Think back to the last time you went to the grocery store. What were the most expensive food items in your shopping cart?
If your shopping list looks like ours, then the answer to that question would be fruit, vegetables, and meat. Basically all the healthy stuff…
Perhaps you don’t even grocery shop. You’re currently living the “fast food American dream.”
This post isn’t designed to guilt-trip your eating habits. You already know the all the bad stats like 1 in 3 children eat at least one fast food meal every day (according to the CDC).
If you think fast food is a problem only for the lower socioeconomic levels, then read this quote from a 2013 Gallup study-
[F]ast food is hardly the province solely of those with lower incomes; in fact, wealthier Americans—those earning $75,000 a year or more—are more likely to eat it at least weekly (51%) than are lower-income groups. Those earning the least actually are the least likely to eat fast food weekly—39% of Americans earning less than $20,000 a year do so.
I don’t need to list any stats or figures to convince you that eating out is typically the most expensive way to consume calories. Funny how it’s also the easiest way to shorten your life, but eh- those fries taste so good!
I don’t have any easy 5 step program to keep you from scarfing down Benjamins every time you hit the drive through. What I do have to offer is a case study on how we’ve tried to cut back on eating out this summer, and replace those high-cost grocery items with healthier garden-raised alternatives.
To premise this story, I have to let you in on a secret. I’ve always been a fan of growing things and eating what I grow (as seen is this early baby photo of The Drunk Millionaire).
After buying our first house this year, we embraced the idea of planting an edible landscape. The premise behind this plant-selection technique is to pick plants that help beautify your yard (thus increasing property value) while also producing some form of edible food.
Currently we are reaping the bounty of a dwarf peach tree planted along our driveway.
In fact- we’ve planted nearly 20 fruit trees of all sorts along our driveway and in our backyard. In the spring these trees have beautiful flowers, and throughout the year we pick fresh fruit which is super healthy plus a huge cost savings compared to those sad fellows offered at the grocery store. According to the company we purchased these trees from (Stark Bros) we will produce nearly $800 in cherries per tree yearly and we have 3! In fact, I’m currently eating ice cream smothered with fresh peaches as I type this post…
We have recently started to pick fresh blackberries from a nice okay looking bush that was planted right next to our back door. This crazy thing will produce (by my non-scientific guesstimate) nearly 5 gallons of berries. Try to calculate the value of these babies based off the cost of supermarket berries!
In addition to eliminating fruit from our grocery shopping budget, we also eat fresh vegetables (at the scant expense of labor during weeding) every day straight from the garden!
We’ve also added some feathered friends to our self-sustainable homestead. Currently we have nearly 20 chickens that should lay a ton of eggs for us throughout the year. Talk about a cheap, super healthy protein source! As you can see in the photo below, we recycle our uneaten food scraps by letting the chickens feast. Thus we reduce our waste, consume less packaging, and make the world a better place.
They even live in a little “Trump Tower” coop I built using many salvaged materials.
I think one of the chickens even looks a little bit like our friend J. Money over at Budgets are Sexy!
In short, my wife and I have jumped feet first into the sustainability/low food expense world.
Sure, we benefit from living on the edge of town with a couple of acres, but with a small garden and a few fruit producing plants (neither of which take up much room), you’d be surprised at how much healthier and cheaper you could eat!
One thing beyond the financial benefit of these endeavors that we never anticipated has been the sense of fulfillment gleaned from these outdoor activities.
My wife and I were recently discussing how much we love spending the last few hours of daylight feeding the chickens or picking fresh peaches. Our happiness levels seem to grow exponentially as we spend time growing things and thus saving money. Eventually, we hope to shorten our timeline until Financial Independence (FI) using these sustainability approaches as one cog in the machine. If we spend less now, we won’t need to have as much invested later to officially declare FI!
What do you think? Have we gone off the “tree-hugging” wall? Do you see yourself ever planting an edible landscape to soften the expenses at the grocery store? Share in the comments below!