Thursday, May 26, 2016

Common Sense Isn't Always Common

I went to the local grocery store today.  When I say "local," I mean local.  It's a tiny chain of groceries that serves about a 150-mile radius.  I like shopping there better than anywhere else--veggies grown closer to home, Southern products a specialty but also some "exotic" items (they carry stuff like Golden Syrup and rough-cut Irish oats), and good bargains, too.  There's no need to go anywhere else, as a general rule.

One thing I have an issue with is the pre-packaged tomatoes.  I understand that the store does this to cut down on traffic jams in the produce section (it's a small store and very busy) but that can make it harder to find the best-priced item.  That's what happened to me today.  I picked up a pack of 6 large Creole tomatoes for $1.70 and figured that would do fine.....until I walked round the corner of the display and discovered that 4-packs were only .99 cents.  No question:  I was gonna go put the bigger pack back.

Think about it.  Round up:  a dozen tomatoes from the larger pack would cost $3.40.  A dozen tomatoes in the smaller packs would cost $3.00 for the same amount of produce!  A difference of more than 13%.  Since my weekly food budget ranges between $12 and $20, you can bet that I want to spend that 40 cents elsewhere.  (And, yes, I am one of those people who is willing to weigh pre-packs to figure out which one weighs the most to make the best buy.)

I'm not embarrassed to put an item back, and I make sure I return it where I found it.  Unfortunately today that meant I had to get in another shopper's way.  I apologized and mentioned the price difference.  She looked at me like I had two heads (both ugly), and I saw the high-priced items in her cart.  She just didn't get the reasoning and probably has never had to....after all, the four items already in her cart would undoubtedly have cost my entire budget for this week and then some.  But I'm glad she can enjoy that stuff, and I'm grateful that I've learned to be careful.

Here's the deal:  the best way to save money is not to spend it.  That's why I hunt bargains and I try to get more for what I spend--this is how I manage to have enough.

And I was still thinking about this when I got home because I noticed myself following an old habit:  I cooked my supper using only one stove burner.  First I fried a tomato--so good!  When that was done, I cooked some spinach.  When that was ready, I cooked corn on the cob.  With some leftover rice heated up in the microwave, it's a good, simple, colorful, healthy meal.

But why would I use just one burner?  Years ago, I discovered The Tightwad Gazette.  The lessons I gleaned from that still serve me.  I don't go quite to the extent that the author did (she even figured kilowatt hours down to the minute!) but I follow her sound sense:  heating one burner for a longer time is more cost-effective than heating several burners for a shorter time.  And I figure that it causes less heat in the house, too--important since we're already in the middle of the Central Air Conditioning Season here in South Mississippi.

There are newer books with more trendy titles and up-to-the-minute information but I'll stick to my old Tightwad Gazettes (there are three)--those books still have stuff to teach me about good common sense.

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