I’ve been trying to be more conscientious about my purchases. I’ve always been a cheapskate, so sometimes it’s difficult for me to fork over that little bit extra for a more eco-friendly/socially responsible product. But, sometimes sacrifices must be made.
I spend about $90/week to feed myself, M (my room mate), and our frequent visitors (mostly Tom, but occasionally other dinner guests). I attempt to only shop once per week, but sometimes we do small, supplemental trips to balance out things we consume quickly (like local milk. Yum!). M also buys some things separately, like dog food, etc., but most of those purchases come from a local feed store instead of Fred Meyer. I figure we do pretty well with our spending, and I’m really lucky to have a room mate who has such similar food tastes. Of course, we’re also supplementing expensive meat products with fish from the freezer (caught by my family in the summer), and some wild game harvested by a friend.
This last shopping trip I was especially proud because I was able to use entirely reusable and/or recycled bags. I haven’t figure out the tare system at Fred’s yet, so I’m still using old plastic bags to purchase bulk items and them empty them into glass jars at home. I’ve also seriously cut down on my plastic purchasing, but still have a few weak spots. Nancy’s yogurt comes in a great reusable plastic container (I’ve been using my old one to sprout seeds), though it has a plastic seal under the lid. Dang. There’s also the issue of the local milk I usually buy in cardboard containers (with a plastic lining, I know…but better than nothing?) being out of stock for the season, and so I have to resort to regular plastic jugs. Still reusable as planters, and probably at the recycling center. I’ll have to double check.
I’ve cut down on my canned goods (except artichoke hearts, which I haven’t been able to kick yet and can’t afford in the tiny glass jar alternative) which I’m proud of since I’ve been reading some unnerving things about canned goods lately. Not sure what I can do for canned corn replacement other than frozen corn (sold in plastic); not my favorite to be sure. I’m also still struggling with those stupid little plastic windows they put in cardboard boxes (like on pasta). I always buy them feeling so proud and smug that I beat the plastic system, only to look down and see a skinny penne noodle staring up at me from behind a little plastic shield. Double dang!
I am proud, however, to have finally given up canned beans and moved to buying bulk dry beans! I’m a nervous bean cooker, and have not had a lot of success in the past preparing dried beans into something edible/not burned. But! I was determined to figure it out and am since proud to say that I actually made a veggie bean soup, from scratch, without burning or under-cooking anything. Hooray! I even have a second batch of beans soaking on the counter as I write. Can you feel my proud glow from there?
Inspired by L over at Sustainable Alaska who knows what it’s like to live on a budget and has great purchasing habits, I’m going to try to buy flour in bulk from now on. Why, you ask? Because, wait for it, I’m going to master baking bread. I made my first batch of cinnamon-raisin the other day, and even managed to make two whole edible loaves so I could freeze one! L really does a great job putting food by for future times of scarcity, lack of time to prepare nutritious meals, or simply when it is too cold to get outside. I’m hoping to start putting away extra soups, breads, and homemade veggie mixes for later. I’m also determined to get some local fish and berries this summer for eating next winter. Tom is heading up the fishing efforts as I’m not much of a rod and reel gal, but the berry picking is my turf.
So, looking back at the week and then forward to our impending next shopping trip, I can see some room for improvement.
1. Make cloth bags and get them tared for bulk items (plastic bags get little holes that I never notice until oats are leaking out all over the floor).
2. Read up on more easy recipes for inspired cooking.
3. Continue bread making efforts, and food saving efforts.
4. Try out making my own yogurt (no more plastic waste!). I hear it’s pretty easy.
5. Try to find bulk, unwrapped cheeses that are affordable (so far, not so good).
6. Try out more local stores for local products (like eggs).
What are your challenges when grocery shopping? What methods have you used to get be a Cleen shopper? Share them in the comments!