For the last six months or so, I have had a lot of stress around grocery shopping, meal planning, etc. I went from shopping at Aldi on a $60 a week food budget (not counting monthly meat purchases from Sam’s Club) to a much more significant budget that I still seem to be going over ever single week! How in the world does this happen? Well, in comes the stress about money, about what I am feeding my family, about what my kid will actually eat. Pile on top of that the urgency I feel at the grocery store to get in and get out, having just come from work and needing to get to daycare to pick M up, or dealing with her starting to throw a fit in the cart, or feeling anxiety that she might start throwing a fit, and I’m a ball of nerves. Really it doesn’t matter if she throws a fit, I’m not really worried about what people think, it’s just a royal pain in the hind area to get a screaming kid in to a car seat.
Several things have changed since that $60 a week budget was first set. Back then, she only ate baby food and drank formula, which came out of a different “baby” budget. Now we buy three cartons of organic milk a week, for almost $4 – $5 each! Having a daughter, I feel strongly about her not getting the hormones in non-organic milk on a regular basis. And we buy a lot of fruit because it’s something I know she will eat. And it’s winter, so nothing fruity is in season. I tried moving towards more organic produce and fruit, but it’s not always available or just unreasonably priced (think 3 times normal price!). I’ve tried different grocery stores like Price Chopper, Stop & Shop (which both have sizable health food areas), Trader Joe’s, a local family-owned health food store and a food co-op. It seems there isn’t one place you can get everything you need for a reasonable price. If I’m not buying organic, is the produce the same at Aldi as it is at Big Y? We’ve cut down significantly on our meat eating, maybe down to once or twice a week. Some nights R eats meat and I don’t. But still, our grocery bill keeps climbing. Besides cheese, I’ve pretty much eliminated dairy from my diet (no more milk or yogurt). I’m not buying fake cheese or lots of expensive fake meat. So budget wise – I think it’s just the produce – which I guess is a good thing!
So in comes the fretting about what I’m feeding my family and what they will eat. It seems like meal planning, grocery shopping and eating is so charged now that I am responsible for another human being’s well being! After reading The China Study and Skinny Bitch, I stress about dairy and meat. Do toddlers need cow’s milk? I mentioned this at M’s 14 month (sick) appointment and didn’t feel educated enough to respond to the doctor’s “of course!” Also, at this appointment she had hardly gained any weight in two months and the doctor was concerned. But a few weeks later, at her scheduled 15 month appointment another doctor said not to worry about it. The conclusion – feed her more meat. I’m continuing to look in to these things, and now that she’s a bit older, will broach the subject again with her doctor at her 18 month appointment. Point being, her weight is constantly on my mind. And some nights, like last night, she only eats crackers for dinner! I think about the meals I plan for us (R does a lot of cooking too, but I usually plan it out) and I think twice about it, if it’s something she won’t eat. It’s hard to think about preparing something just for her when most of the time she won’t eat it. I think this is a pretty typical issue with toddlers. I can’t believe I have a toddler.
Anyhow, that’s where I am right now. Stressing about food money, stressing about food. And overall, loving life. I think there are worse problems to have, and I thank my lucky stars daily that those problems are not mine right now.