In episode 080, I interview Benjamin from the Ramshackle Pantry. We talk about different ways you can save money at the grocery store through gardening, buying in bulk, and shopping at ALDI. We also talk about the current increase in egg prices that everyone is talking about and what types of eggs are really going up in price.
You can listen to this podcast episode below or listen on any of these podcast players - Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music, Google Podcasts. If you would prefer to read the text, you will find a transcript below.
Here is the transcript from our interview with Benjamin from the Ramshackle Pantry.
Eric: Hey everybody. Welcome to a special episode of Eat, Shop, Waste Not. I'm your host Eric Samuelson, and today I'm excited to have a fellow food blogger on here. Um, me and Ben have been a part of a food blogging mastermind group. It's what we, uh, we food bloggers like to kind of work together and, and help each other out, especially in, um, a job where most of the time we are by ourselves in front of our computers.
So that's always good to have someone. Um, so I'm excited to get talk to him, virtually today. Um, he is, I'm sure, freezing his butt off in North Dakota right now. While I'm sitting here in Panama City Beach, Florida, where is sunny but is in the sixties and people still here are freezing because they're not used to it.
Us Northern people laugh at them, but anyway, um, Ben, welcome to the podcast.
Ben: Well, hello and I would trade spaces with you right about now. It's pretty warm here at like about 28 degrees.
Eric: Yes. Yeah, for, and you're in Fargo, so that's, a hot day in January. You know, you get the shorts on start grilling, right?
Ben: 60 degrees would definitely be shorts weather right about now.
Eric: Ues. Definitely. All right. Here. Um, so, I just want you to have a chance for you to go through and, uh, introduce yourself and tell us about your blog.
Ben: Well, my name is Ben Myhre. I write on the Ramshackle Pantry, uh, where we share comfort food recipes in the history around them. We tend to focus on recipes from my heritage. So that ends up being Midwestern recipes, Scandinavian recipes, German things, or basically anything that you might find in a mid-western, uh, Lutheran cookbook.
But I'll eat anything. So we do explore all over the place if it's something. Uh, titillates me. I will make it and share the recipe, and I do love exploring the history behind these things as well.
Eric: I love that. Yeah. I love the kind of, yeah, looking in, looking behind things. Food has such an interesting story. There's so many great stories involving food. I was recently just talking with, um, a guy from a spice company and you know, when I think about spices, like you'll, you look at the history books about spice, I mean literal actual wars were fought over spices. It's just amazing. Like, you know, food foods involved with like, everything. It's so integrated and there's so much history behind it. So that's, that's really neat that, um, you're really diving in that. What’s like a quick little like, um, history kind of snippet about some type of dish or food you wanted to, uh, share with our audience
Ben: well, I just mentioned that I, I tend to cook in Scandinavian recipes. My heritage is Norwegian. One kind of interesting tidbit is Cardamom is used in a lot of Norwegian recipes, but it's not, it's not native to to Norway at all. In fact, it kind of originates from India or the Southeast Asia sort of area.
And just because of the trade routes of that time, it sort of made its way up there and has become a staple in a lot of, a lot of, uh, dishes in, in Norway and, uh, Scandinavia. Um, one recipe that I like making during Christmas is Drukaka, which is sort of like, Um, it's sort of like a pizzelle or a, uh, little wafer cone, um, that can be eaten by itself or with, with whipped cream and fruit inside, and that often has cardamom on in it as well.
Um, I, I just find that that interesting because it's so not even part. Of like what people grew or how they got it and somehow it ended up being, being a similar story or you know, like tomatoes. Tomatoes. I think that's probably one of the more famous ones that's, they aren't native to Italy or to Europe.
They're South American. And they just happened to be brought over. And, uh, originally they were considered, uh, poor food because the rich people thought they were poisonous. Well, turns out they were eating tomatoes in, uh, dishes that had lead in them. The tomatoes had an acid that helped activate the chemicals and make people sick.
So, um, the rich people got sick. Uh, eventually they figured it out. Tomatoes are awesome, so
Eric: Yes. Oh yeah. sometimes I like to use this story cuz you know, people like to use the phrase like, um, American as apple pie. I'm like, well, apples are from Kazakhstan. Um, so, so I go, but blueberries are actually native to, to the US So, so we should be saying, you know, it's as American as blueberry pie.
Ben: Yep. Yep. Absolutely. Some of these berries are, you know, the Native American food. That's really kind of the only, like from my region, native food. A lot of it comes from South America or Mexico. Boy. Yeah. America's food history. I think that's what partly of what's great about our food history is, um, we're just people that got smushed together and all of our cultures sort of Intertwined. And before you know it, we have Chicago deep dish pizza, we have hamburgers, we have all these things that really are an explosion from other parts of the world.
Eric: yeah, this is great topic here, but let's, uh, I'm gonna get myself over onto you, what we're here to talk about today. That can be a whole episode talking about, oh, she share some great history of food stories with us there. So maybe we'll do that sometime. But today we wanna talk about saving money at the grocery store.
Because that is the hot topic of the day. Um, we are, if you're on the internet at all, you've probably been inundated with some type of meme lately involving eggs. You know, I've seen seen so many different stories of, of people, um, taking, you know, like, Hey, I'm gonna take my wife out of someplace special.
And it's the egg department in the grocery. So we've seen just the, you know, that's just one example, but like, everything's kind of going up in, in, in price right now and people are feeling the pain of that. Um, so for you, um, what are some tips you can give people to save money at the grocery store right now?
Ben: Right now, and I'm, I'm gonna keep this into the right now because there's overarching things too, but right now, I think that, uh, probably one of our biggest tips that we've used, and maybe your listeners do this already, is go to Aldi's and, and I say Aldi's specifically because we don't, we didn't shop at Aldi's all that often before, but there's a few key items that we have found to be super expensive at other places.
Right now, iceberg Lettuces was going for five bucks ahead at our regular grocer, um, cauliflower, $8 for a small head. I can't, I can't remember any time when it was like that and Aldi is, What they do. It was, I think iceberg lettuce was under $2 and our cauliflower was three something. So to me that's kind of the biggest thing you could do right now.
I did wanna mention too, you know, we kind of, we, we purchase friendly eggs, you know, the cage free. So we've always spent more on our eggs probably than your average person. And one thing I've noticed is that, the difference between the cheap eggs and the spendy eggs, there's still a little bit of a difference, but it's far less like, I don't think I pay more for my eggs than I did a year ago, if that makes sense.
But if I looked at buying the 99 cent eggs that were a year ago, they've increased exponentially. So if you've ever, if you ever thought about trying to go to that kind of egg, now might be a good time to do it because you're spending a lot anyways.
Eric: that is a good point. Yeah. I mean, you have your low, your lower cheap ones here, and now that, that number has just like, gone way through the roof.
Well, as the, you know, the other stuff I didn't seem to be like, like I don't see, like, if you're, you're out in the country sometime here, you're, you know, you're gonna drive by someone's house probably that will have a sign saying, oh, here's eggs for sale. $5 a dozen or something here, like you're not really seeing those people increase in their prices, but it's like the bottom rung.
You know, you're, you're not gonna sneak out of a store with eggs for a buck anymore. You're just, it's not gonna happen.
Ben: Yep. That's not gonna happen. And I don't know if, I don't know if that's because, uh, you know, my understanding is inflation, of course, but also the, the bird flu stuff. I, I wonder if it's just that people are only willing to pay so much for eggs or maybe that the bird flu stuff just didn't impact certain kinds of, Egg rearing.
I, I don't know. I don't know, but I've had this conversation with a few people now. I find it interesting that the, the high end, the high end eggs just aren't quite as, they haven't gone up in the same way as the, as the, um, food club or whatever brands.
Eric: .Yeah. So you bring up Aldi too, Yeah, we've been, trying to shop them for things cause, because usually they could do cheaper on like the staple type situations, especially like, like the dairy items. Um, and cheeses and stuff here. Um, I don't, like, for me, they're not my favorite place to go get produce. I'm, uh, I'm super passionate about produce, I love different types of varieties of stuff here.
So I like to go to other places for that. But, but if you know, carrots and the, really basic type stuff, I'm not, when I'm not going fancy, um, Aldi will work for that. Um,
Ben: and I agree with you a hundred percent. And we wouldn't be going there if it wasn't for specifically lettuce. And I, I'm, I like iceberg lettuce. I, I like fancy lettuce too, but I think iceberg lettuce is fine for some things. And and also cauliflower. I mean, we eat cauliflower a lot and $8 a head for a small head of cauliflower is insane. But, so we go there for our specific, uh, tools or specific items and move on. We've already, that's part of the reason why we didn't go there to begin with. We've already got so many places that we stop between our regular grocery store, Costco, the natural health place that we've got a few of those, you know, gets kinda, it gets kinda long,
Ben: especially for the shopper who is not me. I'm the cooker and I'm the eater
Eric: And something else we can look at too, like we talked about like, like the local, people are selling eggs, agents at their house type situation, even like, like the farmer's markets. Like I go to farmer's markets all the time.
I don't feel like it's out of control in those situations either. And, and I can, still in this last year, have purchased, you know, ginormous things of cauliflower in the season that like, you know, that are just, you know, bigger than your head, you know, a couple heads, you know, that are just huge for like, for like $3 or $4.
Yeah, more, seems like it's the actual grocery stores are really like, are raising it. And then, and where the farmer's market, if you have the option, can, can be, can be a better option. And, and, and plus two it's you're, you're eating what's in season.
Cuz you know, if you just shopped at a grocery store, and I tell people all the time, like, if it's all you ever do is shop in a mainline grocery store where you don't have an idea of seasonality that well because most things are just available, all the.
Ben: Well, for those of us in the Midwest too, it's, you know, you know what's in season in February and January? Nothing
Ben: To another, uh, money saving thing. And this is, this is kind of like a long term. It's not, you can't do it in a month or two, but we, we turn most of our front yard into a garden. That's a, that's a huge money saver and it, uh, makes it easier to mow the lawn.
Which is great
Eric: Less, less lawn, the mo, more fruit, vegetables. Um, I'm totally about that. Yeah. I always hear people like, you know, to try gardening in some ways here and you just start with something, you know, you can start with something small. Start with some pots, you know, try something here.
You know, especially one of the key thing always to people is like, if you're gonna grow anything and if you use herbs at all, that's like the thing to like easily grow. Because when it comes down to the actual price per pound, herbs is gonna be number one.
Pretty much, unless your store sells truffles, which there is a store down in Dallas, Fort Worth, Texas area, uh, called Central Market. It's, um, an HEB store, and they, they actually had truffles. They actually had like legit fresh truffles. So those were really expensive. But besides that rare occasion, it's gonna be herbs.
So like growing herbs is easily something you could do, cuz you're gonna spend $2 for a couples springs or rosemary when you can have rosemary for a very long time. And if you're bringing it in indoors, if you're in a cold climate like yours, you could have it continuously growing. So that that's,
Ben: Well, we. dry 'em too, so we'll, we'll take our herbs and, and, and dry them and keep them for the winter. So, and you know, I like, I like cooking with fresh stuff too, but from a practical standpoint, I just have a jar of oregano and some time dried and ready to go anytime.
Eric: Exactly. Yeah. Yep. And so again, about join, the season out I things you're, you know, cook with the fresh herbs and you have in the, when they're in season in your area, and then go dried when you, you just can't, you can, you know, kind go roll with those things.
Ben: But you're right. Two sprigs of thyme up here around this time, it's probably five, six bucks. You know?
Eric: Yes. So I've traveled all over the country and it seems like to me like it comes, like some grocery prices kind of being in that middle part of the country can be kind of like some of the roughest prices, I think. Cuz you're, you're kind of not near anything and you have a shorter growing season
So like, I, I noticed like probably for me when I was in Wyoming, like, uh, uh, and there was like, There wasn't many grocery options and you're, and you're paying like, it was like ridiculous amount. So I feel for people who live in those areas that are more remote, where it's harder to ship to.
I mean it's not gonna be crazy like Alaska, you know, these videos on YouTube or someone's like, I'm up the tip of Alaska and milk is $20 a gallon, cuz everything has to be flown in. You know, it's not that ridiculous. But I feel like in terms of grocery prices, if you're living in, in Wyoming and the Dakotas and stuff here in that middle part, It seems like you're paying more money overall for everything.
Ben: Which could be, and you know, choices. Choices, especially during the summer months, choices tend to go down a little bit, but you know,
Ben: A decent sized house with a yard. So
Eric: it's great.
Ben: that's, that's the trade off I guess.
Eric: All right, so we talked about growing your own food and, and shopping Aldi to kind of save money. Um, I know something that you're passionate about doing is buying things in bulk. So what kind of things do you like to kind of like stack up on bulk to save money? Cuz usually, buying in bulk is gonna, as long as it doesn't go bad, you're gonna reap the benefits of that.
Ben: We, we buy some of the staples that we cook with in bulk, and that includes all purpose flour, bread, flour, cause I make my own bread, sugar, um, and rice. Those are the kind of the big things that I, that I keep in, in bulk. And I do that by, uh, we went and bought big five gallon food safe buckets from our hardware stores.
Um, Menards I think I got mine from, but I'm sure Lowe's and Home Depot have 'em, uh, with the appropriate cover. And they'll hold, you know, they'll hold a big bag of Costco bread flour or whatever kind of rice you get, or it's. And it works out great because we don't have to buy stuff that often. So if the world falls apart, you know, we can , we can rely on our, our flour. Plus, uh, we just don't need to shop for it as much.
And, um, while making bread is definitely a cost saver. It's not a time saver and it, it, to me, it's just something I enjoy doing. So, um, those are the big ones. But we also, you know, uh, we buy things like peanut butter in bulk and we buy some of the, we're lucky enough to have a, a pantry. So we have a place set aside where we can put a lot of these items, including our canned goods and our, like our. We grow raspberries, our preserves and pickles, we grow cucumbers and make pickles out of them. All of those things. Um, but yeah, the, to me, if I were to give one, uh, tip to somebody who has a pantry is getting those five gallon buckets, food safe buckets. And, um, if you use a lot of flour, if you lo use a lot of rice, if you use a lot of sugar, use those things and it, they're better than the bags, I think in, in general, just because keeps critters out of it, keeps the environment out of it.
If you get a little liquid in there, for whatever reason, you know, you don't wanna spoil a whole bag of sugar. Um, and the, and the buckets take care of that.
Eric: Yeah. You wanna keep those things safe. You don't, you don't wanna get some creditors crawling around your flour. And definitely when you buy those things, like, like you buy a bag from Costco of flour, you, you know, once you open that bag up here, it's gonna rip, you're gonna get flour over the place here.
I mean, it's best to, like I said, take that investment and, and get something that's good quality that's gonna be airtight so you're not wasting those things.
Ben: Yeah. To be honest, uh, I think the, the flour, the flour and the rice have been the, the best savings in terms of, uh, the, the best savings for us, just because we use so much of it, uh, not only for bread or whatever, but you know, we'll make dishes that need roux or. We will make, you know, flour tortillas or whatever we decide to do.
And it's just always there. Um, it's, and, and if somebody, I presume if somebody is listening to your podcast, they like cooking and, you know, the, the uses for all purpose flour is anything. I've thought about extending it to other pastas, but I just don't know if I need to, I kind of like making homemade pasta, so I have flour for that.
Eric: Yeah, it's going be when you can plan those things and buy the bigger things and put them money forth. I mean, if you're on a tight food budget and, and maybe, you know, you kind of plan a ahead, try to do the best you can to make it a long-term game. Thinking like a long-term, you know, it can be hard when you're living pay to paycheck, to think long term. But if you can kind of like, carve out and they say, okay, this month you could get a bag of flour and then maybe it'll last a two to three months here, maybe you buy the bag of flour this month, maybe next month you buy the bag of rice, maybe the next month you buy the bag of this like, kind of like thinking, kind of like as long term as you can, um, that you're able to do out, you know, things and sometimes, I mean, you can't, always, but like if you can, I think that's a good way to save money
Because, if you think about that. Okay, this is, this is going towards this month.
Ben: And, and as far as budgeting goes, I hundred percent agree. Like you know, I, we plan our meals when we go shopping every couple of weeks and we'll plan our meals, our, well, our suppers for those couple of weeks. And we'll shop based on that. And then we'll kind of know what we each like for our own lunches, cuz we both work at home.
But yeah. that's a huge money saver.
Ben: If you are able to plan out. If you can, if you can figure out how to best use your, whatever you buy, especially whole ingredients that can be used in multiple different ways. That's, that's a, that's a game changer I think, for anybody trying to save money or budget.
Eric: Yeah, I think, yeah, but like planning is definitely, I know it's something that maybe it can be intimidating for some people here, but at least have some idea when you go shopping and like, like a how stick, like, like it's better to go to the store and, maybe you didn't have time to like, you know, that week go through entire big, huge plan.
But like, if you could plan something, you can say, okay, maybe, maybe when you get to the store, maybe sit in the car for five minutes, say, okay, I'm gonna make a quick list. I'm gonna do something. You know, right on your phone. At least have some kind of idea going in because I think what, what happens is, I think what the biggest food waste comes is people don't have have any idea and then to start buying things and then come back home, it's still with no plan. And then it goes to waste. We, we forget about it. We don't, we don't use it. You know, the produce goes bad because we didn't really have a plan for it. So if you're overwhelmed by planning, just start with something five minute, like something's better than nothing and kind of like, you know, try to get into that kind of habit.
And I think it reduces stress too. As the thing what happens to you is people start wonder like, oh, what am I gonna have dinner tonight? I don't know. And then it's, then it's easy to start saying, okay, well let's just go out to eat, or let's go grab some convenience type food, you know, and throw that in something here.
Ben: Plus it helps, it helps prevent me coming from home with like some dumb purchase, like a case of Hot Cheetos Mountain Dew or something stupid like that!
Ben: which I've, I have tried 'em and I, I'm not a fan, but I bright, shiny objects can get me.
Eric: Get you. Yes. That's rather go to store. Do I throw those things on there? So, oh, those are awesome. Those are great tips. Um, so thank you. This has been great just talking about some of the, um, there's some different tips at all here. Um, so Ben, where can people find you on the internet?
Ben: Well, the best place to find me is on my website at www.ramshacklepantry.com. I'm on Twitter , under the same name and also Instagram. So, um, check this out. Come make some recipes. I wanna learn from you and hopefully I can share something too.
Eric: That sounds great guys. Yeah, go check, check him out. He's got a great website here. Especially if you're a history buff and love and you at the same time, you gotta go check out his blog. It's awesome. So, uh, thanks Ben for being on today. Appreciate it.
Ben: Thank you.
📚 Additional Resources
Take a moment to check out these delicious recipes from the Ramshackle Pantry: