Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Shop like a Great Depression Survivor

This will be in Becky Holm's Douglas County News:

In 1976, when I was eleven and Mom was badly hurt in a car accident, Dad taught me how to shop for groceries. He told me we were going to fill up the cart and pay for it with $100.00 cash. It would be hard to fill a cart with $100 today without fake juice drinks and puffed up sugar cereal, but the principles he taught then still apply. Dad embarrassed me by snapping bottoms off asparagus and refusing to buy stone fruit because he did not want to pay for the pits. I love stone fruit so that is a rule I do not follow today. However, he also refused to buy food in boxes because he did not want to pay for boxes and air space, he wouldn’t buy canned food unless we shook the can to make sure it wasn’t full of water and he preferred simple, unprocessed food that was either bulk or packaged so he knew exactly what he was getting. When we were done, we had a cart full of meat, cheese, fresh and frozen vegetables for less than $100. Thereafter, he dropped me off at the store and I was to fill the cart for less than $100 by myself. All the way through the store I was counting and paying close attention.

Today I’d add the following advice: shop alone, do not talk on the cell phone while you are in the store, avoid big box stores that encourage you to buy more than you need, and shop twice a week rather than once so you always have fresh produce and do not throw any out. Subtract $5.00 per person from your normal grocery expense and take cash into the store. Have a secret stash to use ONLY if you find a quality ingredient at an exceptional discount. Otherwise if you spend $100.00 per week for two people, subtract $10.00 and take half of the new $90.00 total in to the grocery twice a week.

The first couple of times you shop this way, you may want to take pen and paper and mark one line per dollar with a hash when you reach five dollars.  Eventually it will become second nature.


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