Tag Archives: spending

02 Feb

Recommended Read: Eat This Not That, Supermarket Survival Guide

“I am not a glutton – I am an explorer of food”
― Erma Bombeck

Whenever I head down a food isle and see a variety of new items, I wonder first if I should try them, and then I either go into denial about how bad that food is actually going to be (fat, sugar, salt, or general consumption wise) or I become concerned about possible ingredients I either can’t sound out or that might be food allergens for my children. I almost never find products that are healthy, good for you and something we will eat.

Then the next hardest step comes; I have to try to disseminate the words on the packaging to see if they are true to their meaning or what they imply. In other words translate and interpret the packaging. When something says “healthy”, I laugh. Have you ever seen a product’s packaging that says “really unhealthy but so good you’ll eat it anyways”? When something says “healthy grains” for example, I immediately know that means they are not going to mention the amount of sugar they have added to make the “healthy grains” refined enough to come in the shape and taste they now are. Which most likely means they are no longer “really healthy”. At this point I turn over the package to look at the ingredients, knowing I will most likely not like what I see. (Sigh here).

Who has time to read the labels of ingredients on food packaging? I do a full grocery shop for the family in an hour. I tend to buy the same products mostly based on my children’s palates and their food allergies. If I had to read the ingredients of all the products I buy, it could easily double my time. And after all that, there is still the concern about all ingredients I can’t pronounce and what they mean too.

I recently discovered (I know I’m probably late to the party) a great book I can take with me to the grocery store when I shop now. It’s an easy reference guide, and a step towards healthier eating and understanding the ingredients of the food you put into you body.

Eat This Not That, Supermarket Survival Guide

I still have to decide if I’m going to buy the packaged process foods or cook from scratch, but at least I can have a better understanding about what it is I am buying for my family. After reading this, it’s easy to see that cutting calories, sodium or sugar by buying a variety of different products will lower that intake significantly over a period of time. I think this is a newer Americana version of healthier eating. This is especially useful information if you look at the Glycemic index.

As a culture, we are still very much grocery store and pre-made food dependent. But that topic is for another blog day . . .

The power is in the knowledge and in the choice. This book offers light education about fruits and vegetables, meat and poultry, and also offers a comparison of similar types of packaged pre-made foods. The back of the book offers some recipes. A great reference guide and staple for a cook’s shelf whether you are just the person doing the shopping or a health conscious eater.

I still think the farm to the table idea is the healthiest way to eat (see IanKneur.com or his cooking show “The Farm” on PBS for an example of this type of cooking and living) but for now “Eat This Not That” will have to for those of us that are urban sprawlers.

08 Dec

Money: Holiday Spending

I blew off Black Friday this year. And so did the 5 people I am closest to. It was a consecrated effort on my part. My children watched advertisements on TV and after a few days felt they had to go see what this Black Friday thing was about. They became convinced they had to be a part of it. Then I started getting daily verbal reminders. “We” were going to Black Friday. “We” were suddenly going to go Christmas shopping for all the things they didn’t want to wait another month for. Finally I resorted to posting pictures of all the full parking lots to convince them they didn’t need to go. It was an intervention I had to do. I showed them the pictures of packed shopping malls before the next stage happened: the pleading. I know my poor children would have inundated me with pleas. And then I would have felt obligated to appease them. We all have our weaknesses. I could see where this was going and I know I would have caved.  Three pictures did the trick. No Black Friday for any of us.

I met moms that start their Black Friday shopping right after Thanksgiving dinner. They plan it out, coordinate childcare, put gas in the car, grab their list and warmest jacket, and then head out; to stand in line late at night and shop until everything is off their list. They are the more serious shoppers. Their goal is to not only get through the list but get good deals on most if not all the items on the list. It’s a long night. And it’s cold. I tried it once and wouldn’t do it again. But what do I know? I know I like my sleep. And I like to stay warm. And I hate crowds. And I know there isn’t a single thing in any store that could justify me standing in a line late at night out in the cold. Especially when you can order virtually anything online these days. Or buy gift cards. Clearly I am not up all the deals I am missing. And with all the media hype surrounding Black Friday, it almost felt unpatriotic this year to not shop. But somehow I managed.

“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”

Jim Rohn

I will say that I felt guilty for not shopping. How could I possibly feel guilt for saving money? Yet I felt it. As if I was missing a longstanding American tradition. Talk about being brainwashed and values being backwards. I felt guilty because our culture at that moment was celebrating spending money, and I was not. To me the Black Friday deals seem like an attempt to get people to spend money (obviously) through this immense sales campaign. It looks to me like a complex consumer spending program to confirm shoppers are still spending money and to remind us there are twice as many things out there to purchase as there were before. It’s a blackmail campaign; a subtle reminder that we support each other’s businesses, and whether you like it or not, your hard earned money needs to get recirculated back into the system. Which means out of your pocket. The US consumer way of life literally needs our buy in to survive.


Black Friday is the day, the one and only day when things are so cheap (value system) that it makes it ok to spend even more money than you did before. And it’s all going to be ok because you’re also buying for others (value system).  And then you can turn around and do it again on Cyber Monday. What could possibly be wrong with that? You’re helping yourself and your family, and you’re bettering the economy. And with many Americans planning to spend more this year and planning to put most of it on credit, what’s not to like?


Additional recommended reading:

REI Plays With Black Friday PR Fire, Gets Burned on Pymnts.com, Nov.20, 2015

Too many people are pretending to be rich by Trent Hamm, BusinessInsider.com, Nov. 2, 2015

How American consumers shop now by ConsumerReports.org, Sept., 2015

Social Media Analytics Reveal 2014 Holiday Shopping Trends and Insights by Celia Brown, Forbes.com, SAP Voice, Jan. 2, 2015



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