Monday, July 09, 2012
Bread And Butter
I think we have covered the subject of Shelter pretty well so I'll move on to Food. There is quiet a lot of info in that subject too, so I think I will make this a 2-part post also; grocery shopping, etc. in the first part and gardening/ preserving in the second. I know I have written on these subjects before but I'll try to make these a complete and concise summary of my methods.
Now, since we grow quite a lot, I really only have to buy staples like flour, oil, sugar and so on and some treats sometimes, like chocolate or avocados and such but I have a method for even this. First off, I never have had much luck with the couponing craze. I realized, after trying to sign up and explore all of that stuff, that I just didn't buy the majority of crap that they publish coupons for and it is an absolute waste of money to buy something, even at an exceptional deal, if you aren't going to eat it. Most of the coupons are for pre-packaged convenience foods or at least pre-made foods and I just don't buy much like that, so I quit putting so much effort into that strategy and developed a different one. Now, I do still keep and eye out for coupons, because I will occasionally see one that I can use, but I have found it more profitable to shop at a couple of stores that have a lot of "buy one, get one" sales. These type sales are normally on staple type items like flour, cooking oil, juice and such so it works out pretty good for me. Now, this method requires a little money up front. Kinda like that old saying, "if you want to make money you have to spend money." Well, if you want to save money you have to have a little money to get started. If you can buy all of your staples in larger sizes or with BOGO sales it is infinitely cheaper per ounce than what you would pay for the smaller sizes. Now, it costs a little more up front initially but the larger volumes obviously last longer and if I stock up while the sale is going I usually have enough to last until the next sale, where I stock up again. Now, I don't buy 5 gallons of stuff at a time so don't have it in your head that I'm like one of those doomer preppers (of which there is nothing wrong , btw). I'll buy, say, 15 lbs. of flour while it's on sale and put part of it in the freezer. This usually last fine until the next sale, so for you with limited space, it's not like you have to have an underground bunker to store all this. I might buy 4 or 5 bottles of the cooking oil I like when it is on sale etc. My goal is to never pay retail for these items and I usually am able to do this. Occasionally I get caught and have to go buy something at regular price but not often. Now, this usually requires I go by the grocery store each week, even if I don't buy anything, and just check what they have on special. This is not an extra expense or hassle as I usually go into town once a week anyway to deliver pottery. So, I just stop at a couple of places on the way home to check things out. Many stores also put their weekly specials up on online, so you can check that even and know whether you want to stop or not. Now, you have to be able to properly store your excess because if it spoils or bugs get in it, well, you've wasted your money. Make sure you have ample freezer and cooler space before you start. I have also gotten kind of creative with storage of veggies. Potatoes, for example, can be stored in the cool darkness under a bed. We did this when I was a kid. Mama would spread a layer of newspaper out under her bed and we would lay the potatoes on that in a single layer and they keep great. Winter squash does well too.
Secondly, I rarely buy pre-packaged food, as I stated just a bit ago. I will buy a few packages of natural flavored rice IF they put it on sale. These last a good while and add some variety to meals. I sometimes buy crackers or maybe a brownie mix, on sale, but for the most part it is much cheaper to make your own whatever and really, it doesn't take that long to throw together some muffin or pancake batter. I mean seriously, like 5 minutes or less. I don't make bread as often as I would like but I am working on that and am making my own yogurt and most all pickled products now. This kinda stuff is really easy once you try. I actually let it intimidate me for a while but it's ridiculous to. Another thing is all these little single serving packages for lunches; epic FAIL!! If you figure it up those things add up to cost like 3 times what the same amount of product would if it all came in one bag. Just buy a few reusable, small containers and dish out what you want for the day.
Thirdly, I rarely buy disposable products of most any kind. I mean, you are buying something that you are going use a little of and then throw away and then buy it again. WTH???! Almost any disposable can be replaced with a permanent or semi-permanent equivalent. I do buy freezer bags but I don't consider them disposable as most people do. I may not use them to freeze in a second time but they can easily be washed and used as simply storage bags. And as for germs, please; I've been doing this for years and never got botulism or whatever. Wash them in hot soapy water and hang to dry. I have replaced a good deal of my plastic storage stuff with glass also. Buy it once, lasts forever.
And my last point, I always buy the store brand if it is of a decent quality. I know some food store brands are just not that good, so that's sort of a personal choice, and there are some I won't buy because they suck; I'll buy the more expensive name brand. But, most things like pain relievers, stomach remedies etc., allergy meds are perfectly fine in their store brand form. I only buy these because they are usually significantly cheaper even if you have a coupon for the name brand.
Since I already have half of ya'll hating me from the pet comment I'll just go ahead and make it worse with this comment: most of our ideas about shopping, cooking and cleaning are simply brainwashing by corporate America to get us to buy their needless products and our inherent laziness goads us on. Commercials croon to us that they are actually trying to help us to live a more joyful life! I mean, think of all the blissful time with our families we could spend if we only bought those little single packages of chips, rather than just sticking your hand in the bag and doling out some into a Tupperware cup. We are so freakin' lazy that we won't, or think we can't, take time to wash a plate, so we buy tons of paper plates and cups over and over again. Then we wonder why we don't have the money to take our family on vacation and spend that quality time that those commercials promised us!! Dang it!! They said we would be able to!! What happened??? Now, before ya'll start throwing rocks at me, I came to these conclusions only because I used to buy into all that brainwashing. When I was in college I was too poor to buy much 'convenience' items but as I started making money I fell right in line with what those commercials wanted me to believe. As I started trying to seriously save money though, I began to see how I was being took. I mean, pre-packaged furniture wipes?? Just get or make a bottle of oil and tear up an old T-shirt!
So, there you have it. I have my hardhat on now so commence the rock throwing!!!