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Our family's drinking problem

Posted by NumberSix , 20 June 2010 · 588 views

If I have to be honest, then I have to admit the problem isn't limited to weekends, but it wasn't till this past Saturday that a little voice tried to nag me about what might've been obvious to anyone who wasn't stuck in our routine with us. Like any family, we take certain pleasantries for granted, and we have our respective crutches we use to hobble around the world's everyday drudgery. Rarely do we consider the cost until we're confronted with it and can't rationalize our way out of it.

Not even a few aisles into the grocery trip, our cart already looked like this:

$4.00 -- 2 gallons milk
$5.00 -- a 24-pack of Pepsi Max
$2.50 -- 2 2-liters of Mountain Dew
$3.14 -- cranberry juice
$2.76 -- diet cran-grape juice
$2.12 -- gallon of lemon tea
$2.53 -- jar of NesTea mix
$0.58 -- 2-liter of a diet cola so generic, it was cheaper than the store brand

Out of an eventual $122 tab for one week's grocery (some of which made up for omissions the previous week), a total $22.63 came just from drinks, nearly one-fifth of our cartload. In volume alone, all those jugs and bottles accounted for over 50% of our baggage. This was an off week for the bottled water my wife buys once a month, as well as for coffee, which I brew infrequently because I'm too impatient to wait on it most mornings (the coffee shop at work is faster and competitively priced).

Part of this is my own unapologetic doing. Ever since my diet of several years ago, I've found that avoiding sugar-filled drinks is one surefire way to help me hold the line on my weight. However, my son has no reason to diet thanks to his mutant metabolism, and my wife hates both artificial sweeteners and anything my son will drink. Except for universally acceptable milk, that means we have to buy separate drinks for everyone. In my defense, though, the 24-pack is a two-week supply for my daily bagged lunches, and NesTea powder lasts me 6-9 months on average and just happened to run out this week.

Part of this is also because my son is on summer vacation. Part of this is because we crave variety, spice of life that it is. Part of this is because our kitchen water tastes funny. We take it on faith that the trace metals, toxins, and other contaminants are well within legal levels, but those legal amounts are enough to make us the water supply we had at our old apartment, which came from a different town's system. I think our bathroom water tastes fine, though I can't prove that's not psychosomatic on my part.

In addition, ever since we switched to a new budget paradigm in April, we save a bundle on eating out by (1) eating out less, and (2) making those few restaurant trips to-go, forgoing their drinks and making do with our drink buffet at home instead. Naturally both factors force us to stock up on more drinks in advance instead of spending impulsively as-needed. We're intellectually aware that we're saving money in the long term.

Staring at all those containers in the cart for one short-term moment, though, made me wonder how much more we'd save if we could all convince ourselves to become addicted to tap water instead. It'd be fewer pounds of groceries to lug around, less stress on my back, fewer carbs of sugar for my anti-diet family, less profit for The MAN (discounting The water-company MAN, anyway), and more funds to save up for replacement autos. Not gonna happen, but it's an interesting what-if daydream.

(I imagine it could be worse. If any of us demanded or even tolerated alcohol, I've no doubt our weekly tab would double, if those unkempt families who fill their cart with multiple 24-packs of beer are any indication.)




Sounds like my drinking problem. I used to be an iced tea guy during the summer but since my refrigerator isn't really that well put together, I can't really keep it inside to get cool and I love all my just to be refreshingly cool. I really want to quit soda but I'm finding it harder this time (I quit cold turkey last summer and managed to go nearly two months).
Interesting. Now you're making me wonder how much we pay for drinks per week. One thing about water thou. I drink bottled water and can get a 24-pack of 1 pint bottles for right about $4 at the local grocery store. That's something like 17 cents per bottle. That's not bad. A lot of people pay way too much for bottled water but there are some good deals out there. Especially if you belong to one of the warehouse stores.
Wino says what? :drool:

I'm right there with you though. Stupid eighteen ounces of Fuze costing a buck fifty per. That **** is cleaning me out! At least I get my Diet Pepsi really cheap.

Wino says what? :drool:


Showing your age there buddy.
Get a Brita filter. It might help with some of the taste, though I don't think it will take care of any trace contaminants. If you really really want to get something that will filter everything out and cover your family in the case of a freak emergency, get a Berkey water filter. It will filter out everything.
I was just about to say the same as Perfectsim, although I prefer the taste of the Pur filter.

You may also want to consider consulting someplace like Culligan. We have a 2 gallon continuous-filling drinking water filter that sits under our sink, and comes out of a second tap. Cost - $25 per month, and we use it for drinking, making other drinks (I usually keep a pitcher of Lipton Cold Brew in the fridge, and a pitcher of 100% juice concentrate), and cooking.
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Destiny Skywalker
June 24 2010 09:52 AM
We've been talking about going to a reverse osmosis water system in our house because my husband swears the water tastes funny. He had one on his old house because they were on well water. It looks like the system costs about $200, plus the cost of filters (and I have no idea how often they need changed or how expensive they are). In the long term, it might be cheaper than a Culligan system, but it has a higher up-front cost and might require a bit more work.

I switched to water when I became a cheap college student and didn't want to pay extra for drinks. It also helped keep off the pounds. Now we pretty much rely on water, iced tea that we make ourselves, and fruit juice. We keep a little bit of pop on hand for company. We've also learned how to make our own lemonade, which is pretty fun and very tasty! I know you mentioned being short on time, but it's a fun weekend activity.
Did you really just say pop? haha
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Destiny Skywalker
June 28 2010 11:30 AM
I'm from the Midwest. Of course I say pop.

So it turns out we bought an under-sink water filtration system this weekend. It was a GE-brand one that we found at our local Home Depot, and set us back $117. The one we actually wanted was the same exact system, but with fancier filters that still screw in but were significantly more money than buying the filters by themselves. So next time we'll buy the fancier filters since they fit into our system as well. Looks like filters will cost about $40 every time they need replaced (every 3-6 months, I think).

Then we went to Lowe's and found a system for $99. D'oh!

After a few runs back to Home Depot because it turned out our water line was smaller than expected and we had to buy some $3 parts, we now have tastier water. According to my husband, at least. I freely admit his taste buds are superior to mine. Well, at least I admit it to you guys.

So if you're still looking into it, there's some price comparison for you.

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