Monday, September 29, 2008

Reusable grocery bags & grocery budget

I know I'm not alone in trying to get the most for my money each month. A little needs to last and I'm trying to cut back where I can.

One thing I have found to be helpful is to make a menu for two weeks (from payday to payday), make a corresponding shopping list according to what I have in my pantry, and try very hard to STICK TO IT! Of course, there are days where I don't feel like cooking what's on that day's menu or dinner plans change at the last minute, but on the whole, it's a great idea for me. I post my menu on the fridge so that anyone who cares to know will be able to see what's for dinner on any given night and I can see the night before what I need to take out for the next day. If you are stuck in a rut and are having a hard time deciding what to cook, you may be interested in a Yahoo Group I belong to called Momsmenuplan. Before joining this group, I rarely made a menu, much less a grocery list. I have one of the best stocked pantries that is filled with food I probably won't use. I used to go up and down each aisle and "graze". I threw stuff in my cart because it looked good or I thought I might use it soon. Now I look in my pantry to help me decide what to cook in the coming weeks and to make my list so I don't duplicate what I already have. Sure, I still graze occasionally but, for the most part, I stick to my list and I'm saving so much money by doing this. Yes, I sometimes forget some key ingredients, but not that often.

I remembered to take my cloth grocery bags to the store today. I happened to get into the line of the most OCD cashier I've probably ever come across. While I was unloading my cart, she was scanning my meat and bagging each one into individual PLASTIC BAGS before putting them into my cloth bags. When I caught on to what she was doing, she said she didn't want the meat to leak onto my cloth bags. I said that is the beauty of cloth...they're washable! I didn't want to argue, even when my laundry detergent was leaking a little bit. Rather than get out of line to grab another one, I asked her not to plastic bag it because I had a nylon bag that I could put it in. GEEZ! Will bringing my own bags ever get easier? The only time I don't have a problem is when I scan my own groceries. Since my cart was near to overflowing today, I didn't want to deal with it myself.

One big way that I'm trying to save money is by using less gas. I love to see my friends but I will try to schedule lunch with them around other errands in their parts of town. Unfortunately, I drive a large SUV that sucks on gas mileage but with a big family and my chauffering trips, I am trying to cut back wherever I can. Gone are the days when I'd get the kids up on the weekends and start driving just to see where we'd end up. Any of you do that, too? The other day my friend and I were discussing ordering something online rather than just buy it locally. She asked how I could justify the shipping charges. We were talking about buying tea. I told her that for me to go to our favorite local tea vendor, it is 38 miles round trip for me at about $12 in gas, as opposed to $3.75 in shipping charged by my favorite tea vendor on eBay. It would even be cheaper for me to ask my local vendor to mail me my tea rather than pick it up in person. Granted, I miss the chit-chat and the personal service, but I'm also less tempted to buy something I don't need (she's also a full service quilt shop). These are things I think about now that I didn't even give a second thought to before we felt the shift in our economy.

I wondered today how many people have been laid off where I used to work. I'm afraid to call someone and ask. My husband even told me that many city employees will be losing their jobs in the coming weeks. I hate to think of what our community will be like when they start laying off firefighters and police officers, which is what the city is planning to do. I know things are tough all over but DAMN where is the light at the end of the tunnel?


mama k said...

Dude. I hate the bag thing! They totally miss the whole point of bringing your own bags. sheesh.

Personally, we've been in a major finantial slump for a couple years... I quit my job to be a SAHM right about the time that the housing market started going down thus majorly cutting my hubby's income as a mortgage consultant. What can I say, we have 'great' timing. :) But honestly, we've been scrimping and saving so much that the doom and gloom economic forcast isn't really phasing me much. We'll just keep doing what we've been doing and it will have to be enough. DH recently took on a second PT job and I'm looking at some PT things I can do too.

Miss Snips said...

It is so different up here in Canada - there is a bit of a slowdown but nothing like you seem to be going through -- but being frugal is a lifelong habit. Using cloth bags will slowly catch on, do you remember a time when only paper bags were used? Well everyone wanted plastic but clerks many times reached for the paper bags, then it got to where they would ask plastic or paper and soon paper completely disappeared and everyone just got plastic bags, so change takes time but once the wave begins, It will soon cover most everyone... I don't even think of plastic anymore, not even in the department stores, I bring my own bags to the drug store, to wal mart, and to the grocery store. I have even taken them to the Chinese Restaurant to carry home my take out orders... It quickly becomes habit! I have 4 grocery size cloth bags, one really big cloth bag and about 4 smaller bags for small purchases. The only thing that I can't get used to is using home made bags for the veggie department, I still put carrots or apples or tomatoes in the small plastic bags to go to the check out... Hope things get better for you soon -- ps. Your gas prices are still alot lower than ours, though -- up here in British Columbia we are paying about $4.50 a gallon...