Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Spend now to save later?

Blew the $150 (or less) grocery budget this week. In a B-I-G way. Only half way through the week, so I won’t know what the total is until Sunday. But a trip to the International Farmer’s Market in Dekalb early this week cost $155.04.

The kids are home. Many friends are out of town for a few more days. I’m limiting video games. They’re bored. We’re hiking trails along sections of the Chattahoochee every day, but that doesn’t get my grocery shopping done. It’s the end of the year, so it’s time to swap out spices in the cabinet. I’d run out of couscous. And rice noodles. And fish sauce. It was time for a field trip.

The farmers market is in a warehouse - bigger than a Costco, with row after row of vegetables, herbs, fruits, most marked with information about the geographic region where it’s grown. We spent 90 minutes walking, doing our shopping in a meandering fashion. Wonderful smells of baking bread, roasting coffee; not so wonderful smells by the tanks of live fish and shellfish.

The $155.04 bill was a bit painful, at least at first glance. Not only did I purchase the majority of extremely fresh produce, dairy products and poultry for this week, I also completely restocked my spice rack. (Quick example: madras hot curry powder - 57¢ for 1/2 lb, which whill last me about six months. Can’t get that at the supermarket.) In addition to stocking up on root vegetables at a cost far lower than the supermarket, I also hit the canned goods and bulk items, and stocked my pantry with a month’s supply (or more) of:
  • organic basmati rice
  • whole wheat couscous
  • cashew butter
  • rice noodles
  • black ceylon tea (looseleaf)
  • orange blossom honey
  • flax meal
  • popping corn
  • oat flour
  • barley
  • quinoa
  • green olives
  • diced & crushed tomatoes
  • dark soy sauce
  • fish sauce
  • rice vinegar
  • white wine vinegar
  • olive oil
  • vanilla extract
There were a few indulgences included, pistachios and a small bag of Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee being two of them.
Most of the groceries - there was still one bag in the car.

The big list of staples on this trip should allow for smaller bills over the next four weeks - at least that’s what I’m hoping. This Sunday (1/4) I’ll post my first week spending. For the three Sundays which follow, I’ll keep track of the change to the average. I hope this will help me plan a monthly bulk trip to the YDFM. I’ll have to go without the entire bunch though. A little over $30 was spent on items I’d normally not get... like Jamaican Blue Mountain.

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