Sunday, March 1, 2009

The Lenten Experiment

My friends started an interesting experiment, dubbed "The Lenten Experiment" (you can follow LaVonn'es entries about it at Lively Dust blog). The general point is to try to live at poverty (ie food stamp) level for the 40 days of Lent. In Illinois, that comes to about $77/ week for a family of two adults.

My partner and I have been participating, and I have been largely in charge of buying the food we will eat, while trying to make the healthiest, most frugal choices possible. Last week we started out ahead, by getting a week's worth of groceries for $45. This week, I decided I wanted to buy a few healthy, organic items at Whole Foods. If I could've found these items (spelt bread and spelt pasta) at any other store, I would've bought them elsewhere. I bought one pound of spelt pasta, a 24 oz. loaf of spelt bread and a pound of fresh peanut butter. The total cost for these three items? "$15.00!!

Realizing that I had spent about 20% of our weekly allottment, I detoured over to Aldi to stop the bleeding. For $45, I bought several bags of food, including meat, fish, fresh vegetables, dried fruit, oatmeal and ice cream treats. Yes, I had to bag it myself, but that was a small price to pay for more food and reasonable prices.

When I was checking out at Whole Foods, I noticed a middle eastern man in front of me buying 2 gallons of organic milk for $5.99 a piece. I had to laugh when I spotted him 15 minutes later in the same aisle with me at Aldi. Maybe that's the winning strategy: buy a few healthier items at Whole Foods and the like, and supplement with Aldi staples for the rest. There is a way to do this and not spend a fortune. But we also have the choice to go one place or another, or spend a little more if we need to. Many don't. And while we're at it, who ARE these people who can afford to do all their shopping at Whole Foods??

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