Power Shopping for Dudes

When I was invited to write a post for Guiding Stars, the conversation went something like this:

“So, you should write a blog post about power shopping!”
“Uh… I presume I’d have to know what it WAS in order to write a blog post about it, yes?”
“Well, it’s what you do! For your breakfast and lunch sandwiches! You power shop!”
“I thought power shopping involved fist-fulls of coupons and deep thought about nutritional information and whatnot. I just grab a bunch of stuff and cook two weeks at a time.”
“Well, that’s power shopping TOO!”

It’s always fascinating to discover that something you do anyway already has a name. And that other people emulate that activity. For me, apparently, I Power Shop. For groceries, at least.

Let’s get something straight here. I don’t count calories. My diet would most likely send the average dietitian into vapor lock. And, for what I consider to be a typical, blue collar, single guy, my diet is rather… how should I put this. BORING. And repetitive. I don’t care for yogurt, and tofu scares me. I like my steaks barely moving. Bacon is life. And butter. Don’t even get me STARTED on butter. That doesn’t mean, however, that you can’t power shop and eat well.

I grew up in Aroostook County (population density: 11 per square mile), hence my non-adventurous palate. I was shocked when I came to southern Maine for college and found that there are people that don’t eat some version of potato with every single meal.

A bonus of the kind of diet I had growing up, however, was parents that knew how to stretch a buck, feed a family and keep us running when times were thin. Their method was: 1) Buy on sale, 2) Stock that stuff up, 3) Cook in one big shot and 4) Dole it out in perpetuity.

My Mom is a queen canner. You can’t get another chest freezer in the basement. The root cellar is stocked, and the pantry is freighted until the shelves sag. Stews, beans, chili, vegetables, grass-fed beef, home-grown hens, deer meat (from more successful relatives, my dad and I are woefully inept at hunting). Stack it deep and enjoy it later. And, to a certain extent, I continue these traditions in my bachelor existence.

And then… I got exposed to burritos.

Burrito / Jeremy Keith / CC BY 2.0

Needless to say, Mexican food isn’t a big staple in the County. So aside from a few disastrous brushes with Taco Bell as a youth, I was largely ignorant to the possibilities. Then a dear friend introduced me to the ease (and mass production possibilities!) of burritos.

I mean, you want to talk dirt simple? Take everything you’d ordinarily eat, stick it in a wrap and eat it. Come on. This is bachelor eating at it’s FINEST. One handed! You don’t even have to LOOK. NOT EVEN PUT DOWN YOUR BEER! Where has this BEEN all my life?

I work in a machine shop as a welder. When I roll out of bed in the morning, I don’t even want to make coffee, let alone cook breakfast. I usually grab both on the drive to the shop. Big coffee and a breakfast sandwich. When lunch rolls around, we tend to order out. (Which appalls even my dietary sensibilities). Then I roll home at the end of the day and whip up something for dinner, simple and quick.

What does this result in? Not only a horrible intake of lousy food, but a very large expenditure of cash. And we’re not talking Starbucks coffee here either, I mean just regular gas station brew. But throw a breakfast sandwich on top of it, and that’s $5. Some kind of hot sandwich for lunch, or even an italian, or a couple of burgers from the drive thru, and that’s running into at least another five spot. $50 a week. $200 a month. $2400 A YEAR??? AND YOU WONDER WHY YOU’RE ALWAYS BROKE?!?!?

But burritos! I DIG burritos.

Though we guys fear change, when we do muckle on to a new thing, it can really take with a vengeance.  And I hooked into burritos. I saw the elegance in their simplicity. Easy to make. Easy to make LOTS of. Easy to store. Easy to re-heat. So I could go the grocery store my usual twice a month, load up on a few extra staples, and eat cheap and consistently every day. If you’re reading this, seriously. Get on the stick and give this a shot.

I make breakfast and lunch. One cooking session usually make two weeks plus of meals. And the supply usually staggers out with some overlap so (even better) I don’t have to do them both the same week. But for about an hour’s worth of cooking, it’s easy meals for almost a month. Here’s the best part. NO DISHES.

Also? They’re CHEAP. I mean dirt cheap. I mean about 75 cents EACH cheap, if cooked in quantity, which, frankly, is the only way that it makes sense to make burritos. Too much work for just a couple. To steal a mantra from the machining/fabrication world: It takes just as long to tool up to make one as it does to make a hundred. So while you’re set up… make some extras.

I long ago learned to buy up good meats (chicken, burger and steak) on sale and sock it into the deep freeze. So the other beauty of this is that the eggs and the veggies are the only things you really need ‘fresh’, everything else sits and waits patiently in the freezer. Even if you did go and get everything on the day of the big cooking fest, you’re only talking $40 in groceries or so, and that usually works out to close to three weeks of meals. Do the math.

So if that’s part of power shopping? Yeah, I can get behind it.

COMING SOON: How to Make Bachelor Burritos