I have been having to grocery shop rather judiciously lately due to monetary constraints. I am learning to be a coupon wizard, but still suck at it. (I am going for a tutorial at my friend Kim's soon, she's a complete coupon geek. And yes, this is a compliment.). So, I basically rely on purchasing just what we will need for the next week, no extras, stick to the list, etc. Then once the food is home, I become a tyrant about what people eat and when so it does not mess up the overall weekly food plan.
No big deal. This works. I make sure everyone has ample for meals and snacks and well then lovely. I have done this, at times, for as little as $40 for the week. It becomes a personal challenge to which I find myself rallying.
Here is the issue: What kinds of foods should I get? Where should I shop? Processed food is cheap, but not so good for you, and processed foods differ in their ingredient lists.
For example, I bought mac-n-cheese at Aldi's for 33¢. The Trader Joe's mac-n-cheese is 95¢. It's freakin' mac-n-cheese, what's the difference you ask? Well, the ingredient list on the Aldi's brand is 3-4x longer than on the Trader Joe's brand (they are owner by the same company, FYI). So, is it worth paying more to have less crap in a box full of crappy processed food?
Another example, again Aldi's vs. Trader Joe's, white bread. Trader Joe's white bread is $3.00ish while the Aldi's brand is 83¢. This is a big difference when you are talking about having $40. However the list of ingredients is vastly different. VASTLY!
When Blaine and I were both working, I bought all organic, because we could. Our shopping was done at Whole Foods and/or Trader Joe's. (don't judge me, their food is stupid expensive, but amazing) Now, we are having to be more restrained with our food purchases. I am having a dilemma about the best way to go about this.
There is no question that doing all of the shopping I can at a store like Aldi's is the most cost efficient. But, what am I giving up health wise by serving very processed food? What if I just use some of this food intermixed with less processed? Does that make a difference? Is it better to shop at a mid-range store like Schnucks? In light of the fact we are a vegetarian/vegan family, Trader Joe's is less expensive on a lot of our stuff than the larger chain stores.
I worry about organic vs. non-organic, very processed vs. less processed, fair market vs. standard (particularly coffee), etc. When is enough, enough? When do I just go buy food and stop worrying so much about it?
These kind of neurotic thoughts also occur about throwing away food vs. composting. It stresses me out. Who should I give hand me downs to? Does it matter? Should I give them to people I know or Goodwill? Where is it they do the most good? When giving opportunities come up (ex. filling boxes to send to Haiti) is giving one item enough or do I need to purchase the whole box of items that need to be shipped.
I am consumed with trying to make things safe, better, fair, and logical for my family and the world. Sometimes the stress of it seems crazy. Then I feel like a tool for worrying so much about all of it.
We have a friend that just got back from Africa. Their local driver died on that trip while bathing in the river. He died. There was no emotion about it from the local people around them because it is the norm. They see it everyday. Death is part of their existence and I am freaking worrying that I just put carrot scraps down the disposal rather than in the compost pile.
I am comparing mac-n-cheese boxes because I am afraid of the quality of food my family eats. My family, who eats three meals and two snacks a day. I refuse to shop at Wal-Mart because of their business practices and I only buy second hand clothes because all of the major clothing companies use sweat shop labor.
I feel like such an asshat sometimes at getting hung up on the things I do. But, at the end of the day, there I am. What is worth worrying about and what isn't? Which of these things that I obsess about will make any kind of real difference for my family or the greater good? Will any of it?
I am going to be creating a grocery list after I finish typing this post. I don't know where I am going to shop and I still don't know if it actually makes a difference or not. However, I will try to keep in mind that no matter where I go, I'm crazy hella lucky for the choices I have.
The when enough is enough answer might be realizing that my intentions are good, always, so I need to breath and relax.
This blog is a stream of conciousness from my head to the keyboard to the screen. There will be talk of random subjects. If you have delicate eyes, proceed with caution. I like to talk about controversial subjects and sex a lot. So, take heed my friends. This is not a blog for debate, but for love and sharing. If your views do not match my own, love to you, but don't bring the rest of us down. That's all I'm saying.