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Rediscovered: The Food Lesson

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Did I Live Inexpensively Enough?

Recently, I had a realization about something again I already knew but didn’t implement into my lifestyle often enough. I do cook sometimes, but the big word here is “sometimes”. Sometimes? It could mean anything from one to three days per week but barely more often than that. And the remaining days I am just lazy and use convenience food and I definitely found my favorites there. So, it was a mix of both, cooking and using convenience food.

Apart from that, I usually shopped for a number of groceries which would be enough for surviving maybe three days, and then go shopping again. I know that many people rather shop for one or two weeks but I never really needed to as every district in our city has tons of grocery stores right next to where people live. But what happens when there is a pandemic, like right now with the coronavirus and everyone empties the stores because they expect this will be the end of the world? Right, shopping for just three days wasn’t the smartest idea anymore, especially if you didn’t want to starve or if you want to live cost-effectively.

So, I changed my buying behavior but just a little bit. I didn’t do panic purchases like some of the hipsters I’ve seen in the stores, who seemed to purchase enough canned food or toilet paper to survive a nuclear war. But instead of shopping to have enough for three days, I did now shop to have enough for two weeks. And since most convenience food shelves were emptied, I tried to get some of the most basic and affordable things. Several bags of pasta, several packages of rice, different sauces and an equal amount of different canned or frozen vegetables and a few other things to be a bit more flexible.

Of course, with the current madness, it wasn’t possible to get it all in one grocery store, but I visited several of them, which took a lot of time but that’s how I managed to check off my new shopping list. In the past, I thought convenience food would already be affordable and since I cooked a few times a week in the past too, I already knew that cooking can be even more affordable. So, I thought my life was already inexpensive. But now with enough cooking ingredients at home for 14 days, this came back as a big realization or reminder…

Much Cheaper, Much Healthier and More Delicious!

In the last weeks, I actually did live a lot more cost-cutting. You never should go shopping if you’re hungry is what my mother and grandma always said. And I always knew this is true because when you’re hungry and in a grocery store, your brain wants you to purchase whatever is prepared the fastest as soon as you come home. Apart from that, you might come home with things you didn’t need, which is what might make your shopping tour more expensive than you think it was. As said, it wasn’t a new concept for me but the lazy part of my brain often convinced me that convenience food would be a timesaving investment, at least in the kitchen, and that shopping every two or three days would be practical as you don’t have to plan ahead.

And if you can get a nice pizza for just €3, or a nice ravioli dish for €2 or other meals for €2-€5, going this route several times a week didn’t affect me financially either, that’s at least what I thought. But the recent weeks, with a small stockpile of things for 14 days, I got reminded again that I was wrong. Now, I had all the things at home to prepare all kinds of different meals. There was simply no reason any more to go shopping, except for some small things that I forgot. Whatever ingredient I needed as a base, I had it all at home, from potatoes over rice to pasta. And I think that’s where you really cut the costs. You don’t need to go shopping anymore, you have it all at home. Thus, you also won’t be able to make idiotic impulse purchases.

Take a package of rice as an example. It has 500 grams and only costs €0.59. I do absolutely get full of whatever I cook with 125 grams of rice. That means, I can prepare 4 dishes with a package, maybe not several days in a row as this would be boring, but you know what I mean, it’s not going to expire tomorrow. With that said, we’re talking about €0.15 per dish. A package of decent sauces costs €0.80 and it’s not even the cheapest you can get but hey, a bit of luxury, why not? They usually contain 4 sauces as well. That’s €0.20 per sauce and together with the rice, we would already have a meal for €0.35. Boring?

Right! Let’s take a look into the freezer and get some vegetables. What do we see there? Several packages of all kinds, each of them 1000 grams for the price of €1.59. Let’s take 100 grams out of one, which would cost €0.16 and we’re now at €0.51 for the whole meal. Like what? Even if we’d take twice as much, it’s freaking cheap and a viable option, now that some zombies looted all fresh vegetables. I don’t eat meat very often anymore but even if I’d add like 100-200 grams of chicken to the meal, the cost of the meal would still only be around €1.26-€2.01 and far better than any convenience food at the same price but honestly, you won’t find anything below €2 if we talk about filling convenience food, except for pizzas maybe, which are often pretty good.

Also, I noticed I can still make use of certain canned things that contain meat. I did, for example, find a can with sauce and goulash for €0.80, which wouldn’t be filling alone but combined with rice and vegetables, the meal would cost €1.31 and is still very delicious and I was stuffed. And then again, apart from rice, there is pasta or potatoes. Recently, I didn’t eat much meat, which means my meals didn’t cost much more than €1 per lunch. No joke, I ate a whole week (only talking about noon meal) for €7, maybe €10, and didn’t feel undernourished at all. I had it all, one day rice with beans and sauce, another day potatoes with eggs and spinach or noodles with Bolognese sauce and paprika. It was very tasty, and if I would have been undernourished, I would have noticed during jogging exercises but I felt great!

I was an idiot when I didn’t cook every single day. Cooking three days a week didn’t make me rediscover it, but cooking more than seven days in a row, that’s when I got the enlightenment. Ironically, all I needed was a pandemic and a bunch of weirdos who went into the grocery stores to loot as much as they could as if the nuclear war is coming. I’m already a very financially stable person and save money each month. Anyway, it’s the end of the month and looking into my wallet, it seems like I can increase the monthly savings quite a bit. And even if I don’t, it will just make my meals tastier and healthier. Thanks to all the moronic hoarders who started it and who reminded me that cooking regularly by yourself with a common two-weeks household stockpile, is far cheaper and far more delicious and actually much more practical.

Even in these times, we can learn or rediscover something. Stay safe everyone!

5 Comments »

  1. We had been shopping for about a week at a time which is pretty normal. But we hadn’t stocked up in a long time. Now, finally, we have about 2 weeks of food which is all we have enough room to store. Hopefully, by the time we start to run out, the groceries will be better supplied. Yes, it is MUCh cheaper to cook at home. But single people often don’t. I know Garry never cooked until I came into his life. Actually, he still doesn’t cook.

    • I hope so too. The whole situation at the moment is nuts. I calculated my stockpile for two weeks but today I noticed that I might get right into the next month, probably possible to cook the first week of the month as well. Which is another nice side-effect of having a small one- or two-weeks stockpile. The shopping can only be roughly calculated, but I realized it’ll be more than what I expect to get out from the product packages.

      I was like Garry. I just started cooking over the last years. I do agree, singles, and this was my main issue… the products are often for two and I always overestimated what I need to put into the pan or boiler. Two years ago I started to use a kitchen scale for my cereals because 100g breakfast is always enough for me with milk. Just two weeks ago I wondered “Why did I never use the scale for other things?” and experimented with 100g noodles, or 100g rice and so… if it wasn’t enough for me, I added a bit the next day… until I discovered exactly how much grams I personally need to be filled. THAT, is an essential discovery lol… I felt so stupid that I didn’t realize earlier that a kitchen scale is the solution to my problem. xD

      Another friend mentioned that I can cook for two days… but that never really worked out for me. Because who knows if I want to eat the same stuff tomorrow, and for other reasons. I’m a scale kind of guy as it seems. LOL

    • Right. I like lists and always used them, also for shopping. But I think, as I was too often in the stores, I often also bought things that were not on the list, just because I saw them. Now, with the two weeks stockpile that didn’t happen anymore as I just had to go once a week to the store because I needed some small items, like toothpaste or shampoo. It was an unusual experience to go into the stores for just one or two things. But the difference is really visible in the wallet because no impulse buying.

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