Saturday, November 27, 2010

Guest Post: Shopping Frugally When There are No Nearby Stores!

I asked my sweet sister-in-law, Sharon, to write a guest post about her grocery shopping adventures, since she and her family truly live in the middle of no where. I once asked them if they had a local Redbox and they laughed at me... quite a different lifestyle from my north of Boston neighborhood, where there is a grocery store less than a block away from our home!

"Living in Sanderson, TX (an isolated place) has its challenges. And I think the biggest challenge is grocery shopping. With the nearest grocery store one hour away and the nearest "shopping" over 2 hours away, planning is a must! We have a "Master List" of the recipes we enjoy. Every three weeks, we head to the "big city" to stock up on food and take care of our other shopping needs. This is a full, non-stop day, usually starting around 6 AM and ending around 10 PM. The preparations start a few days before as we compile our list of meals - 15 to 18 meals - for the following 3 weeks of consumption. Once our meal list is complete, we then gather our recipes and make the grocery list. It is very important that nothing is left off of the list, as we cannot "just run to the store" and get it. Also, prior to the shopping spree, we look through the kitchen and house to see what general items are needed; flour, oil, spices, laundry soap, etc. (this is where I usually miss out on something). To add to our challenge we attend a church that has a monthly potluck, weekly Bible study with dinner, and various other food functions throughout the month. Because we do not always know ahead of time what will be served, we try to have ingredients for the basics on hand - bread, cookies, brownies and other easy-to-make items. Our baby girl is growing up and we have knocked baby food off of the list - what a blessing! One less stop we have to make.

Once we are home and have unpacked all of our day (sacks of clothes & food, toilet paper, coolers of hopefully still frozen/cold items, diapers, etc), we start making the list for the next trip. We start our food consumption by what may spoil first - fresh fruits and veggies. I have learned to make bread and I enjoy it. We cross the meals off the list as they are prepared, knowing that just around the corner we'll be making another trip.

Another challenge - toting a 17-month-old around all day, usually skipping the afternoon nap. However, the 2 1/2 hour drive to the "big city" of Midland and the 2 1/2 hour drive back do provide for some great napping time!

And then there is the 640 sq. ft. house we live in. We are from Colorado, but with my husband's job, we moved to Texas and we are waiting for our condo in Colorado to sell. In the meantime we are renting a cute little "cabin" as we like to call it. What is key here is organization - something my husband is wonderful at. We do not have very much room for food storage (or any storage in general), so we cannot stock up on extras. Hence, the bookshelf that acts as our pantry, along with the top of our fridge. That same bookshelf holds our bathroom towels! Again, meal planning (and planning in general) is essential.

With around 900 others in our town, you can usually find someone headed to the store when you cannot. So we borrow and repay often. And we pick up items for others, as they do for us when they are in town.

Next step to tackle is finding and using coupons as our days in the "big city" are expensive!

We thank God for where he has placed us, challenges and all. No, we don't have a hospital or a grocery store or a clothing store, but we are content. And we are determined to serve the Lord here in Southwest Texas. Without Him, we would be lost! He supplies for all of our needs. What a great God we serve!"

Sharon obviously has a heart for using her family's resources wisely, despite geographic challenges. Wherever you are in your budgeting (or location), I believe God will bless your efforts when you purpose to use your money for His glory and His Kingdom

Do you live in an isolated setting? What are some ways you shop frugally?

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