Monday, March 5, 2012


She calls herself Miser Mom.  She has privately sneered at families who think $99/week for groceries is "thrifty".  How much does her family pay for groceries?  And why does she refer to herself in the third person?  She doesn't know.

Last Saturday I promised to 'fess up and start keeping track of the money we spend on groceries.  As far as keeping track goes, I'm not going to count restaurant food as groceries.  On the other hand, if my husband hands me a receipt from the grocery store, I won't work too hard to tease out cleaning supplies from the food.

Last Saturday, I also promised the first number would be a hefty one, and it is.
That's what I spent last week on food.  577 is an impressively large number (even if you're not obsessed with numbers and delighted by the fact that it's a PRIME number, which is just way too cool.  Prime numbers are few and far between when they get that large.  It's also the hypotenuse of a Pythagorean triangle:  577^2 = 48^2 + 575^2.  Also cool, but irrelevant.  One number, indivisible, with liberty for all).

The breakdown in the Miser Mom household for that number is

  • $12 at our local market (cider, eggs, sour cream, cheese), and 
  • $565 for our annual CSA subscription.  

The food from the CSA won't start coming until May; once it starts, we get vegetables for 33 weeks.  We just bought a half-share; past experience tells us that we actually have to work pretty hard to eat all the vegetables we get.

If I'd waited a week to write out the CSA check, I could have bragged I spent just $12 this week for groceries.  But, in case you haven't noticed, I'm sort of humility-challenged.  Not a trait I'm particularly proud of, so I fight it (mostly unsuccessfully).  My husband often likes to say the only real way to learn humility is to be humiliated, so I'm putting my grocery philosophy out in the open.  We'll see if the bravado matches the bare facts.

My grocery philosophy, clearly, is to take the long view.  Stay tuned for updates.


  1. While that sounds high, it breaks down to only about $17 a week for the 33 weeks for locally grown fresh vegetables. That is not bad at all and if you preserve a lot of it so it lasts throughout the whole year, well that brings the cost down tons further!

    I really should find something like that in my area............ :)

    1. Yes, we're really fortunate to have found this group. Although we store some of the vegetables (particularly the fall squashes) for later in the year, we haven't really preserved much of the CSA food. In May, for example, we get lettuce galore -- I haven't figured out how to can or freeze that!!! So we'll buy a few more vegetables for eating this summer, and we'll bulk-buy some vegetables for canning. But you're right; this is very cheap over the long haul.

    2. Miser Mom
      My miser grand mother used to cook the outer leaves of lettuce to eat them later or make soup, just as she did with spinach or endive. I'm sure you can can lettuce this way!
      Keep enjoying your vegetables

  2. Nice work! I am so surprised that you spent more than me this week! Even with my pig purchase. We are living in some sort of alternate reality. You made my day.

    I need to look into alternate Seasonal CSAs. Our CSA is year round and all high tech and stuff. They trade with other farms in the "region" (as far away as CA) in order to give you more choice. I am less and less happy with this, and would prefer to buy a share from a farm... Hmmm...

    This is not the first year you've done this right?

    1. Yeah, no pig purchases in our neck of the woods, but the vegetables sure do amount to a tidy sum!

      We joined this particular CSA 3 years ago, when our next-door neighbor suggested it (she'd tried it the year before). It's worked out great for us -- we can pick up our food and hers both, and for the past year, there's been a pick-up site on my campus. We could get veggies all year round if we wanted, but we've been content to stick with summer and fall.

      Our CSA draws from a lot of southeastern PA farms, not just one. From what I've heard from other people, I think that gives us a nice variety of foods.