Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Sitting on the Urge to Over-buy when Prices are Cheap

A short two miles from where I live is a produce outlet called Produce Junction where buying fruits, vegetables, nuts, herbs, and eggs in bulk makes for super savings. If I'm careful, I can save a bundle. When oranges in the supermarket are a dollar each, I can get the same variety and quality at Produce Junction for one-third the cost, so long as I buy a minimum of six. Same goes for celery: in the supermarket, $2.29 a bunch; at the bulk outlet, two beautiful bunches for two dollars, but I have to buy two to get the deal.

Finding these super-saving deals is a mixed blessing when planning meals and cooking for one. The prices can't be beat, but just how much can I buy without some of it going to waste?

I've learned a few quick ways to make sure the bargain-priced produce doesn't spoil in the fridge or on the counter.

Why Plan Meals When You're Cooking Only for You?

I used to think that meal planning was pointless, since I'm the only one who's eating. After all, if I have a few staples in the pantry, a selection of fresh vegetables in the refrigerator bin, and a piece of meat or fish in the freezer, I can whip something up, right? And if I don't feel like doing that, I can always order out or pick up something already prepared, a tired girl's treat that is one of my biggest temptations at the end of a busy day. I'm kind of lucky, cooking only for myself. I have no one to answer to, no one whose picky needs have to be met, and no one to criticize me. So, I can eat what I please.

What a convenient trap to fall into. By not planning meals, because it's only me, I am spending money I don't need to, risking eating foods that don't promote my health, and wasting time making decisions I don't need to make.

Save Money
If I plan meals ahead of time, I can eat tasty, satisfying, healthful foods for about 50% of what it costs to order out, dine out, or pick up food through a drive-in window. There are some who don't agree with me, but that's because they've dismissed two critical aspects of cooking for yourself: the cost benefits of planning ahead, and the false justification of applying your hourly rate on the outside job to cooking for yourself at home. That last part may sound a bit strange, but take a look at this article that asks, is eating out cheaper than cooking? Food for thought.