Most of what TL and I do, we just do cause we’re strange. But in tough economic times, our eccentricities may be of interest to others. Why? Because our weird Little House lifestyle is naturally low cost! So, here are eight ways that being eccentric like us could help you lower your grocery bill.
1. Five a day? No way. We’re more like nine a day. A diet built on a foundation of fruits and vegetables is super healthy. And it just so happens that it’s really low cost as well. If the bottom of your pyramid is produce, there’s very little room in your day for expensive toaster tarts, whop biscuits, or cheese puffs.
2. Eat in season. But how do we tell? Cause we know the seasons? Not Ivory. She just reads the ads and won’t buy any produce over $1 a pound, which usually means it’s in season. Done! Last week it was pink lady apples and local tomatoes-n-peaches at Schnucks. This week it was more pink lady apples and local peaches with local tomatoes and valencia oranges from Kroger. (Ivory doesn’t need to buy many veggies right now since her garden is rockin’…woot!)
3. Like those long-living, hard-working folks of yore, the Little House ladies eat very moderate amounts of meat and milk products. We’re ‘sprinklers’. We make mostly one-dish, vegetable-based meals, with little or no meat/cheese mixed in. Turns out, that’s a super low-cost way to eat (super healthy too.)
4. If it doesn’t grow in the ground or walk on it–it’s not food. (Yes, fish swim, but it’s not as snappy to say.) Ivory won’t buy anything that wasn’t RECENTLY in one of those categories. There’s not a lot of ‘made with BLANK’ at her house. Either it is BLANK, or it didn’t get bought. We don’t eat peanut energy bars, we eat peanuts. Ever see an energy bar tree? Me neither. Funny thing is, it’s really expensive to eat ‘made with BLANK’ and really cheap to eat BLANK.
5. Be really weird about wastefulness. Ivory never pays more than $2 a pound for boneless meat/poultry/fish (except salmon filet night–that limit is $4 a pound). Why? Just cause she’s weird and any more seems like unnecessary extravagance. She’s that way with ten dollars or a million in her pocket. And TL’s hubby is just like her. Rich or poor, we have our own internal wastefulness meter, and that sucker is set pretty low.
6. Be a lazy cook/meal planner. I keep around the basics for the normal breakfast options. I keep around the basics for normal school lunch options. I buy the makings for a few simple dinners. Apart from that, I am a SLACKER. But, it’s amazing how long you can cook out of your pantry when you are too lazy to go to the store. And if I’m too lazy whip up something creative out of my head, I use Supercook. You just type in what you have around the house, and it starts kicking out recipes. That means, rather than buying new ingredients all the time, I’m using all that random stuff I already have hanging around. Laziness is very cost effective!
7. Buy booze. HA! What I mean is, set a grocery budget, and whatever is left over, gets spent on grown-up frivolity. Not that we don’t have a fun budget, but if putting those ridiculous specialty cheeses (that make Ivory’s internal meter PEG) back on the shelf means Mr. Ivory gets some spontaneous extra-budgetary brew–his tastes in food switch from budget breaking to remarkably frugal.
8. Read the ads and SHOP AT ALDI! If you don’t have an Aldi, you’re in my prayers. But if you have one within thirty minutes and haven’t been there? I’m so not talking to you until you go. Mine is twenty minutes away. My Wally World is two blocks away. BUT, I can drive all the way to Aldi, shop, and be home in less time than it takes me to get out of Wally World…AND it’s half the bill.