How DO You Save on Your Grocery Bill?

I just read about six articles titled this, or something like this, and not one of them was brave enough to say the number one thing you can do to save huge bux on your grocery bill:

Buy. Less. Meat!

Look, I know that the mere suggestion of tapering off meat consumption is enough to send some of us into an anti-vegetable tirade verging on apoplexy. Just take a breath and hear me out. Read More

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How happy is the medium?

I’m getting fed up. On the one hand, I want to eat well for health and happiness and all that. On the other hand, I don’t want to spend a ton of time worrying about what I eat, or feeling deprived, or counting calories. The biggest hurdle I’m encountering in trying to achieve that long-sought balance is dessert.

In one ear, I’m telling myself that it’s okay to do without dessert more often than not. That it’s not necessary for completing a meal, and that it’s a bad habit best done without. The sooner I kick it, the better (much easier said than done).

In the other ear is my paternal grandmother. She’s well into her 90s now, and she’s telling me it’s not worth doing without. I should enjoy myself, worry-free, while I’m young and able, and not get hung up on ideas like long life or what my body looks like.

This all comes on the news that the Fella and I have both gained about 2″ of waistline over the summer. He’s also gained nearly 10lbs. I haven’t gained anything, which is worrying for different reasons.

And I don’t think we’ve been especially debaucherous. We stick pretty closely to a good, vegan-ish diet for five days of every seven. While we do splash out those other two days, we both lose our taste for junk before the weekend’s out.

Yet it adds up. Were I to put a finger to a particular culprit, I would blame booze. Those liquid calories go down too easily, and don’t take up the kind of space that solid ones do. Not to mention that being even slightly drunk instigates snackiness, which invariably means chips, or crackers, or similar.

So though I feel that minimizing or eliminating ‘treats’ is the obvious answer to this dilemma, I’m still nagged by the notion that we will be depriving ourselves. We’ll be living less fully or happily because we go without dessert most nights, or because we limit ourselves to one alcoholic beverage per day of the weekend.

But that’s just as clearly nonsense. What makes me unhappy (and the Fella too, I think) is being fat. Is being uncomfortable in my own skin. Is feeling sick, or tired, or depressed from eating garbage, to the point where it seems like the only solution is to soothe myself by eating more garbage. How can it be deprivation to not eat said garbage in the first bloody place?

We so strongly tie our emotional well-being to food. The act of eating, and the rituals that surround it in particular, are packed with emotion. Just yesterday we agreed that what we like most about getting our ‘treat’ of Sunday breakfast bagels with cream cheese has almost nothing to do with the bagels themselves. They’re barely even bagels – just soft bread hoops, with an uneven spread of plastic-y foiled brick cream cheese. But we have this ritual.

We take the dog downstairs for his first potty break of the day. Then I go back home with the pup, and the Fella takes a jog to the local national coffee-and-donut chain. By the time he gets back, I’ve got cups and plates set out, and our Sunday YouTube lineup cued on the TV. We sit and much, and watch a couple of videos. And that’s it.

It may not seem like much, but it’s become our little thing. We both like the thing, because it’s ours, and we spend those moments together. We pause the video and talk about what it’s made us think about. But the thing and the food go together. Take the food out of the equation, and it’s just not the same.

With this problem, as with any problem, any solution we arrive at must be practical yet sustainable. And any sustainable solution is going to be predicated on achieving balance. What may work is paring back everything, then examining the foods or habits we might want to add back and asking ourselves how much value these things possess. Are they worth adding back in? How badly have we missed them? Have we even missed them at all?

I’m not opposed to altering or replacing our Sunday ritual, but I feel if we kept nothing else, I’d like to keep it. Something about the pleasing arrangement of tasks, about the time of day. It’s early enough that it’s unlikely to be interfered with, unless we stay the night before at someone else’s place. And it’s just a few moments when we’re home together that’s just for sitting quietly, and munching, and watching telly.

Surely that’s worth giving up dessert for.

World’s Easiest Baked Beans

I used to hate beans. As in never ate them. They had weird, leathery skins and crumbly, dry insides. So baked beans were never on my radar. I think I’d been convinced to try the merest taste of some as a child, but it was sauce only. It was exceedingly sweet, or perhaps unexpectedly so. In either event, it was a no-go situation. Kids, in my admittedly limited experience, are creatures of blacks and whites; savoury is for supper and sweet is for dessert, and never the twain shall meet. Read More

When less is more

I’ve gone back to thinking about food and nutrition and how these things are spoken of in the public sphere. There was an article in the paper about a school that has pizza days, but limits students to one slice each. There’s also a book coming out whose author is a YouTuber and medical professional. It’s called The Bad Food Bible, and it talks about commonly vilified foods, as well as when and how to eat them. Read More

Follow-up about spices

Just a wee, quick blurt regarding the price comparison between buying spices in bulk versus in the shop.

So, the cheapest readily available allotment of ground coriander they’ve got at one of the grocers I frequent is $3.29 for 28gr. If we multiply that out, we’re looking at roughly $12 per 100gr ($11.75, for accuracy).

Compare that to the bulk store, who charges $14.30 per kilo, or $1.43 per 100gr. So I got 75gr for $1.07. And also, in addition to that, I got to bring my own packaging.

Conclusion: the grocery store charges literally 10x as much as the bulk store for the exact same thing. Neither of these are sale prices, but often the bulk store has a blanket 15% off spices, along with coupons for $3 off $10 (before taxes).

Seek ye the bulk shop! Save a fortune!

$30 Challenge – Week Four

It’s all over, baby! Our experiment is completed, so it’s time to review our progress and draw our conclusions. The hypothesis was that two adult people, living in downtown Toronto, could survive on $30 of groceries per week, along with $50 combined for miscellaneous personal spending. Read More