I've been thinking about how my Refrigerator Plot has saved me money beyond just the electric bill being lower. I kinda like doing the "mental math" on this stuff, even if my arithmetic is a bit fuzzy.
There's a local grocery where I love shop because they have good prices and a great selection on fresh vegetables (much of which is grown regionally). Additionally, several times a week, they have special prices on bruised or very ripe fruit & veg. Since I'm a long-time vegetarian and since my budget is fairly small (between $15 and $20 a week for food), I was very happy yesterday to see the Clearance Special basket was really full and I had a choice of goodies. I could have bought more but I didn't want to be greedy because I know that other people need those bargains, too, so I chose 7 items.
.....six packaged items for 99 cents each:
a mixed pack with three apples, a nectarine, & a peach
a big package with 10 bananas
a package of 4 bell peppers
a package of 6 zucchini
a package of 8 small pickling cucumbers
a bag of mixed salad greens
.....and an eggplant for 59 cents
In buying bruised and very ripe food, you've got to be willing to think fast and to work fast because that stuff can spoil quickly and you don't want to waste your food investment.
Using some leftover rice that was in the fridge I stuffed two bell peppers (two meals).
I chopped bell pepper to add to other recipes later.
The eggplant and some of the bell pepper became something resembling ratatouille (two meals).
I cooked zucchini that I split for use in four meals.
I chopped and froze fruit that will make 12 breakfast muffins later.
And I made Quickles from the cucumbers (enough for many servings).
.....That sounds like a lot of work but it was actually only about an hour. And so far, I've got food that will be the basis of at least 20 meals.
With the salad greens, I will make salads for two meals, and the rest I will add to soup which means that the remaining half bag will become part of another 4 or 5 meals depending what I put with it.
I haven't dealt with the bananas yet but they were in pretty good shape so they could wait a day. I will make banana bread with 6 of them--that's 4 loaves of banana bread, each about 12 servings, so that's 48 servings. And I will chunk and freeze the other bananas to use in smoothies. Each banana = 1 smoothie, so that's 4 servings.
Okay, so figuring generally, I've just added up 70+ servings of food that cost me $6.53 plus tax, or about $7.00.....that's essentially 10 cents a serving.
Yes, I will be adding other foods to that (milk, flour, rice, soup veggies, etc.) but that $7.00 will take me a long way in starting good meals, and I couldn't get have gotten this done if I hadn't sold the fridge and bartered for the freezer.
I also bought a 6-pack of ramen. Not the healthiest stuff, of course, but I break each pack into two servings, so that means another 12 meals out of my $8.53 grand total at the grocery.
I don't always get as many bargains as I did yesterday but I try to make it work for me when I do. I believe that I can eat a healthy diet without overspending. It means I have to be willing to cook, and it means being creative. It means being unembarrassed to look at what is available in the clearance sale basket. And it means being grateful for all of the good things that come my way.