Friday, May 4, 2012

Gail Speaks: on grocery shopping

I've got a treat for you today. My mother, Gail Mallett (Ms. Mallett to everyone else) is lending her savvy wisdom to my blog. This is actually a response blog to Kate, of Diapers + Skinny Jeans, question on how to be better at grocery shopping. We typically shop at Walt's (local grocery store), Aldi, Target and Trader Joe's

To new moms or family's visiting my blog today, welcome! If you're questioning my mom's credibility know that she shopped as a single, working mom with small children, as a night shift nurse and wife with three kids and... as a single mom all over again. The woman is legit.
A: What sort of food is essential to a house?

GM: Households should have items from which they can make things instead of pre-packaged items. Things like flour, sugar, baking soda & powder, rice, oatmeal - basically things you can get multiple uses out of - cornmeal, spices, chili beans, black beans, canned fruit and vegetables (in water)... PASTA! Always have pasta. 

It's really not as expensive to buy all these items because you can get so many meals out of one buy. Having pasta and rice is really essential... You're not trying to carb load your children but a cup of brown rice or quinoa paired with a vegetable and chicken... That's a tasty meal!

A: If a family is starting from scratch and wanting to pretty much build a good household of food... would you break it down into multiple lists? Like: staples, produce, meat?

GM: Well, produce is something you will have to get ANYWAY. You will just know that you need bread, milk, eggs and fruit every week. You know you have to make a list for that weekly. You'll need a list but not necessarily broken down. I do, however, break down food by what store I'm getting it from. If I know Target has the best sales on bread or I really like Trader Joe's peanut butter then I split the lists - but on the same index card. (we are lovers of index cards in this house - and the Notes app on iPhone)

A: Well we get a crate of eggs from GFS so it's not like we have to get eggs every week.

GM: True, but for people who want "fresh eggs" might have to buy them every week. I'm not sure how cost effective it is because the 30 eggs we get from GFS are less expensive than a dozen of eggs a week. 

A: When do you buy frozen?

GM: I think meat you can buy... well go shopping once a month or once every two weeks. Meat can be a pricey purchase so that's not something you necessarily WANT to do every week. Look for a good sale and you can buy the packs of ground beef, ground turkey, ground chicken and freeze them. Or you could divide up fresh meat in Ziploc bags and freeze them. 

A: Is it the same for organic meat/produce?

GM: Yes, but you have to understand organic foods are more expensive, and, clearly, more perishable because they aren't treated. But if you and your family have decided to go that way and you're okay with buying more frequently you wouldn't have to buy meat in bulk. Same goes for produce.

A: So where does a family SAVE money?

GM: You end up saving money when you MAKE your family food. You gotta... get with the mentality that if you want cookies, you make them. Biscuits? You make them. You want pancakes, you MAKE them. I never understood getting pancake mix when you have flour, sugar and baking powder IN your house. That's money you don't have to spend! And instant oatmeal is a great idea but the yield you get from those little packets is far less than buying a canister of old fashioned oats and adding whatever you want to it. You end up using the oatmeal for cookies and bread and hot cereal. It's about longevity. 

A: What about families with small children?

GM: I think it's even MORE important to have those staples like oatmeal and dried fruit - cranberries, apricots and raisins. Buy oranges instead of orange juice - you get the juice AND the fiber - orange juice is expensive. Apple sauce is good and not very expensive. Ice cream is a splurge... so you can't buy 6 gallons of it. 

A: So what does a grocery shopping trip look like?

GM: Lists are essential. We only buy A LOT about once a month and the week to week things should be, again, produce, milk and bread. Having a list keeps you focused. Even if you needed 3 or 4 things and you budget it out to about 30 dollars, without a list you go in and end up buying things you don't need, you forget things, and you ended up spending 75 dollars. Womp. (that was added by me) If you go every week, you can't spend 75 dollars because you are buying a lot once a month.

A: Is a shopping schedule good?

GM: I think so. Pick one day and make a list ahead of time... just don't go on Saturday afternoons. In my opinion, EVERYONE is already out and your kids are pulling at you every which way to buy EVERYTHING and then they're crying. No fun for them or you. 

A: Anything else? What about working moms?

GM: I think making things from scratch are good. I'm not saying you need to bake a loaf of bread every day to be considered a good mom but take things like granola... You bought oatmeal. You don't need to buy granola because you can make it! Buyings things you can cook with is great. Make multiple meals on one day and freeze them. When you come home it's not such a CHORE to "make dinner." All you're doing is taking out whatever was pre-made by you and adding maybe rice and a vegetable - or a simple salad. I wouldn't buy hot dogs or lunch meat because it's so loaded with sodium and it's expensive. Make soup for lunch or... if you make enough chicken breast take chicken, apple and grapes for lunch for you. 

A: So the more you get on a buying routine for your house, the easier it becomes to replenish a few things and not ALL the things

GM: Yes!

Also if you don't know how to shop... it usually means you're eating out, which in turn makes your kids picky eaters. How do you expect your kids to all of a sudden like home cooked meals if you eat out 5 of 7 nights a week? Kids will eat when they're hungry, they won't starve. Show me a kid that will turn away an apple and peanut butter... it's protein, it's fiber and it's good for them. Really a kid just sees that throwing a fit will get them chicken nuggets and it's working... someone is being trained here and it's not the kid. I'm saying this because I've been there... Being a mom is tough.
Did my mom just drop some knowledge? I think so. Sorry if that last part is kind of controversial but it's the truth. I love Tracy Shutterbean's approach to food with her son Cooper. You gotta be innovative sometimes to get them to eat good things. PINTEREST gave her the idea for frozen yogurt dots and they're all the rage now!

Good luck on your shopping endeavors! It can be tough to bat down a routine but it CAN be done and you really save money in the long run. Have fun with it!...and May the 4th be with you. : )

1 comment:

  1. Gaaaaiiillllllll. This was great and I pretty much agree with her 100%. Made from scratch food will always be cheaper, tastier, and usually healthier than anything pre-made and processed.

    Now I'm inspired to go make my own granola...

    And can I say, it's crazy that you two buy 30 eggs... how often do you eat them?!

    icumbin lfard



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