I’m overdue on my monthly shopping – I should have gone last week (didn’t because I don’t like to shop at crowded holiday times and I almost always go on Tuesday or Wednesday); and because we have the monthly homeschooling gathering on the day that I planned to go this week, I’m pushing off our trip for one more week – my kids really enjoy it and I don’t want them to miss it. That means it will be six weeks since I did any shopping, so I needed to a bit more careful than usual when planning this week’s this week’s menu since I usually have more vegetables to work with. The advantage of this long stretch between shopping trips is that my freezer is getting empty and it will be easy to find room for whatever I buy next week. The disadvantage is that my freezer is getting empty and it will be easy to find room for whatever I buy next week.
This morning I popped out to get some things to hold us over until the big shopping trip. Officially I restart my food budget on the 15th of each month, but I really prefer to do the big shopping first and then add to what I need after that (which usually is very minimal, if anything), so though usually I wouldn’t go out for a little trip like this at the beginning of my shopping period, I decided to reverse things for this week.
I got four dozen eggs and some milk (we only have a couple of gallons left in the freezer and were totally out of eggs – I can’t remember how many months it’s been since I ran out of eggs), plus some cheese (this is something I never can find kosher at my bargain shopping stores anyway) and then stopped at the vegetable store. My veggies are the area that I’m really low at this point and I absolutely can’t wait another week. It’s a privately owned store, and I go first thing in the morning when all of the discounted produce is out. This morning I spent $27.30, and got a shopping cart full of stuff – here’s an approximate rundown: 17 lb bananas, 43 lb vegetables (this is mostly tomatoes, onions – purple and white, mostly; baby potatoes, a couple of zucchini and carrots, parsnips, eggplant), 2 heads of celery .79 each, 7 heads of cauliflower, at .39 each (usually 1.99 each). The bananas and most of the vegetables were .29 a pound, the tomatoes were .49, and the eggplant was my big splurge at .69 a lb. So that worked out to about 72 pounds of produce, not including the cauliflower, which I plan to stretch for another week – we use a lot of veggies. That does sound a little monotonous and I probably should have gotten some carrots and cabbage, but together with the sweet potatoes and potatoes that I still have plenty of, I think we’ll do fine. Oh, and I do have some corn and green beans in the freezer. And some oranges and grapefruits, plus some frozen blueberries.
You might think that this is moldy and half rotten produce if it’s so cheap, but it’s really not. The bananas are ripe, but not overripe or mushy. They aren’t even speckled yet. But they aren’t green like the full price bananas. I’ll keep them in closed plastic bags to delay them ripening and they’ll easily last until next week (if my kids can restrain themselves that long!). The tomatoes are ripe, but not mushy. The cauliflower doesn’t look super fresh, but only one of them has a small place that will need to be cut off. Basically, produce has a short shelf life, and when a new shipment comes in, all the stuff sitting on the shelf has to be sold quickly or thrown away. Selling it quickly for a discount makes a lot of sense, doesn’t it?
And on top of saving money when you shop like this, there’s the fun of the cashier’s disbelieving voice when he/she tells your total and sees your cart loaded up for a fraction of what he expects. It never fails.