Today I did my monthly shopping and I felt like sharing some of the blessing that has come my way during this outing – every time I do a major shopping I feel like H-shem (G-d) is sitting on my shoulder making sure to send me just what I need, and today was no exception.
First I went to get free range eggs from a woman I discovered on Craig’s List several months ago. She usually charges 1.50 a dozen, but I had seen an ad on CL for 1.25 at a time when she had lots to get rid of, so she agreed that’s the price she’d charge me. Then a month ago they had so many, that she told me if I would buy them all they’d charge me $1 a dozen. They told me it was worth it for them since: a) it saved them the time and effort of going to sell the eggs at an auction, where they’d also get $1 a dozen, and b) since from the beginning I’d offered to give them egg cartons that I recycled, it saved them having to buy them, so they’d actually make more profit selling to me than the auction, with much less aggravation. We use a lot of eggs since they are a high quality protein from an ideal source, and at this price they’re very affordable to boot!
Today she had 43 dozen for me, but I only had twenties and she didn’t have change for $60, so she told me to just pay $40 for all of them. The last couple of times I went, they gave me a dozen ducks eggs free (they only have a couple of ducks and never used them for themselves, but when I mentioned I was interested in trying them just gave them to me!). They’re very nice people who take great care of their animals, and today I asked her if she’d be interested in having our ducks. I thought it would be a great home for the ducks and that this family would enjoy them as well, after her husband telling me last month that he bought a bunch of ducks and geese for no reason but because he likes seeing them run around the property.
The kids (I took ds4, dd9, ds11, and dd13) enjoyed seeing the 8 week old puppies (and imploring me to take one home), cows, horses, ducks, geese, ducks, and chickens. Picking up the eggs would have taken just a short time but we were there for 45 minutes, which was especially nice for ds4, who was very upset that he didn’t get to go to his grandparents with his three brothers (ages 1, 2.5, and 8 ) when we were out shopping. So it was a personalized, hands-on kind of ‘farm tour’ and added a lot more interest to his day out with us.
Before I left, she offered me a 50 lb of potatoes for free. Her husband had bought more than they could use at the auction and they were starting to sprout; she didn’t want them to go to waste but told me most people she knew wouldn’t be willing to consider produce that wasn’t perfect. I told her that maybe I’d cut off the sprouting eyes to plant – I had a few potato plants that started from my compost pile and last week when I did some digging for the new raised beds accidentally discovered treasure -beautiful red and white potatoes growing right in my yard without any effort on my part! Now planting those sprouted eyes seems like a worthwhile thing to do (though if I’ll get to it or not will depend on how much time I can find for it)!
Then I went to the store, where I found some great deals! Firstly, they were giving away tomato starts – I asked why, and they said most people had planted their gardens already and they wanted to clear things away. I’ve never seen anything like this before. Since I was so busy with the conference and the older kids’ high school graduation, plus building new raised beds just a couple of weeks ago, I didn’t do nearly the amount of planting from I wanted to earlier in the season, and a couple of days ago was thinking that I’d really lose out on the growing season this year. And now I was sent about 180 free tomato plants to get me on track! Yes, you read that number right! Good thing we like tomatoes. I also got 3 eggplant starts and 2 peppers starts for $1. Though it might have been too late for some people, the timing was perfect for me.
Then I got 2 large watermelons for $3, 6 cases of Brown Cow yogurt (2.49 for 12 -1 serving flavored yogurts), and 25 dozen eggs (cage free, hormone free) for .89 each. (I don’t like to buy all the eggs I need for a month from one person because then they’d have to save them up for me for a while and the eggs would be too old when I bought them.) I got some other things, like 10 lb of baby limas for .49 lb, and canned tomatoes. I also got a flat of marigolds ($3) to plant near my vegetables – they’re a natural and attractive insect repellent. The yogurts will help to make mornings simpler – no one feels like cooking or eating much during summer mornings, and little yogurts like this are a treat. I was so busy looking at the yogurts that I forgot to buy the organic canteloupe, honeydew, and blackberries that were really good prices. But since they would have required fridge space I didn’t have, I think it was providential that I ‘happened’ to get distracted.
I also got some delicious raw kombucha – I don’t know if the price was good or not since I’ve never bought it before, but I felt like I needed to have a little something, and when I saw this, knew it would be just the thing. And it really was.
At the next store (only went to 2 today), I picked up my bulk order. Today I got 30 lb. raisins, 30 lb pecan meal, 30 lb almond meal, and 2-50 lb bags of hard white wheat. I couldn’t believe it when my dd told me last week that we were almost out of wheat! Since November when I started reducing our grain intake, I haven’t replenished most of the grains that I had in the pantry, and didn’t really notice things running down – I used to always have plenty of wheat on hand. I’ve been using a lot more nut meals in baking, but I was aware of how fast I was going through those so there was no surprise factor.
Usually I like to be sure my fridge and freezer are fairly empty before I go shopping, but despite my efforts for the last two weeks, nothing I did seemed to make a dent in what we had. Part of that is that our side by side fridge that we got several months ago really isn’t space efficient (even though it’s several inches wider than our previous fridge), so no matter what I do it seems there’s not enough room for much more than some leftovers and a moderate amount of fruits/vegetables. And the other thing is that my freezer is an ancient manual defrost model – I came home from the conference a week and a half ago to find the door half open, and a layer of ice over 5 inches thick encasing everything! So I couldn’t easily get things out that I wanted to use and didn’t have time to hack away at the ice with a sledgehammer. The freezer now seems a lot more full than it is, and until it gets a major defrosting, nothing more will fit in.
So I was really limited by how much I could buy of perishables, but H-shem knew what I needed and didn’t send me the temptation of amazing prices on things I wouldn’t be able to store. I did get a case of cream cheese (.59 for 8 oz, and there were 36 in the case, so 13 lb – it’s a very compact box) and several flats of 8 oz sour cream containers (.59 each), and two cases of blueberries (ie 24 pints – each case was $15). Blueberries and sour cream make a lovely lunch! The only other thing I got that needed refrigeration were (3) 3 lb bags of broccoli for 1.99 each.
My dh has been eating according to the GAPS diet for several months now, and one of his staples is butternut squash. I was thinking this morning before I left that I wanted to be sure to look for things he could eat, and I was delighted to find 6 large butternut squash for 1.49 each, and then a lot more mid sized butternut squash priced at .50 each! And something nice about winter squash like these is that they don’t require refrigeration, so they stay well stored in box in the basement. In this same store I bought brown rice in the bulk section for .57 lb – some of the bags were marked .59 lb, but if you can pay less by paying attention to what packages you buy, why pay even .02 more per pound for the same product?
I also bought a huge turtle cheesecake for ds16’s upcoming birthday. I was debating about if I should since I don’t exactly find the ingredient list to be healthful and we could easily make it from scratch, but his favorite dessert is cheesecake and I knew this would be something he’d appreciate on his birthday. The cheesecake was almost 7 lb so there will be plenty for everyone, and the price was only 5.99.
I always come home from these trips pretty tired – but so grateful for all the abundance that comes our way, at just the right times!