Sunday, April 3, 2011

Seasonal Shopping Saves

This week I was made to feel 'odd' or a bit of a freak...
First with SmallBoy's fall from the roof ~ the amount of people mortified we let him climb on the roof was amazing. Oddly, this has been more from younger people (20s/30s) and more so from mothers of children in a similar age group or those who are now grandmothers.

Let me say - we are in the country, not the city. Several times a year Husband and SmallBoy are up on the roof clearing the gutters, nailing down loose roofing, realigning the aerial. It's what you do. So we have started to say to some he fell from a tree or bounced off a trampoline and the outpouring of sympathy is reversed four-fold. SmallBoy is keen to get back out and climbing ~ I see this as a good thing ~ he sees it as an accident, that he probably should have waited for the wind before straddling the beams, and will have caution on his mind 'next time'. Believe me - there will be a next time *laughs* 

Am I wrong to think children are supposed to explore, be inquisitive, climb? Are they not supposed to fall, land and injure? Is this not a normal event - even if the particular break is not the norm, the activity of mucking about is - isn't it? Or have the 'rules' changed so much that kids shouldn't be out playing, climbing, skating, riding in case they get hurt? If this is the case, how do they learn to judge a situation or implement their own personal boundaries? Or aren't they supposed to?? I won't advocate for a party to be held on our roof or allow three 10-12yo boys to play games on the roof - that's asking for an event to occur. But one mighty explorer should be able to do as he wants (within reason - I don't include climbing the power pole as exploration) so long as he is not endangering himself and/or others.

The next 'odd' was about menu planning and shopping. My girlfriends have been telling me what they are planning to serve their family for dinner - yummy stuff but to me its being done back to front. Menu planning seems to mean planning the things you'd like to cook and then get all the ingredients required, and so many meals involve out of season fruits and vegetables. There's two problems here - the price and the taste. Strawberries being eaten at the moment are tasty but coming to the end of the season so the price is increasing - in a few months they will be tasteless and more expensive - but when I asked why one girlfriend "has to buy them every week for her breakfast". 

And the one that got me more: - 
"I always buy cauliflower each week"... 
But cauliflower isn't in season at the moment
"Then how come I can get it at the supermarket?"
Even when it's $7 a head, or $4 a half!!
"Oh I don't look at the price, I just buy it".

Well pick me up off the floor and call me weird. Not looking at the prices? I was absolutely gob-smacked. Fruit and vegetables are the number one food type where prices fluctuate the most in stores - store to store. Week to week, even sometimes day to day, those prices can sky rocket and plummet with the speed of the stock exchange. 

Imagine trying to do that with bananas at the moment ~ one day bananas are $2.95pkg, then $12.95pkg, then $9.95pkg - or 'on special' for $5.99. Sure, we know that there have been some amazing weather catastrophes causing banana prices to escalate - so bananas should be a 'sometimes' food and an opportunity to use or introduce other, in season, fruits to diets. Apples are in season so seek out those on special (or on your neighbours tree) and stew them up for use in the 'off' season. It's one way we save at the cash register.

Talking to others, I think menu planning is being done the 'wrong' way in most homes. Menu planning is said to be the "way to ensure you don't overspend on groceries" suggesting one must write a shopping list based on the menu and stick to it. This is a disastrous way to menu plan unless you can determine the prices being charged at every place you shop.

I don't plan my shopping list based on my menu - I base my menu on what I have available in the fridge, freezer and pantry, making a list of some of the particular items I might not have at hand. Perhaps I've only got a few carrots and will need to top up for later in the week/fortnight. Carrots go on the list and, price dependent, I'll buy a kilo or two. If I've planned to make a batch of bolognese because I've got mince, onions, tomatoes and garlic - but this will use up the last of the onions and we've planned a BBQ or casserole, I'll put onions on the list and check out the usual haunts for cheap onions - including my bartering network.

Menu planning is not simply organising what you want to eat for the week/fortnight ~ and I think this is why many say the weekly shop comes to $200 a week (or more) and can't be lowered in any way. When I go into get my required items - I will check what is marked down in the meat department, the bakery, the dairy as all of these can freezer and be included in the next menu planning session. And I'll swap a meal to take advantage of a good 'score' like salmon fillets for a few dollars if it needs to be eaten within a day or two.

Next time you shop, if it isn't your current practice, take a look at the prices of fruits and vegetables. Is there something on special or marked down you selected on a whim? Did you expect the prices to be as they are??

So what is your practice? What do you do first - stock take your food stores, menu plan, create a shopping list or work it out on a daily basis? Honestly, I am curious to see what most people's practices are and how decision are made ~ or am I actually a bit odd in my practices?

Do you base your menu and shopping on what is available seasonally, on special or just what is available at the store? If something is unavailable or expensive, can you substitute with something else or does it throw you into panic or do you just buy it regardless of price?

Where do you write your shopping list and your menu plan - at home or at the shop; or is it based on the specials you find in the supermarket as you wander through? 

Off to the hospital in the morning ~ fingers crossed we avoid surgery on SmallBoy's ankle otherwise there will be a very scared little boy (and mummy!) here tomorrow or the next day.

Chat then :D


  1. Hi Mands
    I have shopped the wrong way around many times - those late nights on the way home from work and you stop at the supermarket and buy something for dinner without working what you already have on hand in the cupboard - coming out of the supermarket spending $60 or so with just a couple of bags of convenience food.
    I try to be better organised and 'shop' from my kitchen first. Look in the pantry, freezer, fridge and see what I have. Then scan the specials in the catalogues and buy up in bulk on good specials.

  2. Mands - on track as always. No you are not odd. Kids should be allowed to explore (we may not let ours on the roof, but we do let them look for lizards, snakes and bugs while bushwalking). We all do the best we can as parents and as long as we have good intentions what more can we do - stuff happens!

    As for the menu planning - I'm with you all the way. I check the kitchen stocks, look for the specials and can go with the flow. I may buy the $7 cauli (we love cauli) but I won't buy the bananas. Some of the apples are really nice right now and pears are a great price. But certainly you have the right idea in regards to menu planning.

    Go girl!
    from Tara

  3. Hope all is ok for the boy today. Boys are always going to be adventurous :).
    I only buy in season unless there is a 'special' reason not to.

  4. I tried to post a comment on the previous post but my computer wouldn't do it so I will try on this post.

    Boys will be boys, you can't wrap them in cotton wool, you don't want them to be afraid to try stuff, these are the things that help them grow as a person and he will have a great "when I was boy story" for his kids and grankids.

    You haven't done anything wrong, we encourage our son to do things instead of sitting in front the of the computer. Don't worry about what the others say, your son will go out and be a part of the world and explore it and be a great person, and good on you for encouraging him and teaching him.

  5. Mands - I am so pleased that there are parents like you around that let your child be a child. My parents would come outside to find my brother or I sitting on the roof - we didn't think anything of it. Life's experiences is what it's all about...

    Thank you for your comment on my blog - I was following this one when I wasn't registered with, so I had to remember to come back, and I've been slack!!!

    As for shopping - I cannot NOT look at the prices. I'm sorry, it's just not in me to not know. Sometimes I choose to buy something that's expensive (such as when 6 Zucchini's cost me more than $10...) but I knew what I was in for. I haven't got into menu planning - I like to choose what I want to eat on the day and I like to choose from what we have, so I'm not rushing out to buy stuff....

  6. Firstly, my 7&6yo kids climb up on our roof, and we're not in the country. I don't let them do it when hubs is away on shift but when he's home neither of us have an issue with it. We remember doing it ourselves! Gosh my little sister used to spend hours up on the roof when she was 8ish, it was her quiet place. Hope your boy mends quickly, and is ready to restart adventuring.

    Secondly, I am menu planning backwards! I'd honestly never really thought about it and yet I'm a big fan of mark downs etc. Why have I not been paying better attention to F&V?! And it doesn't work anyway because I often decide last minute I don't feel like what I'd planned anyways. Thank you! I see a new plan in my future :)

  7. Good to know there are other parents who believe in letting kids explore and challenge themselves ~ the way we used to :D

    I think menu planning is a great way to avoid getting take away when you've had a 'day' - it gives you ideas for meals without having to check, think, plan. And being able to take advantage of a bargain when they present themselves.

    Please let me know how you make changes with your planning and shopping ~ would love to hear how it goes. *cheers*

  8. I *don't get* menu planning.
    What we eat depends on what is growing, how many roosters need to be culled, if the son has been pig hunting, what's on special...


  9. Barb ~ I want what you're having *grins*
    Seriously ~ can I come visit, stay for a week or two and learn how to cull the birds, portion up a pig, see your garden grow?? Seriously!