I got two text messages from my older brother yesterday to let me know about sales at the GT Boutique (the pasta for 65 cents definitely sounded like a helluva deal). That’s love, y’all!
Actually, it amused me quite a lot because one of my memories of the transitional phase between sitting at the kids’ and grown-ups’ tables was how BORING adult conversation seemed most of the time. Bargains, and how much stuff cost at Bi-Way vs. Woolworths vs. KMart (this was before Wal-Mart made it to Canada), and who had died recently were probably the most frequent topics of conversation (to my recollection) around my grandmother’s kitchen table, especially if my uncle was around. Boy, did he like talking about deals. And dead people.
I am not a fan of shopping. I am not very patient in the bargain-hunting game. Sometimes, I will browse a flyer and find a deal, but then spend $50 on fancy berries, stinky cheese, and a new pedal bin that I didn’t really need. Basically, I waste a lot of money by not taking the time to think and plan, both grocery- and everything else-wise.
This is why I’m probably never going to be able to retire unless I marry rich, win the lottery, and/or stop winging it through life.
Obviously, when it comes to eating next week, I need to plan like a fiend*. Maybe this will be a good exercise to practice not being so frequently careless with my money.
There were two months in graduate school when I was living off a credit card, because my loans failed to come through, despite faxing and refaxing the same forms and making several tearful phone calls to perplexed call centre staff. Then, sometimes dinner was ramen with egg whipped in, and maybe mushrooms and green onion piled on top. It was a semi-decent bargain meal. I wasn’t destitute (though, after the debt repayment began, I realised that I should have been living even more like I was), but I started focusing much more on food costs and benefits. I wanted to know that I was eating well/enough and started paying attention to macro-, and to a lesser extent micro-, nutrients.
I used Fitday to make sure that I was getting at least 15% protein a day (a grocery splurge involved buying Quorn sausages so I didn’t have to add TVP to every meal for a few days), having several servings of fruit and vegetables**, and not giving into the temptation to just eat biscuits, chocolate, and beer, which really are the cheapest things to eat in the UK***, but ultimately not the best fuel.
I also walked everywhere because even the bus seemed expensive (I went when the pound was at a crazy high – I think the exchange rate was $2.40CAD or so) and ended up feeling pretty good (apart from the loneliness, constant dread of one day paying my massive loans off, and my mother not being well). I learned a lot about what my body needed and wanted, and how that could be done with limited funds. Necessity begat adaptation and organization. Though, I still could, and still did, go through a bag of supermarket scones in an afternoon quite easily.
But, of course, when I moved back to Canada, and back to my very sick mother’s house (she died of cancer a couple of years later), much of that was unlearned pretty frickin’ quickly. Why make a well-planned, protein-and-two-veg dinner when there are nachos to be had? If someone else is paying the bill, and life is kinda chaotic and terrible, eat what you like, right?
Which is fine for a while, but not fine long-term. And I moved back to Canada ten years ago.
In dribs and drabs, I improve and remember past lessons. Nachos are fine, but not every night or you’ll get bunged up (damn you, cheese!!!!). Not buying lunch out every day saves big money. Batch cooking is hella cheaper. Of course.
Yet, for all that, and the weighing and pricing of specifically chosen staples yesterday, last night’s dinner discussion turned to pierogies. GT often has cheap pierogies. Like, a biggish bag for a couple of bucks, if they are on sale. A quarter of my weekly budget.
And I thought, briefly, about picking one up because YAY YUM PIEROGIES DELICIOUS, but what would I have them with? (Wo)Man does not live by pierogy alone. And I should probably minimize the feeling-like-assness that will undoubtedly be facing next week.
What a bummer to be a grown-up, eh?
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Do you know of some bargains within biking distance of downtown? Please let me know.
**I even found a local organic farm delivery service online and when I made inquiries, they offered me a deal because I was the only person on the university campus ordering from them. I think they were intrigued by a student, a foreign one!!!, not living on baked beans. I only ordered from them a few times, but I was unbelievably grateful for their generosity. I wish I could remember what they were called so I could recommend them to any Brummies who might be reading this.
*** Someone doing LBTL in the UK could probably get adequate calories, spending no more than a pound a day just by eating a giant econopak of on-sale Penguins.