Probably 75% of my weekly food budget goes towards fresh produce. However, with two littles, I am not interested in running to 3 or 4 grocery stores to pick up all of the best produce deals. So, because we live in an area with intense grocery store competition, I've gotten into the habit of making a 10 minute spreadsheet with the weekly sales fliers. I go through the fliers from the 3 or 4 stores I find typically run the best sales and jot down what produce they have on sale, and for what price. The result looks a bit like this, only it's usually written on the back of an envelope which The Baby conveniently rescued from the recycling bin for me:
|Store A||Store B||Store C|
|green peppers||59 c/lb||69 c/lb|
|onions||33 c/lb||30 c/lb|
|cabbage||20 c/lb||50 c/each|
Based on this imaginary scenario, I would decide to shop at Store A this week. Yes, it's slightly more expensive for the nectarines and onions, but I'm only buying a few pounds of each, so for less than $2, it's not worth driving to another store. We'll make do without peaches and cauliflower, because they're not on sale at Store A. After deciding on A, I'll look to see what other staples for our cupboard they have on sale, and make a note to buy those (Penne at 79 cents a pound? Deal!).
Because A, B, and C also have different specialties, I'll also plan to buy whatever we like to buy from each place on a week when we're there. (For example, A has a cheap deli and B does bulk dried fruit, so this week I'll buy extra cheese, and maybe next week we'll get some dates and raisins.)
Back to The Hubby... The best prices on produce are not at our local grocery store. While it is possible for me to stroller to the closest place and back with both littles and a load of groceries, I'd pay at least a $30 premium on my produce each week for the privilege. And as we HAVE a car, that's not a sensible trade-off. But the sales run Wednesday through Tuesday, and the fliers come on Wednesday in the mail sometime between 11 and 1.
So do I attempt shopping in the afternoon after naps and risk running out of time? Or do I wake up The Baby early if it looks like she's sleeping longer? Or do I try shopping on weekends again? Or on the one evening a week when we don't have regularly scheduled plans? Or do I just pick a store Wednesday morning and get what they have for a good price, even if it means picking wrong and only buying 2 or 3 things? Or do I try another great plan that you, faithful reader, will suggest to solve my terrible first world problem?
Monday- Stir Fry with the thousand carrot and celery sticks leftover from The Baby's birthday party.
Tuesday- Green salad with lemon vinaigrette. Pasta with cilantro pesto.
Wednesday- Carrot soup with garlic cheese toast.
Thursday- Okonomiyaki (Japanese cabbage and egg "pancake).
Friday- Risotto with zucchini, green pepper, and garden tomatoes.