Quality vs. Quantity

Yesterday as I shared my sewing frustrations, I was also looking online at various sites to help explain why I was having problems.  One cause for the issue that was repeated from page to page: cheap thread.  I could have cried, because you see, the thread I was using had been bought for the express purpose of cheapness.  I hung my head as I realized that yet again I'd been bitten by the 'but this is cheaper' bug...

Katie and Sam have a habit of rambling through my cupboards and freezer when they visit.  I think it has  to do with looking for ideas of things they might purchase to jazz up their own meals.  However, both commented on a product on my pantry shelf this past week on separate days.  "Mama, are you kidding me?!" was Samuel's reaction when he saw the packets of Alfredo noodles.  "Well they were cheap!  I only paid $.20 each for them."  "You're not going to like it at all, Mama.  You make a great Alfredo sauce. It won't taste the same."  Katie's reaction was spoken with her usual bluntness after I explained why I'd purchased them.  "Cheap is cheap!  You should have gone for the quality!"  Indeed.

This is a lesson I struggle with repeatedly.  Mostly in the food department because that is the one area where I spend the most each month.  The marked down breads in the grocery are often about to expire.  Any wonder it doesn't taste well four days later?  Or that we end up tossing half a loaf because even the bread eater in the house dislikes the texture and flavor at that point?  Far better for me to buy a good loaf of bread and watch it all disappear due to use than watch it hit the bottom of the trash can.  Marked down meats and milk are fine if frozen but I seldom have the same luck with marked down produce lasting half as well.

Just as cheap thread proved to be the culprit of part of my sewing woes, cheaply made shoes without good support have caused a bevy of woes from sore feet to aching knees and blisters.  Cheap clothing seldom holds up well to half a dozen washings.  Better shoes or clothing bought from the clearance rack for about the same price often last two or three seasons before needing to be replaced.

It's finding the balance between my love of a bargain and my desire to have lasting quality that often blurs the line of spending.  For years we struggled with clogged drains in our home and we worried and wondered and worked over them for the longest time until we accidentally discovered the culprit:  the very inexpensive shampoo and detergents we were using in our home.  It seems that with our water, certain products have a tendency to clog the drains.  It isn't only the cheapest but some of the better known brands as well.  The cheapest ones always  cause a clog, however.  It has something to do with our naturally soft water.  After repeated battles we found it was worth the extra cost to purchase a more expensive product to use.

Anyone remember my mention of buying a store brand syrup for $1 a bottle earlier in July?  I also bought a bottle of Maple syrup at the same time.  Guess which bottle is nearly gone?  And which bottle sits upon the refrigerator shelf with only a bit gone?  That's right...That $1 bottle has proven about as flavorless as water, albeit it is thicker.  I've been debating adding maple flavoring to it to give it a boost in flavor.   Now that I'm adding ingredients to make it palatable I'm thinking it wasn't such a great bargain after all.

To remind me of my intent I'm going to start posting a note at the top of my shopping lists: Quality wins over Quantity.


Rhonda said...

I think the problem is that manufacturers have figured out to really make cheap things cheap - you know what I mean? The lower cost clothing seems to really be cheaper fabric, elastic, etc.

And food, oh my, from the cheap high fructose cornsyrup to the mechanically separated meats - yuk!

The manufacturers have to make a profit and will do it however they can.

and about cheap thread, my previous sewing machine would not sew it all. But my current machine will sew any thread.

even still, I do like bargains when they really are bargains. :)

Tracey McBride ~ Frugal Luxuries™ said...

Hi Terri! What an interesting topic. I know exactly how you feel regarding the struggle between being truly "cheap" and being frugal! I have to say that Mike has been a great teacher to me regarding this subject. His nature is to automatically weigh and consider the pros and cons before making a decision. As well, it's as if (at times) I need permission to buy the better quality (and almost always higher priced) items and he offers that to me. Thanks so much for being so real regarding this often unspoken topic.
P.S. I'm so enjoying the new blog!

Susan in SC said...

Terri - there are some things in life that you cannot go cheap on - thread being one of them. You don't want to sew a garment with cheap thread because it won't hold up as well. The same is true with our marriage. Only use quality thread to sew the ties that bind us - oh dear, I am getting corny now! As homemakers, we have to weigh all the options and then do what is best for our family. I believe in buying quality, not quantity. Great post!!

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