Since the beginning of January, my husband and I have instituted a new way of spending money on food.
We pay cash.
A Mason jar sit atop our bedroom dresser; it contains ones, fives, tens, and twenties. Anytime we run to the grocery store or to a restaurant for a meal, we use only cash from the jar. Let me tell you, when there's a limited amount of greenage, you really rethink your choices.
"We're having barbequed chicken sandwiches tonight...hmmm, should I shell out $2 bucks for a package of hamburger buns? Or shall I thaw out a loaf of homemade sourdough bread in my freezer for the sandwiches (and make another loaf later) instead?"
It's an easy choice, don't you think? How about this one?
"Should I buy the prepeeled and precut baby carrots for snacking or the cheaper bagged carrots, which I will have to peel and cut myself?"
Yeah, it's a no-brainer to me, too. I'll take what's behind door number two.
But, as always, there's a fine line to walk. In the case of the carrots, I'd rather not pay more for the convenience of prepeeled and cut vegetable...choosing instead to do it myself.
However, many other aisles of the grocery store contain items that forfeit taste and nutrition for price. Too many for my level of comfort...that's why I now bake my own bread. I did not want bread that contained high fructose corn syrup or other artificial, processed ingredients...but I chafed at paying over $3 a loaf for it. Especially when, for right around $2, there's a nice-sized loaf of sturdy (albeit highly processed) sandwich bread readily available. Economically speaking, it would have been better to purchase the store brand "wheat" bread for the six people in my family.
But, psychologically, mentally, ethically, morally? The homemade bread is the way to go. I know what goes in it...about five ingredients, really, and I can pronounce them all.
Other choices I make require similar arduous thought: I have all the ingredients to make chocolate chip cookies...except chocolate chips. But, how badly do I *really* want to spend at least $2 on choc chips?? While my family will enjoy the end result, the bathroom scale will eventually reflect that I too enjoyed them more than I ought to have. Which leaves me feeling guilty and in the end, I SHOULD HAVE JUST NOT MADE THEM!
Yeah, sometimes, the food purchase choices are easy-peasy...and sometimes they are quite complex and usually end up with my own self-castigation. But, this is good, right? A little scolding now and then is relished by the wisest men.