Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Chugging Along

I'm still here, chugging along and surviving. 

My vegetable garden has started to produce, so my produce purchases have gone down significantly as I try to use what we grow.  Been eating a lot of summer squash in stir fries and sautes. My bush and pole beans do not seem to nearly produce as much as I would like to eat, so I will plant more next year. I'm still a newbie gardener, and do not have the art of planting down pat.  Planted a bunch of radishes only to realize that it was already too hot for them here in Texas. Most of them bolted, and the roots hardly developed. Oh well, live and learn, I guess.

I ordered some artichoke seeds, and planted 6 seeds in pots, and only one of them sprouted.  Still too small to transplant, but it would be neat if it took to the climate.  Here where I live, they are supposed to be a perennial and should last 4-5 years. I shall see. But seriously, it would be cool if I could produce my own chokes for consumption, since they tend to be rather pricey in the stores!

So my routine when I go to the grocery stores lately has been to look through the clearance section to see if there are any nonperishable items worth stocking up on that we can use now or later.  My recent purchase has been a bunch of imported French jams and jellies marked down from close to $5.00 to $0.88! I purchased the whole lot that they had. Black cherry jam, marmalade, currant jelly and four fruit spreads all made without additional sugar.  I'm sure I can find uses for them in cooking, baking and using just as is for toasts.  My guess is that they did not move quickly enough to the manager's liking due to their rather steep price and the store had to get rid of them to clear the shelf space for other items.  Thier loss, my gain.

My other routine is to look through the "Manager's Specials" in the meat department where they sell soon to expire "sell by date" meat pack. These meats are anywhere from 50% to 70% off the regular retail price! Lately, all the meats we have been consuming at home are these meats on clearance.  Since I have two freezers, all bargains cuts of meat I like are purchased in bulk for later use.  Recent purchases have been pork chops, Italian sausages, chicken tenders and thin sliced beef steaks which are wonderful for beef steak sandwiches and as stir fry meat.  Ever so often, they also have ready made shiish kabobs which are also marked down 50%. When I find those, I cook them up the same day, since I know I can't freeze them because they have alternating veggies and meat.

As I grab up the bargains, it often crosses my mind whether I should take them all, or leave some for others.  But it is a fleeting moment, I have to admit. Since it is not every trip to the store that I come across these values, I grab everything I can afford to buy and store.  My thought is that, with prices rising so quickly, the only way I can continue to feed my family without breaking the budget is to take advantage of these deals if and when I can find them.  Besides, the manager marks them down to move the products quickly, so I think of it as doing him a favor.  I've waited my turn for other shoppers to look through the items on sale, and it seems like most of the time, they pass them up anyway.  I guess that is the upside of living in a mostly affluent suburb.  Hey, I'm willing to take what others pass up!  I try my best to be a good steward of our income. I couldn't care less about the Joneses! How about you?