Monday, April 20, 2015

I'm Skeptical

A couple of weeks ago I stumbled upon this blog......HERE.

This Mavis Butterfield person seems like a kindred spirit....even if she seems to be an Uber gardener.
She use to coupon heavily and went into that extreme couponing mode when it was hot a few years back just like me, and her food spending was under $100 a month for 2 years.   We both stopped doing the heavy couponing for free stuff thing as we saw that most of the things you got for free using coupons were NOT good for you.  Mavis' food spending shot up a little bit but still stayed under $185 a month overall in 2013 and 2014.

Now she has challenged herself in 2015 to only spend $100 a month on food for her family of 4.
Oh, and she is only grocery shopping at Costco for the year.

Ok, so before everyone gets all depressed and disheartened that they can't feed a family of 4 for a year on $1,200, let's talk about this.
I applaud her for doing this but really, she isn't only spending $100 a month for food.
She is going into this challenge with a whole kitchen/pantry full of things bought before the challenge started.
Condiments, spices, staples like sugar, flour, etc.
Plus she seems to have a lot of preserved food starting off too(she's mentioned a ton of frozen blueberries about 5 times in what I've read so
Plus she is using gift cards gifted to her and getting free Zaycon credit for meats when people sign up through her referral link.
And she is doing bartering with neighbors to get a bit of variety into her rotation so no money changing hands.

She is not even 4 months into the year and almost up to $500 in spending but feels her monthly totals will be going down once she can start harvesting from her garden so yah, that should give her lower totals OOP.
But is she adding in all the costs associated with growing that food?  Seeds, tools, added water use for her home, the costs to preserve the foods she grows......they all add up, don't they?

As for Costco.......we don't have one here and I've only been in one once(this past January).  It seems to me similar to those other warehouse places like Sam's Club and BJ's.
Isn't the running joke you can't get out of a warehouse store without spending at Least $100 a trip? lolz

I don't know.
The large packages of stuff is fine for things you eat often but what about dishes you only need a small amount of something for?
She batch cooks and freezes dishes too which is fine if you have ample freezer space.

Back in 2010 I grew just shy of 94 lbs. of food that year.  It will be interesting to see if she meets her goal of growing TWO THOUSAND POUNDS of food this year. 

I'm going to continue to follow along with this scheme and see how it pans out.
Hey, I am game for anything that brings down my food bill without making us eat a less healthy and/or less varied diet.....aren't you?  ;-)

And now I am off into an online suckhole looking at articles/blogs on feeding your family on $100 a month......




  1. I don't know about spending only $100 a month either, but dang - her pictures of food sure look good! LOL

    1. Yes, agreed. She's got some mad photo skillz... 8-)

  2. I always feel too confined with extremely low food budgets. If I feel too confined, I end up quitting super easily. Bad habit maybe, but we stick to a budget pretty easily with about $100 per month per person.

    1. Have you ever looked at the 4 food spending plans the USDA puts out? That was an eye opener for me!

  3. I have been following Mavis for several years now. She is a genius at this just like you are with deals. Before she moved, she got free produce for the chickens and kept the good stuff from her haul for her family. ( I think she got the produce for chickens.)

    I cannot imagine all the bartering she did with her old neighbors. I believe it, but she had a good thing going. You will love the HOA stories.

    1. I saw the one about her fence story. I HATE HOAS!!!

  4. I skim her blog everyday she publishes. She has a lot of really good information and doesn't sound "preachy" like some of the very thrifty blogs do (like the feed a family of 2,000 for 1.03 a day type blogs) Hers seems to be better rooted in reality. And I will admit to following some of her deal links. If she gets a little from the $14 dollar mailed to my home suede winter clogs ,so be it, because it really was a great deal for me.

    As an aside, I have been working on a food project for truly destitute families. (We are basing this for a family of 3 kids in my area. The average EBT amount is right around 375 a month) If you start with a completely bare kitchen, buying just 3 staples a week after the start up week of buying salt, pepper, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, flour and sugar it takes about 4 months to have anywhere near a functional kitchen, and that is breaking even monthly with nothing left to build food stores.

    After doing all the pricing, menus, planning, cooking (We are testing each recipe), clean-up and prepping foods for even short term storage, it is so easy to understand how marginalized and frustrated some people in fairly hopeless situations must feel. I understand why the blue mac and cheese boxes are so appealing. Even if it is nutritionally unsound, it fills bellies cheaply.

    As another aside, if you are ever shopping and have the person in front of you trying to match up WIC coupons with merchandise, be kind and have patience. It is a difficult transaction for them and all they really want is food for their very young children.

    1. It's a shame in our society that the food that is worst for you is the cheapest/easiest. Corporations that pander to this are making millions on the health of the people in our world who can least afford to be sick.

      Feeding a family well is not for the feint of heart. It takes knowledge that many people don't have and time to do it without going broke.

      Around here they have tried offering info/classes to EBT/WIC recipients but hardly any one ever showed up.
      And making some sort of class mandatory goes against the rules of food stamps or something so we only improve the lot of folks by inches instead of by miles.
      So frustrating but I do applaud you for taking on this issue!

    2. Even if we could make the classes mandatory, we are still dealing with problems--babysitter, transportation, stove and pots at home. After a life of the wrong food, it is hard to develop an appetite for food that is nutritious.

      Some days I think of my privilege. We were not well-off, but we could get to the grocery and did have fruits/vegetables and a balanced diet. So many poor people do not have what most of us do.

    3. I think you have to look at it as a game of inches rather than yards. (Forget miles) I have just decided if I just help one family every now and then, it is worth it. We are tying to take a lot of the planning (both shopping and menus) out of the equation, hoping that we can teach individuals how to get the biggest yield for their dollar and time and at the same time teach them the skills to continue it.

  5. I budget $100/person/month for all groceries. I can get it down to $67 as bare bones. We eat well, some treats included. Agree, w/o my frugal kitchen skills, I wouldn;t be able to do this

  6. I will go check that blog out. I am always happy to find new ways to eat cheaper.

  7. I am all for lowering my food costs, but I will not do anything extreme.

  8. I've been reading Mavis for years...she's awesome! Too bad she bought a new home in an HOA and moved...altho the HOA stories are a HOOT. She's done some amazing things...travels all over the world...and is a great of the better bloggers.

  9. I read about a family once that spent no money for a month. It was a frugal test of sorts. Before they started, they bought everything plus some for the next month. I really didn't see how it was a savings. But then again, I really need to do something to get our spending down. I'm at $100 a week for the two of us. Too much. But that is alcohol too so that is a lot of it. LOL. I have fully stocked all of our shelves since DJ is coming home. Den was complaining that we had too much and then said oh wait, the boy will be home soon and we will have nothing.

  10. I do follow her blog but I kind of feel like she's always trying to sell me something (with affiliate links) so she get free zaycon products or amazon credit, etc....

  11. I spend about $60/week, so $240 or so per month - that includes personal hygiene items, vitamins, laundry detergent etc - anything you can find in a grocery store edible or not. That's for 2 people. No coupons but I take advantage of available specials if it's something we actually eat. Actually my costs are going down as Kazi is helping out with buying groceries now. I'm ok with my budget - to try to do it on $100 a month...well, we'd starve.


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