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Monday, August 22, 2011

Frugality 101: How to Save Money on Food

Yes, again. This morning--as I was getting a cup of coffee--I was surrounded by eager faces. Was this because of my great presentation on The Wanderer? How about Shakespeare's Henry 4, Part 1?

No, everyone was listening because a student said "I need to learn how to save money on food." And I said, "I know how to do that." And I do. I do what I do without coupons, by the way.

The answer is stockpiling when stuff you use is on sale. How do you know when something is on sale? Just keep track of what you usually buy. You don't need to create a lengthy price book: I buy mostly coffee, cheese, pasta, rice, veggies,fruit, and meat: not that much to keep track of. Oh, and I'm addicted to peanut butter, which I read is going to be in short supply next spring. OH NO!

I used to buy two bags of lentils back in grad school, so I wouldn't starve. All I bought this week: grapes at 99 cents a pound. Everything else came out of my stockpile.

This works like a snowball. After a few years you can tackle a gruesome expense--like a root canal. Or do something fun. I did both last year.

What's on your shopping list this week?


Shelley said...

We make our bread in a machine and do the recipes from scratch using what we have around. The basic recipe calls for water, sugar, oil, salt and 4 cups of strong flour. Two cups have to be strong white flour but as much as the other two cups can be a mixture of oatmeal, cornmeal, strong brown or wholemeal flour. We've lately discovered that wheat bran is a wonderful addition to homemade bread and is cheaper than strong brown or wholemeal, so we need to get some more of that. Also dishwashing liquid and chicken breasts. We buy 20-22 at a time at a wholesale place for cheaper than I've ever seen them on sale. I'm aiming to use only what we have on hand or in the garden this week as far as fruit and veg go.

Duchesse said...

I'd also say, buy what is in season. For example, I am currently enjoying fresh local raspberries at $3 a container, and in Feb. They will come from Chile and cost $7- so that's two reasons to buy them now. Of course frozen is cheapest of all but what a difference in the experience!

I don't buy industrially-produced meat in those big-box store packs; the local is a bit more expensive but I would rather eat less and buy what is raised and killed consciously. (Hesitate to say 'humanely', since I have not seen the farms firsthand.)

This raises an interesting question, I am wondering how you feel. Do you take into account the political and ethical side of consumption or just price?

Anonymous said...

Sometimes my students side-track me into giving investment advice (I explain short-term vs. long-term savings and encourage use of index funds.)