I trotted in to pick up a few essential items from the grocery store and walked out with a $109 bill. I almost choked. I had less than 2 grocery bags with items and the bags were not full. It was literally a handful of only the essentials. I fought back the tears as I walked to my car. It seems like everything is a fight these days.
I used to like planning my menu for the week and purchasing groceries accordingly. I would have a list when I went into the store, and when I left the store I was confident I had everything I needed to successfully pull off meals for the entire week. Now, I face grocery shopping with a sense of dread because I don't have time to meal plan, partly due to the constant trauma of our daily lives, but also because food is so expensive that it's difficult to just buy ingredients as needed.
Kris still does not have a paying job and there is no clear resolution to that challenge at this point. I no longer have the Airbnb income from the cabin, though we are starting to get a smattering of bookings on short-term rentals for the big house. Hopefully those will increase! So, admittedly we have no margin which does not help us. However, the prices of food right now are truly the biggest challenge. Eggs, chicken, milk, butter, most vegetables have all doubled in price over the past 6 months.
So, I have been rethinking how I shop and how we acquire food. We've been working hard on our garden this summer and though it has been somewhat neglected through the various events, it has managed to continue to produce quite a bit of produce for us. I'm realizing how much more I need to plant next year because we have had really good success with seedlings maturing and producing. Seeds are pretty affordable and with the right soil they mostly thrive. Our best producers have been kale, Swiss chard, zucchini, pumpkin, yellow squash, watermelon, acorn squash, and potatoes. Our tomatoes have produced well, but the plants haven't been very healthy looking, so I'll be researching more about how we can improve that. Perhaps a greenhouse? I think they're getting too much water due to the relentless monsoons of the past several weeks.
We are going to try to build a greenhouse on the big house property and also on the A-frame/octagon property. Max and Kaysee will manage the one and I will manage the other. We're slowly learning what gardening in the high altitude means and how it works. I think in another couple years we will be closer to our goal of really mastering it. :-)
Our (ugly) chickens are probably weeks from producing eggs and with at least 12 laying hens, we hope to have about a dozen eggs/day from them. We will probably go ahead and get another dozen chickens for the A-frame property as well, since our family will eat a dozen eggs in one day. We can potentially sell whatever we have in "egg-cess". :-)
We've found a market in Prescott which sells almost-expired groceries for a fraction of the cost so we are now making the drive down there to get a truck full every two weeks. We have an extra refrigerator and freezer in the big house garage so we are utilizing those to help us store the items we get in bulk from the market.
So, meal planning isn't really part of my reality in this present season, but I am slowly adapting to a new albeit more challenging method for providing food for this group of terrific humans I reside with. We are starting school back up this next Monday, so we are creating schedules that will allow us to manage the gardens, find groceries, start/continue progress on restoring the property, do school, and try to keep a small place for "normal routine" in our lives (tea time, for example).