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New strategy for life:

I'm not sure why, but at some point I started going to the grocery store once or twice a month, loading up with $80 in stuff to last a couple weeks. I think it coincided with Food-Stamp-Arrival, something I dealt with long ago in poorer times.

Three weeks ago I decided on a return to another style, one more akin to European living.

Every day, after I pick up Des from daycare, we go to the grocery store and buy dinner.

I'm not talking about picking up a frozen pizza or microwave hamburgers -- we buy raw meat, fresh veggies, potatoes still coated in dirt, and whatever else we feel like. Somedays it's just Macaroni & Cheese, others it's bratwurst and new potatoes, but it's all bought within an hour or two of being eaten.

The first thing I noticed is that we actually eat earlier now, despite getting home later. When confronted with the "what's in the freezer?" challenge, we'd postpone eating until the last minute. Now, we start cooking as soon as we can unpack the grocery bags.

Second, the more obvious one, is that we eat much healthier. With the entire resources of the grocery store at our hands, without worries of "will this last in the fridge until I can use it?", we can pick a more rounded meal.

Third, I haven't had the opportunity to add things up, but it's cheaper and there's less waste. A bag of carrots is a couple bucks, and most will go bad before used up. One carrot at $1.99 a pound is only a couple cents. The most we've spent on a meal is maybe $3 or $4, and while it's hard to estimate the per-meal cost of a box of instant potatoes, we're much more satisfied by a couple cents' worth of fresh spuds. It helps in budgeting, too:
food stops being a major monthly expense, akin to the electric bill, and becomes a couple bucks here and there.

Finally, Destiny is really getting into it. I've impressed the importance of vegetables and regular meals since she was tiny, but now she's really starting to understand the origins of food. There's also more she can help in preparation; she's quite talented with the peeler. Destiny looks forward to dinner, rather than seeing the call to the table as an interruption.

I really like this idea, especially with a little one. It seems so much richer to be involved in the immediate process this way. Of course, I like stocking up too. Mmm, cans of stuff!

--g, 10/20/2002 17:35:44

One drawback -- this weekend I was Destinyless due to my ex's visitation, so I had to cook like a bachelor. This entailed making that packet of "Creamy Chicken Noodles" that's been in the cabinet for who knows how long, microwaving a frozen Chicken Kiev that I bought a couple months ago, and two meals of Ramen Noodles. Now my cupboards are empty. I'm still learning how this works -- I'll be better prepared in two weeks!

--Derek , 10/20/2002 19:18:25

:) Yeah, the secret to that daily thing may be having a staple- and seasoning- stocked pantry and shopping for perishables mostly, so's not to starve in a snowstorm. I could go on for hours about what is a stocked pantry, but I won't bore you. Maybe that's an idea for my next bw column. I'll bore them instead!

--g, 10/20/2002 21:48:58

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