Friday, December 16, 2022

How Much Money Did I Spend on Food in 2021?

"In our society, growing food yourself has become the most radical of acts. It is truly the only effective protest, one that can-and will-overturn the corporate powers that be. By the process of directly working in harmony with nature, we do the one thing most essential to change the world-we change ourselves!" - Jules Dervaes

Holiday Feast
Holiday feast ready to be devoured.

It's almost 2023, so naturally we need to talk about 2021 before we can move on.  It has been a while since we've done a comprehensive review of expenses so let's take an in depth look at food expenses for 2021, shall we?

Before we dive into the nuts and bolts of my food expenses there are a few important things to keep in mind:  

1) I am on my very own journey and my expenses are currently not as low as they could or should be.

2) My current food bill now pales in comparison to what it was several years ago.

3) I never want myself to feel deprived so I do still spend money on "luxury" food items when I feel like it.

4) Processed foods in the U.S. are subsidized which is why they're so cheap at the grocery store.  These do not provide you with proper nutrition (plus the conventional growing practices for these foods destroy the earth) and I stay away from them at pretty much all costs.  I eat real food, which is not as cheap, but it's nutritious and...real.

5) 2021 still had the coronavirus pandemic raging on, which probably makes it an excellent example for continuing to look at food expenses.

While I grow more than enough food to last year round, the reality is that I live in a city and I happen to live close to a grocery store in addition to a lot of great farms.  I most certainly venture to the grocery store from time to time, usually for non-food items and am subjected to the same impulse buying urges as everyone else such as cookies, cheese or chocolate being on sale which as you'll see below and all end up in my shopping cart more often than I'd care to admit.  Just like any other human being I most certainly enjoy eating out from time to time.  I'm not a full on hermit and I do go out into the wide world from time to time so I do have food expenses... by choice though.  Sure I could just not go to the store or eat out at all and I would be just fine.  Just as you could wander off into the forest, build a lean-to and have that be your house for the rest of your life and you would be just fine.  It's certainly possible but where's the fun in that?

Here are James the Urban Famer's Food expenses for 2021:

January of 2021 -$84:

January Expenses

February of 2021 - $98.03:

February Expenses

March of 2021 - $204.63:
March Expenses

April 0f 2021 - $378.83
April Expenses

May of 2021 - $283.08
May Expenses

June of 2021 - $156.02
June Expenses

July of 2021 - $286.33
July Expenses

August of 2021 - $293.41
August Expenses

September of 2021 - $354.94
September Expenses

October of 2021 - $409.03
October Expenses

November of 2021 - $258.06
November Expenses

December of 2021 - $283.90
December Expenses

Local Grass Fed Meat = $764.54 - Animals that are massaged 5 times a day and listen to classical music at least twice a day (may not be entirely accurate).

Grand Total = $3854.80 ($2014.18 spent locally, $1151.45 spent at grocery stores, $689.17 spent eating out).  Not counting eating out, over half of what I spent on food was injected directly into local businesses and families, giving them more power and more of a voice in our world.  This means that less than 30% of my food spending was at a corporate grocery store, which keeps money away from the greedy corporations that I despise.  This is called voting with your dollars!

Eating Out was my biggest expense at $689.17 across only 21 meals.  Which comes out to $32.82 a meal.  Eating out is most certainly the biggest detriment to getting food expenses under control.  There are 1095 meals in the year and only 21 meals accounted for $17.88% of the total food spending for the year.  That's outrageous!  The three biggest expenses after that were:

Veggies - $377.74 - Mostly spent at local farms and were items that I didn't grow enough of, didn't grow at all, failed, or something of that nature.

Fish - $272.84 - Cause it's delicious!

Cheese - $268.63 - Last year avocados were on my top 3, this year cheese expenses jumped up, if this doesn't scream millennial then I don't know what does.  I definitely need to buy a goat... or just not eat as much cheese... buying a goat is probably more feasible.

As you peruse these expenditures you're likely pondering how luxurious this spending is.  You are correct, it is indeed very luxurious.  In fact, $2828.26 (73.37%) of what I spent in 2021 was on what I would consider to be luxury items with only $1026.54 (26.63%) of it being necessary.  If I cut out all of this luxury I would eliminate almost 3/4ths of my current food spending!

Even with all of this luxury, on a per meal basis it's extremely reasonable.  There are 1095 meals a year so with $3854.80 spent that comes out to $3.52 a meal.  How much did your last meal at your local fast food joint cost you?  I bet it was more than $3.52!!!  That includes $764.54 of very fancy, sustainable meat, $377.74 of veggies that I did not grow, $272.84 worth of fish, $268.63 worth of cheese, and 21 fairly extravagant (and very fun) dinners which cost on average $32.82 each.

In the coming years I do hope to cut a lot of these excessive expenses down drastically.  But I'm only human so time will tell what actually happens.  If you pull anything away from this I hope it's how growing your own food gives you choices and how it can expand your universe to make going to the grocery store an optional choice while not depriving yourself yet still having a ton of fun in the world and eating very healthy food, all the time, for a very reasonable price of $3.52 a meal.

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