Thursday, March 22, 2012

Groceries and Gardens and GIFs

We've finally gotten into a smooth rhythm when it comes to grocery shopping. We try to keep our weekly grocery bill under 35 a week, though that's been a recent achievement. Obviously, it was much easier to keep it low when we lived in the south.

As every Muppet knows, shopping around is the best way to ensure the best prices on food. This is also a way to murder joy.

We have two shops relatively close to us: Stop and Shop and Save-A-Lot. Save-A-Lot is nationwide, I believe, so you probably have seen their empty parking lots as you drive by.

Stop and Shop is a relatively expensive and very conveniently located. I track prices there and can occasionally find pretty good deals. They have a great seafood area, like fresh cod for 2.99 a pound good*, but we don't do a whole lot of shopping there. That leaves, well, you know.

It's not as bad as you might think**.

It's a pretty convenient bus ride away and we buy almost all of our staples from Save-A-Lot. A local bakery sells its day old bread there for 99 cents a loaf. We usually pick up two loaves for the week. Cheese, peanut butter, tomato sauce, eggs… Stop and Shop's rock-bottom sale price is the average price at Save-A-Lot.

But yeah. That place is the Daytona Beach of beaches.

I miss Kroger. I could get free items regularly there. I still have a mini stockpile of health and beauty*** products from my time near a Kroger. This was facilitated by double coupons, owning a car and better deals. I used to wonder about people who chose to shop exclusively at heavy discounters (which is what Save-A-Lot is) instead of just utilizing coupons at big retailers; I see now why people choose to shop this way. It's just easier somehow.

Another thing that factors into our grocery shopping is the fact that we don't have a whole lot of room for convenience purchases anymore. Until I can find a grocery cart abandoned by somebody's grandma on the side of the road, we're hauling it in backpacks. We've just resorted to eliminating boxed foods from our grocery list. It's not always easy or fun. If we want swiss cake rolls or pizza or mac and cheese*** then we make it from scratch. I mean, I don't make the mozzarella or cheddar. That would be obnoxious.

And we don't buy organic, usually****.

So our garden. It's a thing that exists now.

I purchased seeds about a month ago from Walgreens when they were running a 5 packets for 1.00 thing. They didn't have a huge selection (an alarming number of sunflower varieties, though) so I just got what I thought we would like: tomatoes, squash (of the hott summer persuasion), cucumbers, lettuce and peppers.

I've already been growing some parsley and I finally planted this seed paper thing I found in my backpack. I don't really feel like explaining the whole story, so just go with it.

I had 2 little terracotta pots that used to hold basil and thyme. As peppers are supposed to be very persnickety I put them in there. I made additional seed planters from newspaper. This way when I plant them I won't have to remove them from their home-- the newspaper eventually dissolves. Or so I'm told.

I made them by wrapping newspaper around a cup and then folding the bottoms under. The soil keeps them intact, but I still wrapped them in some jute string that I had leftover from the rug. The markers are from a fake credit card I was sent today.

I'm also trying to grow celery from an end-- it's something that is apparently pretty well known in gardening circles. Just chop the end off the celery (the part you would normally throw out), place it in water and plant it when it spouts. I just started it last night, so we'll see.

Overall, I think the highlight of my day was when I opened the bag of soil and involuntarily said "agg! So dirty!" out loud to myself. So there's that.

*Those glassy fish eyes staring at me. Can't do it.
**If you're thinking it's the Myrtle Beach of beaches.
***Dream meal
****I think all the pesticides make me a better person.


  1. We got a cart like that from IKEA. We really enjoy being "those people" on the train.

    As for gardening, I really liked our raised bed we had last spring and summer. Obviously, that's not feasible now. Maybe I should get some little pots like you have and try to grow some basil or something. Our apartment is muggy enough.

    Also, seed packet! I think I threw mine away.

    1. We really need to get one-- our "stock up" shopping today was so draining. Also it's cold again...

      I want a raised bed! Our downstairs neighbors have a raised bed but it's in a shady, pine needle covered corner of the yard. Also I think it would work so great up here because I can choose the soil I want to use. Our soil isn't very good...

      I think you should do it! Those front windows and sills are amazing with all that light. I have some seeds I can send-- I have a bajillion left over...

  2. I had this book that we used last summer for that garden, but I think it's in Tennessee (so I guess even mentioning it is rather pointless). The basic thing I remember from the book was that you really needed to consider raising rabbits because their pellets are an excellent source of fertilizer. Now that I think about it, that kind of sounds like using a fox to guard your henhouse because it has sharp teeth. Maybe I somehow walked into a propaganda box trap set by astute rabbits.

    1. Hahaha I read this article the other day with "frugal" urban gardening tips. One of the top ones was "get manure from a local horse farm. They give it away for free because they do that's the truth trust meh".

      Where are these urban horse farms? I'm assuming that successful, frugal urban gardeners live in Louisville, KY.

  3. You can also use the left over toilet paper roll to start seed in. Take the roll, cut the bottom to fold and seal, then put dirt and seed. Then you can plant the whole thing and it too will decay like the newsprint. Loved the article; you're so much further/farther/whatever than we were!

  4. That is brilliant! I don't know why I didn't think about that-- it's much sturdier and taller. Hm... I have been thinking about starting some more cucumbers (they're doing so well right now). I'm going to use that tip!