FW-67 -- Food, Glorious Food! - Frugally!

J@pan Inc Magazine Presents:

* * * * * * * * F R U G A L W A T C H * * * * * * * *
A weekly roundup of how to be frugal in the world's most
expensive country to live (unless you read this!), written
and compiled by Wendy J. Imura.

Regular edition, August 16, 2005 Issue No. 67

- What's New (Food, Glorious Food! - Frugally!)
- Frugal Friends: (Pictures Anyone? Solveig Boergen)
- Frugal Tips (Last Minute Flea Market Info)
- Credits

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+++ WHAT'S NEW (Food, Glorious Food! - Frugally)

Dear Frugal Readers,

No, I'm not channelling 'Oliver,' nor about to break into spontaneous
song and dance - I'm just excited to share a few frugal grocery
shopping tips with my loyal readers. Grocery, or food shopping, is
one area where everyone, I think, can learn to save a little money.
Of course, shopping can be a daunting experience in Japan to begin
with - reading the labels, or even determining just WHAT IS the
product, can be a real challenge. So I thought I'd introduce my basic
four steps for frugal grocery shopping in Japan - though, really, they
could apply anywhere.

1) Scout out your 'shopping terrain' ahead of time.
*In Japan, this most often means scoping out all possible supermarkets,
green grocers (yaoyasan in Japanese - the small Mom & Pop fruit/veggie
shops), and 100/99-yen food shops within walking or biking distance.
Consider your strength (how far can you walk laden with 3 or 4 plastic
bags of groceries digging into your arms) and cleanliness/taste standards.
100/99-yen food stores are cheap, but frequently sell merchandise close
to or past its expiration date. Convenience stores in principle are
overpriced, and should not be in a Frugalite's grocery shopping terrain.

2) Begin tracking price trends on items you buy most frequently.
* Most people buy/stock the same 15-20 food items (fresh and prepared)
every week or two. The best way to save money on food is, of course, to
determine which store within your shopping terrain offers the best price
consistently on these items. Keeping a "price book" (just a small
pocket-size notebook or stack of cards) listing the unit price for these
items by location per date will help you keep track of your "best price."
If, for example, you buy 200 ML of lowfat milk each week, your research
after a few weeks could tell you whether you should buy that milk at
Maruetsu, Ito Yokado, or Aeon. What's more, it will also tell you if that
"sale" on milk at Aeon is actually a good deal or not. Want to learn more
about keeping a price book?Check here:

3) Be on alert for sales and specials.
* Japanese supermarkets (with the exception of Walmart subsidiary Seiyu)
don't have an "everyday low price" policy. Instead, they rely on daily
and/or weekly specials to draw customers. Tuesdays, for example, might be
40% off frozen foods day, while Mondays are 10% off fish day. Newspaper
"chirashi" or other advertisements are also a major source of information,
though watch out for time limits, item purchase limits, and other
conditions. Also, consulting your price book can tell you if the so-called
"special deal" is really worth traveling to that particular supermarket

3) Shop strategically at two or three locations for your needs.
*Now, just put steps 1), 2), and 3) together, and plan your shopping
expedition around which store has the best prices on which items. Be
sure to remember to bring several large, reusable grocery bags to make
transporting your purchases home easier.

Finally, a word of caution: try not to be a "menu-controlled shopper."
What I mean is, don't go always shop in search of ingredients for a
particular meal or menu. (Ex. "I want to make cream stew today, so I need
chicken, potatoes, etc...) Instead, buy your basics (meat, vegetables,
fish, fruit, and dairy), and plan your meals AROUND what food is in season
and is reasonably priced.(Ex. "Ooh, today eggplant, canned tomatoes, and
ground pork are on sale: I'll make spaghetti!) Of course, everyone
deserves a treat now and again, but making a habit of shopping to your
menu, instead of shopping to the season/prices, will end up costing more
in the long run.

Frugally yours,
Wendy J. Imura

PS: Frugal Watch, and yours truly, would like to apologize for mistakenly
relocating the great city of Tsukuba to Chiba Prefecture, when it
is, in fact, in Ibaraki Prefecture. Thank you for your patience, and we
apologize for the error.

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+++ FRUGAL FRIENDS (Pictures Anyone? Solveig Boergen) ++++

Welcome to a new section on Frugal Watch: Frugal Friends! In this
corner, we introduce foreign-owned or foreigner-friendly businesses and
services around Japan. If you know of a Frugal Friend-worthy business,
or would like to introduce your own business to our nearly 1,000 readers,
email Wendy J. Imura (frugalwatch@japaninc.com)!

**** Pictures Anyone? Solveig Boergen ***********

Solveig, a long time resident of Niigata, Japan, and university
instructor, contacted me a few months ago regarding her new business as
a professional photographer. In addition to professional, Western-style
portraiture, Solveig offers beautiful coffeetable photo books, DVDs or CD
photo collections, and one-of-a-kind photo collections. As Solveig says:

"I started to work as a photographer last year due to popular demand, ...
and I'm slowly taking off.

"I offer Home Portrait Parties, as are popular in the US. I can travel to
any place in Japan and take pictures of you and your friends and family.
I do mostly maternity, newborn, baby and children`s portraits...not the
style that is offered here in Japan - my pictures are different, and more

"I also have two jewellery designers work on photo jewellery, and
one-of-a-kind photo bags... beautiful things!"

Perhaps you have some photography or portraiture needs that Solveig could
help with? If so, please contact her at:
(Be sure and mention Frugal Friends!)

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+++ FRUGAL TIPS (Last Minute Flea Market Info)
Flea markets, at least the massive stadium-style ones, usually happen
during the Japanese summer, which is waning fast. Interested in checking
out the lastest flea market information in your area? Visit
www.recycler.org, an online clearinghouse (in Japanese) of flea market
information. In particular, click on the "Zenkoku Furima Jyoho"
(nationwide flea market information) link for group-sponsored flea
markets near you. Happy bargain hunting/selling!

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Written by: Wendy J. Imura (frugalwatch@japaninc.com)
Edited by: JI

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