Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Eating My Seed Corn

Years ago, I had an accounting professor who used the concept of “seed corn” to help us understand investments. Seed corn, for you non-farmers, is the corn you use to plant more corn. He compared to the money you invest in your business. If you start spending the money that you need to run the business on other things, you are effectively taking money out of the business and are “eating your seed corn”.

My roommate at the time (also an accounting major) used the seed corn analogy to describe our grocery buying efforts. Every week, we bought food that looked good, sounded good or was on sale regardless of whether we needed it or not. Soon, we had a stockpile of food built up. Yet, we still spent weekly on groceries. One day she looked through our cabinets and declared, “It’s time to eat our seed corn!”

While her analogy was different than the professor’s, she had a point. We kept buying new food when we had plenty of options at home that we’d already sunk our money into. Slowly, we started trying to eat through our stockpile.

I’ve been eating seed corn this week so to speak. My husband is out of town which makes menu planning slightly easier. We were out of town for a funeral and missed our weekly shopping trip. I haven’t felt well and facing the first of the month grocery crowd was not appealing to me. Today is senior day at Kroger so that is to be avoided for sure. My plan is to go tomorrow and to use this evening to study the sales ad, create a menu for next week, gather my coupons and write a list.

Earlier in the week, I was mentally working on my grocery list, thinking of various foods that would be tasty to eat next week. I was totally forgetting the food I have on hand-my seed corn as my friend called it. I had even decided I would treat myself to some takeout one evening because “there’s nothing in the house.” Then, I realized how crazy that is. Suddenly, I could think of dozens of dinner possibilities that would not require a trip to the store. It became sort of a challenge then to see if I could make it on what was in the house. And so far, I have.

I think I would do well to remind myself in the future that sometimes you need to stop and eat some seed corn.

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