I Only Came In For Bread
January 25, 2013, 8:22 PM
Filed under: ENOUGH!, Frugality, Mindful Consumerism, Plant based diet, Resilience


Grocery store clerks have told me that they’re often amazed and amused by the customers that tell them “I only came in for bread”, yet they’ve also got a can of refried beans, a package of Oreos, a pound of cheese and a frozen box of Stouffer’s Lasagne on the checkout belt, right along with that bread. A $2 loaf of bread turns into $20. Or more. I’ve done it myself of course but the reminder remains: “Step Away from the Store!”  The tendency to pick up impulse items is even stronger when there’s a storm forecast. You know, “just in case”. In this month of winter storms, W4 tax forms, new year resolutions, and a promise on my part to spend January writing about food on this blog, today seemed to be perfect for continuing that theme. (For non-local readers, Tennessee is under a ‘state of emergency’ as I write this, due to icy and snowy conditions.) But I digress…

My post earlier this week focused on a way to easily prepare healthy and delicious food, at minimal cost. Homemade soups are filling and are an excellent way to use up leftovers or small amounts of beans, grains and veggies, that by themselves, wouldn’t feed more than one, let alone a hungry family.  Now granted, my ‘souper’ meal didn’t compare to the meal served Monday to President O’Bama and his 220 guests at the inaugural luncheon. Celebrating the theme of the inauguration, “Faith in America’s Future”, artisanal, sustainable and, where possible, local foods were used, though some items came from the West.  The three-course farm-to-table menu included steamed lobster tail topped with a New England clam chowder sauce, placed atop vegetables.  Hickory grilled bison tenderloin (sourced from South Dakota) with a wild huckleberry reduction was the entree, joined by vegetable sides, including a red potato horseradish cake.  The grand finish was President Obama’s favorite dessert, pie: Hudson Valley Apple Pie, with sour cream ice cream and maple caramel sauce, accompanied by artisan cheeses and honeycomb.  Wines were from New York and California. The very fact that this Presidential meal was planned to highlight local and sustainable foods tells me that there’s real change in the air concerning our food system. I’m not so sure about that whole “Faith in America’s Future” theme, but it sounds good, doesn’t it?

Meanwhile, moving back to the reality of feeding ourselves and our families within the confines of our personal budgets: those impulse buys can wreck your food budget. The safest and easiest way I’ve found for sticking to my own budget is to stay out of the stores, food or otherwise. There’s an old saying that goes like this: “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without”. It’s my personal mantra and I always feel positively virtuous when I can follow it. It’s probably saved me thousands and thousands of dollars over the years, yet at the end of the day, I never feel deprived, but rich beyond the normal measure of what money can buy. I am a lucky woman, and I know it.

Making a menu plan and a shopping list really help me stick to what I need when I finally do go to the store. I try to go only once a month for my main shopping, and rarely will go again for just one item. I’ve found I can often substitute one item for another, or leave an ingredient out altogether without degrading whatever I’m cooking. ‘Doing Without’ can save a trip to the store and a twenty spot.

I read a book several years ago named “Hungry Planet” that was a pictoral essay of what other families around the world eat. I picked three from it that I thought might better make my point:

Ecuador: The Ayme family of Tingo
Food expenditure for one week: $31.55
Favorite Food: Potato soup with cabbage


The Aboubakar family of Breidjing Camp
Food expenditure for one week: 685 CFA Francs or $1.23
Favorite food: Soup with fresh sheep meat


United States: The Revis family of North Carolina
Food expenditure for one week: $341.98
Favorite foods: spaghetti, potatoes, sesame chicken

I could be crazy. Many people think that I am 😉  But I truly do think we can help ourselves best, and help the planet most, by simply “doing without”. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

1 Comment so far
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Nice post. I know that book. It’s incredibly interesting. The statistics on percent of people w/ diabetes, obesity are interesting too, if outdated. Have you also seen the book by the same authors showing what people own around the world. “Material World”. Tonight I’m actually making a fancy meal. We took my mom and some friends out to dinner at the restaurant of the chef wife of our CSA farmer. It was eastern Mediterranean. I got her cookbook out of the library, and tonight I’m making Sweet Potato Bisteeya and Fatoush Chopped vegetable salad with tahini sauce. I didn’t have to buy too much that I didn’t have on hand, but I spent about 4 hours cooking. I hope it’s good. I’ll do a post on my blog about it tomorrow.

Comment by Andrea

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