge. I've also been stretching the groceries out 8-9 days instead of 7, making us eat whatever is left out of necessity.

    ReplyDelete
  48. We spend a stupid amount of money on groceries for just the 2 of us, soon to become 3 in October. We probably spend about $200 or more a week! My husband rarely eats vegetables so our meat bill is quite high & he loves to have alot of "treats" like ice-cream, packets of biscuits & flavoured milk. He is not willing to go without any of these things. When i lived alone i rarely bought meat & bought my veges from a weekly organic market & my food bill was about $75 a week. We also spend about $40 a week to feed our 2 dogs. I buy most of our groceries from woolies as i work for Woolworths Limited & get a 5% staff discount. Our meat is bought at the local butcher & i try to buy my fruit & veges at the local fruit & vege shop. I'd like to shop at Aldi but hubby doesn't want to eat their food as he thinks it is inferior & for "poor people" (i don't think he's accepted that this is us!) I'd love to do meal planning but he also says he doesn't know what he'll feel like for dinner ahead of time, he likes to decide on the day. So frustrating! I'll be following this experiment eagerly as i start maternity leave in 7 weeks & desperately need to cut down our grocery bill as i think it's the biggest place we can save money.

    ReplyDelete
  49. well i don't have a family to feed, and i don't track my spending very carefully but i too, have been on a journey to find my version of ethical eating over the last year or two. i've arrived at a vegetarian diet - something i've always been drawn to but never had the courage to see through. i'm so happy i finally stuck it out because i'm healthier, happier and for the first time, feel that my morals are aligned with how i spend my money, my time and nourish myself. great post by the way! x

    ReplyDelete
  50. This is such a wonderful, inspiring post- and so interesting to read all the responses! As a family of four, we too spend between $90-$120 a week on groceries. We only have meat for dinner about 2 or 3 times a week, and concentrate more on grains, legumes and vegetables for the majority of the time. Most of the grocery shopping is done at Coles, with a few things ( yoghurt, bulk grain, cleaners and baby skincare things) brought at the local organic shop. We are also trialing a fruit and vegetable delivery for the next month or so to see if that works well for us. I'm very interested to see how your experiment goes! xx

    ReplyDelete
  51. wow the responses are just as interesting as your post - I think we would spend around $150 a week for our family of 5 but hard to say. I do like the idea of meal planning. I buy organic if the difference is not too much, when you see what chemicals go on your produce its pretty scary, we also grow a lot of food. I love organic milk but we drink almost 9 litres a week and it would add a lot to the expense.

    ReplyDelete
  52. We spend between $80 and $150 for a family of four per week. The variation in pricing really depends on what goes into the trolley in terms of other staples - washing powder, bread flour, that kind of thing. Meal planning works you you really need to get into the mindset. For so long I shopped according to what I fancied on the day and that makes for a nightmare spend. I make all our own bread, we don't eat a lot of meat, my husband and I probably only twice a week - the girls more often but then probably only 100g of something between the two of them. We don't eat a lot of treats - I bake a lot and those are our treats. We spend a lot of money on nuts as they are our go to snack. I've had to retrain myself to go to the freezer and pantry first before making out the weekly list and shop from there as a starting point. We have a veg garden and ours has been quiet in winter because we were late getting stuff in. We currently have in leeks, onions, brocolli, peas, garlic - when it warms up a little we'll add zuchs, beans, lots of tomatoes. fennel and heaps of basil. We have most herbs soft and hard in the garden, a lemon, a lime, an orange, a blood orange, a pomegranite, a morello cherry, two blueberries.... think that's it. And that's all on just over 300m2 - our total land footprint - so with heaps of space you could feed yourselves easily!

    ReplyDelete
  53. I am so so glad that you commented on my blog and I found my way here the other week. I'm sitting here eating breakky at work and instead of reading my emails as I should be, I'm being very naughty, scouring through your posts and loving what I find! Your $150 challenge sounds fantastic, and something I am in constant dilemma about. We live in Melbourne and each week we visit our local Ceres food host and pick up an organic box of fruit and veg (couple's size - $30). I usually order a few extra fruit and veg on top of this among other things. In terms of non-fruit and veg items we eat a mix of organic and non-organic and like you, it is often the price that makes me cringe when I'm at the shops and can see the same thing for much less on the same shelf. I really want to lower our food bill as for two adults and a toddler I think I spend way too much on our food shop. I shop a bit sporadically so really should sit down and figure out how much we spend per week on average... I have tried to learn a bit about which items to prioritise if you are going to eat some organic, some non... also a friend told me the other day that they can still put 'things' in the soil, and it is organic as long as it hasn't been sprayed... I don't know if this is true but I clearly need to do some more research! On top of all that I started studying naturopathy this year and have just finished my first semester of nutrition - mind boggling!!! Eagerly awaiting your coming posts to hear how you go and hope to nick some of your ideas :) Thanks again! Lucy (motherwho) xx

    ReplyDelete
  54. I'm loving this topic, Em! So excited to see what you discover!

    We buy a combo of local, organic and supermarket groceries (as well as eating out a few times a week).
    On Mondays, we write out a dinner plan for the week. This works well for us as we often have shows to attend or uni commitments in the evenings, so this stops us from buying unnecessarily and therefore wasting. We don't eat a lot of meat, so when we do buy it, we'll just pick it up from a supermarket. Sometimes organic, sometimes not, based on what we can afford and is available. We also buy most household supplies (cleaning and bathroom products) from the supermarket, sticking to organic/natural/chemical free brands, as well as the usual treaties!
    We buy our nuts/grains/flours/canned veg (like tomatoes and roasted peppers) at our local organic grocers, but usually avoid their fresh produce as it is WAY out of our price range.
    We go to the farmers market for most of our fresh fruit, veg and herbs, and eggs(and organic wines!), what we can't get there, due to poor quality or lack of, we'll buy from the supermarket.
    I've looked into organic delivery but most of the ones that deliver in Toowoomba don't actually source from the local area, but from Brisbane and the Gold Coast, so I'd rather support our local farmers market.
    We do eat out a few times a week, mainly at cafes that use local and organic ingredients, especially Firefly cafe and Wray Organic Market and Cafe.

    I'm hoping that this spring we can get our garden underway. I'm a complete novice when it comes gardening, but it's exciting to think that soon we could be eating out own veges and herbs. I've got a lot of reading and research ahead of me to get prepared, and I've been reading back over your posts about your gardening adventures.
    Do you have any recommendations for books or sites on growing your own food?
    I'm determined to turn my black thumb, green!
    x

    ReplyDelete
  55. Em I've started these last few months to shop more ethically.
    I've been noticing the amount of food going to waste & I wasn't impressed.
    We have ALWAYS had huge food bills with 5 children & my mum lived with us.
    I menu plan every week & I endeavor to buy mostly organic. We live in the outer western suburbs of sydney & I haven't been able to find a organis fruit & veg delivery. There is a farmers market about 20 minutes away but we can t always get there Saturday's , that's the only place I can find organic meat.
    My teenage girls LOVE to snack & I alternate the weeks with a treat & they seem happy about that!
    You've inspired me to just GET to the Farmers market. The other thing is our farmers market is expensive as there is nothing else like it around & it's located in a 'better' area:)
    I need to start growing veggies!

    ReplyDelete
  56. Loved it! And my pleasure for putting you in touch. Just meandering through your back catalogue and seeking wisdom on a spirited child - read a comment from your Mum that nearly made me cry. I blame hormones (always.) Sniff.Generic Ortho Micronor Hope you've had a lovely weekend.

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