Melaka very kindly responded to my last post by suggesting I check out the Angel Food Ministries at www.angelfoodministries.com. I had not heard of this organization. They have local host sites that package fresh foods which you order online in advance and then pickup on a certain date. There is a menu for each month and it looks like you need to place your order by mid-month to be able to pick up your selections by the end of the month. There are great deals on meat packages (approx. $32.00 a box) but because we do not eat beef it would not be beneficial for me to order one. So I checked out the fresh fruit and vegetables. Here is this month's box at a cost of $22.00:
3 lbs. oranges
2 lbs. red delicious apples
1 lb. plums
4 Fuji apples
6 small boxes rasins
3 lbs. red potatoes
2 lbs. onions
1 head green cabbage
1 lb. baby carrots
1 lb. dried pinto beans
I decided to go to my local ALDI and see what the cost of the same items would be there to see if it would be worth placing an online order. ALDI had everything but the cabbage and Fuji apples. They also had bigger quantities - a 4 lb. bag of oranges, 3 lbs. of red delicious apples, 5 lbs. of red potatoes, 2 lbs. of tangerines instead of just four. Substitituting a head of cauliflower for the cabbage and not including the Fuji apples, the total cost of these items not including tax was $18.74!
Shopping at ALDI is what is saving me at this point. I only go to the "regular" grocery store if they have a good special. The regular store also has a section in their meat dept. where they put the items that are close to code. That is how I get all our meat. On Friday I got 2 packages of turkey burgers, then one each of turkey tenerloins, turkey cutlets and turkey Italian sausage for just $5.00 or 99 cents a package. I try to stop by every day just to see what may be available for 99 cents. Once I passed on a package of bacon because I try to limit our processed foods. But I kept kicking myself for passing on it because I could have put it in the freezer. Now I tell myself that whenever I see a deal too good to pass up to get it. I'll throw it in the freezer.
I have found that our local dollar store sells bread for 50 cents a loaf, as well as hamburger and hot dog buns. I got a loaf of white, wheat and hamburger buns this weekend. I checked out the bakery on the back label. Turns out the bread is from the famous Chicago bakery, Gonnella! What a find. This bread is really good quality. Who would have ever thought that I'd get so excited over a 50 cent load of bread.
I've also discovered another store that markets to an ethnic population. They have discounted bakery items and fruits and vegetables too. Like a large package of apples, oranges and pears for just 99 cents. At the regular store they have a special now on General Mills cereal, four boxes for $5.00. I got four on Friday and you would have thought it was Christmas here. The boys were so happy to have brandname cereal to eat. I ended up having cereal for dinner this weekend when the boys were out and it was a wonderful treat. I am going back for four more boxes.
I've been baking muffins and cookies to supplement our soup and sandwich dinners. They seem to make up for the budget stretching. I have rediscoverd that box of Bisquick and have just baked one of my favorite comfort food recipes - the crumb coffee cake with the brown sugar and cinnamon topping. Yummy.
I am proud of my thriftiness and creativity in the kitchen. If there is anything positive that has come out of my financial distress it is that I no longer take money and shopping for granted. Before widowhood, I'd go to the regular grocery store and fill my cart with whatever I wanted. I didn't clip coupons but by the same token I didn't go overboard. We were never an extravagant steak-eating family. I shopped the sales. But I never worried about writing the check to pay the bill. And there was waste with fresh food items often being thrown out or leftovers not being saved. I will never go back to that mindset. A loaf of bread has become dear and I long for the day I'll find another 99 cent package of bacon. This time I am going to grab it before it gets away!
Fun, Easy, Cheap Cookie Recipe - Best Served After Budget Dinner Leaves Kids Hungry For A Treat - Great With Large Glasses of Filling Milk
Fudge Crinkles (Betty Crocker)
1 box Devil's Food Cake Mix
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 t. vanilla
Mix all ingredients except powdered sugar. Shape dough into one inch-balls. Roll in powdered sugar. Place balls two inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 10-12 minutes at 350. (I redipped the baked cookies in more powder sugar because they needed it after baking).
Today I am grateful:
1. For ALDI grocery stores.
2. For store brand labels that I can use instead of namebrands at less cost.
3. For all the 99 cent meat specials I find because they let me afford meat - please keep them coming my way.
4. For programs like the Angel Food Ministries that realize folks need and deserve affordable fresh food items and more than canned goods.
5. For the bacon that got away because it taught me the value of getting a deal and not passing on another one in the future.