Happy Holiday Greetings, Conscientious Food Consumers!
As we head into the final stretch of this unprecedented year, we hope you are discovering some new and creative ways to experience holiday cheer this season. Not to mention good bargains (no matter which holiday you shop for)!
Those holiday sales at the grocery store can sure make it difficult to stick to a shopping list — especially with lures like “Buy one/Get one!” (BOGO) and “Rewards”! But we all know from experience what happens when we don’t… and then the bank card statements arrive. It also tends to result in wasted food and wasted money.
Shopping lists are certainly a lot more high-tech now than in the bygone era pictured above, but I still prefer an old-fashioned paper list (soon to become an antique as well?). There’s endless apps for your smart phone, or you can download and print out our “Smart Shopping with Meals in Mind” form.
Shopping sure looks different now than it did at the beginning of the year, doesn’t it? We’ve de-coupled socializing and shopping, and learned to keep our distance in the store aisles. We stand on colored circles on the floor as we wait for our turn at the checkout. Online grocery sales in the U.S. grew from $1.2 billion in August 2019 to an over $7 billion industry as of June 2020.
On the plus side of online grocery shopping — we’re pretty much forced to use lists! Whether you’re ordering through a local supermarket chain, an independent market (like NFLB and Sustainability Coalition partner First Alternative Co-op), or a non-local supplier, you have to get organized and be very specific (quantity, brand and other attributes). With service fees and tips on top of that grocery bill, we are likely to be more careful with our ordering.
Another plus — when someone else is fulfilling your order, it’s easier to resist impulse buying and off-list purchases!
On the down side — the carbon footprint associated with online order fulfillment and delivery, including all that packaging! And don’t forget your vehicle emissions from picking up your own order. For more information on the environmental impacts of food packaging, check out NFLB’s links to Oregon DEQ’s Food Fact sheets.
KAREN CONFESSES: There are definitely times when I don’t use a shopping list… and I always end up having to go back for the things I forgot or really needed!
Sometimes I find myself “pigging out” on spending for extra treats or costly specialty items. While I enjoy being spontaneous in the store on occasion, those indulgences certainly add up.
At this stage of the 2020 holiday season, Conscientious Food Consumers and Shoppers, we realize you may have already completed the bulk of your holiday shopping. So consider how the following tips can facilitate your “Smart Shopping and $avings” heading into the New Year:
- Shop your fridge/freezer and pantry first! Be sure to make notes as appropriate on your Freezer Inventory.
- In the spirit of eating locally, keeping our shopping dollars in the community (at least some of them) — and potentially reducing the carbon footprint of your purchases — consciously decide which items you can Buy Local First, either in person or online.
- Skip those BOGO deals, “family sized” meals or quantity packages unless… you can realistically manage that influx of food products. Assess your household’s eating habits and the state of your pantry. Are you sure you can properly store, plan and prep it all before it loses its freshness and store appeal?
— Maybe your two-person household hasn’t eaten its way through the Thanksgiving leftovers in the freezer yet.
— Do your kids really like that brand of cereal enough to justify buying a big box or two?
— Does your fridge really have room for most of that five-pound bag of tangerines? (They shouldn’t be kept outside of cold storage for more than a week.)
Don’t be tempted to “save” a few dollars on food that will eventually go to waste!
- Use a shopping list app like Big Oven (if you don’t already have one).
- Take a “Shelfie”! If you want to make sure you’ve remembered everything for your list, take a quick picture of your fridge or pantry shelf for reference. Shout out to Love Food/Hate Waste and WRAP in the U.K. for this clever name and idea!
- For even more ideas (and your New Year’s resolutions), scan this list of 75 tips for saving $$ on food from TheKitchn. We don’t necessarily endorse all of these, and some are not that original or relevant to our region. But we’re pleased to see No Food Left Behind’s standard recommendations in the top five of the list!
Do you have some Smart Shopping tips you’d like to share? If so, please submit them in the comments section below.
Happy Safe Holidays, Conscientious Consumers!!