My parents separated when I was about 13 and my mom supported us with very little help from my father. Striking out on her own to reenter the job market wasn’t easy but she managed. Her job paid once a month and she would do most of her shopping for the month on pay day. This meant Shoppers Food Warehouse generic brand processed convenience foods. Not a lot of sweets though, no ring dings or Twinkies for us. No, but we did have boxes of mac n cheese, Ramen, spaghetti O’s, Cheerios, you get the picture, all generic in black and white boxes(do they even make those anymore?), and the staples, eggs, milk, flour, sugar, coffee. Meat was ground beef and chicken. Apples, oranges, iceberg lettuce, tomatoes and cucumbers were about the extent of our fruits and vegetables. Oh and plums, my mum loved plums. She hated raisins though. She must have made a few trips between paydays but it was only for milk and maybe juice or eggs.
I think of that almost every time I shop because there is no way I could do once a month shopping, I try to do bi-monthly shopping, our paydays are twice a month, but eating real perishable food, means we have to use it up. The idea of going to the market to buy fresh food every few days is one I romanticize about but find it’s not very practical.
I am finding some tricks to extend the time between shopping trips. Here are four of them.
1. I buy fresh vegetables and fruits for week one and stock up on quality organic frozen or longer lasting vegetables for week two. I have to be very intentional though to use the freshest first and save longer lasting vegetables for the second week. Root vegetables and squashes will last in the fridge for a couple of weeks. I keep a variety of frozen vegetables and fruits such as broccoli, peas, green beans and strawberries or other berries.
2. I purchase the bulk of my meat once a month and freeze most of it.
3. Proper planning. Making meal plans and shopping lists from the meal plans ensures I have all the ingredients I need on hand.
4. Be flexible. No matter how well I plan I always manage to forget something or have to change something up at the last minute. I’ve become a master at altering recipes so I don’t have to run to the store for that one little ingredient.
Do you like to stock up or shop more often?