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Please don't remind me that I'm poor; I'm having too much fun pretending I'm simply "living green" like everyone else these days.


Thursday, July 3, 2008

What is frugal living?

Today's post is for the younger generation. The folks reading my blog that are my age probably know all I'm about to write but a younger generation may not have learned it yet..... especially my daughter.... and will appreciate it being explained to them. Some youngsters may be like my daughter and rebelled against a frugal way of life but are now searching for ways to live during our energy crisis.

Ok, I'm a tightwad, skinflint, penny pincher, or whatever you choose to call me. I'm proud that I live frugal. These are not derogatory names. They are names of a way of living to conserve resources. Badges of success so to speak. The newest word used is "going green" to mean the same thing.... conserve resources.

fru·gal (fröö´gel)adj.

1 not wasteful; not spending freely or unnecessarily; thrifty; economical

2 not costly or luxurious; inexpensive or meager

[a frugal meal]—SYN THRIFTY

Living frugal is not the same thing as living deprived.

Yes, I will wash storage bags and reuse them but I'm not about to spend time turning a double sheet roll of toilet paper into two single sheet ones. A person who does something like that seriously needs to get a life. I will; however, turn a bottle of something almost empty upside down over a new replacement. The bottles drain on their own. I don't stand there watching them drain. And... I absolutely refuse to cut open a tube of toothpaste to get the last remaining bit out of it.

I do use coupons and match them with sales items..... but I don't carry a hugh shoe box of coupons around in a store. I admit I used to carry the shoe box in my car at all times..... in the days when the stores would have an unadvertized day for triple coupon values. I hated driving into a store parking lot to see a sign in the window saying..... today only, triple coupon values.... and didn't have my coupons with me. So the permenant home of my coupon box was in the car trunk. These days my coupon organizer is a plastic check file left over from paper check days.

I do like to reuse items as much as possible. Especially card board boxes. It keeps them out of the landfills for just a bit longer. When I no longer need it then it finds its way there just like the rest.

Back in the 60's (or maybe it was the 70's) I decided to become a frugal living person. I had already been raised as a frugal living person; but, taking the vow to live that way was different than doing it because my parents said I had to. I bought books called, "How I feed my family of 4 on $16 a week and have meat on the table too" and "Good recipes for hard times" and a few others about how to save on living expenses. The "Tightwad Gazette" was in its infantsy and so was the "Penny Pincher". Oh yes, back then I also read a brand new magazine called "Mother Earth News" which helped solve do it yourself project problems and promoted energy alternatives like solar or wind power.

I still spend only an average of about $5 a week on groceries. Feeding one person is a whole lot easier than feeding a whole family. No I don't live like a pauper without meat and living on beans and such. My meals are not the kind made with all types of fillers. I have healthy meals and will also cook meals for my neighbors sometimes. All within my budgeted food amount.

It seems that my way of living has come back into vogue. I'm no longer the odd lady who clips coupons and does once a month cooking marathons. Now I'm fashionable again!! Even the neighbors who always gave me their coupon inserts are asking me how I use them...... there goes my coupon supply.

So every now and then this blog may contain some posts about how I save money and time on other things like cooking or shopping. Why? Well if I spend less time cooking or shopping or cleaning or whatever...... it gives me more time to quilt. It kind of goes hand in hand with being organized. The more organized a person is..... the easier it is to save money and time. Time is something we can all use..... right?

Here is only one example of how my way of life saves me time as well as money. Ok, let's say I would spend an averave of an hour a day preparing an evening meal for a hungry family. Let's say Sunday is an eat out day so no meal need be cooked. Well that means 6 hours for the week dedicated to cooking evening meals. 24 hours for the month.

Ok, I must also have the food to cook right? This means a shopping trip each week to buy groceries. Say it takes 30 minutes to get to the store, an hour to go through picking out what is needed and standing in the check out line, and 30 minutes to return home. Then another 30 minutes to put it away. That's 2 1/2 hours a week for shopping. 10 hours a month.

If my math is right that's 34 hours a month dedicated to just the evening meals. It only stands to reason that if I buy all the food needed for a whole month in one shopping trip I can cut the shopping time down to one per month. 2 1/2 hours a month instead of 10 hours. Don't worry about the budget right now, this is only an example.

Ok, let's say I take one Saturday after a shopping Friday to dedicate 6 hours to making a month's worth of entres all at one time to put in the freezer. All I would have to do is take one out of the freezer each morning, heat it in the evening, add a couple of quick side items and the meal is done. Average preparation time? Maybe 10 minutes? So instead of 24 hours a month spent cooking I've cut it down to a mere 6 hours for actual cooking and 4 hours of daily prep time per month. 10 hours a month. For a total of 6 hours cooking, 4 hours of daily prep time, and 2 1/2 hours of shopping. That's a difference of 12 hours if my math is right. A whole 12 hours that can be used for more quilting!

For me... this equals one whole extra day of quilting a top for someone. For anyone who does Judy Laquidera's hour a day quilting or Bonnie Hunter's quick piecing.... just think how much you could get done with 12 extra hours of time each month.

Hmmm.... did you know it takes no more time to brown 4 pounds of hamburger than it does to brown one? Just use a bigger pan to distribute the heat in a bigger area. Did you know it takes no more time to bake four whole chickens than it does to bake one? Put them all in the oven together. Did you know that boiling a dozen eggs take no more time than boiling two? Or that mixing and baking 6 cakes at once take no more time than mixing and baking one? Use a bigger bowl and more baking pans. You think this could qualify as multi-tasking?

You see the theory behind my way of living? Time..... saving time is just as important as saving money. Or maybe I should say that saving time also saves money. With doing certain tasks all at once instead of spread out, it saves time. Sort of like spending one whole day cutting fabric and making quilt kits. Or chain piecing. Doing one repetative task all at once saves time later.

As I said, this is only an example of how I save time with my cooking. I prepare some entres to be put into a crock pot so those are put away uncooked but with all ingredients in one bag. Ready to thaw and put into the crock pot. Some entres are partially cooked then frozen. Ready to finish cooking and add other ingredients to the cooking that can't be frozen.

A person doesn't need a big chest freezer to put this type of time saving to use. It does help with storing a larger number of meals but it can still be done without one. All that's needed is a regular refigerator freezer to make one or two weeks of meals. If the entres are stored in bags instead of containers you save even more room in the freezer. Think of it this way; it takes no more room in a refrigerator freezer to store cooked meat than it does to store uncooked meat. It's your choice of whether to cook it before or after its frozen.

Ok, I've rambled on enough for today. If anyone is interested in how I do my main grocery shopping only 2 or 3 times a year I would be glad to tell about it. Just let me know.


Anonymous said...

Great article, Anita! So glad you are back and congrats on the new freezer (other blog)!
I have missed your posts!
Take Care, Diana in Illinois

Anonymous said...

YES I do want to know how you do those big grocery trips!! Please write about it,
diana again