How I Skimp

by Fresh and Frugal

Sorry to disappoint once again with no real recipe to speak of. The fact of the matter is, I’ve been traveling back from Indiana and my family to Philadelphia, which isn’t quite “my city” just yet. So. This week I’m basically starting from scratch with stocking fresh ingredients, since I was traveling for two weeks. Speaking of which, my poor plants!

They had been so pretty before I left for two weeks!

Since I’m starting “from scratch” with my fresh stock, I’m going to assume you are too (but let’s face it: there’s always that container of x leftover from last week that we meant to use and just forgot about).  This was a large fresh-grocerying week, especially because I had to restock on cheeses. At the bottom of the post, I’ve created two lists: one of (nearly) un-perishables that I tend to keep stocked NO MATTER WHAT, and that which I just purchased — my weekly fresh, cheap stock.

Grocery Mix

Unfortunately, I had planned on a super-easy dinner tonight which involved avocados and all sorts of roasted veggies in a limey, light dressing, but alas! the avocados at the store were harder than rocks. On this lovely (read: hot) Sunday afternoon, I planned on a quick run in, dumping all my favorites into a hand basket, and then a nip right back out. Today, however, they were out of just about everything. When I say just about, I most definitely mean anything fresh without a bruise. So tonight we’re getting crafty, and if it goes well, that will certainly be my first post for you!

Mmmm Gala Apple

Being the compulsive buyer I am, and after re-reading my last post, it seems like it might be helpful to mention some of the tricks I use (to trick myself) when at the store. Wait wait, I’m ahead of myself. Before you even enter the store, arm yourself with a list. Yes, I know, I was once among the horde of shoppers who write out a well-intentioned list and then left it in the purse/pocket/wallet, but I  know it has helped me, at least, keep from forgetting things I otherwise ALWAYS miss.

So head to the store (with your lovely reusable bags in tow), and as you enter, skip the full-blown driver-cart-thing. Battle the urge to splurge! No splurging unless there’s still room in the hand-basket you’re using. How this works: if you can fit everything in there, fantastic. If you can’t, some of your vitamin-rich, fresh food would start to lose some of its valuable pizzaz while it sits in the fridge, so don’t panic! Just (if you can) swing by the store again in a few days to pick up those miscellaneous things that were too bulky for you.

One of the many things I had to put back

I mentioned my ‘treats’ last time. They’re another of my tricks: seasonal, special treats over something wrapped in cellophane and smothered in preservatives. Knowing that you’ve already picked up those Bing cherries you’ve been salivating over for the past 5 days might just keep your fingers from straying to the 2-gallon tub of  generic ice cream. If that doesn’t work, at least go for an ice cream with hunks of those cherries?

Not cherries, but frozen mango: LIKE icecream.

Last, but not least, consider the way your entire purchase would look to say, your mother’s scrutinous gaze. Not that my mother scrutinizes my purchases — she has no reason to anymore! So if you wouldn’t want her to see that giant gallon of ice cream or the “value pack” of whoopie pies (even if the sweet Amish man from the farmer’s market made them), put ’em back. If I didn’t do this, I would NEVER make it out of the store with transportation/fun money.  So that’s it! And here are those promised lists:

Those are roasted peppers and tomatoes

Stock: basmati rice; angel hair pasta; penne pasta; Trader Joe’s (TJ) dry pesto-stuffed pasta, 2 cans corn, 2 cans black beans, 1 can chick peas, plenty of flour and sugar and eggs, butter, mayo, TJ’s spicy mustard, olive oil, balsamic, honey, crackers (Carr’s, as I learned from Aura, are amazing), coffee, tea, frozen chicken, frozen bread (English Muffins, plain bread, sometimes bagels, and always some sort of artisan bread), and Goddess Salad Dressing from TJ’s.

I didn't make this, but I did eat it.

Fresh this week: 1/3 gal. milk, 1 small Greek yogurt, shredded mozzarella, Greek feta, shaved parmesan-romano cheese (it was on sale!), 2 apples, 1 single-sized watermelon, 2 anjou pears, 1 lb. cherries, 1 large container blackberries, 2 yellow squash, 1 hothouse cucumber, 2 small containers of cherry tomatoes, 1 bag of broccoli and cauliflower mix, 1 bag of 3 romaine heads, 1 bag of spinach, 2 leeks, 1 small bag assorted potatoes, 1 small bag green and yellow string/wax beans, and 1 container of button mushrooms. I still had, but did not re-purchase 1/2 an onion that looks like it’s still okay. All of this cost a measly $61.55. Next week will cost less. I’ve weaseled out of there before having spent barely $40 for a week’s worth of food (okay, there were lots of carrots involved).