Thursday, July 5, 2007

Food, Money, and Love

I am embarrassed to report that I spent $120 on groceries this week. That’s $70 over my grocery budget or almost 2.5 times what I wanted to spend. Part of it was that we were just coming back from vacation and your cupboards were bare, part of it was because we bought some pricier need items that we don’t buy very often (an 8 pack of paper towel rolls, the last one of which by my count has lasted about 8 months and is not in earnest gone yet, a roll of wax paper, an enormous bottle of mouthwash), but mostly it was for one big reason. I took my husband with me.

Now, I’ve read lots of grocery money saving articles that say the tip for saving money is, “Leave your husband at home.” This doesn’t work for me. My husband really likes grocery shopping. He doesn’t like it the way I like it. I consider it a game, stalking the bargains, stacking coupons and deals, seeing how much food I can get in my cart for a given amount of money. He considers it an extravaganza. “Look at all this wonderful food!” he says, in a variety of ways, as he walks through the store touching everything his eyes alight.

I’ve won him over in a lot of ways towards grocery couponing. As we walk down the aisles, he’ll usually say “do you have coupons for this?” instead of “can I try this?” He keeps a mental pricebook for dry goods which is much more complex and complete than anything I can keep on paper. When he realizes I’ve found a great catalina deal or drugstore rebate deal, he’ll drive me from store to store, or even take turns going into the store with me because he knows I’m shy of “spinning” deals. He really is a big help.

His weakness, or maybe his strength, has to do with meat. He loves meat. He loves eating it, he loves preparing it and boy does he love BUYING it. Not just any meat though. Good meat. He loves finding bargains on things that I would never have dreamed of buying in the first place. “Look! This Angus beef T-bone steak is one third off!” Yeah, and still costs as much as the rest of the groceries in my cart.
So this week, he got that look on his face, the look that means we’re in for a meat festival in our home. “I’ve decided,” he says, after we’ve been grocery shopping and I’ve slightly exceeded the weekly budget, “that this week I’m going to buy the Pork Tenderloin.”

The Pork Tenderloin deserves caps because, for my husband, this tenderloin is a legend. He saw it at Sam’s Club and immediately started devising hundreds of uses he could find for it, and formulating exactly how he wanted the butcher to cut it. It really is a fairly reasonable price (which, being his territory, slips my memory for the moment), but it’s a huge chunk out of the budget. I could see there was no arguing with him though, so I sighed and got back in the car. An hour later we left Sam’s with the Pork Tenderloin (8 pounds), 6 pounds of ground beef, 6 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken breasts, a bag of nectarines, a case of applesauce, five pounds of carrots, and I don’t quite remember what else. We spent another $60. Ugh.

I was frustrated, I was angry, I was anxious. I didn’t know what to do, as my husband sat next to my, grinning and glowing about his great finds and chirping about exactly how he was going to prepare them. He didn’t let me down either, by the end of the weekend, we had a freezer full of 3 different kinds of burgers, pork chops, meatloaf mix, and cubed pork for chili and barbecue. “We don’t need to buy meat for a month!” he said. (To me it looks like longer than a month.) If I can get him to wait a whole month before buying more meat anyway, it will be a major accomplishment.

But I can’t be mad. As I watched him cheerfully pack burgers (frugally, I may add, with breadcrumbs, vegetables, and sauce added to each mix), and babble about all the good food we could eat, I started to realize why buying meat makes him so happy. This is one more way in which he provides for me, when as a student he often feels like he doesn’t completely do so financially. He is filling our freezer with food as a sign of love, as a way of offering me security. And in a way, it does that. Even though he spent a lot, he did get reasonably good deals on the food, and it is nice to have a freezer full of food, to know that if something goes wrong, or our budget goes awry, we will at the very least, eat.

So I kissed him and thanked him for the food, and went off to try to redo our budget for the rest of the month with the same amount of love.


Patti said...

Groceries for the rest of the month will be cheap, and menu planning will be easier.

Tessa said...

I never thought a story about meat could be so sweet, but this certainly is. Good for you for not being resentful toward him for going over budget. I know that isn't always easy!

Ewokgirl said...

Try not to look at this as part of your weekly budget. Look at it from the monthly perspective. All that meat bought this week will keep you from having to spend money on it later on. You may have gone over this week, but you'll like be under in the following weeks.

Living Almost Large said...

Interesting, I've got meat and veggies in my freezer. A ton of both right now because I loaded up during a sale.

My DH complains because he's like "we almost emptied the freezer before". That's how we used to do it, buy meat/food for 3 months and empty it. But now I shop coupons and sales more so it's continually full, don't know if that's good or not.

Fabulously Broke in the City said...

Oh! I love that story... :) My Husband does the same thing for me, but he'll bring me hot drinks, fetch muffins for when I'm starving but I want to just work and not interrupt my work-groove, or basically shield me from manual labour, because he probably feels guilty for not doing enough.

It's so cute too, when he proudly displays how much money he saved us by driving slower when travelling and using less gas and/or on products by reasearching for hours online of where the best place would be to buy them. :)

Anonymous said...

That's a great attitude to come up with : )

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