Saturday, December 6, 2008

This Week's Shopping List

This week's menu was helped out a bit by Thanksgiving leftovers, but everything took on new, non-Thanksgiving forms. Despite the help of leftovers, this was an expensive week, mostly because I ordered bulk nuts, which will last us several months. Because my daughter is allergic to peanuts, but not to other nuts, we have to order our nuts from a company that does not process peanuts. If we did not have this issue, I would most certainly be buying our nuts in smaller, more financially manageable quantities in the bulk section of our health food store. Oddly, the prices I'm paying are comparable, but with shipping charges, it does cost a bit more. Sometimes sales make up for this extra cost. I'm also unhappy about the environmental impact of having anything shipped to my home. At least the box and packing materials were readily freecyled (check out - get in on all kinds of free stuff; find a good home for your unwanted clutter).

This week's menu looked like this:

Lunch: Turkey Carcass Soup with Matzah Balls

- Turkey Chili (leftover from the week before)
- Leftover Stuffing Casserole
- Whole wheat white pizza with mozzarella, ricotta, fresh tomatoes and swiss chard
- Coconut spinach Mahi mahi over brown rice

The shopping list for the week went like this (* indicates non-organic):

plum tomatoes
red peppers
green pepper
swiss chard
winter squash
broccoli crowns* (99 cents/lb)
Sunspire baking chips (2.99)
Knudsen sparkling cider (2.79)
mahi mahi* (5.99/lb)
Tree Ripe orange juice* (1.49)
pizza crusts*
pine nuts

The items that didn't get bought were the sparkling cider and the mahi mahi, the former because it wasn't available and the latter because it didn't look fresh. I made two extra purchases. I bought a few clementines that were priced right. My daughter developed a real fondness for them after trying them at a friend's house over the weekend. I also bought a few more cans of canned tomatoes that were still on sale, since I used some of them in last week's chili.

You might be wondering how I plan to make a dish that calls for mahi mahi without the mahi mahi. I have some mahi mahi in the freezer, as it happens, and that's what I'll use. Although I may sometimes buy fish and use it in the same week, I know that I always need a plan B if the fish doesn't look so hot in the store. Same is true for any meat product. I'll also frequently buy fish and meat specifically for the freezer, so that I have plan B waiting for me when the need arises. So, why not buy frozen fish instead, which is cheaper? Well, you can't look at frozen fish to see if it is fresh and healthy, so you're taking a gamble in buying it, and more often than not, you're going to lose. Unless you've had consistently positive experiences with a frozen product (as I have with frozen wild salmon at Costco), you're usually better off buying fresh and freezing at home.

The regular grocery bill came to $78.88. Add on the nut order, which was $109.34 (yes, it was a whole lot of nuts!), and the total for the week is $188.22, which is $65.72 over our weekly budget. Thankfully, we had a surplus of over $80 built up over the last few weeks, so we still have $15 to spare. Next week, we will likely go into the red temporarily, since we are getting an order from one of our wholesale clubs. It's important to view your budget on a monthly or quarterly basis rather than on a weekly basis. That allows for more flexibility in your buying habits, making it possible for you to buy in bulk and save money, without being overwhelmed by the price tag. Ridgid conformity to a weekly budget will either make your overall bills higher, or it will make the quality/quantity of your meals suffer.

In the coming weeks, some changes will be in order as we adjust to winter's lack of local produce. Economizing will mean relying more heavily on frozen and canned produce. Ah, spring ...

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