Thursday, May 7, 2015
Frugal Boot Camp: April Gleanings
I said at the beginning of April I was going to go to Frugal Boot Camp and I meant it. I missed out the last week of April on the study end but I have been working hard all the same. Probably the most intensive bit of work I did the last two weeks was trying to piece out a wardrobe for spring/summer without purchasing anything new.
A few things I read through were just so much 'peat and repeat stuff that we all know. It wasn't new information nor was it a reminder of forgotten skills. But I did find myself reminded of two very important facts:
#1 We must be and express gratitude daily for the blessings we receive each day, whether it is a bargain or an inspiration that spurs us on to savings.
#2 Time is a commodity. If we save time in one area we are free to pursue yet another venue of savings during the day.
Most of my work this month focused on Laine's Letters. I continued perusing Pinterest and other sources for articles on other frugal and financial information. I came across two or three that were interesting and informative.
This article from Yahoo!News is not new but it is a good reminder of alternative sources of protein. I liked that the author broke down the costs of each protein source and gave both pros and cons about each.
I had another one about the new coupon rules which included using store apps and such to garner more savings. If I ever find it again...sigh...I promise I will share it immediately because it truly did put a new spin on the use of coupons and the 'new' ways we can take advantage of them.
A couple of articles were helpful in saving time and money by making in bulk something we'd normally buy perhaps. This one tells how to prep potatoes for frozen french fries. That is something I remember my ex-mother-in-law doing one year and certainly it is a nice convenience food that translates to a thrifty convenience if we do it ourselves.
Pie crusts are something I've only been making for the past two years and only in the past year have I made them up and frozen. This article has a bulk recipe that I'm interested in working with to stock the freezer.
Here's the short list I culled from my reading this past month, some were thoughts I had as reading, some are actually Laine's own tips.
Tape frequently used recipes to the inside of the cabinet doors...
For me these recipes would go mostly in the area of my baking center. I've a small cork bulletin board I plan to have John mount inside the cabinet door. I'll keep the recipes for Dinette Cake, Biscuits, Challah bread, and Pie Crust there since they are most often used recipes. No matter how often I make them there's always the need to check an ingredient amount and that means finding the right cookbook and the right recipe, etc.
Clean one shelf a day of the fridge...
I really do prefer to do the whole fridge at once, but doing one shelf a day is far better than my method of hoping I clean the fridge once a month.
Keep a calculator at the kitchen desk...
I keep my Household Notebook at the kitchen desk and that's where my budget sheet is. I also want, at times, to figure out how to reduce a recipe and lately I'm wanting to figure the costs of meals. I need a calculator handy if only to double check my figures.
Keep a 'car keeping' kit in the car...
Not as much as in days past when the kids were at home but occasionally I find myself waiting upon John when he's at a meeting, or browsing in a music store. I used to keep a Swiffer duster (I had extras) in the car and would Swiffer it down. Much needed in our dusty area where dirt roads still exist. Laine suggests keeping glass cleaner, a small broom (dust brush), vinyl protector, dust pan, trash bag.
When planning a big job, start dinner first...
Wish I'd paid attention to this one this Sunday. I started a big cleaning project and about dinnertime was mighty hungry, tired, unable to think what I had and no plan. Ugh. Much better to plan and prepare first (crock pot meal or main dish salad).
Buy dry milk to use for cooking/baking...
I'll have to price this one out but it might well be less expensive to buy powdered milk and reconstitute to use for baking. I recall I can also make buttermilk with it and it's a good addition when making yogurt. I'll check Aldi price and see about getting a box.
Maximize oven use...
I've been doing this more often lately, trying to add in a few extra potatoes, a pie or bread etc to bake with other foods. Especially in summer this would be a great saver, as the heat of the oven does cause the AC to run more. Ideally then I'd be up very early mornings utilizing that oven to the fullest. I'll have to keep a running list of things I can bake together each week.
Sage Tea is good for coughs...
Laine uses quite a few 'home remedies' and this one stood out. I find cough medicines seldom work well for me, being medication sensitive. Home remedies might well be the best answer for me. I'm going to start a whole section in my Home Notebook where I keep natural remedies listed.
Reconsider how we shop...
Several years ago, I attempted to shop weekly in order to cut down on how tedious shopping was for me. Then John started helping with the weekly shopping and we stuck to our bi-weekly shop. Now that our circumstances are different and we have one larger check each month and one smaller...and because when John does retire we're likely going to have one check at the start of each month, I'm thinking we need to consider doing things differently. I was thinking a big once a month shop and then weekly for fresh produce and/or very good specials. (This is also my reasoning behind the Retirement Remedy of decreasing my budget still further.)
Be Prepared To Shop...
Not just when I plan to shop but when I haven't planned to but stumble on a good deal. I bought a clearance decaf coffee last month at Target. Had I had my coupons with me I'd have made out like a bandit. As it was I got three bags but I didn't get a chance to go back as I'd hoped. The coupons ended up expiring and going into the trash. Lot of good they did me! From now on, I mean to not only have a list with me of whatever my current needs are, but also have my coupons with me so that I can use them. That means I'll have to work a little harder at keeping them organized and culled.
Put cloths back on the counter:
John likes paper towels and he has no trouble at all grabbing one or two for a sandwich (rather than a plate). I've gotten into the habit of grabbing them, too, for quick wipes and cleaning cloths. Shame on me! If I put the cloths back on the counter, odds are I will grab a cloth and that will help cut down on paper towel usage.
Bulk, bulk, bulk, bulk...
While I am cautious about stocking up on foodstuffs in large amounts there are a few things I know that are not going to 'spoil' if stored properly: like paper products, most toiletries (gel deodorant will solidify so no long term storage on that one), most soaps, candles, powdered drink mixes. I have laundry detergent bought January 2014 still on my pantry shelf (last bottle, alas. Must find another great sale!). I bought multiple bottles when it was on sale at CVS with a great ECB incentive, high value coupons in hand, etc. I think I ended up with something like 8 bottles for $4. I want to take advantage of these sorts of sales and not be afraid of stocking up.
With just John and I here there's no need to bulk purchase spices or herbs. We barely use a single bottle in a timely manner. I've tossed some foods that went past their expire date and didn't hold up well despite being canned/bottled. So I really need to use my head about what I do buy in bulk and what I need to avoid buying in bulk.
Well that's it, minus the one article on couponing I really wanted to share. These were the ideas I pulled from my readings this past month. Now I'm off to continue my Boot Camp training!
Note to Dale: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com are the two emails I use.