I’ve been surfing the ‘net most of the morning, looking for food recipes that I can can use for my family and my sitting charge. I have found some really really good and tasty looking homemade meals over at Simply Recipes. At the bottom of one of the pages I was looking at I seen something that caught my attention.
How to Save Money on Groceries? Stay OUT of the Middle Aisles.
At first I was confused as to what this meant. I thought it meant to stay out of the aisles that contained nonsense. General merchandise, plates, chairs, lawn/patio furniture even toys. Obviously I had enough common sense to stay away from those aisle seeing as how I am broke and couldn’t afford the $500 wicker patio set.
However this isn’t what Alanna Kellogg was blogging about. She was writing about staying out of the aisles in general. Stating that they were full of unhealthy and empty calorie items. She only listed off the bad parts of some aisles, the ones that contained junk food. What Alanna didn’t mention was snacks that you do find in the middle aisles. Like plain unsalted, dry roasted nuts, or dried fruit, even sugar free items like instant pudding.
While part of me agrees, the rest of me disagrees. I commented on the blog, seeing that it was well written and did change my mind slightly, but not enough to keep me out of the main food aisles.
I travel up and down the aisles once a month looking for things to feed my hollowed legged boyfriend, my bottom less pit brother and my picky three year old. This really limits my choices on creativity and what I can cook for them. A big staple in my house hold is Mac and Cheese. More often then not I buy cheese and elbow noodles and make it myself.
I guess I am blessed with the fact my son can’t stand sweets, and adore cheerios. Getting him to eat meat is tricky, he can’t stand the texture, so I have to discover ways to get him to get iron protein and other good vitamins into his system.
I keep a look out for bargain sales like 10 for 10 mix and matches and that is when I go on my stocking up binges. My cupboards may not be the healthiest in the world, but it does have some healthier aspect than Cheetos and kool-aid. (which is what my brother lived off for a whole summer while my mother was on “strike”)
For the most part I am a full time mom now, I don’t get my five to eight hour work break to go make actual money, seeing as I am unemployed. Being a mom of a hyper active and over affectionate child is enough to exhaust anyone. Don’t get me wrong, I love my mom job, but I love when 9pm comes around and my son goes to bed.
I would prefer to make a lot of things from scratch, but there are times when it’s just not able to happen. Sure the middle aisle usually contain things that aren’t healthy, but once you get past the muck you can actually find decent items.
For example: Juicy Juice 100% real juice. Let me repeat that REAL JUICE Frozen juices aren’t usually “healthy,” they just have a bit more survivability in the freezer. These juices are packed full of sugar and are usually concentrated. The process of concentration involves boiling, which means that it cooks away a lot of the good for you, nature made goodies.
Things that are on sale aren’t just unhealthy foods. You can find stuff on sale that is one heck of a value. Things like lunch meat. Ham, turkey, etc. Often much cheaper than the deli counter which doesn’t even offer you the nutritional information.
A major thing that people have stopped doing is carrying a grocery list. I make an extensive one that I use once a month. I get it right down to how many pounds of ground beef I am going to purchase. Yes I go for price and quantity of how many meals I am going to get from it, but I look for ways to take things and make them healthy.
When I buy ground beef, I purchase 70/30 something or other. This is the fat/lean content or something like that. Either way it’s there’s more grease in the pan then there would be if I had 80/20 or higher. I don’t want to feed that to my family, so I turn the faucet on hot, drain the beef, and rinse it off. Then I season it with salt and pepper and continue to make my meal.
When my shopping list is complete, I go through it and think to myself “Do I really need this again, or is it just a luxury that was inexpensive at the time of purchase?” If I answer Yes I need it, then it remains on the list, if not then I cross it off.
I also have a snack food budget. Ten dollars for each person in the house. Though mine is split with my son. I usually buy 5 chocolate bars or something to curb my sweet tooth when it flares up. Each person gives me a list of things they would like to have to snack on in the house. Then it has to last them the whole month.
I would like to make it clear that I am not bashing the middle aisle blog post, I’m just adding my opinion to it. There are some really good ideas in the blog post, such as getting the major basics. Bread, milk, and eggs. Pop is not a necessity, it’s a nicety. Fresh produce doesn’t hold up in the fridge or even on the counter. Flash frozen vegetables still have their nutrients in them. Cheaper to go with frozen.
Spices are great, but buy in bulk or better still, grow your own. You can get small little pots and make cute little planters that you can pick as needed. If you can find and buy fresh herbs and spices, then go for it. Check around to see if your town has a co-op, usually you can find organic and bulk items at these stores. And because it’s local and not corporation, it tends to be cheaper as well.
I will say, that Alanna’s blog is going to have me scouring over my items even more and seeing about finding healthy and yummy alternatives, but I’m not going to stay out of the middle aisles.
Keep it real and rockin’
Okay, so you may ask why I have an opinion. Well, I’m a bachelor, and I shop for what I need. And a lot of the things I need are in the middle aisles. I live in a small town, so any of the produce items I’ll pick up at the local farmer’s market. Even bread there. Or pies. I’ve even found some great pasta there. I will point back to an old post about that. That leaves little to get in the local Riverbend Co-op. And a lot of the things I need there are down the aisles. If I didn’t go down the aisles, then there really wouldn’t be any point to going grocery shopping there.
Down the aisles is the place where you find the quick meals that you will often times need. Down the aisles is where I’ll find the snack foods that I’ll sometimes get. Down the aisles is where I’ll find my coffee, sugar, tea, and spices that I need for my other food. And down the isles is where I’ll find the pasta sauces (if I don’t make them myself).
If it wasn’t for the aisles, then I’d have absolutely no reason to go to the grocery store. Quick soups, for instance, or even the broth for making my own thick vegetable soup. Oxo cubes as well. And let’s not forget crackers.
I’ll go to the farmer’s market for some of the produce and bread I need. But leave me to the aisles. If there’s people out there that avoid them, then there’s more selection for me.
Until next time…
…keep ’em flyin’!