Last time we discussed “How to Start Cutting Back on Your Food Costs” using the USDA Cost of Food at Home and salvaging what food you have found at cnpp.usda.gov This week we will consider “How to Shop” by applying two more SOS Principles: SOS: STOP OVER- SPENDING and SOS: STAY OUT-of STORES.
The third principle,SOS: STOP OVER-SPENDING, means sticking to your food budget. That, however, is sometimes daunting for cookies often jump into our grocery baskets, and we feel like captives in the food chain. But as frugal Catholics, we have the power of The Holy Spirit shopping with us use God’s resources. Employ these four tricks to SOS: STOP OVER-SPENDING:
Use a calendar to record a monthly or bi-monthly menu.
Eat the same dinner two nights in a row and follow a pattern. Our pattern is Steak on Sunday; Monday and Tuesday, beef; Wednesday and Thursday, chicken or pork; and Friday and Saturday, meatless.
Create a master list of family favorites. This idea came from reading how Ethel Kennedy fed her large family the same thing every month. I took that idea an wrote down everyone’s favorites then created a three-month rotational list with recipe/ingredient cards attached for easy planning. We have Month 1, Month 2, and Month 3. When Month 3 is up, we start with Month 1 again.
“Three Month Family Favorite Meal Planner”
Constantly keep an eye on what is in the pantry and freezer. Sometimes when things begin to wilt, I will create Freezer Bowl Soup or The Frugal Catholic Casserole from October 3, 2010.
On pondering what you need, think on what He has given us to eat and consume most of your food in that state. For example, God didn’t prepackage The Garden of Eden: those were fresh foods in their natural condition. Genesis 1:29 expounds, (RSV) “And God said, ‘Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food.’ ” Thus, to use coupons only gives me chemical food concoctions which MUST be kept to a minimum. We need to focus on the outside aisles of the grocery stores where the real foods reside instead of the inside aisles which contain processed chemicals.
When you apply that fourth SOS principle–SOS:STAY OUT OF STORES–it is really that simple. Shop every two weeks and keep a running list of what you need next to the refrigerator or in your kitchen. Have a recipe that calls for an absent ingredient? Well then, substitute, but SOS:STAY OUT OF STORES. The more often you go into a grocery store, the more you spend. When you do shop for your twice a month excursion, use CASH and CALCULATOR. In actuality, I also look at my grocery list before I shop and apply Front End Estimation. That is where I will estimate and record a cost figure to the article. Here is an example from my list.
$6–organic potatoes $20–beef $10–2 cartons organic eggs
$5–organic 2% milk
So before stepping into a store, I have added up my figures and have a ball-park estimate of how much I’ll spend. Then I still shop with CASH and CALCULATOR. It has been statistically proven that shopping with cash and calculator equals less expense.
Let us SOS: STOP OVER-SPENDING and SOS: STAY OUT of STORES so we can accomplish His work. John 4:34 (RSV) states, “Jesus said to them, ‘My food is to do the will of him who sent me, and to accomplish his work.’ “And likewise, let us eat of what lasts. John 6:35 (RSV) confirms, “Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life; he who comes to me shall not hunger, and he who believes in me shall never thirst.’ ”
Next week–Part 3– More SOS Shopping Principles