If you don’t want to be reduced to a steady diet of macaroni and cheese and the accompanying fat here are some shopping strategies.
- Eliminate processed foods/cook from scratch:
- Choose whole chickens.
- Buy in bulk.
I like shopping at Costco for large amounts of things like rice, sugar, and flour. Fred Meyer sells bulk organic products as do health food store such as Marlene’s. The larger amount you have room to store the cheaper per unit is. Back in the 1970s, before the Pacific Co-op, a play group I belonged to with the babies decided to form a co-op. Each month we made lists of things we needed and took turns going to the industrial section of Seattle to buy in BULK and then divvied up the booty at someone’s house or a community hall. Obtaining bulk food is much easier today and ought to be on everyone’s shopping list.
- Eat in season.
Buying out of season produce is not only costly, it hurts the environment since it has to be transported from other parts of the world where the seasons are the opposite of ours. Besides, eating locally is supposed to be more healthful. I suppose a case could be made for the fact that few of us live in our tribe or area, but there are some experts that contend that we become habituated to the food of the area where we do live. Personally, my favorite foods are Pacific Northwest fare.
- Use coupons
Even if you don’t take a daily paper, buy the Sunday edition. You get a TV guide, a lot of news and entertainment, and most of all, coupons. Last week ,while I was shopping at red Meyer, I discovered that someone had left a handful of coupons on a table near the floral department. They were carefully clipped from the Sunday coupons and I thought, “Hey, what good karma.” Normally I cut out only what I know are products that I would buy and put the rest into recycle, but today I think I will cut them all out, keep what I want and take the rest to the store to leave for someone who might be able to use them. Coupon use goes with the next tip for eating well in a down economy.
- Plan meals based on what’s on sale and what’s in the pantry.
I use those coupons when items are on sale unless it is an emergency. I peruse the food ads and cruise the aisles with my coupon folder in hand. Keeping a well stocked pantry of food purchased at rock-bottom prices is the best way to stretch food dollars. Both my mother and my daughter-in-law are easily swayed by recipes they find in magazines or see on the Food Network. They want to run out and purchase the ingredients right then and there. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve put my mother’s groceries away for her, only to discover that she already had multiples of the items in her pantry. She has no idea what she has. You don’t have to keep a running inventory of what’s in the pantry. We tried that and it was too much work. But occasionally looking to see what you have will keep a little inventory in your head and giving it a real study when planning meals will save you money.