Because I went grocery shopping. I know, that sounds lame. Once upon a time, when I was young and stupid (well, naive anyway), grocery shopping was easy. It entailed one store, often picked solely because of how close it was to my home or because I could write a check there. Things have changed, drastically.
I know I’m not the only one saying things are hard these days. Few of us (if any) are doing better financially now than we were at any other time in our lives. My hubby is, thankfully, well employed, at least well enough to consider us pretty much in the middle of the middle income bracket. Still, knowing that there will be no social security by the time we retire, and because little things like tires for my car come up now and then, we’re pretty tight with our pennies.
I’m not employed, so I’ve taken it upon myself to stretch the grocery budget as far as I can. This means that the “Days of Wine and Roses” as far as shopping is concerned, are over. No more picking up last-minute items at 7-11 (how much money have I wasted on that??) and very little in the way of take-out food because I don’t feel like cooking. Between watching our budget and watching our health, those are no longer options.
So a simple task like grocery shopping has become incredibly complicated. It’s like Black Friday every two weeks. Cut the coupons, check the sales flyers, plan the attack.
Hubby got me a card for Costco on Friday. that’s the latest addition to the routine, and one of the reasons I was just plain exhausted yesterday. Costco, Aldi, and the mass chain grocery store all in one day. That was only half of the quest. There’s also the pet food store, the tiny little grocery store and Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s. Each location has specific items.
Aldi’s is the store everyone’s switched to, and I guess I’m no exception to that rule. When I began shopping there, it was only for the basics. Things that couldn’t be screwed up, that wouldn’t matter if I bought the “generic”. Flour, milk, eggs, sugar, the basics. Each time I went, I would try something else they offered. Sometimes I was impressed…the shampoo and conditioner, for instance, is EXACTLY the same as the Biolage by Matrix. Exactly. Not the Suave knock-off that smells about the same but has twice the water. I’m positive it’s made by the same plant, but less expensive only because of the name. I’ve been buying toilet paper there as well, because honestly some of the name brands are just too thick for me and since we have septic, we have to make sure it’s septic-approved, which it says it is. On the other hand, the liquid dish soap is just too watery for me. I don’ t use too much of that anymore anyway, but I find it’s worth it to pay a little more for a brand name.
Costco was an interesting experience. I didn’t buy too much there this trip because I just couldn’t see dropping our entire grocery budget on a couple of bottles (huge bottles) of laundry detergent or a case of diced tomatoes. Plus, with hubby having been there on Friday, the freezer was already full. I bought a couple of things, and at this point figure I’ll keep doing that, gradually switching us to buy things in larger-sized packages. After all, less packaging is not only economical, it’s slightly more environmentally friendly as there’s less packaging waste as well.
Then there’s the things that aren’t carried by either Costco or Aldi. Like bread flour, or the brand of herbal teas I prefer, therefore a stop at the chain grocery store. However, I’m *NOT* going to pay 59 cents a can for catfood when the pet store has it for 40 cents a can. So another stop there…
And then the meat at the chain grocer is just abominable. Seriously. There’s a tiny little indpendent grocery store in an affluent part of a not-affluent suburb. They carry grass fed beef, Amish chicken, bulk herbs and heirloom produce, among other wonderful items and even a smaller selection of normal grocery items. The meat is amazing, and usually only about 10 cents a pound more than the chain, if that. Worth every penny as it’s sooooo much more enjoyable! Plus, if I watch the sales, sometimes they have phenomenal ones…I got the Amish chicken breasts, skinless and boneless, for 99 cents a pound once. I still have some in the freezer, because I bought an awful lot of them. It was worth it.
Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods are places I don’t go to as often, but do when I can. Mostly because it’s expensive, and a little off the beaten path for me. But my niece has an unbelievable number of food allergies and lives pretty far away from either store, so if I’m in the neighborhood, I pick things up for her and, naturally, a couple of things for myself as well. The chains are getting better selections of some of these things (like her ice cream substitute and sunbutter), but the specific kind of “cheeze” she can eat can only be found at Whole Foods. In addition, Whole Foods has essential oils and whenever I have a head cold, I’ve found that a little eucalyptus oil in my humidifier clears it up quickly, so I will run there to get that.
Wow, and that’s not even including Dollar Tree…which I don’t go to very often, but I’ve actually found headphones for my Mp3 player there…and yes, I’m that cheap.
What would have once taken me a couple hours once or twice a month now takes the better part of a week every other week. It’s ridiculous. Needless to say, yesterday after I’d finished three stores (and a stop in at Hobby Lobby…though you can’t really count that as groceries!), I was in physical and mental agony.
And wouldn’t you know, there’s a couple of things I forgot? Yeah, well, they’re going to have to wait. I’m done. At least for a week or so.