I’ve heard complaints of late about rising food prices, but I can’t join the chorus. That’s despite my having to cut back like crazy on food expenditures for several months. No, I’m not yet buying all my groceries at Dollarama on Bayview Avenue, but that’s mainly because of all the great stuff going for half-price at Valu-Mart at Bayview and Davisville avenues.
Before I sing the praises of Valu-Mart, I’m reminded of a stock-market newsletter writer who suggested that post-retirement, living on reduced income, it’s best to make a game out of not spending money, or at least buying on the cheap. The same goes for parents squeezed by outlays for their kids’ college educations, for those between jobs … and for lots of other relatively well-to-do Leasiders.
Actually, finding ways to not spend on food can be a hoot.
I’m restricting myself here to Valu-Mart (owned by Loblaws), because that’s what’s closest for me, but if what’s closest for you is Metro, Sobey’s, Loblaws, the Super Loblaws, or Longo’s, I imagine each approximates what my food store has. Maybe.
Valu-Mart has been going full tilt on “two-fers” lately — that is, two for a reduced per-unit price, but there are still bona-fide half-price bargains galore, mainly in the day-old or approaching-expiry-date categories.
The key is patience: wait a few days or even a few weeks for the items on your to-munch list to “go halfies.” I haven’t paid more than $3.99 for a 1-kilogram jar of peanut butter in years.
A real bonus in going halfies is finding yourself trying out various food items you wouldn’t even have considered otherwise. I’m not sure I’d ever had sushi before, having dismissed it as cold fish that looked like cuisine from another world. But at Valu-Mart the day-or-two-old sushi is on sale regularly and I wasn’t about to let my squeamishness get in the way. Oh my! Especially the veggies sushi, since I’m a seafood-excepted vegetarian —which also allows me to partake of the seafood sushi. Finally I understand why there are so many sushi restaurants around.
We’re all supposed to be eating more salads and for quite a while I was pouncing on the pre-made salads that go halfies fairly regularly at the salad bar. (Remember to pick up the packet of salad dressing of your choice that’s free with your salad.)
When this seemed to not be happening as often as before, I wandered over to the five-deck cooler in the veggie section and made a discovery: Eat Smart salad kits. There always seems to be a few going halfies, like wild greens and onions, roasted yams, and beets and green salad. Each is a kit with packets of extras to add such as croutons, or seeds and grated cheese. Each is a meal in itself, and ideal for those of us who can’t bear buying a dozen separate salad items that get only partly used up and then green-binned. These kits are exotic enough that I never would have bothered making one myself. And most importantly, for freshness freaks, I’ve yet to munch one these salads and be thinking, “Isn’t this going a bit wilty?”
The day-old bread rack is also a big draw, with everything halfies, and it often includes pastries. Halfies are to be found throughout the store. Fruit pies, soups, ice cream, milk…Yes there are lots of things merely discounted, not halved, and those are irresistible as well, but I do intend to set aside an eating week to see if I can subsist on nothing but halfies.
All those commercials I’ve seen throughout my life on how you should never settle for less than the best have come to nought with me. To heck with the pretence of the very best.
One precaution: at check-out, draw the cashier’s attention to the half-price labels, because the half-price sticker is only on one side, and the yellow-black stickers aren’t as eye-catching as the pink ones. The cashier otherwise might miss one. You don’t want that bottle of half-price, chocolate-coated Brussel sprouts you otherwise wouldn’t have dreamt of buying going through at full-price.
I’m joking of course. They’re caramel-coated.
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