Welcome back, Dear Readers.
Sorry for the infrequency of my posts lately. I’m still trying to find some balance between my insane kickboxing schedule and everything else in my life. After an extra-long boxing class on Saturday and four rounds of sparring, I wasn’t feeling so good, so I’ve been bedridden with what feels like a combination cold/flu and sheer exhaustion ever since.
Now back to the Climbing Out of the Big, Black Hole series.
I once spent a year living in pretty extreme poverty. After graduating from high school, I worked as a Pizza Hut waitress in a small Northern town. It wasn’t unusual for fifteen teenagers to come into my section and place one order for cheese bread and a round of waters. Not that I begrudged the town’s youth their fun, but when they took up several of my tables for hours with a $10 tab, I knew the night’s take was not going to be good. My pay check was so small that it just barely covered my rent. Everything else, including utilities and groceries, was paid for with my meager tips. I remember digging under my couch cushions for coins, hoping to find a little loose change so I could buy some food.
When I went to the grocery store in those days, I took a calculator with me. I had to be very careful about every cent that I spent, and this meant I didn’t have a lot of leeway to purchase healthy food. I ate a lot of boxed macaroni and cheese that year, and learned that generic cereal is just not worth it. Disgusting!
That said, I’m really glad I had that experience. I believe it made me appreciate everything I have today much more than I would have if I’d never had to struggle to make ends meet. But it also made me feel like the real definition of wealth and abundance is being able to buy whatever you want at the grocery store.
My mother believed in a well-stocked pantry, and I inherited that tendency from her. However, I’ve come to realize–through trial and error and much unnecessary food spoilage–that it’s better to buy what you need when you need it than to stock up on enough food to last through a nuclear war.
(When I was home this past Christmas, I was surprised to see a Rubbermaid bin filled with China Lily Soy Sauce–at least a dozen bottles, if not more. When I asked my mom about it, her reasoning was, “sometimes I can’t find it at the grocery store”. So you need a bin full of it? How much soy sauce do you people use? Note to China Lily: please send these people a lifetime supply.)
That kind of stockpiling used to seem normal to me, but I’m struggling to change my ways. I don’t have much control over my utility costs or Internet service, but I can control what I spend on groceries. It’s so easy for food costs to get out of control, especially when you’re trying to follow a healthy, high-protein eating plan.
How about you, Dear Readers? Do you find you buy more at the grocery store than you can possibly eat? Do you have any cost-saving tips?
Oh, and tip your waiters generously! They need it.