By: Dr. Shauna K. Young
Fact: Food can get expensive. Especially if you are shopping primarily at the health food store and eating organic, grass-fed, GMO free, and otherwise healthy food. Just as a point of reference, my accountant that does my taxes has informed me that year after year I spend more money on food (for me and my dog) than I do on anything else (except rent). Yes it is more expensive to eat this way, but much less expensive than medical bills. There are blogs after blogs after blogs addressing this dilemma of healthy vs. expensive in various ways, and yet I found one way that worked really well – pretty much by accident.
Since I was moving in mid-August, I decided somewhere in late June that I would not buy a single additional item at the grocery store until I had eaten everything in my refrigerator and freezer. Not for a financial reason, but because… well… I just didn’t want to have to pack it.This seemly simple edict turned into quite the eye-opening experience. I figured that somewhere along the way I would run out of food and have to do some shopping, but surprisingly, it didn’t happen.
We are all creatures of habit I suppose, but I didn’t realize how bad I was about it! When I shop I try to get some new things into the rotation so I don’t get bored, but holy smokes I get a lot of stuff that winds up sitting in my frig! As a result, instead of eating things we have on hand we wind up re-shopping for our favorites that we’ve run out of and jamming it into our already overcrowded refrigerator and/or freezer. We then eat those meals again and the “different” stuff winds up languishing for even longer in cold storage. Instead of defrosting that pound of ground beef that’s been in the freezer for a month, you go get pre-made patties or meat that is already conveniently defrosted to save time. Making this “no shopping” rule made me see these “convenient” purchases and seriously rethink my buying habits.
Warning: If you decide to try this, you’re going to have to get a lot more creative. Even though you wind up putting some pretty odd combinations together, I was still impressed at how well they turned out. Maybe some people wouldn’t consider eggs, sweet potato fries and Kerrygold cheese to be an ideal combo, but put some of that been-in-the-refrigerator-door-forever hot sauce on that bad boy and you’ve got a meal!
When it came time to move, I had only one refrigerator bag of cold stuff. Just the door condiments; no actual food. I did it…
As glad as I was that I had less stuff to move, I was even more glad when my credit card bill arrived. My expenses are very easy to track. I use a credit card for everything then just pay that one bill at the end of the month. When it came in, I found that I had saved nearly $500 in food alone in that period of time. That (imho) is a LOT of money for one person, even if I do have good taste! My refrigerator and freezer were literally empty, but my checkbook was full.
When I went to restock my empty refrigerator I discovered that my thinking had changed. As opposed to getting all the “different” stuff, I found that I focused more on the things that I routinely eat. So now instead of having food merely cooling its heels in the freezer, I eat what I buy. If I want something “different” then, yes, that requires an additional trip to the store, but it isn’t taking up room and getting freezer burns until I get the wherewithal to cook it. I’m shopping a little more often, but at least its not sitting there costing money and going to waste.
So I’m challenging you: Try it! Right now. Don’t think “I’ll try this after my next shopping trip”, do it now. I’ll bet you’ll be shocked by how long it takes you just to eat what is in your refrigerator and freezer right this minute! Trust me, it will open your eyes and most likely change your buying habits. It was actually fun to have to get that creative with food, not to mention how much money gets put back into your banking account!
Personally I think that a nearly $500 savings was worth a few weird meals. MacGyver would be so proud… 🙂