After hitting that budget wall, I took on June as a food vs. money challenge. And, like when you learn a new word then see that word everywhere, I discovered that lots of people are addressing the issue of eating well without cashing in your retirement fund.
50 Healthy Foods for Under a Dollar a Pound suggests a number of great foods, some found on special, but most available any time of the year. Note, most of his options are not organic, but he does provide a list of foods most effected by pesticides to maxmize organic purchases.
My own quest for good food without spending a small fortune has made progress this month. The first step was a simple but profound one: Mindfulness. (As G.I. Joe so eloquently said, “Knowing is half the battle.”)
I coordinated my farmers market purchases and my veggie delivery so that there’s no overlap, but if I miss anything at the farmers market I can probably secure it via the veggie delivery. Same with the dairy – right now, the farmers market price on some meats is lower, but others is higher – by checking in advance and paying attention I can get quality meats at the best price available to me.
Mindfulness applied even more to my Peapod order last week. I still believe the delivery fee is worth the price when the alternative is multiple trips each week on foot with a push cart, to shop in the land of myriad temptations and stand in line forever, like limbo where I can either rethink my purchases or read trashy magazines to smother my financial conscience. I aimed for items on sale, and if there was a sale on something I know we eat a lot (like the canned organic black beans at $1/can) I stocked up at the sale price (bought 10 cans). Large tubs of plain hummus were cheaper than small tubs of the flavor we like — but by committing to add fresh minced garlic myself, I convinced myself to take advantage of the sale of the plain variety. Overall my shopping cart in this case was fuller than average for about the same amount of money as past purchases. As a nice little touch, I took advantage of a Peapod special for recurring customers – one free item from a list of selected things, from which I chose the “Personal Melon”, which was a small round seedless watermelon (which turned out to be beyond divine!) I also signed up to pay by direct debit vs. my credit card – they give a $1 discount on every order for sparing them the merchant fees.
I stopped in at my favorite grocery store to purchase a few pounds of fresh fish. And at the farmer’s market I bought a ham steak and kielbasas.
Seven days left in the month, and I have a very full pantry, fresh meats in the freezer, fresh veggies (including oodles of lettuce from our balcony garden!) and the only remaining expenses are next week’s dairy and veggie deliveries. Mint tells me I have not really spent less, but I assuredly have gotten more for my money.