I have a confession to make. Well, I suppose it's not a real confession as many long time readers know this fact already: I don't like to cook. More important than that, I am not a very good cook at all. Baking now, that's a separate area. I lived for almost thirty years with a guy who was a true chef, and have other family members (most of them male) who cook and cook really well. I do not cook well. I do not necessarily love to cook. What can I say? I an not one of those many retirees who finds cooking a hobby or relaxing.
On the other hand, I do like to eat. I don't want to eat fast food or take out as such all the time, and I am never gonna be that popcorn, veggies and dip for dinner person. So what's a girl to do, especially a frugal girl?
As part of this frugal blog, I've shared before about shopping for three people and two dogs on less than $300 a month (sometimes much less), while eating very, very well. Our diet includes all kinds of meat including lamb, wine and beer and more. The only problem is, in addition to cooking many things from scratch, there was a certain amount of organization involved-and I've apparently lost or given up many of my organizational skills in retirement. I have better things to do than cook and shop at this point in my life. I especially have no patience for the planning of what to eat every night. Family cooks who have planned a weeks worth of meals for five or seven days a week since kids were small will understand, I am sure. The deciding is at least as difficult as the preparation itself.
As of last week, we are eating and shopping a little differently around here, experimenting if you will. I am purchasing many "fend for yourself" type foods such as good quality cold cuts and salads, a quiche, precooked chicken and burgers. We now have cut up fruits and one of those big veggie trays with the dip.
I am blessed to have good take out in my area, so we will probably do that a couple times a week. By takeout I mean places like Downtown dinners, that has ready made meals for three or six. I mean my local Rav House that has pasta and ready to go meals (fresh and frozen) that feed three people each. I also am taking advantage of my grocery deli to get things like a roasted chicken, three large crab cakes and more. Yes, I know many of you think that homemade crab cakes are really easy to make and that taking advantage of the seafood section is a cheat-so did my late husband. Only he's no longer here to cook for me.
Last but not least, I am actually cooking-one or two days a week. Easy meals that require the slow cooker or the oven. Meals that I can double and freeze. Meals that hopefully, I cannot ruin. Meals that can be doubled or tripled and frozen saving me from cooking another time. Meals that can be cooked on my super sized grill and then cut up into salads and the like. This week those meals include buffalo style regular sized drumsticks, and grilling three pork tenderloins at the same time.
I'm still the queen of the coupons, and I still stock up even though we are just two (two and a half, I suppose). After all, buying and stocking up means I don't have to cook as much, just as cooking and freezing does as well. I still only buy the loss leaders when I shop for regular food-I just plan on using them differently.
What will happen to my retirement grocery budget? Who knows? What will happen to this plan in cooler weather? It waits to be seen. I am letting go of something in retirement, and saving my limited cooking skills for when I have time and energy.
And as for that grocery bill? What will be will be. Within reason.