I'm still finding myself feeling like a fish-out-of-water when it comes to the planning and organization of my household. It's funny, that IRL I tend to not follow the plans that I make, and that's okay, but if I don't have a plan to (not) follow, then I'm lost. Sometimes I feel like I must have ADD. (and yes, I could use a little "H" in there, but unfortunately for me, it's a bit more ADLD -- attention deficit lethargic disorder) .
I chucked my old menu plan that we used in Australia. I had a 4-week rotating meal plan which worked fairly well, as I made the plan using the basic cheap ingredients which don't tend to go on fantastic sales, but were always cheap regardless. I carefully thought out how to cook some of the ingredients in bulk, then using the parts (eg chicken meat, broth, cooked vegetables from boiling a chicken) during the week or freezing for use in the next weeks' recipes, so that nothing (time nor ingredients) was wasted. I liked it -- I always knew what we were having; grocery shopping was easy; my fridge wasn't full of ingredients waiting to be cooked who-knows-when, (I hate having a cluttered fridge, LOL). It worked for me.
You know what is screwing me up here in the US? The sales. Too many choices. The fact that so many unhealthy ingredients are either extremely cheap, or extremely (and frequently) discounted. Hot dogs. Bologna. Cheapo tinned biscuits (scones). Cookies and those scrummy little cheese crackers (Cheesits?)
Now I have a conflict. Is my priority to save money, or to eat well? It was never a conflict in Australia, where the two went hand-in-hand. There, the unhealthy/processed food is still considered a "treat" and is priced accordingly. Here, well, heck -- the "food" manufacturers seem to do their level best to convey that their chemical conglomerations are, in fact, food -- but priced according to their true non-food status--i.e., cheap.
Okay, and I have to admit, that I am a sugar-fat-a-choc-a-holic, and I'm also lazy, which means that some of that junk appeals to both my tastebuds and my innate work ethic. Hmmmm. Cheap, tasty, easy. Tasty, easy, cheap. Now, you see, my brain is confused.
Now, to add to the confusion: the sale cycle.
I don't get it yet. In Australia, the "sales" aren't worth much, to be honest. Usually when something was on "sale," you're talking a difference of maybe 20 cents. Not enough to really make a heck of a lot of difference. And the sales were EXTREMELY predictable. You would know that the chicken would go on sale every other week, and the ground beef would be on sale at "x" shop if not at "y" shop, and the sale prices would not be extremely variable from store to store. AND, whatever was on sale would be advertised. Very simple, very easy.
Here -- whoa -- Kroger has these 10 /$10.00 sales, which they do not advertise -- I've been trying to plan using their store flyers, only to go to the store to find that they have actually discounted MUCH more than they had advertised. It makes preplanning extremely difficult. It also makes impulse buying extremely easy. So I might stock up on something that is 10/$10.00, which leads to mental and physical clutter, which I can't deal with. Or I have to go and re-arrange my menus again, which wastes time and energy. Or I say, screw it, let's go out to eat, which is what I've been doing.
I think I need to go back to Deb's adapted Hillbilly Housewife plan. Deb is amazing, did you know? LOL.
Anyway, the jist of it is that there are only certain ingredients that are purchased -- flour, oats, sugar, milk, peanut butter, cheese, fresh fruit and vegetables, beans and legumes, rice, tinned tomatoes, ketchup and condiments, eggs, and cheap cuts of meat (although Deb is vegetarian for the most part, so not for her). When items on this small list go on sale, they are purchased in bulk. Deb would not get confused by all these 10/$10.00 sales; she doesn't buy that stuff, so it's not a problem. She doesn't get the mental clutter of having "unusual" ingredients (purchased at discount prices) sitting around waiting to have a recipe found to use them up. She eats healthfully.
Okay, I do believe I need to go back to that. Stop evaluating and re-evaluating all the other junk.
If you see a lady in the store, with eyes closed, fingers in ears, singing "lalalalala, can't hear you...can't see you....", heading straight for the peanut butter section, that will be me.
Oh, and by the way, it is extremely ticking me off that a 2lb bag of carrots is $1.49. Come on Kroger, you can do better than that.
I wonder if the tinned version is cheaper....
Now -- the quiz -- which of these items was most expensive? That's right, folks, the lovely mix in the crockpot -- carrots, celery, onion, and bacon, all of which I "processed" myself. Next in price was the lentils, purchased in the biggest bag I could find. (They went in the crockpot too.) The blueberry muffins are from an Aunt Martha mix, which I purchased for pennies, on sale with a double coupon. The flavor was "Blueberry Cheesecake" with real (?) little bits of artificially-cream-cheese flavored dough and artificially flavored artificial blueberries. Pretty, aren't they?
The garlic was free from my organically-proficient neighbor :-)