Saturday morning shopping and the state of our personal economy

In this blogging neighborhood, there’s Wordless Wednesday, Thursday Photo Challenge, Food Friday and Friday’s Ark- but are we ready for Saturday Shopping?

This from someone who is hopelessly shopping challenged. I really dislike it and, more than that, the lights and commotion and people and city parking are all enough to set me on the edge of seizures. Heaven forbid I should have to take off clothes in a badly lit stall under camera surveillance.

I would be okay if a certain few fine food stores would let me make a private appointment to go shopping at say, midnight, after everyone else has left, they’ve thoroughly cleaned the place, I’m done eating and mellowing out for the day and ready to dream about cooking. That could work.

As it is, my best shopping time is Saturday morning market. I also try to put in a little time deadheading and tidying up the Oz Park gardens on Saturday mornings so I go to the market early before that. The last few, I’ve been challenging myself to see what twenty dollars will buy. Here’s what I got yesterday:

(we already had the cat)

Because we are traveling the end of the week I didn’t focus much on food. I splurged on 2 plants and I had to count the yard sale purchase made on the walk across the park to the market. (There aren’t many yard sales around here and when I find them they have an urban flair: Italian silk ties, designer handbags and 500.00 imported baby strollers.)

-a new, never used Pottery barn photo shelf: 3.00

-a flowering maple to put in a planter outside the front door: 6.00

-an accent purple vine for same: 1.50

-small bouquet of cosmos and peonies: 2.00

-4 tomatoes, one of them green, greenhouse grown by my favorite farmer in Michigan: 3.30 (I fried the green one almost immediately- yummm.)

-the big spend of the week, blueberries for pancakes in the morning and delicious snacking: 4.00.

This week I had twenty cents change. Last week I used my twenty dollars this way:

– Fresh sugar snap peas, 2 boxes for: 5.00. We ate those all week and then, on Friday, I tossed the few remaining in a teaspoon of butter and a tablespoon of brown sugar and sauteed them for a brief moment- as though they weren’t sweet enough. We had them for dessert.

-fresh loaf of Ciabatta bread: 4.25

– a giant head of red leaf lettuce, stump on, stayed fresh all week and we used it for three different salads: 3.00

-sweet peas: 1.50

-tomatoes: 4.00

– a small piece of the best artisan cheese in town, semi-hard, a cross between a Parmesan and a Gouda: 3.80

– and then, running way over my budget, but planning ahead: 3 quarts of the sweetest freshest strawberries: 12.00.

I justified the strawberries on the grounds that I was going to make some preserves for that time when they aren’t fresh and local, but really I ended up making strawberry shortcake for us, the neighbors and then, on that Monday, everybody around the table at the zoo.

We eat well. Sometimes, when I think of much of the rest of the world, shamefully well. And, as the economy tightens and we are beginning to think about that and feel it here in our own household, local fresh food is one of the last pleasures I want to sacrifice. But we are talking about and thinking about our economy, both big picture and personally. It’s not unusual for conversations with friends to lapse into somewhat anxious future scenarios with lots of questions about what retirement will look like for us.

Recently, we had some discussions with our financial guy and the bottom line was pretty mind-boggling to me. I was already thinking about the future, partly because I am always concocting a plan that is linked to my sense of insecurity and partly because Robin Andrea over at New Dharma Bums had a thoughtful (photo-shopped) post that touched on the notion of communal living. And then yesterday morning, Rich had breakfast with an old- and older and wiser-friend, a comfortably set and very successful retired architect. He said the only thing that makes sense right now is small bills, under the mattress and many small pieces of negotiable gold. Hmmm.

Anyway, for me, I’m definitely on the self-reliance, make-do, save and conserve, recycle, eat locally and fresh bandwagon. How about you? Are you feeling the pinch? Anyone want to join the Saturday Shopping challenge and see what you can do with 20.00? Let me know in the comments and if several folks want to take it on, I’ll post links. Next week is the holiday so we’ll start the Saturday after and I’ll put up a reminder a few days ahead. Shopping Saturday: What you can buy for 20.00.

Okay. Now it’s Sunday and I have to make blueberry pancakes and rest.

23 responses to “Saturday morning shopping and the state of our personal economy

  1. My sister-in-law and my mother would both be great at this challenge. I, on the other hand, tend to get bored with the process of shopping just as I do with slot machines – whatever gene makes those activities exciting and interesting skipped me in our family tree. My shopping consists of deciding what I need and going to the most convenient location to purchase it as quickly as possible. And then go home and recover.

    On the bigger question and bigger picture economy, I think you’re absolutely correct. I’m beginning to think we’re heading into a full blown depression, not just a recession. No one saw the gas prices going as high as they are, and I’m hearing people really, really scared about how they’ll heat their homes this winter.

  2. I tend to be like Wende and fall into a disinterest of shopping. Convenience and location and get me out of there quick. But Keith and I are trying to reduce a debt load we piled on last year when celebrating our reunion. Oh how we celebrated. And so I walk to the store when I can. And I take bags with me for the environment and shop for what I can carry. But shopping local and organic is important. Which is far from economical as you know. But taste is soooo important. *sigh*

    I have rarely looked at prices (which helped get us into the mess we are in!) thanks to Keith (two of us, can you imagine!)… and next week for the holiday? We are off to New Mexico!!! Woo hoo!

  3. The financial situation is really scary. We already dug ourselves out of our mountain of debt but that hasn’t left us in a great financial position. With my going back to school and all. Well, things have been tight. Once they eased up, it is easy to go crazy and do things like remodel kitchens and the like. Still, we have no debt except our house and one car (first car loan in our lives). We don’t buy ANYTHING on credit now. We invest in our house because (despite the market currently) it’s a relatively safe place to put money. That said, the small bills and gold under the mattress is looking better and better.

    We have discussed making a change in our eating habits but haven’t made it happen yet. I would like to switch to local produce and organic meats. We have a fantastic health food market in town. Haven’t made it a priority yet but want to do that soon. Maybe a goal before the end of summer.

  4. I’m not interested in shopping, either, which might explain my wardrobe. . . .

    But I know I could live forever on fresh blackberries, blueberries, and strawberries, with the occasional handful of pecans thrown in for good measure.

    There are many farmers’ markets around here in the summer and that is where I do most of my food shopping. Coincidentally, where there is food there is also a need for toilet paper and the like, so I am forced by necessity to patronize the local K-mart and, when I absolutely have to (shudder) WalMart. I also love a good yard sale if I happen to be passing right by it, but I won’t go seek it out.

    I am also an avid internet bargain-finder, but I don’t consider that ‘shopping,’ even though I suppose it is.

  5. Why shop when you can pick?
    I already live on a commune and my cars run on doughnut grease. You can’t squeeze any more blood from this turnip!

    We live in abundance! Take joy!

  6. amarkonmywall

    Bonnie, someday someone will uncover an ancient tablet that reveals “smugness” to be the 8th deadly sin. That being said (sweetly and with good humor), CSAs are wonderful. I couldn’t get into the Jubilee Farm website from your link and I really wanted to. (if nothing else, to see the “chicken tractor. And why am I not surprised the place is run by a bunch of nordic types. Are they Lutherans?) Back in Ann Arbor we owned a half share at a CSA (MORE than enough collard greens and Swiss chard for a small family!) and we loved it. It was also U-Pick and you could reduce your food costs further through various forms of farm stewardship. Here in Chicago, I am delighted to have two really superb local farm markets within an easy stroll and we do well over 70% of our shopping there 7 months a year.

    I just have one more question: Who’s eating all those doughnuts???? And do you get more fuel from a Krispy Creme than, say, Awreys?

  7. Of course, I’d be happy to play. Here’s what I spent yesterday at one of our farmers’ markets: dozen eggs from pastured hens – $5, one 4-lb pastured chicken – $15 (there’s my $20 right there), 1/4 pound fresh morels – $4, 1/2 gallon raw milk – $7. Oh, and on my way home, 4 pounds perfect bing cherries from a favorite farmer, who sells them out of his truck – $12. Yes, we eat vegetables, too; we’re getting those from our CSA and the Thursday farmers market a couple of blocks from home.

    For the past couple of years, we’ve bought 85-90% of our food at farmers markets or directly from local farms. Everything else (olive oil, citrus, rice) we try to buy at locally-owned grocery stores. We get a few of Paul’s low-sodium staples via the internets. I don’t think we spend any less on food than we used to (I haven’t really kept track), but we eat much better.

    We’re starting to economize in ways that many families once did as a matter of course (owning only one car, drying clothes on a clothesline, etc.), and wondering about how to better weatherize our drafty 100-year-old house. I worry about how — or whether — we’ll be able to retire.

    Oh, here are some small-scale chicken tractors for you: We’re contemplating getting some chickens, so I’ve been doing research.

  8. I’ll play! I love games! And maybe it will motivate me to get my lazy self to the farmers market on Saturday morning instead of dashing in and out of Safeway.

  9. I am eating all those doughnuts.

    If you remind me, I will play.

  10. Around here, Sat. morning is one of the busiest times to shop – and when the stores are least likely to offer sales and two-fers.
    I like to go on Monday morning, when the stores are less crowded. We are 14 miles from the nearest farmer’s market, and with gas costing what it does, it isn’t smart for me to shop there often.
    I could live on ciabatta bread and blueberries. I paid $2.50 for a pint today, on sale, big, juicy, luscious ones. I know that $20 won’t get me much around here. I went to the store for bread and ended up spending $41 for 3 small plastic bags-full. Yes, I forgot my cloth bags. Shame on me.

  11. I helped my friend Karin with her two kids for six hours so she bought me an iced latte, a rosemary plant and a lavender plant. QOTD: Mommy is buying pizza so she can feed the masses.

  12. I would love to play along, but can’t commit to playing every weekend. Living in the far flung suburbs means a 28 mile round trip drive & in this economy that doesn’t always make sense….sigh….

  13. Vicki,
    I love your blog. I tried to email you but it would not go through. Anyway, a quick Thank you for the photos of the way you designed your entryway with plants. Have a wonderful time. Safe journey!

  14. There is a Krispy Kreme-sized hole in the logic that we must wring our hands over the state of the economy. And, an Awrey’s-sized hole in the logic that we are somehow more evolved when we rant and obsess about being GREEN. (Go SPARTANS!)

    Krispy Kremes, like your Molasses cookies, are presumably better than s_x, so I refuse to try them. We get our doughnut grease from our hometown grange, thank the lard!

    Yoga brings gratitude and contentment. We should be overwhelmed with gratitude over our blessings rather than grieved by our perceived shortages, in my smug opinion.

  15. Beautiful vegetables and I would love to visit my local farmer’s market–except that as well as hating shopping, I also dislike crowds and parking issues. We are trying to grow peas and tomatoes in our home garden, but the weather hasn’t been very cooperative.

  16. My $20 worth wouldn’t be interesting. I would regress to my bachelor days and buy Banquet chicken pies, unlean (non-lean?) hamburger, potatoes, hot dogs and splurge on a big bag of Lays potato chips. That may not be healthy, but it is thrifty and would feed me for a month.

    AND btw, there’s nothing green in the above either. To me, that’s a good thing.

  17. Are fried green tomatoes really that good? I read the book, and it was very fine. Lacked taste, though.

  18. When I go to the farmers market two tomatoes cost me at $15. Well, not really, but close. And then there’s the kettle corn and the lattes and the baked goodies, and the pony rides, and…

    Which is why I don’t go to the farmer’s market anymore.

    But I love your idea. Maybe I’ll try it out at a thrift store or a garage sale.

    And possibly give the market another try.

  19. And I just sent photos, babe. Check your mail. It won’t cost you a cent.

  20. Oh yeah – I’ll play! Does my shopping have to be limited to food?


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  23. Pingback: Saturday Shopping Challenge | Somewhere in New Jersey

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