April already!! I'm aiming for $300 for the month, but willing to go to $400 for our family of 4, including pet supplies, toiletries, paper products, etc.
The main focus of the month isn't really food so much, but "food-related energy". It's getting warm in Boston already. Cooking *everything* from scratch means a lot of hours of cooking/baking/preserving...which heats our house unbearably in the warmer months. Our first line of defense is solar cooking - we have the super-powerful parabolic dish for frying, sauteing, rapid boiling, etc. We have a solar oven for baking & slow roasting. We have 2 panel cookers for slow cooking. We have hayboxes for slowcooking things boiled on the parabolic. Next outdoor option is the Volcano grill, which uses wood, charcoal or propane - I'll be using charcoal 99% of the time, with propane as a backup. We can roast, grill, bake, fry, etc on this. We're selling our Weber grill, because we just never use it these days - propane is more of a hassle than I like. So we can cook just about anything outdoors - it's just a hassle getting down a *lot* of steps to the patio. But at least the house stays cool.
So that brings us indoors. There are the crock pots, the countertop roaster, the toaster oven. This year we're going to try using a couple of portable induction cooktops to replace the stove burners. Apparently these induction thingies don't heat up, they use magnets to generate heat in the cooking pan's metal...this seems more efficient (and cooler) to me, so it's worth a shot. My birthday is coming up very soon, so one gift I'm receiving is the first cooktop! If they work as advertised, we're going to put a cover over our electric stovetop to create extra counter space, completely elimintaing the use of the electric coils burners.