Day 66 — A Lesson in Frugality

Today, my ex brought home—for the first time in the 15 years I’ve known him—jug wine. Despite our shaky finances, he still has good taste, even in jug wine. It’s a French brand, called Roche Saint something or other. I guess if I hadn’t had that last glass I would remember.

Nonetheless, this gives me an opportunity to tell you how to save money on your grocery bill and still eat like a king. I’m qualified to know because I’m a pretty good cook. I own more than 50 cookbooks and can cook about anything unless it’s deep fried. When I have a hankering for fried chicken, no one does it better than the Tastee Diner of Bethesda.

The trick to eating well is knowing your food substitutions. Out of buttermilk for pancakes? Plain or vanilla yogurt works great. You can even skip the egg, when you run out of those, and never know it. Are lemons too costly for homemade salad dressing or marinating a leg of lamb? Try equal amounts of milk and vinegar. That will work just fine.

I also almost exclusively plan my meals around what’s on sale, and I swear by Hans Food, an Asian grocery store in Wheaton, for the best prices on just about everything.  When avocados at Safeway sold for more than $1.50 a piece, I could get them for 89 cents at Hans. The fish is also fresh, given its clientele eats a lot of it, so it moves off the shelf faster than most other stores. Hans, however, is contact shopping. Lots of people shop there. It’s an art to maneuver your grocery cart without getting in anyone’s way. But once you’ve passed the Korean deli to check out, the lines are super fast.

I also find value in CVS “extra bucks.” You need a CVS card to qualify. The cards are free by filling out a short form at any CVS. Once you spend enough money, you get coupons printed out at the same time as your receipt that save you $5 when you spend $25. Sometimes you get more. You’ll need to use them or lose them because they have expiration dates.

Other money—saving tips: At Whole Foods, you could load up on sample-size cheese squares by stabbing them repeatedly with a toothpick. I’ve seen some well-dressed men do that, but I’ve never had the nerve. Cheese is something I can afford with my food stamps. One of Whole Foods best deals is its wine tastings. You pay five bucks for a wine glass and get to sample five wines at demo stations that offer complimentary food.


2 Responses to “Day 66 — A Lesson in Frugality”

  1. KD says:

    I found and started enjoying your website a week or so ago. I was laid off today, so it must have been fate. I’ll be reading through your archives in the next few days I’m sure. Good luck!

  2. gotb says:


    Thanks for writing. I always enjoy hearing from others. Tomorrow I post a video of myself, angling for the Host Our Coast job in Delmarva this summer. Hope you can give it a view. –Ann

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