Monday, May 4, 2009

Bargain Shopping

Growing up, my family was never one to skimp on the groceries. It is not an understatement to say that my parents were/are known for overdoing it. All the kids loved coming over for our snack cabinet alone. I realized how crazy my parents were once I moved out on my own. There was no way in hell that I could afford having a snack cabinet. In fact, there were definitely times in my marriage that we had to go 2 weeks or more on only $20 for food. We ate a whole bunch of fideo.

So I became pretty good at making my dollar stretch. I'd call myself cheap, but I totally don't mind splurging on stuff either. However, I refuse to pay $1 for one frickin cucumber.

On Sunday we went grocery shopping because I was changing my diet to primarily raw. One thing I wholeheartedly believe in is shopping for the best deals. Sometimes that means going to three different stores. I'm still trying to find my rotation here. Coachella is a small, small town and I live in a neighborhood that caters to Mexican cuisine (just like back home in Texas). There are limited vegan options unless I take a 15-30 minute drive.

This is how I discovered Clark's Nutrition. This will definitely be my new vegan mecca. It's about 20 minutes away and has everything I could ever want. And they don't charge 5 flippin dollars for a dollop of Vegenaise! I'm calling out Ralph's and Henry's for their overpriced stuff. I hate getting financially bitch slapped every time I walk in those stores...and, now, I'll never have to do it again! I was seriously excited. The store is extremely, EXTREMELY vegan friendly. They also have specially marked shelves for raw foodists and gluten free peeps. But the best part was that they have just about everything I've wanted to purchase online. Plus they have an all vegan cafe and sell prepackaged raw vegan food and cheesecake! I'm from the land of corn cups and please excuse the previous foodgasm.

I stocked up on some stuff for the raw journey. And they had these really inexpensive raw snacks. A box of cacao beans for $2.19 and a nori snack (tastes like Japanese flavored jerky) for $1.99. Note to all: it is never a good idea to take a giant bite of a cacao bean if you've never had one before. You might just gag...and spit the chocolate flavored dirt in the sink. Blech!

My Top Five Rules for Thrifty Shopping
1.Always write a list and stick to it. It's really hard to spiral out of control when you have everything written down.
2. Eat before you shop. Don't shop to feed your hunger. I've walked out of the store with ridiculous impulse buys because I was starving and just needed some rice cakes...?
3. Buy in bulk. It really does add up. Sometimes I'll even check the prices of prepackaged stuff and compare it to the bulk bins. It's always cheaper. We spend a majority of our shopping time scooping stuff into bags.
4. Stick to produce. Most vegans know how much cheaper fresh fruits and vegetables are. Stuff like greens are always cheap. It's also better to buy seasonally and locally. It tastes so much better.
5. Don't be afraid to shop at more than one place. It is a rarity for one store to provide the best deals down the line. Generally, we shop at 3 places. Winco has the best bulk section and a reasonably priced high variety of produce. Fresh N Easy is right across the street from them and has KILLER sales. We go for their half off refrigerated section and their clearance rack. The other week they had all sorts of spaghetti at 15 cents for a pound. Finally, there's Food 4 Less which is good for stuff used in Mexican cuisine.

Overall, this new transition to raw has been great and fun. I've been doing a lot of freezing and dehydrating. Made some okra chips, which were just about the best thing ever! It's starting to get into the 100s over here so I will definitely be eating a lot of cucumber and watermelon. More to come soon...


Sarah said...

congrats on finding a good store!! and i tried a cacao nib for the first time a few weeks ago - plain - dumb idea. blech!

kmouse said...

I'm with you on the bargain hunting! I for one can't always afford organic produce so a lot of the time I buy non-organic. There is one store I love to go to called Top Valu and they have the best prices on produce: we're talking 3lb of tomatoes for a dollar, 59 cents for a bunch of kale, 4 avocados for a dollar, things like that...
I'm glad that you found great places to get great deals. :)

aTxVegn said...

I got no problem visiting several stores to get a good deal. In fact, I enjoy it!

Did you like those nori wraps and did you see they are made in Texas? I thought it tasted like jerky too.