I used to love the Grocery Game. While I was never an extreme couponer I do love a bargain. There was something so satisfying about handing the cashier a stack of coupons at the end of my purchase and watching my total decrease by anywhere from 30 – 50 per cent. I would crow about the savings and inevitably the person behind me in line, although somewhat irritated by the length of my transaction, would ask me, “How on earth did you do that?” I would then spend as much time as I could coaching her through the basics. I especially enjoyed getting free stuff. I mean, who doesn’t? Although I was never crazy like some of these people you see on cable networks, I did end up buying a lot of groceries. And…I ended up spending a lot of time on the project each week. I can see how people can easily become addicted to such success at the register.
Now, the only coupons that I get are those I receive in the mail with the grocery mailers and in the Wall Street Journal…I still can’t quite get over that they come in my WSJ. I hate throwing them away, but here is the thing, most coupons are promoting and saving you money on processed foods produced by the big food companies. We have all but eliminated processed foods from our diet. They also offer savings on conventional cleaning and beauty products. We are on a quest to reduce toxins in our home and on our bodies. There is the occasional product that I might use featured in the circular but as a rule it is easier for me to just ignore them.
When you generally shop the perimeter of the grocery store and don’t purchase grains or other processed foods, it is much, much faster to just grab what you need and get the heck out of Dodge. My goal is to decrease my grocery store usage over the next year. Full disclosure alert…I do shop at Costco for my bulk pantry goods such as coconut, olive and hemp oil. I get a lot of my dairy there for now and meat and produce. I do use the Costco coupons but all I have to do is show the cashier my booklet or app on my phone and they come off automatically. Eating whole food and moving to organic and locally grown does not allow for coupon usage. Do I spend more on groceries overall? Yeah, a little, but I save a lot by not buying any pre-made food and when we sit down to a meal, we know exactly what is in our food.
Last week, Brad and I finally went to the Ivywild School to check it out. I had read about it and a few of my friends had checked in there on Foursquare. I love the idea of completely recycling an old school into a hip new gathering place. The building itself is almost 100 years old. In fact, they will be celebrating their 100 year anniversary in 2016. I am so glad that someone found a new purpose for the building and that this piece of our Colorado Springs history wasn’t torn down.
We wandered in, not sure what to try or how ‘it worked.’ A lovely woman from behind the counter at the Old School Bakery gave us a quick orientation. We chose a delightful almond croissant from her case and then headed over to the Principal’s Office to get coffee. We order a couple of cups of the Sumatra from a couple of young people who gave careful consideration of our drinks as they prepared them. The coffee had strong overtones and as much as I wish myself to be a coffee connoisseur, I think it will take a bit for me to develop taste for such bold and fruity coffee.
We enjoyed watching other parties come in and enjoy lunch or coffee with friends or family. The food is prepared and cooked onsite and I was assured that they use non-GMO products and source locally where they can. I think that next time we will have lunch from The Meat Locker. The sandwiches that they were bringing out to people looked so good that we went and bought the stuff to make sandwiches at home.
We stopped in at Hunt or Gather, a small shop where you can buy locally and sustainably grown food. They had meat, eggs, cheese, and some produce along with honey and jam. This is an effort to make local food easily accessible to the public. I will definitely be going back there.
Bristol Brewing also has a pub on the campus where you can sample one of their hand-brewed beers or grab a bite to eat. We are hoping to take our youngest beer loving son there the next time he is in town.
I love the spirit of Ivywild School. I love entrepreneurship and people making a go of a great idea. There are so many chain restaurants here in Colorado Springs and we do go to some of them. They are consistent and familiar but I encourage all of you, no matter where you live, to try new, independent, restaurants. Watch the people who eat there and engage in the community of local food.