Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Adventures in Grocery Store Shopping

Despite my good intentions, I cannot seem to get pictures onto this blog. I expect this to be my undoing. After all, no one will read more than fifty words on the internet without pictures, right?

But setting that aside for a moment, I'm going to talk about a serious subject. Well, ok, not that serious. Only slightly serious, in a "Silas is going to wake up from his nap any moment and can I type fast enough to finish this post before he wakes up" sense.

Time was, I used to plan out meals for each week. All leftovers would be accounted for in the next day or two with lunches and grocery shopping was a once a week event, with MAYBE a second trip for fresh fruit and vegetables.

Now, thanks to Silas's love for going out and seeing the world, I find myself at the grocery store more often. We buy less each trip and meals are more on the fly. I thought for sure that this would add up. I'm positive I've read no fewer than six "money-saving" posts that implore you to go to the grocery store only once a week, and, for goodness sake, BRING A SHOPPING LIST or your budget will explode.

Neither of these things (going to the store more often and not bringing a list) has hurt my budget. Thanks to the magic of spreadsheets, I can confirm that I spend within the same average from month to month regardless of how I shop. This is good. Silas really loves getting out of the house and I really don't feel like planning out meals for each week.

This going to the store more often has also resulted in a few positive changes since I buy a few pieces of fresh fruit each trip rather than a bunch at the beginning of the week that goes bad before the week is over. And this is done without negatively affecting the budget as mentioned above. So, woo. Plus, I've recently had to start buying food for Silas as he has joined the ranks of babies who eat solids.

A typical trip to the store these days involves going to the produce section and buying fruit for Smiley, who will only eat green fruit. (This is maybe 25% exaggeration.) Then back to the meat department to pick up whatever meat is on the best sale, or, depending on the sales, no meat at all. Then up and down the aisles, mostly for Silas's benefit, but I check out sales prices on various items as well.

The back wall has the almond milk and eggs. We started drinking almond milk not for the price but to avoid the amount of calories in cow's milk. I suppose once Silas is old enough for milk we will add back in whole milk for the important fats he will need in the upcoming years, but that's still a few months down the road.

I buy whichever brands are on sale and I am not above pulling out my cellphone calculator to make sure that I'm getting the best deal in a world of varying container sizes and amounts.

My weaknesses are juice and whatever food I'm currently craving. For budget purposes, I want to shift towards drinking more water, but I really dislike having water all day. So I have to work on it some more because even on sale, juice is about a million times more expensive than water, which is more or less free from the tap. It might even be two million times more expensive than water.

As for the food I'm craving, that usually takes the form of some sort of easy-to-eat item that I will base my diet around for the next few weeks, occasionally months. Right now it is greek yogurt. I don't know if it really counts to call it greek yogurt since it is probably closer to a dessert than a yogurt, but I really love the thicker texture. Yoplait used to make a "thick and creamy" version of their yogurt that was similar in consistency, but it got phased out to only non-fat versions, and seriously, non-fat yogurts are the worst. They have a terribly chalky taste to me.

Well, I hear Silas starting to stir, so I best be on my way. We're going to have lunch and then hit the grocery store!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Blisters = The Worst

Awhile back, my husband "surprised" me by having several of our trees cut down. This had a treacherous downside; some vines tangled at the top of the tree ended up re-routed onto our bamboo fence. As the days and weeks (and, yes, months) went by, I watched the vines slowly attempt to take over the bamboo. But given that it's not easy to do outdoor chores with an infant and that, well, about a million things felt like a priority over vines, I did nothing.

Until today.

Today, Silas was starting to fuss, but it was a little bit early for him to take a nap. Into the stroller he went, and I parked him outside under the bamboo fence, away from the vined section. Then I set to work, grabbing the vines and hoping they weren't poison oak.

I didn't bother to look for my gardening gloves, because that would take time. I used my bare hands to grab the vines and pull as hard as I could. At some point, a dead branch fell from the sky. I kind of expected it, but it also kind of freaked me out that the only thing holding it up these past few months were those awful vines.

Well, the mosquitoes quickly attacked despite a healthy coating of insect spray, so I didn't get very far with my project, but I did get far enough to get a few tiny-yet-annoying blisters on my fingers.

That's the price I have to pay for marginally nicer-looking bamboo and also for being able to delay Silas's complaints for a good half hour. I guess one of these days he'll get to watch me trim the front azalea bushes!