Monday, October 17, 2011

#116 - Eggs from the Backyard Chickens and Big Food Savings

Over the past several months, I've done a lot of reading about the pros and cons of raising your own chickens for the eggs. Some people were concluding that the cost of raising the chickens did not make it worthwhile compared to the old eggs we get to purchase at the grocery store.

However, I have an added consideration to the mix that I've not really read about. I've touched upon it in one of my last posts, but I feel the need to elaborate. Yes, me, elaborating.

We get approximately 35 eggs per week from our five backyard chickens. Granted, Miss Speckles, as a Bantam, lays some pretty small eggs, but they are just as tasty and as healthy as the others. So, this gives us plenty of eggs every week to meet our every "egg" need.

Before we began to gather eggs from our backyard coop, we were purchasing grocery store eggs once every two weeks. We usually bought a carton of 18 eggs and over the next two weeks, we would have to be careful about how many eggs we used so that they would last the full two weeks. Since we are a family that has a heavy baking side to it, that means we use a lot of eggs. Also, we love any kind of egg dish.

So, the savings with having backyard laying hens translates to more than the egg carton of savings at the grocery store. First of all, we save approximately $6.00 per week in the basic cost of buying the 30+ eggs that we gather in the backyard coop throughout the week. That's $6.00 that we do not have to spend at the grocery store.

However, the savings go further than what initially meets the eye and pocketbook.

If I pull eight eggs out of the refrigerator...eggs that came from our backyard and I whip up a couple of gourmet style omelets that are light and fluffy, filled with sharp cheddar cheese, fresh mushrooms and ham, then we are saving a brunch price here in Houston that is approximately $12.00 per gourmet omelet. For Deputy Dave and I, this equals a $24.00 brunch bill. Now, if we go to Denny's restaurant, we might get that same omelet for $4.00, but that's still an approximate $10.00 bill for for two omelets.

Out of the 35 eggs for the week, with two omelets, Deputy Dave and I have already saved at least another $10.00 for that meal because we had the eggs at the house to create the meal that we would have otherwise gone to a restaurant to enjoy.

Another delicious meal that we love to eat is Quiche. There is a tea room near our house where you can get a swiss cheese and broccoli quiche. It is melt in your mouth deliciousness with a buttery crust. To order one piece of quiche, it cost $8.95. But, Deputy Dave makes a heavenly home-made quiche, even rolling out his own pie crust. The filling, if you eat quiche and know, is also made with eggs for the base ingredient. Having eggs in the refrigerator means we can have quiche and since Deputy Dave makes an entire quiche pie for us to enjoy, we get about eight slices from the pie and that is more dining out that is no longer needed. Having fresh eggs on hand also ensures that our quiche is more delectable than ordering one in a restaurant.

Of course, we enjoy having eggs over easy...simmering in a bit of bacon grease. Enjoying eggs and bacon for dinner is one of our favorite meals. Again, no need to purchase a breakfast platter at Denny's or I-Hop because we've got the fixins in our refrigerator. More out-to-eat money that we've saved.

Overall, my point is that each week we are preparing foods at home with those eggs that we've gathered from the backyard and the meals that we are preparing are secondary savings added to the savings from not having to buy any eggs from the grocery store. All of the meals that we get from our eggs help contribute to our savings.

Each day that we eat omelets is another day that we are not spending money on another food item. So, the savings multiple on themselves. The more you eat the eggs that you are gathering from your own coop, the more money you are keeping in your pocket.

For us, the weekly savings I translate to about $45.00 per week between saved egg costs and foods prepared with the eggs from our laying hens. Not bad. In a month's time, we are saving near $200. in groceries because we are eating so many eggs.

Give me a loaf of bread, some butter and eggs and I'll give you a meal.

Give me a package of tortillas, a bag of potatoes, eggs and cheese and you'll get some delicious taquitos and with some pico de gallo in the wrap, your mouth will be eating a burst of flavors.

The eggs make a meal spread out further. Eggs pack a lot of protein in their little shell and that protein in our body goes a long way. One little egg is a nutritionally dense food. In the old days, an egg to a farmer was a life-saver. A sturdy little versatile food source with great flavor.

Anyway, I am so amazed by how far the eggs go in this household and I cannot express how thrilled I am, for the first time in our lives, about how free I feel with eating as many eggs out of the carton as we'd like because there is a fresh supply on the way...God willing.

No longer do we have to look at the carton and be bummed out about being one egg short for a recipe...we must simply wait for the next egg to be laid. So far, we have not run out of eggs. I can tell you that, even as fervent egg eaters, we are hard-pressed to eat 35 eggs per week. If we become too bogged down with too many eggs, we present them as a nice gift to those who value super fresh eggs, always gathered within an hour of being laid. Can't get fresher than that!

Since the USDA allows an egg to lay around for 20 days BEFORE it is even put into the carton, I am thoroughly pleased with my backyard eggs. I know they haven't even sat around for half a day much less 20 days!

I love eggs. With one large $12.00 bag of chicken feed lasting about a month along with kitchen scraps and free-range pecking...the cost is so low. We purchased one bale of hay for the nest several months ago and it cost about $11.00. On a daily basis, that's about all it costs.

In our area, fresh farm-raised eggs such as ours cost at least $5.00 per dozen. The grocery store variety is much less expensive, but for discerning egg buyers, the quality of eggs we are eating would cost a person quite a bit more. I am so thankful that we have high quality eggs waiting for us in one of the nests in the backyard and every day it's a fun treasure hunt to find the next egg. It never gets old and I don't think it ever will.

So, if you are thinking about raising chickens, do it. This is one endeavor that I've enjoyed wholeheartedly. Perhaps it's because we started out nice and slow. Our five chickens suit our family perfectly. The chickens are entertaining and they know their routine.

I guess that once we move to our land in a few months we'll be able to finally take our chicken raising skills to a new level. We'll be able to expand the chicken coop to a walk-in variety and will will have one side with a rooster so we can have chicks replacing the older gals.

And, yes, we will eventually be processing our own chickens so this entire experience will lead us from having fresh eggs to having fresh farm-raised chicken on the table. That idea still grosses me out quite a bit, so I am not quite tough enough to approach that challenge, but I'm working on it. I'd much rather have our own farm-raised chicken on the table than the grocery store version.

I will leave you with a thought I've had this past week as we've been trying to find a builder and after I've been going through a bit of freak-out mode of being confronted with our new approaching reality...I decided it's worthwhile, but sure is hard work trying to live a more simplistic life.

To those of you already living this life, I am holding my imaginary crystal champagne glass (which is filled to the brim) up in the air to toast you and your determination! A toast to all who desire a return to our roots, to all kinds of roots, to digging your hands in productive roots, to growing all kinds of roots and eating all kinds of roots, to watching those roots grow into things you savor...and to chicken-raising-people of all kinds, whether only in spirit or with birds in your yard...I salute you!


frugalmom said...

I love farm fresh eggs!!! And I have to be honest and say that I havent really done the math to see where Im at with my investment in regards to chickens and eggs....The joy I get out of collecting those eggs every day is more than worth it to me. And even more than that is to see my little 5 year old guy take upon the responsibility to collect eggs and let the chickens out to free range.
I love knowing where my food is coming from. I also love knowing how well my chickens are being cared for...instead of wondering whats going in with those grocery store chickens....

LindaG said...

Don't forget all the gas you save!

Thanks for the in-depth post. I really enjoyed it, Lana. :)

Vickie said...

Hi Lana - we love eggs, too! Since I don't have hens yet, I've been getting fresh farm eggs from our feed store for $2.50/doz, which I think is a great deal. They're fresh and orange and tasty.

I sometimes wonder if we eat too many. I know free-range are supposed to be lower in cholesterol and higher in omegas and all that, but you just hear all the bad news about eggs. To me, they're a perfect form of protein. What are your ideas on how many to eat in a day or week? "They" say one a day, but it's hard to adhere to that notion.

I try to take everything in moderation - guess that's maybe the best way to look at most things. Just have our cholesterol checked, etc., if you're levels are fine then you're not eating too many! Plus if you cut out your bad fats...

My chicken-lady who I used to buy eggs from had 50-60 hens. They sold enough eggs monthly to pay for the feed for all of their animals - couple of beef cows, pigs, goats and meat chickens, too! said...

Frugalmom --- I agree with you on the "joy" factor with having chickens. Before we got our chickens, it was long known by members of our family and many friends that I had always wanted chickens. Not one person had a good comment about owning chickens. I heard a lot of comments about the smell, but I can testify personally that the smell can be controlled with letting the birds free-range as often as possible and with hosing down the coop area and yard every couple of days. I do wish that I had a way of blocking the chickens from getting onto my back patios, but we're going to move pretty soon so I'm not going to make any major changes. If we were staying, I'd add a little picket fenced area to encourage them chickens to stay on the other side, away from the patios. But, I love having my chickens. Even during the rough times. And to see the children in the family learn about chickens is priceless!

Linda --- The gas is definitely a good money-saving aspect of having chickens in the backyard! I mostly love the part about never running out of eggs and knowing that the next fresh egg is about to arrive!

Vickie --- I think the fresh actual farm-raised eggs would be less expensive the farther away from Houston we'd get. A few attorneys who work with my husband downtown pay a goldmine for such eggs. As for the healthy limit for eggs, there's been so much controversy over eggs, but I did have one doctor tell me that a person who processes cholesterol in a normal way is not really impacted the same way as a person whose body has trouble doing the same thing. My cholesterol is great and I've been eating a ton of eggs. It's kind of weird that you bring it up because Stefie and I just had a trip to the cardiologist and they ran my cholesterol level is actually better this year than last year. Does it have anything to do with me eating so many eggs? I don't know. I guess I might have been eating even more "bad" foods that I'd like to admit before the eggs came along. So, maybe by eating more eggs than the other stuff, I'm actually doing a favor to my body cause something is going right for me with my blood levels. Everything was perfect, my sugar level, cholesterol...just a vitamin B12 and folic acid deficiency. Weird. I'm supposed to start on home injections...the deficiency is so low that I would not even be able to take enough pill form to make a dent, so I will be getting injections. Fun. I am told that having a deficiency will make you drag on a severe level and taking supplements, if you don't need it, won't make a difference in how you feel, but if you are indeed deficient, the supplements will make a world of a difference. I guess I will see. Obviously, the eggs have not helped me in this area of nutrition!

A Primitive Homestead said...

As I was reading I was thinking you save a lot of gas money to without all the meals out. I see others had the same thought. I decided to raise some chickens early this spring. I had a chicken coop built. I picked it up & the kids & I set it up. I had no little flock yet. Suppliers here would not sell them unless they were purchased in threes. This made it hard because I wanted breeds of certain kinds after reading many books before my venture. They never got the breeds in at the same time. Well I gave up & purchased 2 of each they had at the time. I have a good looking rooster who has not crowed as yet. Five lovely hens who have never layed an egg as yet. I planned on using them for meat but my son named them & they are more like pets now. My bedding & food bill for them is more than my carton of eggs per month so far. I am still hoping & checking the nesting boxes. Enjoyed your post. Blessings!

Karen said...

Aren't those homegrown eggs just the best? Eggs got such a bad reputation from the cholesterol zealots back in the day and never really recovered from the myth it was. Now they've found new information about the benefits of eating eggs (duh!) and they're considered to be good for you. Makes me wonder if the whole cholesterol thing isn't just a bunch of hooey, too...there's a lot of money to be made in 'treating' it. Oh, well...

Your hens are so pretty, and if we lived closer I'd give you our incredibly handsome, flashy rooster. He drives us nuts with his incessant crowing!

Donna OShaughnessy said...

Great post Lana ! For more info about scientific research concerning eggs and GOOD cholesterol google the Weston A Price organization. Even well informed MD's now know eggs, when raised correctly, are one of natures best foods. Excess eggs can be scrambled raw, frozen and thawed at room temp for cooking year round. Love how detailed your posts are!

Vickie said...

Thanks for that info, Donna - I will look the Weston A Price organization up! Wanna find out all I can.

And Lana - good for you getting such a great report on your cholesterol! I need mine checked again. I've always had good chol. but it's been a couple of years since it's been checked. High time! said...

Lara --- Just imagine...all those eggs that you will be finding will make the payoff so worthwhile. I can't even express how much fun our chickens are to all of us in the family. And, our company that visits are very amused. Seems that hardly anyone we know these days have chickens. At least I can die knowing that I DID IT! I raised was a bucket list thing to do!! :-) said...

Karen --- I'd be in such trouble if I could not eat eggs. But, Vickie brought up a good point...I will be very eager to see what my cholesterol count will be NEXT year, after a full year of eating more eggs than ever before in my life. Well, I've always been a huge egg fan, but as I had written, we were rationing our eggs so often because we only bought an 18 count carton once every two weeks. Now, we have as many as we can eat. My uncle will hardly eat an egg because he is Mr. Skinny, but has an out of the atmosphere cholesterol level. I've also read some of the literature that came in response to the egg debate. It is so fascinating. I am going to check out the information that was posted by Donna. I guess I will be a test subject for cholesterol levels over this next year. As for the statins...a doctor wanted to put my sister on one of these medications and I did some hefty research...which repeatedly led to reports of side effects to the liver. She is so young...was in her early 30's when they wanted her to start this medication. I just don't know if sacrificing the liver was worth the lowering of cholesterol. And Karen, I'd love to be on the land full-time already and be your neighbor...I'd take the rooster! I do think my hens are so beautiful, but I also know I'm partial! haha said...

Donna --- thank you for passing on that information about location more up to date research on eggs and cholesterol. Since we are eating so many eggs, I guess we need to be aware of what the current research says on the matter. I thought it was an excellent consideration that Vickie made about wondering how the eggs are affecting our cholesterol, especially since we are eating more eggs than ever before. I am very relieved that I'm getting such positive feedback that the scare we all went through over eggs years ago seem to be alleviated by current research. Also, as you said, depending on how the eggs are produced...less hormones, free-range, etc. must surely make a difference to our bodies that are ingesting those little delights. And, I didn't know about scrambling the eggs and freezing them raw for future use. We will definitely put this suggestion to good use! said...

Vickie --- we are learning so much about chickens!! I am going to enjoy sitting tonight and checking out the Weston A Price organization that Donna sent over. If I could really exercise, then I imagine I would have picture perfect levels with my cholesterol, but since it's in the "good" range, I'm pretty happy. I think it actually went down this past year, but I am REALLY wondering what it will be upon next year's check up with the egg menu we are enjoying. Since you are getting ready to have your own might need to be prepared for all of those egg meals as well! It's too hard to resist!! And I need to check with you to see when you expect to get your first chicks. We truly might be on our farm and have some chickens to give to your for your first blog buddies, that would be fun. I am always so happy to see all of the incredible feedback we get from our blog buddies, if you didn't ask the cholesterol question, we wouldn't have known about the Weston A Pricing organization. Every day I am learning something new because of these chickens!!!! I'll Facebook you later!