Found: Joy

2017-10-03 dishsoap Joy

There’s something about a gray sky, drizzly rain, achy joints, and scanning family photos of a family member that has died, that makes me feel – well, not joyful. So many pictures to scan. They remind of good times and bad, of old age and disease that takes away so many, and times in life when we didn’t do things well. With melancholy descending, it’s time to stop scanning and go do something else.

So I go off to a different grocery store from my usual two, because this month my credit card will give me five percent back of whatever I buy there. (Yes, I do love exploring ways of stretching the family dollar.) Some things on my list are a good price there, and are added to my cart. But other things on the list are slightly higher, so I pass on those. When I roll down the cleaners aisle, I see something not carried by my regular stores for years – Joy dish detergent!

So now I’m home again, with Joy. Okay, so dish-soap can’t actually bring joy, but it reminds me that God promises to bring “joy in the morning.” He’s always there, and yes, He is always good!

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Getting Enough Groceries?

2017-06-02 week of groceries c

Over the years, I’ve had a variety of grocery-shopping styles. In the years with plenty of income, it was: no grocery list, just go to the store and throw into the cart whatever looked good. A lot of frozen prepared foods. Pizza delivery once a week for us and the kids. And dinner at a restaurant after church on Sunday. Looking back, I cringe at how much we spent on food.

Then came the lean years, when our income was quite limited. Feeding the family changed drastically. No eating out or pizza delivery, checking grocery store ads, re-discovering coupons, buying the least expensive foods, just eating less overall.

One of the most useful things I’ve learned about grocery-shopping over the years is this: buy enough groceries in one shot to last all week. It does no good to pat yourself on the back for how little you spent at the grocery story on Saturday if you have to make a second run a few days later, or if you go out to eat because you don’t have enough to prepare a full meal.

Consider the picture above, a snapshot of our grocery trip purchases a few weeks ago. Combined with what is in our cupboards and fridge, this is enough for a full week. We have what we need for every food category – meat, fruit, veggies, starches, dairy, desert – plus some non-food items (a graduation card, paper towels, band-aids, toothpaste, oxi-clean, and Drano for a slow sink). What did this cost me? $123.98 for the food items, and $13.20 for the non-food items, for a total bill of $137.18.

Yes, I could have spent less, but if you get too chintzy with grocery-shopping, you find yourself feeling deprived and end up splurging at Starbucks or an ice cream shop. Instead, I got our feel-good desert at the store, on sale. So there you have it – not too little and not too much, just the right amount of groceries!

For more tips on keeping your food expenses down, check out some of my previous posts:
https://alwaysreading1.wordpress.com/2016/01/02/a-budget-you-can-live-with-groceries-part1/

https://alwaysreading1.wordpress.com/2016/01/03/a-budget-you-can-live-with-groceries-part-2/

https://alwaysreading1.wordpress.com/2017/01/04/is-food-eating-up-your-money/

 

Is Home-Delivery Of Groceries A Good Idea?

 

Walmart does it. Safeway does it. Costco does it. Blue Apron, Amazon Fresh, and Schwann’s do it. These days, a host of companies are willing to do your grocery-shopping and deliver it right to your doorstep. I went to my grocery-store’s website this morning to check the weekly sales, and was blasted with the announcement that they too are going to offer home-delivery of groceries, beginning on the 29th. The delivery folks have the catchy slogan “happiness delivered” and wear cute t-shirts with UFOs. (I actually wouldn’t mind having one of those shirts.)

I decide to check it out. Apparently I can just download the app onto my smart phone, put in an order, and wait for the groceries to arrive at my door. It even says “unlimited free delivery on orders over $35”. Sounds good!

home-delivered groceries 2.png

So I get started. First they need an e-mail and my zip-code. What IS it with everyone and his brother wanting my e-mail?

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I notice that I’m not dealing with my local grocery-store anymore, but a company called Shipt.

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Okay, now we’re getting to the nitty-gritty. It‘s true that there is no delivery fee as long as you are ordering at least $35.00 worth of food, but there IS a subscription fee – either the annual fee of $99, which will be billed to you as soon as the free trial period is over, or a monthly fee of $14.00, if you don’t want to be tied to the service for a year.

home-delivered groceries 7

Credit card number and telephone, please.

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Hmm, now I get to the part where they tell me that the price-tag on the grocery items will be just a wee bit higher than the price listed in the store. Well, obviously they have to make money. But it will tack an average $5.00 onto a $35.00 order. But we spend more like $140.00 a week, you say. That means about an extra $20.00 on the grand total, in addition to the subscription fee.

home-delivered groceries 6

Whether this service is a good idea or not depends on your situation in life. If you’re handicapped or have difficulty walking, this could be good. If you are a senior without a car and have no one available to pick up food at the store, this could be good. If you make good money and are dead tired when you get home, this could be good.

But as for me, I rather enjoy going to the grocery store, checking out the produce, noticing interesting people, getting some indoors exercise, and chatting with the cashier. If the cashier’s looking a little unhappy, I can give an encouraging word and share some happiness. So… until I go senile or my legs give out, I guess I’ll just keep getting my groceries the old-fashioned way.

Is Food Eating Up Your Money?

groceries-1

Food is a huge part of most family budgets. According to the Department Of Agriculture, in November of 2016 the average adult spent between $165 and $346 on groceries. Couples spent between $381 and $761 for the month, and families of four shelled out between $555 and $1,273. And this doesn’t even count eating out, or grabbing a morning coffee at Starbucks on the way to work! You can see that food is one of the largest expenses in a budget, rivaling the cost of a house payment in some areas.
https://www.cnpp.usda.gov/sites/default/files/CostofFoodNov2016.pdf

Here are some thoughts I’ve shared previously on how to spend less on food expenses:

Set a dollar-amount limit on your groceries.
It might be hard to figure out an amount at first, but it needs to be enough so that you can eat all your meals at home for the whole week. That doesn’t mean you can’t occasionally spend extra to stock up on a fantastic food sale, but you need to have a goal to shoot for.

Buy groceries only once a week if at all possible.
The more times you step foot in the store, the more you’ll end up spending.

Pick one or two grocery stores in your area that seem to have the best price, and do your regular shopping there.
Make a list of the food items you buy most, grab a notepad and pencil, and visit all the grocery stores in your area.Write down what each store is charging for the items on your list. I got a few odd looks from other shoppers, but I really didn’t care.

Check your grocer’s sale ad before you shop.
Most stores have their weekly sales ad available online. I look at the ads for the two grocery stores I regularly use before heading out to get food. I try to plan our meals around the items that are on sale that week.

Make a list, and buy only what you originally planned to buy.
Impulse purchases add tremendously to your bill at the cash register.

Make sure your stomach is full when you go grocery-shopping.
When you’re hungry, you will be tempted to throw extra items into your shopping cart.

If possible, don’t take along the kids, unless you’re training them how to grocery-shop.
If they are going to be begging you to buy extra items, it’s better to keep them at home.

Lastly, eat at home instead of going out to a restaurant, grabbing drive-thru food, or having pizza delivered! You’ll be amazed at how much you can save on the food bill.

Seasonal Cereal

2016-11-14-aldi-cream-of-wheat

During a recent visit to my favorite Aldi store, I noticed this addition to the cereal section: “Creamy Wheat”. I did a double take, as I had never seen a store-brand version of Cream Of Wheat before. The look-alike cereal was about half the cost of the name-brand version, $1.99 instead of $3.79. Considering the difference in price, it was too good to pass up.

Creamy Wheat went home with me, and we put it to the test. It didn’t taste any different than the Cream Of Wheat that was already in my cupboard. Kudos to Aldi stores for making a great hot cereal for such a reasonable price! Hopefully shoppers will buy enough of this cereal to persuade Aldi to keep it in stock all year long.

Trying Out Aldi’s Grocery Store

2016-06-21 shopping cart at Aldi

 

Several days ago I decided it was the perfect time to introduce the granddaughter to grocery-shopping, and in particular, shopping at Aldi’s. The goal was to teach her the following:

1, decide how much money we have to work with

2, write down a list of what foods we need, and

3, make it through the grocery store buying only what is on the list.

So we wrote down a list of food we needed and set ourselves a limit of $50. Okay, so I realize $50 isn’t an entire week’s supply of food, but I didn’t want to overwhelm her. The principle is the same.

We drove to Aldi’s and I showed her how to put a quarter in the slot of the shopping cart, and pointed out to her that there was not a single loose cart in the parking lot, since people have to return the cart to get their quarter back.

2016-06-21 putting quarter in shopping cart

Once inside, the granddaughter commented, “This store is really small!” Yes it is small, because it carries only the basics.

2016-06-21 entering Aldi

We went down the four rows, grabbing only the items on our list, and jotting down the price that was listed on the shelf edge. Milk was a bargain – $1.49 a gallon, as were the eggs – just $.49 a dozen!

2016-06-21 eggs on sale at Aldi

Just before checkout, she rounded off each item on the list to the nearest dollar, and said we had enough money. Then I showed her how to quickly put everything on the conveyor belt so the cashier could get everything scanned. The total came out to $36.28.

If you’ve never tried out an Aldi’s store, give it a visit, and see what a difference it can make in your budget.

Missed my earlier blog posts on grocery-shopping? Click on the links below to read them:
https://alwaysreading1.wordpress.com/2016/01/02/a-budget-you-can-live-with-groceries-part1/

https://alwaysreading1.wordpress.com/2016/01/03/a-budget-you-can-live-with-groceries-part-2/

Weird Encounter At The Grocery Store

grocery store aisle

Ever had a weird encounter at the grocery store? This morning I was at the grocer’s early to avoid the crowds. I was making my way down the canned goods aisle, and there was only one other person there, a slender woman in a cotton dress coming toward me. I smiled at her and she frowned. As her cart passed mine, her left arm shot out right behind my head. My first impression was that she was in a hurry to grab something off the shelf I was passing. But no, her cart never stopped. What the heck is she doing, I wondered. It’s almost as if she was pretending to punch me. How odd.

Several aisles later, our paths crossed again. This time it was the row with flour, sugar, and baking supplies. I was looking at the muffin mixes when she passed. She said, you little bitch, and kept going. That stopped me in my tracks. I hadn’t taken anyone’s desired parking slot, cut in front of anyone to get in the front door, taken the last “10 for $10” item on the shelf, or rammed anyone’s shopping cart. I briefly considered asking her what I had done to elicit such treatment, but thought better of it.

Maybe her husband just left her, or she lost her job, or a friend betrayed her. Or maybe she has a mental condition that causes her to misinterpret facial expressions. Maybe I look identical to someone who’s hurt her. So she lashed out, and I happened to be the unlucky recipient. There was no point in striking back at her. Striking back just makes people even more angry. What the lady needed was the love and peace of Jesus, but she didn’t seem to be in a frame of mind to consider it. How sad.