Tag Archives: changes

Frugality: Why Food? Money-Saving Food Ideas

The three strategies I use to save money are:

  1. Finding a cheaper substitute.
  2. Paying less for the same product.
  3. Doing without.

Any or all of these will save you $. Frequently, when faced with economic stress, people do what I’ve been doing: concentrate on their food expense.

It’s one of the few areas left where the consumer controls everything they spend. You can’t suddenly decide to pay less for your mortgage, you can decide to give the bank less, but the amount you owe hasn’t changed. Also fuel for heat/cooking, insurance and most other regular expenses have costs set by others. But you CAN decide you’ll have mac & cheese for dinner, or soup, instead of going out or eating steak.

The only real problem is that food is 10% of an average American’s paycheck. If you cut it in 1/2, no mean feat, you’re still only saving 5%. The trick is to use that small saving to pay down debt or other set expenses, so the available cash/savings grows. That isn’t easy to do when it feels like you’re saving pennies instead of dollars!

The easiest way to reduce that 10%? Stop wasting food. Americans, on average, waste 40% of their food dollar. If you spend $10 a week and want to spend $5 instead? Stop throwing out food and you’ll save $4!

To this end, for some time, I’ve had a “flow” when I cook. Most of it is dealing with left over food in a way that resembles but is not exactly the same as the original. Also, much of it adds other foods for the second meal.

  • Cut bigger pieces down: cut meat from a cooked roast/bird and use it in another meal. Same with rough cut veggies: carrots, parsnips, onion, celery, etc.
  • Put previously cooked food in a thick sauce. This is what stew is, right? Also anything served with gravy over it. Make this a fairly bland dish. Make crepes and use this as a filling.
  • Dilute a thick sauce/gravy with water or stock — make soup or ? Transform whatever with gravy into something with a thin sauce  or soup. Make this more pungent.
  • The old trick of serving whatever with a starch: potatoes, sweet potatoes, rice, grains or bread. Things with gravy can be served atop a starch or with the starch in them (like stew with potatoes).
  • Use the bits & pieces to make soup or stock: this reduces waste and the cost, while it increases nutritional value.

Using these ideas, I turn 1 lb of chicken thighs into 4 meals. The protein costs $2.49/lb. That’s about .62 per meal! I have a great source for chicken. I buy it in bulk and freeze it in 1 lb containers. Depending on what I’m cooking I may or may not serve 2 thighs as dinner, then salvage the scraps/bones and make stock with the 3rd thigh for the next meal.

The last time I did this, I made oven-roasted chicken: we ate 2 thighs, the next day I made stir fry, heavy on the garlic. One portion is left over, it’s in the freezer; someone will eat it for lunch, or it will get added to soup. That’s 5 meals from $2.49 worth of meat, or .50 each meal for the protein.

If you do the math, the extreme frugality menus I linked to last time are about .25 per meal, protein and all. I thought what I was doing was pretty extreme, obviously, I still need to work on it!

So, how much should you spend? Figure 6% of your take home pay, if you aren’t wasting food or 10% when you do. If you’re spending more than that? You’re probably stuck in a rut of making the same things over and over and at least when I do that, I throw out a lot!

I’ll have to see what I can do to cut my costs!

What comes to mind —

  • Making schmaltz and using it instead of bottled cooking oils, (Using less, #2 above).
  • Making yogurt. (Finding a cheaper substitute, #1 above).
  • Baking bread. (Also #1.) We’d found a cheap, acceptable bread, $2.99 a loaf, so we’ve been buying bread rather than baking. The market has hiked this brand up to $3.99 a loaf again. DH still makes biscuits and pancakes when needed. I make crepes.
  • Stop having dessert. (Doing without, #3.) We will have a piece of fruit or maybe ice cream, but we haven’t had dessert as a planned part of a meal for some time.
  • Get rid of more junk food. We don’t eat these all the time, but yes, we do eat some: crackers and chips mostly. (Do without #3.)
  • Find high-priced items we still use and use any of the three strategies to reduce costs!

The best other discussion I’ve found about how to save money on groceries is this one.

Realization

I realized yesterday that I have been in survival mode for much of the past 2 months. I have good reasons for this, but it isn’t all that productive!

What I do, and I’ve only just really understood what this is, is the minimum. Minimal cleaning, self-care, progress on projects, etc. It’s an emotional shutting down and awaiting the next blow. It’s pulling inward and freeing up emotional resources.

This makes sense if you’re a child dealing with the last and anticipating the next emotional/abusive attack. It doesn’t in an adult woman! And, as I said, I’ve only just realized I do this. I shut down everything that isn’t essential. Makes getting work done difficult: work for others, work for myself, or work on projects of any kind.

As a semi-healed adult, not dealing with abuse, this is probably the worst thing I can do. At the very time I need the distraction and pride of accomplishment, I stop doing the chores which would give me both.

Okay. I’ve gotten to step 2.

  • Step 1 is acknowledging there’s a problem.
  • Step 2 is understanding the nature/history of the problem.
  • Step 3 is formulating a possible solution.
  • Step 4 is implementing the solution.
  • Step 5 is giving myself credit for the change and trying to continue making the change until it’s habitualized and/or a part of my regular life responses.

Step 3 will be harder, because I don’t know what triggers this or accordingly how to either monitor for it or stop the reaction.

I’m not beating myself up about it, the 5 steps are how I’ve moved away from the abuse and my reactions to it for decades. It works. Just sometimes it’s incredibly, frustratingly

s-l-o-w !

stil-ck0i9Dnjtj0-unsplash.jpg

Photo by STIL on Unsplash

Undoing the Mess

The only way to be a hoarder or live with one is to learn to ignore the mess.

Ignoring the mess was easier for me than dealing with feeling unsafe all the time and having continual panic attacks.

But we’re undoing the mess here, one piece at a time.

fullstorageunit

I can tell our attitude is different than before. We’re congratulating ourselves/each other when we deal with one nasty spot or the other. When we finally find that ” ’round tuit” to clean some long-ignored corner.

It’s hazardous waste collection for our community today. We’ve dug into the sheds, the hobby spaces, the yard, etc. and out have come the cans of old paint (not latex) and coolant, and cans of ?. We decided that we’ll make a spot for things to go which fit this category, so next year (our community does this annually) it will it all in one place already. Not ignoring it.

Very different!


Also different, and still different. In my on-going battle with email? I just eliminated all the X person pinned your pins from pinterest. (These days, there’s only 25,8xx unread emails in my primary email account.)

I know I’ve gotten all the pinterest emails, because I got to the email which thanked me for opening my account, in 2012.

I’m Not a Feminist; and I Am. Or. . .

I was raised by a man who grew up in the Georgian Era, the 1900-1920s. His ideas about women were to say the least a bit dated in the 1960s when I was growing up. But he also had this thing about how I could do anything I set my mind to. It was confusing, but many of the “shoulds” I got at the time were conflicting: 1950s vs 1960s sensibilities.

I like the idea of my home being an extension of my love of my spouse, our relationship, and as a way of respecting myself. It’s a notion which appeals.

That said, we started as roommates, not lovers, and neither of us is set in the men only or women only patterns which were pervasive when we were very young. I will haul and split wood. He will wash dishes and laundry. We both cook.

I am not a rabid anything. I don’t want to be male. I DO want equal pay if I’m doing the same work as a man, with equal experience. I DO want to be seen as an individual, a person, rather than as a domestic worker or sex slave.

I am content to be female. It wasn’t always so. I was really angry about the assumption that of course I would clean, cook, and caretake for any man I lived with: father, brother, lover, or spouse. I remember when a woman’s inadequacies were judged by how well she appeared in public, how clean her house was, how well she entertained, etc.

That was who women were when I was a little girl. I was dismayed there was no one to teach me. And more dismayed that my family just assumed (the two males I lived with) that somehow I’d acquire those skills and accomplishments magically about the time I physically matured, it came with using a bra I guess? Except it didn’t.

The primary model I had for being female was someone I didn’t want to be: my Abuser. She was a lousy housekeeper and a nasty person. The secondary model was her daughter, who saw me as competition. We weren’t buddies. Then there was my actual sister, who was a Martha Stewart clone. Didn’t seem to have much in common with her, either.

They sent me places, some of which tried to help: boarding schools, camps, etc. Some of them tried to inject a cleaning routine in my life. It didn’t work, because of the PTSD and panic attacks.

So here I am, decades after this started, still trying to figure out where the roles of housekeeper, spouse, woman fit?

And I still don’t know.

If wanting equal pay and recognition as a person makes me a Feminist, then I am. If wanting to learn how to caretake and nurture, to create a home makes me an Anti-Feminist, then I’m that too.

Baby It’s Cold, Culture, and Change

I first heard the idea that “Baby It’s Cold Outside” as a rape rant a while back and thought it a bit far fetched.

I listened to it again and although I could see the point, it still seemed a bit “off?”

Then I read Shatner’s comments, and something there seemed wrong, although I couldn’t articulate exactly what it was.

A short response to Shatner’s comments changed that. The comment, which I cannot find to quote, was something like, “You’ve missed the point. It’s not up to the guy.”

And the sun burst through the clouds for me.

Okay. I realized my cultural take was that rape is an act of violence. Anything up to violence wasn’t rape. But I am the same generation as Shatner, where, when I was young, women were ornaments, expected to be the “moral guardians” of their families, live for their families, and put up and shut up with whatever men wanted of their bodies. The penultimate Barbie doll outfit when it was new, when I was little, was a bridal dress.

I am a rape survivor, no matter how you parse it, I was raped. It was a violent act. I probably as a young woman put up and shut up 50 or more times with men going farther and using my body more than I wanted them to. I wasn’t discrete, careful or picky enough for a long time (rape survivor and PTSD both contributed there).

But I also described that rape, for years, to men, and even male psychologists said to me, dismissively, “Oh, you were date raped.” as if that made it less of a rape?

I was culturally programmed to “put up and shut up” because of when I was raised. All those June Cleaver, Betty Crocker and Barbie stereotypes contributed. And the sexual revolution changed a lot, but all that stuff still lurks under there, because that’s what being a woman was when I first saw myself as a girl.

This isn’t a bludgeon to beat men with Mr. Shatner, it’s a major cultural shift. I saw the song for years as a seduction song, not rape. And, although there’s no violence in it, I can understand now why someone could see it as rape, because the male character is ignoring what the female says, and that’s not acceptable any more.

sheet music

For years, I thought I’d processed the rape, I could talk about it right? Then about 20 years afterwards, I heard a show on NPR about date rape and this teen-aged guy said something like, “You can’t pay attention to what they say! They think they can’t act like they want it, because they wouldn’t be the right kind of girl if they did. So you can’t listen to them.”

I told DH about this later. When I relayed the comment by the kid, I started crying and cried for days. (Hit a chord, ya ‘think?)

And yet, despite all that, my first reaction was still if there was no violence, there was no rape in “Baby It’s Cold Outside.”

I’m culturally programmed; we all are. But the programming has changed.

Hallelujah — It’s about time!

 

Fallout

I am surprised. I’ve had relatively little fallout/backlash from sending the memoir out to the publisher. Sending it to my writing group was worse. Every time I talk to someone about it or make changes someone sees, yes, it’s a little nutty. But… no screaming awake. No crying jags. No being pissed off and not knowing wtf is wrong.

There’s various pieces of consensus: there are still a few typos. There are some stylistic things I did which every single editor has pointed out. The last half isn’t as well written as the first.

That last didn’t surprise me at all. The first half is what took 10 years to write; it’s the map to my particular Hell. The last half was difficult because I just couldn’t see how to write it so it wasn’t a total bore. There’s a reason “They lived happily ever after.” is one sentence. But I needed to show the unraveling of the PTSD and healing that allowed that to happen. I needed to show that it wasn’t a straight line. I needed to illustrate that the process is not done and never will be.

That all took some doing. I only sort of really knew what book I was writing, what the arc of it really was when I sat down last month and decided to pull it together as I did. For one reason only. It had to be the best, most concise piece I could write and present to my publisher. I finally could look at it with my professional eyes, rather than through the lens of the wounded kid with PTSD.

I have no idea what happened that made that possible, but it was.

J

Insurance Company Hero!

The pharmacy auto calling was driving DH nuts, so he told me to do something already!

So, I did what I had intended to do, that is, I called our insurance company. In the process I learned a few things, at least one I will probably use the rest of my life.

  1. The price on the drug out-of-pocket was so high because we haven’t met our deductible. (I’m still not going to get it.)
  2. That there are coupons for prescription drugs available? You can get them  here or try googling the drug name.
  3. The auto caller from the pharmacy gets stopped from the pharmacy, but may not be stopped immediately, it IS automated.
  4. If I want to talk to someone with an accent I understand, call in the morning.

drugs and money

It had NEVER occurred to me that there might be coupons for prescription drugs! I use coupons and try to be frugal in almost every way I can, but this is a new one on me!