Monday, June 21, 2010

Good Groceries Cost a Fortune.

First official day of summer!  I decided to spend a few hours this morning organizing my notes from the weeklong professional development institute in Georgia. I had so many book recommendations (Made to Stick looks intriguing), web links, ideas for training at my school.  I also thought about all the summer projects I want to get to--thinning out the perennial beds, organizing my yarn stash and queued projects on Ravelry, getting to the year's worth of photos to scrapbook.

My friend Mike chatted with me on Facebook while I was in the thick of it (of course, one can't work so hard that Facebook can't be open too!) and sagely remarked that the beginning of summer is when you feel you actually have a chance at getting your projects done!

So that I didn't waste an absolutely gorgeous Vermont June day, we headed out to Lake Paran for the afternoon instead of going grocery shopping.  My son has been absolutely unbearable in stores these days. He just won't take no for an answer, and seems to have become a greedy consumer.  Grocery shopping feels torturous enough without children, so why bring them if you can help it?

After swimming all afternoon they were starving and salivating in the car on the way home at the thought of english muffins with peanut butter and butter. Sounded like an ideal dinner to me! They each had two!  I had leftover pasta salad from Saturday, and let me tell you, it was so delicious after sitting for two days. The pesto was divine.

I headed out the to the grocery stores--two of them, to be exact. I hate to take the time to do both Aldi and Hannaford, but things are so much cheaper at Aldi.  I still managed to spend $85!!  While I was waiting in the checkout, a family ahead of me had to leave without their groceries since their EBT card was showing a zero balance. They said they were sure there was $53 on there.  I felt like a schmuck with my cart full of stuff, that being only my first stop of the night. Sometimes I just don't keep money issues in perspective.

On next to Hannaford. I almost pulled into Price Chopper, which I pass on the way by, but I want to support Hannaford and its commitment to local foods.  Plus it's a much more relaxing experience. But I still think it costs more than PC.  I made the mistake of shopping without planning a menu. I ended up spending another 195 frickin' dollars!!! 

I decided to do a little analysis of the food bills.  I didn't add everything, but just some main categories.  I am trying to remind myself that I probably haven't shopped for a big full trip in about a month. Here's how it broke down:
  • Fruit & Veggies....$26.25
  • Cheeses....$30.10
  • Breads....$14.60
  • Fish...$23.46 (a rarity--I splurged for Salmon)
  • Meats...$12 (boy wanted me to "stock up on hot dogs & I bought beef patties from grass fed, antibiotic free cows)
  • Snacks...$19.35
  • 2 lbs fair trade coffee....$18
  • 2 half gallons Stonyfield Farm Organic milk...$7.38
Can you believe we eat that much cheese? And it's expensive cheese. Kira likes this Dubliner cheese that's $4.50 alone.  Since we're home for the next two weeks, I needed more lunch foods and snacks. The thing that gets me is I try to have my kids eat healthier snacks, but it all costs so much more than if I spent a buck or two on a box of sugary snacks.  Or got the sugary drinks instead of the 100% juice drinks. Or got cheap milk. I guess I'm going to do what I can while I can until we can't afford it any longer.

Am I a prima donna because I like expensive coffee beans?  I seriously can't swallow the cheap grind (boy that sounds dirty.)  A few years ago I committed also to buying only fair trade coffee as well, so it's not just about my discerning palate, but am I just being ridiculous?  There's a great little book about fair trade coffee by Julia Alvarez that does a nice job using narrative to be informative: A Cafecito Story: El Cuento Del Cafecito.

If you haven't seen Food, Inc., the movie, you really ought to.  I keep thinking of the family in the grocery store who are in the produce aisle and the mom has to tell the daughter to put the fruit back because it's just too much per pound.  She knows it's crap to eat fast food, but where else can they go and eat from a dollar menu?  It's heart wrenching. 

Their partner site, Take Part, had a piece today about a study showing how kids even think the foods with cartoon characters on the outside taste better than the exact same foods without the advertising.  It's exactly what Owen does--he wants whatever he sees advertised on TV, be it food or toy.  The article points out that cartoon characters are not allowed to advertise cigarettes, so why junk foods?

I know I can't figure it all out tonight, but I really grapple with this stuff. It's why I started the blog.  Here's a photo of the best thing I spent $3.99 on. Some flowers are always worth it to me.  And my new favorite coffee, from Maine, both organic and fair trade:  Wicked Joe's!

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