Friday, March 25, 2011

Choosing to be challenged

I love living my frugal life.
I haven’t always thought this… there was a time in my life when I chafed at the restrictions but then I thought of one of my grandfather’s favorite sayings-
There are two things you can do about it- Stay mad or get over it.
Well, at that point I realized staying mad and sitting on my pity pot wasn’t doing anything for me but making me more miserable. I decided to look at living in the midst of our budget as a challenge- a game, if you will and one I wanted to win.
I went to the library and checked out all the books they had on frugal living.
Which was two.
The Tightwad Gazette Books I and II by Amy Dacyczyn.
I checked them out more than once… some ideas I laughed at and others I thought would be worth trying… it seemed every time I read it again- some of the ideas I’d thought so crazy before didn’t seem so far-fetched the next time. They’ve compiled her books into one The Complete Tightwad Gazette and while some of it is no longer timely there is still a lot of good stuff to be gleaned in there.
Through internet searching, inter-loaning library books and plain ol’ trial and error, I’ve figured out my own frugal way of doing things. I’ve found what works for me.
And I’ll be the first one to say that what works for me, won’t be everyone’s cup of tea. There will be some that think I’m too radical and others that will think I’m not nearly radical enough.
Pffffft. This one is all about me and how I work it for me and my family.
I don’t buy paper towels- instead I use old burp cloths and rags.
I make my own household cleaners.
We use cloth napkins instead of paper. Which I must add- I purchased from thrift stores and think look oh so fancy and make my family feel oh so special.
You’d be hard pressed to find paper plates or cups or plastic silverware at my house either. Last year we hosted a 4th of July party with 50 guests without a paper napkin, paper cup or plastic utensil on the premises. In fact, I even take my enamel ware and cloth napkins with us when we picnic. It makes us all feel like we’re picnicking in style.
I have a clothes line and I use it.
However-
I’m a mostly fair weather clothes line dryer… I’m no die hard willing to shake the icicles off- when it’s winter I only hang up the necessary items inside and use the dryer. In fact, I’ve even been known on really cold days to toss our clothes in and warm them up before we get dressed. Gasp!
While I don’t purchase a lot of premade items I could make a lot more from scratch than I do… I just choose not to- often because of the time and effort that goes in to some stuff.
I have no desire to learn to make my own noodles.
I love making homemade bread.
In the bread machine.
And I still buy loaf bread because we all like the taste of that bread for sandwiches even though I know it isn’t nearly as healthy for us. And I figured out the cost…. It costs me about 96 cents per loaf I bake. I purchase whole wheat sandwich loaves from Aldi’s for 99 cents. Since my cost estimate doesn’t include my manual labor I figure that’s worth at the very least the 3 cents difference.
We drink a lot of water and don’t often buy soda pop.
But we must, MUST keep Oreos on hand at all times.
We also like to have ice cream in the freezer all the time. I’m pretty sure this comes from my childhood and my Dad—being ice cream fiends must be genetic.
We only eat cold cereal once or twice a week and it’s the store brand big bags. Oatmeal can be cooked in a minute and cost about 50 cents to feed us all. So we eat oatmeal on average 3 times a week.
I didn’t like oatmeal as a kid. Didn’t develop a taste for it until the budget cried and I had to make adjustments.
Now I love it.
I save money by filling our menu plan with casseroles – this ain’t no meat and potatoes budget we’re on.
Saturdays are designated leftover smorgasbord days to keep a lid on the leftovers. We try to make a sweep of the fridge once a week so we don’t find new science experiments for Ms. Books shoved in the back behind the pickles….
I know some people that turn up their noses at eating leftovers.
We don’t.
My mama calls it “Encore Presentations”. Yeah, it’s still leftovers but isn’t that a pretty name?
I am extremely blessed that my family isn’t full of picky eaters. This does indeed make a big difference. I had a friend once ask me to share my frugal foodie secrets with her and when she saw my menu plan she shook her head and sighed. She said it wouldn’t work for her because her husband doesn’t like casseroles. I told her to try and talk him into a one week trial run- pitting the money saved against the casseroles.
He’s learning to like casseroles.
I refuse to let my itty bitty grocery budget drag me down and become a drudgery. Instead I accept the challenge, pray over every penny, make myself put back 3 out of every 5 impulse buys and always make sure we have snacks in the car.
I choose to be challenged.


2 comments:

  1. I am trying to find that middle ground in budgeting where it is doable and effective but not overwhelming or depressing.
    "Encore Presentaions" - I love it!
    P.S. Your new banner is lovely.

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  2. I love these posts, Amy! We are still struggling, now with the added weight of medical bills (does it never end?) and it's so helpful to see your encouraging words.

    I'm with you on the "made from scratch" thing. If it's way cheaper and doesn't take much time, I'm all for it. Otherwise, by a cheap alternative at the store.

    I do have a very simple noodle recipe my family loves, and it takes so little time that it is worth it, to me. (But I keep a couple of pounds of pasta in the pantry, too... these noodles are good for chicken soup, but not spaghetti.)

    1 cup of flour
    1 egg
    1/2 an egg shell filled with milk

    That's it... just mix those three ingredients together to form a nice dough, roll out on a floured surface, and cut into thin strips. I use a pizza wheel to slice the noodles, and as I slice them, I just drop them into my chicken broth which is boiling on the stove. They take a while longer to cook - about 30-40 minutes - but the taste is awesome, and they are much more filling than regulard egg noodles. Hands on time is less than 15 minutes, if that - all depends on how fast you can cut the noodles.

    Let me know if you try it, what you think of it. Maybe Ms. Books could do it as a kitchen experiment? ;-)

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