I do a lot of reading, I do a lot of shopping so I thought I'd share some tips on how to avoid sticker shock at the check out line.
1. Buy Big Box. Head over to Costco, Sam's Club, BJ's and the like and get your groceries in bulk. If you have the space to store it, don't buy olive oil any other way. Even with the membership fee, the savings are big.
2. Downgrade and Substitute. Ground beef instead of steak. White button mushrooms instead of Shiitakes. Tillapia for Red Snapper. Mussels for shrimp (next video: Moules Fritte!)
3. Plan, Shop Sales, and Clip Coupons. I never do this, I Iove the idea of letting the ingredients speak to me, but I did that last Sunday and brought home a single bag of groceries for $70. I'm making a list today.
4. Cook in More, Eat Out Less, and Sell Those Leftovers. Last week I reheated some grilled herbed chicken in a little butter and a squeeze of lemon, and my family bought it.
5. Eat Less. LOL!
6. Buy Less. I'm taking a real perverse pleasure in this one. Chip's Ahoy all gone, better finish those Oreos before they get stale. No more blueberries, well you better catch those grapes before they shrivel up.
7. Grow a Vegetable Garden. No comment except to say I never met a plant I didn't kill. Maybe my sister will grow one.
8. Buy Local, Even Wine. A win-win.
9. Shop Organic Wisely. Splurge for the good stuff where it counts most. I still try to avoid big brand meat and dairy, but I'm all over non organic produce. Click here for more from the NY Times Well Blog.
10. Stretch, Baby, Stretch. When I made my Sausage and Broccoli Rabe recently, I increased the servings by 50% by adding a can of cannellini beans I had in my cupboard. And then I turned about 5 ounces of ground beef into a meal for 4 by adding some sliced mushrooms to my Bolognese (meat) sauce.
Of course, there is a catch to many of these suggestions. When you buy bulk, you get more food but also more hormones, antibiotics, and high fructose corn syrup. (Which I just noticed is an ingredient in Del Monte Pasta Style Stewed Tomatoes. Why?) And as much as I love Costco, it hasn't quite figured out how to support the small sustainable farms. Kind of a loss in terms of carbon, commodity farming, and the like, but you go to war with the army you have, right? Just remember, substitutions and meal stretchers only work if your family will eat them. Cut back on price, not pleasure, otherwise it all ends up in the landfill.