Thursday, February 7, 2013

Stocking Up in February

We have officially finished our EAT TO THE BOTTOM OF THE FREEZER CHALLENGE  and this week I went shopping!

I'm sure it says something of my mental health to share with you how excited I was to make this trip.   I LIKE grocery shopping.  Of course NOT grocery shopping for more than a month is a great experience too.  I am always amazed at the creativity that comes out and the new recipes we try and of course HOW MUCH MONEY WE SAVE.  

Some people go off to the big city to shop.  They get all excited about going in to Toronto or some-similarly-sized-city - the crowds, the hustle and bustle, the fancy shops...personally just the thought gives me hives.  We've found a small city nearby - Peterborough - and once a month I do my shopping there.  It has a great health food store with 10% off on the first Tuesday of the month, every grocery store and thrift store you could ever want to shop in including a thrift FOOD store and it's only a half hour away from home.  

Subliminal messaging - buy eggs!
 I would love to get to the point of only shopping once a month but what would I do with all that pent-up shopping energy and no where to shop??   Probable lots!  My first goal is to shop less often because the less often I go shopping the less I spend.

You would never have thought so yesterday. I set off with my DD and my Mom for a Girls-Day-Out  Our first stop was an organic bakery that sells their frozen already baked and sliced bread for $20 for 12 loaves.  That's a $1.67 each.   It's the best tasting organic bread we've ever had. That's also cheaper than the regular "good" non-organic bread I used to buy.  It's only slightly more than making it myself and of course less work.  Starting the day off with such a score was exciting!

After an egg drop off and a visit and tea with my cousin we hit the thrift food store.  Sometimes you win and sometimes you don't but yesterday was a worthwhile stop.  We bought organic tomato soup 4 for $5.00, boxes of Kashi Cereal Bars for .99c, organic tea - 20 bags in each 4 for $8.00 and lots of other deals.

Then we went to my favourite health food store - on 10% off day.  What's not to like about that - except that it was a little busy!

I have lots of ideas up my sleeves to save money. You're probably tired of me saying you need to grow and can your own vegetables and fruit - so I won't even mention it!  I don't use coupons all that often because as many people find - the coupons are usually for things you wouldn't buy unless you had a coupon.  Of course if I was marketing coupons that's what I would do too however that doesn't end up saving you much money.  Except for Bulk Barns $3.00 off coupon it's very difficult to find basic food at a really great deal - and Bulk Barn is not really know for it's amazing prices anyway.  Things like wheat, beans, rice, sugar etc.  almost never have coupons that apply to them however if you keep your eyes open you will occasionally find them on sale in a regular grocery store.  I still find buying in bulk at Grain Process in Toronto is the way to go but not everyone likes to shop in massive bulk like I do!  The question is how do you know if it's a good deal or not??

Canned beets and pickled beets

You need to know the prices!!  This is where a Price Book comes in handy. This week was my stock up on cheese and butter week.  Cheese was $4.44 for 500gr. at "The Superstore". That's a pretty good price but sometimes it's on for $3.97.  My goal is to never pay more than $1.00 for 100gr. or anything less than $5.00 for that specific brick of cheese.  Butter was on sale at "Freshco" for $2.47lb - that's about as good as it gets.  When these sales come up I buy enough for about 6 weeks if it's a perishable item or longer if it's shelf stable.  That will keep us going until the next round of sales on those items.  If it all works out I never pay full price  - ever.  Imagine what would happen to your grocery budget if you could do that with almost everything you purchase.

I am often amazed that people don't pay more attention to sales and have no idea what the price of something "should" be considering that most of us are feeling the pinch of higher prices.  Some people shop and buy whatever they need for the coming week with no plan. You need a plan!

I am not the strict menu planning type. I find we eat the same basic things over and over again anyway so as long as I am on the look out for those items we will always have what we need to throw together a quick supper or a crock-pot meal or something more fancy.

I've been thinking about the true cost of some foods lately.  We freak out when tomatoes are $1.99 a pound in the winter but don't realise that potato chips cost about $5.00 a pound ($2.49/270gr).  We calculate that we can't afford to eat organic chicken at $4.50 a pound but we buy lunch meats of questionable quality like Schneiders Fat Free Lifestyle Chicken Breast slices for $15.37 ($4.27/125gr.)  Or Cheese Strings for $10.15 ($3.79/168gr.) when regular Black Diamond cheese is on sale as I mentioned for $4.00 a pound.  For $6.15 I can cut up my own cheese!

Wasn't that interesting?  Those were just some quick numbers I pulled from some grocery flyers I received today.  I bet we could come up with a lot more.

As I am stocking up in February I am making notes about what I canned this year and how much of it we're eating.  Some things were so worthwhile - canned potatoes are amazing - and we will be doing more next year.  Other things I need to plan to add to meals to make better use of them.  It feels good to have cleaned up the cupboards and the freezers and make room for the spring and summer bounty coming up.  I still have a few days of canning for some on-sale potatoes I bought and the layer hens in the freezer.  There's always the potential for canned soup too - anyone want some hands-on lessons while they keep me company?? 

I'm in the mood for canning but with a storm on the way I won't start - if the power goes out I will have a terrible mess to clean up!  What are you up to in February??


  1. Ah, so THAT's where you are. We lived in Peterborough when my husband went to EPBC and worked at Radio Shack while I homeschooled. BEAUTIFUL area! Took the kids to the zoo all the time, sometimes with the homeschool group. If we still lived there (instead of Sudbury) I would come and buy my eggs from you ;)

    I am enjoying your posts. Thank you!

  2. The zoo was a favourite spot for us when our children were little. They have great memories of our trips there! We've been there with our home school group too - we might even have been there at the same time :) Thanks for commenting Connie - stay warm up there!!

  3. We're just keeping warm by the fire.
    BTW, when are you getting your new woodstove?

    1. Not soon enough with this storm blazing away outside today! It will probably be in a month or so - winter is not a good time to get a woodstove installed :)

  4. Love your blog. Discovered it recently through Farm Girls blog. J's 10% off sales days are great.
    What all do you do with your canned potatoes? We mainly use them for homefries cooked up with onions to go with eggs.
    We had our wood stove in January a few years ago. Heating with wood is great.
    Do you have a greenhouse or a hoop house? It is on my dream list and just wondering wich is better.
    Thanks for the great blog, Lisa

  5. HI Lisa! Canned potatoes rock! Near instant french fries is our favourite way to use them. I cut many of them with our french fry cutter. Dump, rinse, add a little oil and bake for 15 minutes at 400 and then turn it up to broil for 15 minutes. Best French Fries EVER! Yum. We don't have a greenhouse yet but it's in the planning stage. I want quality and I'm willing to wait to get it. With the snow and wind we get here I don't want it to blow away :)

    1. I know what you mean about waiting for a quality and the wind and snow (like yesterdays) is a worry. I just started looking into greenhouse and hoophouses. I have been reading Eliot Colemans books and watching his videos on you tube. It looks like you can do a lot more in a hoophouse. He has even turned one into a chicken coop. He must not have much wildlife that likes chicken dinner lol. After watching the videos it looks like you just need a frame to cover with the greenhouse plastic and then build ends with a door and window at the top with a automatic opening greenhouse window opener. Which got me thinking about our old temporary garage frame.
      Looks like I will have to can some potatoes french fry shape. Where did you get your fry cutter?

    2. I have Eliot Coleman's books too. I am very interested in the chicken coop idea. Our chickens don't like the snow and this would give them a big sunny area to be in the winter doing something productive instead of just pooping in their coop :) I have a garage frame too and have been thinking the same thing. In the long run I may end up with both!

    3. I last 15 minutes of this video at You Tube talks about the chicken hoop. (Eliot Coleman Keynote at VABF 2011). He and his wife have a new gardening/cookbook coming out this month. Do you have a favourite gardening book?

  6. Oh yes - I found the french fry cutter at a thrift store. I think Starfrit has a similar one for about $10.00. I've been back to watching greenhouse videos since you asked about it. winter is such a good time to dream! I have lots of gardening books - not sure I could choose a fav!

  7. I used to have one from the thrift store until it broke.
    Did you see any good videos?
    Gardening books I like best are Eliot Colemans.
    Do you know about Seedy Saturday/Sundays?


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