It is absolutely necessary to visit the market and the grocery where food is purchased. The purchaser would not fail to visit a shop before deciding to patronize it regularly, but frequent calls are necessary if buying is to be economical. Select the grocery, market, and bakery with a view to their cleanliness. Notice if the doors and windows are screened, and if proper effort is made to catch flies that may have entered. Refuse to buy food that is exposed upon the sidewalk, and if it is within doors, see that it is protected from dust and flies. The best markets now have tiled walls and floors, which help to insure cleanliness. The difference in odor is marked between a market that is properly cleaned daily, and one where the proprietor uses uncleanly methods. Meat and vegetables, in particular, should be personalty selected whenever this is possible. The butcher must understand that the purchaser is familiar with the different cuts of meat and that honest service is demanded in regard to the quality, trimming, and weight of the meat. One does not want to be too suspicious, but it is well for the butcher to know that the purchaser has a set of standard scales at home by which to prove the accuracy of his weighing. It is also important to inspect fruit and vegetables for quality and cost.
The amount that one purchases of a certain food depends on its keeping qualities, and upon the storage space available at home. A general rule may be stated: Buy perishable foods in small quantities; non-perishable foods in large. The reason for buying in larger quantity is that the cost is somewhat less, although sometimes it seems but little less. Some one has remarked that no one is a good buyer who does not consider a quarter of a cent. In a modern house or apartment where there is not room for a barrel of flour or sugar, then the quantity must be gauged by the space. The same is true of canned goods as of flour and sugar. Buying by the dozen saves a little on each can if you have shelf room for piling the cans.
Foods may be classed in this connection as perishable, semi-perishable, and non-perishable. This depends somewhat for any one housekeeper upon the size of her refrigerator, and upon an available place where food may be cool, even if not so cold as in the refrigerator. Those foods classed here as perishable are those which readily "spoil," that is, those that are affected by mold and bacteria on account of the moisture that they contain, and also those that lose flavor and freshness quickly. Those most easily affected should be kept the coldest; those in the semi-perishable group do not deteriorate so rapidly, although a low temperature is desirable with all of these. Under the non-perishable foods are classed those that are not subject to bacteria or mold in ordinary circumstances. These should be kept dry, however, and never in a heated place. In a sense, no food material is non-perishable. Insects sometimes develop in the cereal products, for instance, and the material is thus rendered unfit for food. The food adjuncts do not spoil except as they lose flavor if kept too long.
Butter, eggs, cooked meat and fish, root vegetables, cooked vegetables, left overs in general, skin fruits like apples, bananas, oranges, and lemons, dried fruits, scalded milk and cream, smoked and salted fish and meats, open molasses and sirup.
Milk and cream must be delivered daily. The average amount used by the family is the regular order. Fresh meat should be delivered on the day wanted unless the refrigerator is large with a space for hanging meat. Even then, it should not be kept more than twenty-four hours. Meat should not be placed directly on the ice. Fresh berries and delicate vegetables should be delivered on the day wanted. Butter and eggs may be purchased once a week; other semi-perishables in quantities depending on storage space. It is economical to buy a box of lemons, and the root vegetables in large quantities. Flour and sugar are purchased by the bag or barrel; lump sugar, in boxes. Breakfast cereals are best bought in packages, and it is wise not to buy a large number at one time. It is better to purchase oftener and have fresher material. Coffee may be bought in pound cans, but it is economy to purchase it in five or ten pound quantities, unground. Tea comes in closely sealed packages, in 1/4, 1/2, and 1 lb. and larger. Cocoa is bought in 1/2 lb. cans, but it is economy to buy in large cans if it is frequently used. Macaroni is bought by the package, and the number at one time must depend on how much it is used in the menu. Rice, tapioca, and sago may be bought in bulk and kept in tin or glass jars. Salt by the bag or box. Spices, ground, in tight boxes; whole in bulk, to be kept in tightly closed cans. Molasses comes by the gallon or in cans. If in bulk, it is usually acid; in the can it is not. Vinegar comes by the gallon, or in bottles. Canned and preserved goods, singly, by the dozen, or case. Bakery products, when bought at all, should be purchased daily, or every other day. Do not buy so much that stale bread accumulates.