Sunday, August 3, 2008

Challenge Two: Turning Off the TV

One tip that I found on a web site somewhere suggested turning off the tv to save some money. The rationale behind it was not only to save electricity, but also to avoid the consumerism that comes with commercials and product placement, which may lead viewers to go out and spend more money. Lord knows we all love a good commercial. I understand this argument, as a former student of journalism and media, but I’ll be honest, I love tv.

When I was younger, I babysat for a family that didn’t allow their children to watch tv during the week (not on school nights). They were allowed to watch tv starting Friday afternoon at 4 pm and could watch until Sunday before dinner. They were allowed to watch during the week when the Olympics were on. I think they watched every single sport. It’s quite patriotic, don’t you think? I can understand their parents rationale...they wanted their kids to do their homework, play outside and find other ways to entertain themselves. But I don’t know how the kids functioned, because my life definitely revolved around tv back then. Screw playing outside. Saved by the Bell after school, 90210 every week…I loved it…I still do.

I shouldn’t even say that I love tv, as much as I rely on it for both entertainment, but also noise. Since I currently live alone, my tv is on from the time that I get home from work until the time I go to bed. Even if I’m not sitting in front of it, it’s just on. Silence is still somewhat uncomfortable. I’ll listen from the kitchen as I make dinner and I time my getting ready in the morning to the commercials during The Today Show. Because I work irregular hours, I don’t always get to catch my favorite shows during primetime, but can always find something that I’m willing to watch. I get hooked pretty easily into cheesy reality tv.

I decided to explore this challenge, and vowed to keep the tv turned off for one week. Starting Monday morning (today) until next Sunday, I am not going to watch tv. I will find other ways to entertain myself, and will try to become comfortable with the silence.

You might think that it’s cheating to try and go without tv during the summer. It’s true that there are less “good” shows on, the weather is nice, and there is more in general going on. I’ll agree, it might be a little bit easier. I do think it will still be challenging for those times when I am in my apartment, because I can always find something to watch or listen to while doing other things.

I will follow the no tv thing, but I’m not going to be super strict about this challenge. For example, at the gym this morning, I did catch some of The Today Show on the tvs. However my purpose in being there was not to watch tv, but to work out, so I’m not counting that as a rule breaker.

We’ll see how this goes.


A shopping we will go...

Today was my first trip to the grocery store this month and overall I feel like I did pretty well. I tried to keep in mind all of my purchases from the farmer's market yesterday and buy food items that could combine to make full meals. I did make a list ahead of time, and stuck to it fairly well. The only items that I purchased that weren't on my original list were focused towards an extra meal that I realized I had other ingredients for.

As I was shopping, it was crazy to see how inflated some food prices are. You are lucky to find a box of cereal for under $4. I can't even believe it. I was lucky to find Corn Chex on sale 2 for $5. I'll be eating them for awhile, but I'm okay with that. A girl needs a good breakfast!

I also splurged a little bit on Weight Watchers Smart Ones. I'm not a huge fan of frozen meals, but I'm terrible about packing lunches, and figure that a frozen meal is better than the $7-15 that I would spend to eat out at work. Some of the frozen meals were on sale today, so I felt okay about it. I got 6 meals for $15, so $2.50 each.

The grand shopping total: $63. 42. I was hoping to stay under $60. I was close, and none of my purchases were frivolous, so I'm feeling okay about it. Plus I stocked up on some staples - dishwasher detergent, aluminum foil, olive oil, and coffee filters (all store brand).

So what will I be eating in the next few weeks? I purchased ingredients for a crab and swiss quiche (which is usually about 6 meals), penne vodka (my favorite meal, and surprisingly not too about 4 servings), chicken of some sort (4 servings), and stuffed green peppers (3 servings), which I'm having tonight. All delicious meals, and fairly affordable.

I don't know that I'm still on track to spend less than $100 this month on food, since I'm already over $70 on groceries/farmer's market purchases, but I'm going to do my best.

Here's to good eating!


Saturday, August 2, 2008

Locally Grown?

One of my big goals is to try to buy local products. Saint Louis happens to have a fantastic farmer’s market. I trekked down this morning to the Soulard Public Market, which is open Wednesday through Saturday during business hours. The first time I went a few months ago, I was surprised to find a vendor selling Dole bananas. Not exactly local. A friend explained that many vendors purchase wholesale produce that doesn’t grow in Missouri, and generally they sell it for cheaper than grocery stores. I suppose that I can’t vouch that everything I bought was grown locally, but I did get some good deals.

Items on my shopping list:
Bread- $5
Tomatoes - $1.25
Shallots – $2
Grapes – 1 lb for $2
Green Peppers - 3 for $1

Total = $11.25

Not bad. I was planning to stay under $10, but $11.25 is certainly not a lot. I should also admit, I was quite tempted by the pet store in the market which had puppies for sale for $25 and kittens for just $10. When a little white and orange kitten reached out to me from his cage, I was pretty close to bringing home a tiny friend for my cat. There are a whole lot of costs that would have come with that deal pet is that cheap!

I should go to the grocery store and compare prices to check out my savings. Instead I think I'll try to enjoy the rest of my weekend. Thus far, I've spent a fantastic day out by the pool. Ahh summer.


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