After seeing this site someone admitted they (a couple) spend $900 a month on groceries. I was shocked! I'd forgotten how it can get away from you. I spend $150.00 and that includes laundry soap and some other non-food items. If I were really going for bragging rights, I'd be more careful about extracting toothpaste and dish soap from the receipts. 

The way this program keeps costs low is you buy a particular set of 'supplies' and that's all. If you're always trying new recipes, you're buying new ingredients that don't get used up. That's expensive waste. Here I make the same dishes over and over and get the chance to really perfect them to my taste. So cheap doesn't mean I sacrifice taste at all.

It's fun to figure out the actual cost of frugal cooking. My son was quite taken with my 'flavorful' canned peaches. When I told him it takes three hours to can 14 jars, he immediately did the math and concluded I was saving enough that it was equivalent to earning a decent hourly wage. Bingo! 

Beet & Bean Stew

13 servings cost $8.00 to make. That's $.60 a serving!

1 lb. kidney Beans $2.00
2 lb. beets $1.50
Red Cabbage $1.80
1/4 lb. Wehani rice $1.00
3 bouillon cubes $1.15
4 carrots $.25
1 onion $.30

Store yogurt (not even gourmet organic) costs $3.25 for 825 ml, say $3.50 a liter. Yow!
Instant powdered skim milk is about $20 for 2.5 Kilograms
That's $.80 a cup, which weighs 100grams.

I put 3 cups in 2 liters of water to make a batch of yogurt.
$2.40 for 2 liters. That's $1.20 a liter of yogurt!
This doesn't mean we live on cheap yogurt. The milk was produced by carbon-intensive dairy farming. That big bag of powder lasts a long time! And no plastic tubs to figure out what to do with. Ready to make some?

So, I did the math on a bunch of things so it averages out a bit. For normal batches of roasted red pepper hummus from dry chick peas, two loaves of bread from local red fife flour, two litres of yogurt from instant dry milk, one pound of kale from the garden frozen, and 8 servings (1/2 my recipe) of cabbage soup. The ingredients cost about $9.00. When adding my time I only count active work, not the time while stuff is cooking, since I'm in my home and free to do whatever I want in between. The store prices are for an equivalent product. The hourly rate I use is for similar 'menial' jobs, so $8.00/hour.

My conclusion is that even if I add my labor to the ingredients cost, $40 worth of store foods cost me $27.00 to make at home. This $13 'profit' tells me my time is actually paying more than $8 an hour.

The major bonus is that in many cases you spend less than you used to on an item, but you get something of much higher quality than you would normally buy.

I usually tried to get bread on sale for $2 a loaf, ordinary corporate 100% whole wheat. But my homemade 'cheap' bread is equivalent to organic artisan bakery bread, at least $6 a loaf.

The soups and stews I make for supper cost so little compared with frozen vegetarian single-serving meal. But they're hearty, protein-packed suppers for a fraction of the cost, more comparable in nutritional value to an expensive vegetarian restaurant meal. 

Homemade hummus is practically free compared with $5 deli tubs. And mine is real food, not just a condiment that tastes like flavored mayo.

Then there are the hidden monetary and environmental costs we save by not driving to stores so often, not accumulating piles of packaging in the trash, not buying things that have been shipped vast distances.

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