As I closed out of Hotmail, I couldn’t help but click on the “Smart Saving Tips” threads. I don’t know what I expected to learn, but I had a good giggle…and got really frustrated too. Food may very well be getting more expensive. I wouldn’t know. I don’t keep track, but it’s just two of us plus the kitty, and we’ve always shopped pretty smart, without denying ourselves organics and nutrients. And I scrimp everywhere else. (My own mother calls me a tightwad.)
At one point, when I was in school and Tom had quit his job (came home during lunch one day and never went back!), we could walk into the grocery store with a $20 bill and walk out with less than 50¢. I added everything up in my head as we went, even figuring in tax. We ate a lot of salad and pasta. Not the most nutritious, but I hated nothing more than those phone calls, crying to my parents to send more money. We weren’t vegan then, and I hated all things bean. There were no blogs or cool cookbooks then to figure this stuff out. We could have been eating so much better.
But the information is so easy to find now. What’s the excuse? On these money-saver threads, whenever vegetarian meals were brought up (rarely), it was “try this once a week, maybe twice,” and accompanied what is apparently the only vegetarian meal that can pass as a meal: chili.
Instead, people shared their tips about buying bulk meat, “must sell today” meat, even picking up big cans of tuna at the 99¢ store. Apparently healthcare costs are totally separate from the grocery bill.
This was a big one: How do you save when eating out? You know what, if money’s that tight, you just don’t. People posted their secrets about buffets (why get quality when you can have quantity?) and early bird specials, oh, and drinking just water. We’ve gotten so used to spoiling ourselves that we think we’re cutting back because we saved $10 on cokes for a family of four. You still spent probably $50 (tax & tip) on dinner. Think of how many friggin’ meals you could make at home for $50! And how good they could be! Honestly, when I’m at a restaurant, I either think “I could have made this better” or I’m trying to figure out how I can replicate the meal at home.
The bread machine people did represent. And the home gardeners. But where were the bulk cookers? The home bakers? The leftovers-plus-a-tortilla-equals-lunchers? The 50-ways-to-eat-a-chickpea-ers? Were they like me and just got mad and ran to their own blogs to preach to the converted?