Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Stocking up

Back in the day, I was a coupon queen. I had a mega-sized binder filled with organized coupons for every product imaginable. I combined coupons and sales and stocked up on huge quantities of products for very low cost, and in some cases for free! I had toiletries, canned foods, frozen items, paper products, all sorts of things. And I had so many of them that I had to get creative about storing them. We stored breakfast cereal in the top shelf of the closet in the master bedroom(I think at our peak we had about 60 boxes!). We had a large linen closet entirely dedicated to bathroom items. I also stored lots of canned goods in the unfinished basement of our house. We never ran out of anything. And our grocery bills were much lower than the national average, despite living in a very expensive area of the country.

But..... We compromised some healthful choices in order to do this. I did make an effort to not go crazy with a lot of truly "junk" foods. But we were absolutely eating a lot of processed foods. And we were eating a lot of meat(my husband's number one vice!). I do think we ate better than most, but I certainly wasn't losing any weight. And I found that my kids just wanted to push more and more towards the junk and the sweet stuff. Something needed to change.

So when we moved to Georgia, I stopped using coupons. And I found our natural foods store, and started doing the bulk of our shopping there. For the first time, we could afford to buy organic produce, and some other organic items. I would love to get to the point that we could buy all hormone free, organic, natural, etc. but we're just not quite to that point yet. We're gradually making our way!

In preparation to make these changes, I started pricing and purchasing the basic goods I'd need for baking and cooking. One of the first things I decided to tackle was snack foods and desserts. We don't eat dessert often, but I do like to have some dessert options on hand for when we decide to treat ourselves. We have two growing boys(Kadin is 8 and Ansel is 3), so snacks are a must! The boys are already really good about snacking on fruit(we go through about 15 pounds of apples a WEEK!), but also enjoy cookies and crackers and things along those lines. I decided we would make all of these from scratch at home.

Dry goods were relatively easy to acquire. Our natural foods store sells bulk loose goods in self-serve containers. I was able to nab some awesome(to me!) deals, like organic cane sugar for 89 cents a pound! Where I could justify the added price, I bought organic. Where it was a signficant price difference, I went with natural items, but not organic. Some day we'll get there! I'm setting up a cabinet of dry baking goods so everything is easily accessible. Convenience will be a big part of making the whole foods lifestyle work for me.

I think nuts and other baking 'extras' will be a bit slower to build up. They're pricey, and buying lots at one time would send our grocery costs through the roof. So each week, I'm trying to add a few more here and there. I store nuts in the freezer in labeled bags.

These pictures were taken on Monday, and I actually ended up buying significantly more yesterday, so those pictures will be coming soon. I typically go grocery shopping on Mondays, and aim to only go once a week. There is some fluctuation to this, but I hope to streamline as soon as possible, while not being too rigid. Our grocery shopping this week was bumped to Tuesday because of bad weather on Monday. This is probably the story of my life..... Regimented without rigidity. Maybe that will be my new tagline!


  1. Nice to know my kids aren't the only ones going through 15 to 20 lbs of fruit a week. We now only buy cereal once every other month or so. Usually it ends up being honey bunches of oats or mini wheats. Our kids weren't getting full long enough with it. So now we do eggs or oatmeal or homemade biscuits. Reed will make a quadruple batch and it will last 3 or 4 weeks.

  2. Oh, that's only apples! We also go through bananas, tangerines, often pears, and whatever else is seasonal. But apples are definitely the bulk of it. I'm not sure why it is, but I figure it's not much to complain about.

    Ansel is a constant snacker, and Kadin's school has lunch really early(about two hours after school starts), so staying full for a long time isn't really an issue. But there are healthier options, and I'm trying to do better about not taking the easy route or being swayed by small childrens' pleas for sugar junk in the morning.

  3. I agree that it must be convenient for this to be a lifestyle, like if you have everything labeled, organized and its RIGHT THERE!....
    its easy to then go and bake/make whole foods

  4. Absolutely! Like this morning we finally ran out of cookies. And for a brief moment I thought, well crap, now what? And then it occured to me, huh, won't even take long to make another batch of some kind. Silly me!

  5. Would it be silly to admit to a huge sigh of relief here? I always felt so ashamed of not being able to do the coupon thing the way you did, but hearing that you can't do it while eating healthfully makes me feel a lot better. We do lapse back into eating more crap when I'm under more stress (just when we need whole foods most, alas) but normally I prefer eating fresh, whole, natural and couldn't figure out why coupons never worked for me. Thanks for being honest!

  6. No, that's not silly at all! To be honest, we ate a lot better than, I think, the vast majority of Americans. We weren't eating chips and candy all the time or anything, but more things than I was comfortable with were processed. At the time, getting the grocery spending as low as possible needed to be a BIG priority because that simply was our financial situation. Now, we have a little more wiggle room, so I'm trying to make better choices. And the way to afford that is to do everything from scratch, and to buy organic only where we can afford it, and buy conventional the rest of the time.
    It's a back and forth, and I doubt we'll ever be to the point where it's 100% all the time. Like on vacation.... I can't imagine many trips where we could stick with it all the way.
    But, I'm trying! :o)