Food, frugality and fortitude

So, I’m kind of a cheapskate.  In general I hate paying for things.    I especially hate it when things I used to pay X for now cost X + 1 (or whatever)…..Its a joke amongst friends/family that my purse squeaks a bit when I open it.  Yes, you self-helpers out there, I AM working on it.

Lately the cost of food has increased dramatically.  Let’s take a look at some common examples

Just last week I stood in the grocery store, making some choices about what to put in, based on price. The items in question were:

Good Earth tea ($3.99/box of 18 bags
Beef (grass fed, $5.99/lb)
Avocados ($1.25/each)
Brown Rice Tortillas ($3.50/pack)

There were a few others, but these stood out in my mind.    I felt these items were rather expensive for what I could get from them, when considering volume and serving size.  I aim to spend $100/week on groceries for my husband and I to eat together.  We eat out approximately 1x/week WHEN WE HAVE THE FOOD WE LIKE IN THE HOUSE!  When we don’t have easy to prepare, wholesome and tasty food, we eat out.  A typical eating out experiences is $10-$15/person, depending upon where we go.  If I purchase a hot tea away from home, it is minimum $1.50 per serving whereas my Good Earth tea was only about $.25/tea bag.

Therefore, my question became clear: Would purchasing the whole food based items at the grocery, for more $$ per item than in the past, save me money at the end of the week based on frequency of eating out, etc.

Yes, yes, yes!!!!  Despite the fact that groceries are more expensive than before, if we can limit out dining out by even once per week, we are still saving money.  Even purchasing all those items on the list, which yield more than 1 serving, would save over 1 meal out.  Factor in the nutritional benefits of eating in, and its a slam dunk deal.

Now, I do believe we need to have some fortitude during these economic times.  It makes sense to use the grocery $$ we have sensible.  It also means schlepping home when my tired body wants to simply find a cozy spot to sit and have somebody else make the meal.

Here’s what I’ve come up with for ideas on how to save some $$ at the store and still eat well, the off-white way.

  • Puchase whole fryer chickens and carve them yourself.  You can get nitrate-free lunchmeats this way too!
  • Purchase only what you will eat that week in fruits/veggies.  Uneaten produce that goes bad is simply a was to $$.  If you can only cook 2-3x in  week, it doesn’t make sense to buy elaborate veggies that would need to be used everday.
  • Bring groceries to work as a way to avoid buying snacks or eating out at work.  Baby carrots, bags of spinach, a bottle of salad dressing, a supply of teas and beverages…all ways to make eating well convenient and cheap.
  • Buy raw ingredients and make your own…whatever.  Instead of pre-made trail mixes (spendy and full of sugar), buy bulk items and make your own.  Use whole oats instead of quick and buy them in the bulk section.  No need to pay Mr. Quaker for his fancy can.  You can even find agave nectar, flax meal, most grains/rices, and dried fruits in bulk these days.
  • Buy enough for at least 4-5 days so you don’t go to the store daily.  This is a total waste of time, gas, money and energy.
  • Make your own soups, deli salads and pasta dishes for work.  Spending $7 on ingredients for a nice home-made dish that you can eat for 3 days will save $$, as these things typically run $3-7/lb at the deli or grocery.
  • make your own cookies, breads, etc.  Don’t give Starbuck’s $2 for a muffin you can make for $.50 that has better nutrition.  Bob’s Redmill flax meal has an awesome recipe.
  • Buy a water filter and stop buying water bottles.
  • The more packaging, the more it costs.  Buy in large quantity and make up your own mini-bags of ‘whatever’. The whole snackpack thing is a gimmick – you can do it at home.
  • Purchase yogurts, applesauce, cottage cheese, etc in larger containers and take a smaller container with you to work each day.  Reuse the smaller container
  • Give the generics another chance. Some generic stuff actually has better nutrition than the “fancy” stuff.  Example: WinCo’s Cascade Pride english muffins. They cost $1 less than Thomas and have no HFCS, more fiber, and I hear they taste pretty good.

Okay folks, off to bed for me.  I like this topic, but I need some sleep :0

Wishing you all an off-white day tomorrow!

PS: The cost of corn, wheat, and sugar are also on the rise – even better reason to stop eating these things!

6 thoughts on “Food, frugality and fortitude

  1. Carrie May 6, 2008 / 2:03 pm

    I appreciate that we all contribute to purchasing items in bulk as often as possible. And the options are more often than it used to be just a year ago. I cringe when I have to throw away a cardboard container or plastics that lettuce and veggies were packaged in (hello trader joe’s – do you hear me?). It does take a little leg work to find where the bulks are but then I have created my own little food shopping loop that I enjoy doing by bike on my day off. It feels to ‘country like’ to me. Blessings to all. CJ

  2. Nichole May 6, 2008 / 7:16 pm

    I intend to do more shopping at the weds and sat farmers’ markets in salem…especially when the veggies start to make a show. Got my canvas bags and I’m ready to go. I’m already buying farm fresh eggs from a gym member I know. $2.50 a dozen for the most beautiful fresh eggs you’ve ever seen or tasted. What a bargain. She even feeds her precious pet chickens (36 of them) ground flax meal to make their eggs more EFA rich. 🙂

    As an aside this whole high cost of food, food shortage, and resulting media hype of it made me chuckle the other day. They are showing people being limited to *4* twenty pound bags of rice and flour at places like costco and sams club when truly we shouldn’t be stocking up or hoarding those two items for the sake of our nutrition anyway!!!!!

  3. offwhiteliving May 9, 2008 / 4:22 pm

    Nichole – I love your comment about the rice bags. We live in such fear of a food shortage…well, I don’t think anything like that is coming anytime soon, so I agree with you. Do we really need THAT much (80 lbs) of rice?

    I suppose if you are a restaurant owner that is a concern. My thought would be that most restaurants over-serve on portions, so is it so bad to have a little (or a lot) less rice?

  4. Nichole May 13, 2008 / 11:45 pm

    We actually ordered thai the other day (Thai Beer in Salem..good place) and told the waiter we’ll skip the rice. Didn’t need it anyway. And I think the food tasted better not being bolstered and plumped up by a bunch of white starch.

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