Homeschool Mom's family crosses the 99 Cent store finish line.
Well, we did it. It's been an unusual week. Not only were we eating and shopping differently, but I was writing and taking pictures more often, and we were even on the local news. But we were successful. We shopped, cooked, and ate from the 99 Cent Only Store -- only. How much did we save? Well, not as much as we could have. I bought a few extra things to take pictures of (like the octopus my husband actually ate), gave in to requests for toys, and experimented by buying more than one kind of food to compare. All told, we spent about $160.00. We usually spend around $225.00. We definitely saved.
My two older kids with cystic fibrosis did well. They are non-insulin-dependent diabetics and they don't digest as well as regular kids, so they need to consume about 20% more calories. I monitored their weight and sugar and they were absolutely fine. If my kids were fine, I feel confident that most kids would be fine as well.
It was, however, not easy. We had to shop more often, and the 99 Cent store was not a hop and a skip from our house. I had to plan better, and the kids had to modify their usual diet. They were the least complaining and the most game for the whole thing. I was the weakest link. I was not keen on the 99-cent coffee. The first kind we bought looked like someone had performed an oil change into our coffee pot. I was ready to cheat on that one. But the kids held my feet to the fire: "But you said you were only going to buy groceries from the 99 Cent store." Little goody-goodies, someone raised them to be honest and steadfast; it must be my husband. I found a brand that was palatable and cut back on my coffee consumption, which is probably a good thing.
I had to lower my standards. My family ate quite a bit of white bread and hot dogs, which would usually be a rare occurrence. We found some things that the kids really enjoyed, like Texas Toast. It made terrific French toast and grilled cheese sandwiches. Remember, the cheese is not a bargain. Once we were free to buy from another store, my first purchase was cheese and ice cream. I didn't have to lower my standards to the point that I was abandoning any semblance of our regular diet, but I wasn't going to find hummus or plain nonfat Greek yogurt either. So we ate peanut butter and deviled eggs instead.
The 99 Cent Store Experiment was most interesting to me because it prompted moms to share their own ways they shop and save. A close friend is part of a co-op that receives almost-expired food from the local market twice a week, and distributes it for two dollars a bag. What a great idea. The money goes to the drivers who pick up the food and distribute it, and instead of wasting food and throwing it away, and losing the money, the supermarket gets a tax break. Other people told me they share garden space at the community garden, or swap vegetables from their own gardens. Farmer's markets have great deals and have the added benefit of letting you look like Belle from "Beauty and the Beast" carrying a big wicker basket, instead of me, pushing an overloaded grocery cart. I have not thought this much about groceries in my life. I usually buy food and everyone consumes it. But as more people lose their jobs and inflation takes its toll, more people will need help. I hope we all rise to the occasion and instead of waiting for the government to help, find a way to help our neighbors and ourselves.
Will I continue to shop at the 99 Cent Only Stores for all my grocery needs? No, I will not. But, I will visit the store once a week and get some bargains and produce, and I will try to incorporate some of the things I have learned this week to save money on groceries.
|Homeschool Mom: Pam Heilman is a California Credentialed Teacher who once won some body lotion in a raffle at the Y. She is currently residing in Southern California with her husband Eric, and homeschools their three children.|
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