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.
we kinda do stock pile – but it’s usually on the first Tuesday of the month when it’s 10% off. I tend to avoid Costco (so far anyway) as the quantities are way to large and I find that the item spoils before we get a chance to use it all. (I think I know where your parents got that case from!) Extra foods sometimes has a coupon for 15% off the first 100$ and on those days I do take a calculator… it was really good to do that… the trick is to add up the trips to bulk barn / vita health ect. as part of the grocery bill, this is tricky… but ya groceries for the family, big expense…
oh meal planning helped! you only bought what you needed for that meal!
Thanks for the tips, Jocelyn! Not having a car limits where I can shop, but I actually really like Costco. I buy things I can freeze, and divide them into single portions before I do. It can be a great deal, but even their prices have increased dramatically in the last year or so.
Costco can be a deal ‘IF’ you know your prices and have comparison shopped before going. Like you Holli, we buy, portion out and freeze stuff like meats. (I’ve also picked up some very reasonable priced clothing there for me and my kids).
We try to shop for only what we need. It’s tough sometimes though…Impulses do hit me!
I just came back from my local Chinese grocery, where the prices are great! AND I can find the ingredients for the kinds of foods I would normally go out to a restaurant to eat.
Oh, Lisa, I’ve been there! I really have to avoid the books and the DVDs, or I get in trouble.
Polly, that’s a great idea. “Ethnic” grocery stores have lots of interesting items at great prices. As long as you actually EAT the things you buy, they can be a great money-saver (Chris and I have let a few things go to rot before that we thought were great finds at the time.)
Forgot to mention those special green/blue bags that keep fruits and veggies fresh have definitely helped me avoid that terrible feeling of throwing stuff out when I have a week where I’m too busy to cook!
Where do you get them from, Polly? They sound great!