So I recently spoke with the editor of a local paper. She asked me to pitch her some ideas for articles. We decided my first article would be about how to save money on food in Anchorage, which is arguably very difficult given the high price of food here. She knows that I particularly enjoy satire/comedy writing. So here is what I came up with. Before I submit it, I’m hoping to get some feedback/ideas.
Living in Anchorage is expensive, but this is no more true than when creating a food budget. Below is a list of several helpful options to stretch your dollar:
1. Stop eating. Just stop. You’ve eaten enough already. There’s no better way to stick to your food budget than to just stop consuming food. “But,” you might protest “I need to eat! Or else I’ll die!” While this is true, there is no room for talk of mortality and biology when it comes to fiscal responsibility.
2. Move. If cutting back on eating altogether seems a bit extreme, try moving to the Lower 48. Pretty much anywhere but Hawaii will offer vast savings. There’s even a rumor floating around that food in the Lower 48 doesn’t go bad immediately upon bringing it home. This solution could easily shave 10-20% of your food budget. And you can take a picture with you in case homesickness for the Last Frontier starts to set in.
3. Buy deeply discounted food. Now, if moving and/or starving isn’t your scene, try buying sharply discounted food. Grocery stores like Carrs and Fred Meyer will routinely sell almost-expired foods for half-off, maybe more! So stock up on some funky yogurt and greying meat. Your budget will thank you.
4. Make meals at home. Why spend $2.50 on a McDonald’s cheeseburger, when you could easily make it at home? Here’s a fabulous recipe for a homemade cheeseburger:
Step 1: Buy hamburger patties, buns, cheese slices, mustard, ketchup, pickles
Step 2: Go home, unload groceries
Step 3: Forget about them for a week, maybe two
Step 4: Eat the package of cheese during an existential crisis
Step 5: Schedule in time for some dark self-loathing
Step 6: Find out that the buns have started to mold
Step 7: Continue eating out, because cooking totally sucks
5. Grow a garden. While the Anchorage climate is not ideally suited to a year-long garden situation, you will be able to squeeze in about 25 days of optimal gardening per year. In this time you can yield several handfuls of squash product, strawberry orbs, pretty much whatever your frugal little brain can imagine! Because the growing season is so short, it is highly recommended that you invest in several sturdy scarecrows, to let potential vagabonds and wildlife know that you mean business. Nobody is going to eat your comically tiny zucchini but you!
6. Stop buying coffee. Everyone loves their fancy Kaladi Brothers and Cafe Del Mundos and even the occasional Holiday Station brew. But let’s be honest, paying for coffee adds up, fast! For the price of two good cups of Kaladi Brothers coffee, you can buy a plastic jug of Folger’s. And while you’re sipping your morning cup of tepid acid water, chuckle quietly to yourself as you mentally calculate the savings.
7. Costco Sampling For $55.00 a year, you can get unrestricted access to the world’s best and free-est samples. All you need is some common sense, politeness, and several clever disguises. Each day do a lap around the store, gingerly sampling the various meatballs, pot stickers, and pesto-covered crackers. Then duck into the bathroom or behind a display, put on your Groucho Marx mustache or Disney princess wig, and repeat. It helps if you have a generic face or an antique trunk of costumes.
8. Dumpster dive. For the record, this is not an official recommendation as dumpster diving is illegal, potentially unsafe, and completely awesome. So much food goes to waste in our crushingly consumerist society, just because something is “slightly stale” or “almost moldy”. The trick to successful dumpster diving is rubber gloves, dark clothing, and a deep sense of loathing for The Man. Just find a nearby commercial dumpster, hoist yourself up, and dive headfirst into savings.