You know how, on occasion, you make some small-ish change to your life ("I'll start getting up 10 minutes earlier and eating breakfast" or "I will clear off the kitchen table every night before I go to bed") and it, no joke, changes your entire life and you want to tell everyone about it until they start shaking you by the shoulders and saying, "It's just breakfast! You are ranting on about a bowl of cereal. Pull yourself together, woman!" Hmm, maybe it's just me.
My life, this year, has been revolutionized by a new system of grocery shopping. Here was the old system:
- Go to the grocery store as infrequently as possible. Every ten days is good. Every two weeks is better.
- Pretend not to notice that the milk has gone bad and that all the vegetables and fruits are shriveled little sad things in the bottom of your drawers. Also ignore the fact that you have basically no food the last few days before you break down and go to the store.
- Cringe when the total at the check-out counter came to more than your budget because, well, you had to buy everything every single time.
I especially liked the part where I felt guilty when I didn't go to the grocery store and there was no food and guilty when I did go to the grocery store and spent more than I wanted to. Oh yes, it was a win-win.
Which brings me to Operation Grocery Shop 2009. (Of course it has a title. . .what kind of new project doesn't? Fine. I just made it up this minute).
- I will grocery shop every single week (Saturdays (or Mondays if we're out of town))
- I will not spend more than $50 per shopping trip
- I will have food for five dinners a week, plus breakfasts and lunches every day
The benefits are many.
- If I notice we're out of something, it doesn't matter. I can always wait five or six days to replenish it. Bart doesn't have to worry that when I say, "oh, I'll pick it up next time I'm at the store" that might mean that sometime after the birth of his fourth child we'll once again have ziplock bags.
- I know what's in my fridge and can plan meals based on what I have left over (pineapple left over from this last week? Guess it's time to make this).
- When things are on sale, I actually have money to buy them and not feel guilty (this is vair bad news for my freezer which is stuffed to the rafters).
- I actually stay within my budget (well within it, actually - lately, I've been spending more like $40 a week).
- It has really made me want to cook again - I've been tagging more recipes in my Delicious file and checking out more cooking magazines from the library.
- If we have some event coming up (dinner with friends, a birthday, a camping trip), I almost always know well-enough in advance to add the ingredients to my shopping list, which means it just goes in as part of the weekly budget, instead of requiring an extra trip (and money) to the store.