Hard times

My mother grew up during the depression and I can remember the stories she told me about life during those hard times and how her parents struggled to take care of their family.  My grandmother had a garden and canned all kinds of fruits and vegetables.  She would get flour bags from the bakery and use the cloth to mend her kid’s clothes.  My grandfather made my mom a doll house out of scrap lumber from a shipping crate he got at the depot.  It was a very difficult time and when grandpa got laid off at the plant all they had to eat was ketchup sandwiches.  Thinking back to the way my mother saved string and rubber bands and paper clips and bread wrappers I can now understand it especially since our country is going through some difficult economic times.

I am in no way comparing the Great Depression with the economic woes of today but we have felt the pinch.  My wife and I recently sat down and decided that we will have to switch from Applebee’s to Denny’s and just hope we can continue to feed our family without forcing the kids to choose items off of some Value Meal board.

We have even begun to use the stove a couple or three times a week which means having to plan meals and go to the supermarket for food items in addition to snacks and soft drinks.  Plan before you go, limit yourself to what you plan to get and take advantage of sales and coupons.  Good advice and that’s what we did on double coupon day when we saved 50 cents on a three pound bag of sour cream and chive oyster crackers.

Paying attention to what you are buying is so very important.  When you pick up that one pound package of bacon have you noticed that some brands have gone to the 12 oz. pound?  Tricky.  And now ice cream that came in a half gallon package comes in a 1.5 quart size at the same price. Tricky. Store brands can help you save money but in the case of ice cream you may get some strange items like knock-offs of national brands (Moose Droppings) or flavors like Chocolate Bamboo.

But there are other ways to save money on food if you know what you want. We got tired of paying outrageous money for arugula and decided to head on over to the Saturday Farmer’s Market where local farmers and local citizens can get to know each other and share the bounty of the fields.  Fresh corn and green beans and peas and carrots and pineapples.  It’s great.

Since we planned ahead I knew what we were going to need for the week’s home cooked meals and that meant getting some onions.  When I walked past one stand the farmer, or the guy selling the stuff who looked kind of like a farmer I guess, had a sign showing $1/lbs on the yellow onions.  At the supermarket you get the bagged onions but here you can buy as many as you need so I asked him if he could do any better on the onions.

He smiled and said, “a dollar a pound or three for five”.

We both smiled and laughed and I had him bag me up three pounds.  You’ve got to know what you’re doing.

Mom and grandma would have been so proud.

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