Monday, March 12, 2018

My Cheap Food Haul and Other News

I know I've neglected this blog.  Sorry.

I'm still at the commune.  It was a blessing to end up here because I hit hard times financially and this is a cheap place to live in my RV.  It's $75 a month with $25 for my commune fee and $50/mo to pay off the lot we bought from the commune.   Electric is never under $100--which is outrageous for an RV, but is just the state of things in our village. 

Still, we save by being stationary here.  It's true that I can boondock for $200 a month in the RV, but with RV and SUV gas it's easily $400 to $500.  I'm staying put.

I hope to turn it all around soon with a new video game company I've started.  Check out the kickstarter for my computer game hereBe aware...it's that gay stuff I like to write--adults only.
What happened with my writing career?  Things went down for me on Amazon.  I was working so hard and only making $2000/mo.  I couldn't keep going on that trajectory.  Yes, maybe I could reinvent myself one more time, or figure out how to use Amazon ads to pick things up, but I decided to switch to video games instead. 

The income potential is much greater with video games than with ebooks for me.  I could never 'break out' as a six figure author.  I made $90k in 2016 but only $45k in 2017, and most of that was in the first half of the year.  I was going down, and down, and down.  I had to try something new.

So I'm in the commune in New Mexico.  We bought a tiny house, but are still living in our RV for now.  We might move into the adobe house 'casita' in the summer since it stays pretty cool in there. 

Anywho, I decided to make a post since I often write about cheap groceries here.  I'm copy and pasting my long Facebook post below for your enjoyment.  Disclaimer:  I swear sometimes.  I know other bloggers complain about it...but this is the real me.

:Ghoulish Groan: Here's today's adventure.

My mom and I canceled Nutrisystem because we got sick of it and weren't sticking to our diet with it anyway. Part of the reason we stayed on it for a year is because the food is cheap. $311.21/per person so $622.42 for both of us.

But add on AT LEAST another $200-$300 for side foods. You have to buy all your fruit, veg, beverages, condiments, and we cheated so a lot more as well. It's really not cheap at all. And we were sick of it. Eventually we were doing everything we could not to eat it, and that was making us waste money we don't have.

So I canceled my meal service in December and my mom (who still lives with me) just canceled last month.

So that means back to buying all our groceries. To say we live in a food desert is an understatement. The commune is in a village of 800 people. There's a Dollar General and one Mexican grocery store that's half the size of said Dollar General.

The grocery store is okay for dry goods, dairy, a few meats, and a tiny area of vegetables that frequently goes bad before people can buy it all. If you hit the store on the right day you can get a few good cucumbers, lettuce, and tomatoes. Anything fancier, like cilantro, spinach, or squash is never supplied. Most of the time you stock up on frozen broccoli and brussel sprouts. They have a small selection of frozen meat. Just burger patties and chicken. It's expensive.

Option 1 is go to the nearest town, Deming, which is 35 miles north of us. In Deming you have a Walmart and another grocery story of respectable size, with a modest deli and bakery. The grocery store tends to be cheaper than the Walmart, but it's all relative. You can't get chicken for less than $1.50/lb, and pork or steak are a pauper's fantasy.

(And I am a pauper right now while I wait for the video game company to start bringing in money. Things are tight. Scarily tight.)

Option 2 is to drive 90 miles to El Paso. I have a gas guzzling 8 cylinder suv, and a drive to Deming is $20 in gas. El Paso is $40.

But if I can get to El Paso the food desert vanishes into an embarrassment of selection. Living near Mexico gives you the ubiquitous El Super grocery store chain, where all the signage is in Spanish with small English text underneath.

El Super was legendary when I lived in Las Vegas for deals like 10 pounds of onions for a dollar. Or fourteen ears of corn for a dollar (shucking not included). Once the crazy deal got you inside you'd see all sorts of other less crazy but no less tempting deals, like 2 papayas for a dollar or 5 pounds of tomatoes for a dollar.

You could do all your produce and meat shopping at an El Super and make out reasonably well, and you'll find dry good deals on Mexican staples, like rice, beans, masa, and lard.

But if you try to buy any 'American' goods, the prices sky rocket. Popsicles you can get at Walmart for $3 are $7. A 12 pack of coke is $5. You have to look for the Mexican versions of American items to do well. Skip the coke for Tampico, and don't get Quaker Oats. Get 'Mom's Best'.

I will be DANGED if I go all the way to El Paso and only go to one store. Nah, son, while El Super had some major competition this week from Food For Less, which is a much better variation of the Food For Lesses I got in Yuma AZ or California.

Food For Less had El Super beat on lettuce. $.69/head. Are you shitting me? I'll take two. But friends...that's not even the tip of the save-berg.

Food For Less had chicken drumsticks for $.69 per pound.

You heard me.

SIXTY NINE CENTS A POUND!

I have never seen chicken that cheap outside of those gargantuan thrice frozen bags of quarter pieces with the gallon of liquid added.

I called the store this morning and I said, "I would like to come by today and pick up 100 pounds of drumsticks. Is that possible?" They said yes.

100 pounds of meat for $69. IDGAF. I will take it. That will keep us in meat for a month and a half. I can eat chicken every single day without getting sick of it. That's all I ate as a poor kid, that's all many poor kids eat.

Chicken drumsticks can be covered in Goya's Adobo and baked, served with a small salad and yellow rice with pigeon peas and eaten both for lunch and dinner. Bake it once. Eat it two meals.

Chicken drumsticks can be broken down for stir fry, fried rice, burritos, mofongo, egg foo young, chicken quesidillas, and coconut chicken curry. I could give you different dishes for a week with just chicken as my meat.

I get to the store and went to the back of the meat section. There's no butcher area here, just a swinging door. I said I was the one who called about the 100 pounds of drumsticks. We had a problem, because no one told anyone and the manager had to make the call. My mom and I pleaded that we had driven all the way from Columbus just for this deal. You told us over the phone we could have it. PLEASE!

Or else we will literally strip your meat section clean of every fucking chicken drumstick package you've put out there. There were 30 packs. I was going to take them all.

They took care of us. We got three boxes that had 60 pounds of drumsticks in each. All together in a sealed plastic bag. We grabbed four packages of gallon ziplock bags and said GIMME.

Now, in my experience when a store sells meat that cheap it's usually freezer burned. It's dark, hard, cracked, the skin is yellow, it might be freckled. That's what I expected and was ready to buy. I don't care how fugly it looked, I can make cheap meat taste great. (Thank you Goya!)

But NO. This was gorgeous, plump, never frozen, fresh af chicken. IT LOOKED BEAUTIFUL.

We took it home along with some pork for $1.56/lb and some stripped beef ribs for $2.07/lb. We're in cheap meat heaven!

We also snagged the stuff we need to keep us out of the store for a month and a half:

- Quick Oats
- Flour (5 pounds)
- Sugar (5 pounds)
- Rice (20 pounds)
- Creamer/Sweetener (we have enough coffee)
- Prunes
- Frozen Brocolli
- Cilantro
- Cat food/treats (we have enough litter)
- Cheese
- Toilet Paper
- A smattering of cheap fresh fruit (a cantaloupe for $1 e.g.)
- A small amount of sweets (we can buy more cheap at the Dollar General in the village if we need it)
- Sandwich Bread
- Hotdogs (two packs for $.99 and they WEREN'T Bar-S)
- Canned Beans
- Canned Corn
- Instant Ramen
- 60 Eggs for $4
- Water
- Soda

For the soda and the water I like to drink we went to Walmart, which is usually the best for deals on American dry goods and beverages. There are no Aldi's around here.

That was three stores and I was EXHAUSTED. I'm still exhausted now, after sorting and putting away everything. My mom processed all the chicken into ziplocked bags portioned out for a month and a half of meals. Our deep freeze in the casita is almost full. I love that.

The best news is, while at Walmart there was a Sams Club beside it. I discovered that you could buy the gas at Sams Club even if you're not a member, for only 2 cents more than members pay. It was $2.03/gallon!!! That's SUPER CHEAP for this area. I was able to fill up my tank for $25!!! So the drive was barely more expensive than if I'd gone to Deming!

Grand total spent: $448. That's more than $400 a month for two people, but I think we'll probably get to the end of April. Woohoo!

3 comments:

  1. Thank you so much for posting on this blog. I was so badly missing it. I would love to know how your video game turns out. Loads of love.

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  2. I enjoy your writing style, it makes me smile - and the joy of a deal is always awesome. Good luck with your new business and please write a new blog entry occaisonally.

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