Tuesday, November 4, 2008


"Squirreling - to store or hide (money, valuables, etc.), usually for the future (often followed by away): I've squirreled away a few dollars for an emergency." - http://dictionary.reference.com/

Every fall I do my squirrel imitation. I purposely stock up on as much non perishables and items with a shelf life of at least 6 months.

You see, here on the Canadian prairies, you never know what the weather may bring. You may have nice weather or a nasty blizzard and/or ridiculously cold wind chills that make you want to curl up and hibernate till spring. If the weather cooperates and the city keeps the streets and especially the sidewalks plowed, then getting out to do a little grocery shopping isn't too bad. However, Mother Nature doesn't always play nice and the city's plowing budget isn't what it used to be.

It's challenging enough trying to get around in the best of weather, let alone carrying a full backpack and/or a couple of bags of groceries when you are legally blind and navigating snowbanks at intersections and mule path like trails that pass for sidewalks while dressed in multiple layers of clothing that is sort of keeping you warm even though you can barely move.

Sounds like fun, doesn't it? Yup! We aren't called "Winterpeg" for nothing!

No, I don't enjoy winter that much, which is why I started "squirrelling" many years ago. In all honesty, I "squirrel" to some extent all year round as I am always on the look out for sales and great deals on the items I normally buy, but I go into overdrive every September and October! It's not that I horde food and other staples, it's just that I'd rather have it and not need it than need it and not have it - then have to pay full price and haul it home through the snow!

Obviously, I can't buy EVERYTHING in advance. I still have to buy produce, dairy and an occasional loaf of bread - but I can stock up on toiletries, paper products, canned goods, poultry/meat/fish, dry pastas/rice and most baking supplies.

I don't buy a lot of prepared foods, but I keep a well stocked pantry with things like dry pastas, rice, pasta sauces, soups, canned meats, beans, pineapple, peanut butter, condiments. spices and all the baking supplies I may need. My freezer is full of poultry/meat/fish, vegetables, juice concentrate, home made baking and individual servings of home made meals.

For the last several years, my sister and I have been doing my annual fall "squirrelling" run for all the bulky and heavy things. We make a day of it. We do a little general shopping, have lunch somewhere and then powershop. We stop at "Morden's" to get all my bulk chocolate for my Christmas baking extravaganza. We stop at a bulk food place to pick up some spices and baking supplies.

Our main stop, though, is at Costco. where she has a membership. This year, we both had lengthy lists, so we each had one of those oversized carts. I usually let her "drive" the cart as I'm always scared of running into a display or another customer, but I had to do my own "driving" this time. I think I only ran into her once and only got hung up on a couple of corners - so I actually did pretty good!

You have to know your basic grocery prices when you are at places like Costco - not everything is a deal. Some things are just too large for me to use on my own or only a few cents different from places like Superstore. I keep a "running list" of items that I need on a regular basis. I also check prices at other retailers on a regular basis and especially around late October when we do our annual shop. Inevitably, not everything on my list is in stock or a good price, but it is always a worthwhile trip.

It is also a huge relief to get this shopping done - especially if we manage to do it before the snow flies and the weather gets too cold. Getting all that precious stock in her van is pretty easy, but getting it up to my apartment can be a bit tricky - unless of course we are lucky enough to find a shopping cart near the front of my building when we get home. In past years, I've even brought a shopping cart up into my apartment a day or two ahead just in case. I didn't see one this year, but fate was smiling on us last week, as there was one sitting in front of the building when we pulled up late last Monday afternoon.

Finding room for all of those supplies can also be a challenge in my 500 sq. ft. apartment, but I do it! There are still a few things that I'd like to stock up on before the snow arrives, but the major stuff is out of the way and that is HUGE! Like I said, I'll still have to buy fresh produce, dairy and some bread - but if weather or health prevents me, then I can hibernate!

I'm still not looking forward to winter, but at least I am more or less ready!


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