This morning I pulled out three giant heads of buttercrunch lettuce from our garden, thought about the news I heard yesterday that food prices increased 3.9% in February (the highest jump in 36 years), and wondered how much growing our own food is helping us keep up with inflation.
A 3.9% increase, translated into dollars for our family budget, comes out to approximately $120. That’s about six more days (almost an entire week) worth of groceries that, technically, we’re now going to have to find money elsewhere in the budget to pay for.
Whenever we’ve needed to cut back on our expenses in the past, we’ve either brought things completely to the chopping block and cut them off (like cable tv, newspaper/magazine subscriptions, haircuts, and other such luxuries), found substitutes for them (at Goodwill, on Craigslist, etc.), or found ways to make or do things ourselves. One thing I’ve never compromised on, however, is food for our family. No matter how bad things have gotten economically for us, it is one area that I’ve never cut back on because it is our health. My thinking is that, if our bodies are not fed properly, illness may set in. Being sick may affect our ability to work, study, or do a host of other things that are neccessary for day to day living. Also, it’s expensive to nurse ourselves back to health! Preventing sickness by eating well, then, I think, has actually saved us a lot of money — it’s something I’ll always be willing to pay a premium for.
However, I’d also like to keep our budget balanced. Right now we spend about $750 per month on groceries (for our family of six), which takes up about 25% of our income. I think that’s a lot. I don’t want to have to increase it by another 3.9% to keep up with inflation. By growing our own food, I am hoping that we can offset the rising cost of grocery market food by some percentage. How much, I don’t know. But, because we have a working budget in place, we will be able to monitor, and visibly measure the effects as we begin to harvest and preserve the fruits of our labor in the upcoming months.
It is my desire that we will not have to increase our grocery budget past 25%, and my goal is to even be able to lower it! If we can keep just keep up with the rising cost of inflation, I will be satisfied. My hope, however, is to be victorious over it.
So, off I go to tend to my garden…our battle ground for economic freedom! I hope to report back with good news as we begin gaining ground on inflation. Someday soon, these three heads of lettuce just may be worth their weight in gold!