Changing the way I think about food

Over the past few months, I’ve changed the way I look at grocery shopping and how I spend my food budget.

Back in November, I started shopping at a different grocery chain. It’s close to the college I teach at. The store sells mostly fresh items. There is a large produce department, an extensive meat and seafood department and a large bakery. You can’t buy shampoo or cleaning supplies there. They don’t have many canned items either. The company owns most of the farms that their dairy and meat come from.

The first time I went, I picked up some chicken and a few other items that were on sale. When I made the chicken breasts I had purchased (hormone free, antibiotic free, free range), my husband remarked on the flavor of the chicken. Jeff is not a big fan of boneless chicken, so for him to remark on it was impressive.

The next time I went, I purchased more meat that was on sale. Again, the flavor was excellent. We purchased our Christmas turkey there and the flavor was amazing. I’ve also purchased Porterhouse steaks a few times (when they were on sale for 3.99/lb). Again, we were so pleased.

Since I started shopping there, our overall food budget has not changed. I have used less canned and boxed food. We are eating more fruit and veggies. We are enjoying our meals more. We are less likely to look at the meal plan and say “Wanna go out tonight instead?” I’ve noticed over the past few months that my freezer and refrigerator have more food in them and my pantry shelves have less.

While I was always happy with the food we were eating, I have been thrilled with that we’ve been eating for the past few months. I’ve decided to stop purchasing what’s cheap and have started purchasing what is good (but on sale, in the case of meat). I’ve also noticed that I’m not spending more money than I did before. If I purchase a large roast on sale, we’ll make 4 meals out. I’ll take the leftovers and freeze some of it  and use the rest in new food preparations.

I want you to take a look at what you are feeding your family and see if there is a better way. I know not everyone has access to the kind of grocery store I have here. We are very lucky to have such a store but there are things you can do locally. Look into community supported agriculture in your area. Half a share for a few hundred dollars can put produce on your table all summer for about $10 a week. Look into purchasing local meat from farms in your area. If you go in with some friends to purchase half a cow, it can be a very frugal way to stock your freezer. Most farms will cut and pack everything for you at your direction. There are lots of local options out there. It might take a bit of time to do research on your part but you might be surprised with the options in your area.