I’m so jealous when I watch Jane Austen-ish movies and Father furrows his brow and says something like, “We won’t have enough to buy coal through the winter. We’ll be out by December.” Huh? How does he know that? And the general store managers on pioneer shows that know exactly how many bootlaces Mr. Smith buys each season. And the farm wife of yesteryear who knew how many eggs her hens laid and how many bags of flour and salt it took to get through a year.
According to my reading, they did it through little monthly lists, kinda like this:
I couldn’t stand not to know anymore. So, I started keeping my own supply journal. Here’s how you do it.
1. Get a half sized spiral notebook. Label one page per category for May 2010: meat/dairy, fresh/frozen produce, beverages, paper/plastic products, baking aisle, convenience foods and impulsive trash, etc. (You’ll start a new set each month.)
2. Record the quantities and prices for the different categories. No obsessing. This isn’t your budget, it’s just an expense record. Leave out the tax. If it says 1.98, feel free to write 2.00. K?
3. Be shocked at the inordinate number of tiny chip bags your family goes through in a month just trying to keep the kids quiet in the store. I had no idea Mr. Ivory did that too! (I should break up a larger bag into serving size and keep them stashed in the back with the reusable shopping bags.)
4. Be appalled at the number of times you and your hubby run to the store without having hydrated and attack one of those mini-fridges for an over-priced bottle of water. (Throw some water bottles in the back too.)
5. Be impressed at how much you could cut your spending if you wanted to… Look at all the things I could make myself if I needed to. Look how much of our food budget goes to laziness or impulse. We’d save a fortune if I’d just make a bunch of freezer pizzas a month ahead of time. And did Mr. Ivory really buy jerky?
6. And finally, say things like “WOW, we eat a lot of almonds and walnuts! Six pounds in one month? Seriously? I had no idea. We killed twelve pounds of produce in five days? True we had company and all, but that plus the five pounds of strawberries I picked out of the yard? We are some plant-eating people! And olive oil. We just bought 17 oz on Friday and it’s half gone. CRIPES!”
Kid you not, it will change the whole way you look at your grocery list. I expect in one year to say something to Mr. Ivory like, “We ate sixty pounds of chicken thighs last year, but only 15 pounds of beans. We really should have a bean night every week, like we do fish. And with the fluctuations in poultry prices…it will probably save us (fill in the blank).” I’m so excited!!!!
So, you can do it to save money. You can do it to reduce your carbon footprint. You can do it because of good stewardship. You can do it because, like me, you were born 100 years too late and it irks you to not know how often you buy socks. Heck, you can do it to find out what a three month’s supply actually looks like so you’ll be prepared for that impending zombie apocalype my husband keeps training for on the XBox. But, regardless, I highly recommend it.