Grocery Trip #1

We went grocery shopping the very day we decided to start the Food Stamp Challenge because our baseline analysis gave us confidence that we wouldn’t have to make drastic changes to our lifestyle.

We spent a total of $65.67 on this shopping trip, leaving us with $301.33 left in our Challenge budget. Not displayed is the purchase of milk for $1.32 from our local convenience store.


On this trip, we focused on making small changes to our purchase decisions. Rather than changing our diet, we substituted cheaper ingredients instead. In a couple of cases, we chose not to buy a certain item because we saw it more as a luxury.

Where we went cheaper

Normally we buy the Nishiki brand at $17.99, but this time we bought the Kokuho brand at $12.99 instead. We’ve had Kokuho before, and it’s fine. Hide prefers Nishiki, but I can’t tell the difference.
I got these for Alton Brown’s wing recipe. Instead of buying wings at over $2 a pound, Hide convinced me to get drumsticks at $1 a pound (or so). I think wings taste better (it’s a matter of mouthfeel), but only the second joint.

What we chose not to buy

The only thing I grabbed from the shelf and then put back is a Japanese product that goes on spaghetti. It’s a cod roe sauce with some seaweed garnish, extremely tasty. But it’s processed food, relatively expensive and we already have some in the pantry, so we didn’t buy any this time (even though it’s so popular, it’s sold out more often than not).

We’re also pretty unlikely to eat lamb or seafood during Challenge month, but sometimes fresh salmon is on sale for $3.99 a pound, which is pretty ridiculously cheap, don’t you think? Too bad it wasn’t on sale this time.

Where we could have improved

Sweet rice
We make 2:1 medium grain to short grain rice, a habit I picked up from my dad. The mixed rice keeps much better, and is tasty even when cold. Sweet rice is more expensive than medium grain rice, as it takes longer to mature. Traditionally, it was used in special desserts and dishes, not in everyday meals. Eating sweet rice on a daily basis is only possible through modern affluence.
Bubble tea
I have a bubble tea habit, hence the boba and milk. It’s a relatively cheap habit because I make all my bubble tea at home, but still…
Spices and flavourings
By which I mean the coriander and mirin we bought this time. These things make food taste better, but they’re not strictly necessary. Still, I think they’re relatively cheap – the coriander only cost a few dollars, but we’ll probably be able to use it for a year or two. The mirin costs a little more (it’s Japanese…), but again, it’ll last for months.
Note that we bought a relatively large amount of coriander, 200g bags. If you buy it in those fancy spice jars it might cost a lot more. We’re lucky to have an international grocery store which sells a great selection of spices and herbs in large quantities cheaply.
Before Hide introduced me to mirin, I used cooking wine, which is cheaper. If you taste them side by side, I’m sure you’d find the mirin tastes much better. But usually, alcohol is used in small quantities (dishes like coq au vin aside), so the difference isn’t that noticeable in the finished product (particularly if you don’t have an overeducated palate).
The milk was pint-size and came from local Jersey cows, so relatively expensive and fancy. I could’ve bought a gallon of Kroger brand milk for a much lower per-unit cost. But I don’t actually drink milk, and some weeks I have trouble using up even a pint. For a mere pint, I don’t think quibbling over fancy local milk or conventional grocery store milk is worthwhile.
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1 Response to Grocery Trip #1

  1. Pingback: Week 1 Wrap-up | extra curricula

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