Wednesday, February 04, 2009
Recession Ponderings - Priorities & Pantries
It is cold here. Really cold. Yesterday I awoke to a -11 windchill and today it has warmed to a morning windchill of -7. It reminds me of a line Rhoda said on the old Mary Tyler Moore show... living in cold weather keeps us preserved well (paraphrased, of course)... and the rodent tells us we have six more weeks of winter. Oh, sorry, I mean that cute little guy in Pennsylvania.
Today's ponderings are quite general in nature, covering a little about priorities and a smattering about why I believe keeping a pantry is important. I plan to write more about pantries next week.
If you haven't read the comments from this week, there have been great suggestions and feedback. First, thank you for the reminder that it is FDR and not Churchill who said "The only thing to fear is fear itself". I should have remembered that from the two years we spent studying WWII for homeschooling. :)
Suze asked if I'd share again what kind of pots and pans I bought from my Priority List. I'll answer that and then talk again about why I use a Priority List. I bought the largest Cuisinart skillet and saute pan (with lid... it works on the skillet, too). My saucepan is an All Clad which was half price. That put it down to the non sale price of other "good" cookware. All three have worked extremely well!
The post where I explain why I bought these products is here. In it, I explain those times when I have purchased very good products and even paid (gulp) full price. I also share the brand of pots and pans my daughter uses.
We all have those things we purchase where we are willing to pay full price if necessary. I have a great wardrobe but about 90% of it was purchased used. However, when Christopher needed a new suit we headed to Macy's during a big sale and bought it brand new for half price (or rather, his sister and brother-in-law bought it as a graduation gift). Sometimes used works... sometimes it doesn't. We shop used first, though.
We have long kept a Priority List (my husband keeps it with his files) so we don't forget what is most important when we spend our money. For the past five years or so, we use it when we either receive a financial gift or when we work at the book store seasonally. If during the course of day-to-day living, one of us realizes there is a significant need... it gets written down on the list. (Of course, purchasing food for the pantry and freezer is a priority with extra income.)
I also have a written down list of items I'm looking for at Goodwill, garage sales, etc. but the main Priority List is for those needs we will probably have to purchase at stores. If we find find an item from the Priority List used... we are very thankful (like the "nearly new" shoes my husband recently found at Goodwill).
Since I cook almost everything "from scratch", quality cookware was a priority for the money I earned during that Book Rush. In that case, I had to replace cookware that had overstayed its' welcome and I was concerned about all the nonstick surface that was chipping away.
I don't replace everything. I'm still using my Le'Creuset dutch oven I bought twenty-four years ago. It could use a replacement because the inside is chipped quite a bit and the cast iron shows. However, it does not pose a health threat as my beat up Teflon coated cookware did. I love that dutch oven. I can't imagine my kitchen without one.
I have other cookware that came from garage sales and Goodwill, those mix and match sizes that are not necessary but helpful (one big pot is Revere Ware, a small omelet pan is Emeril, two stock pots, etc.). I have a 9" iron skillet that I bought at a garage sale, used primarily when I make cornbread. I have another Le'Creuset skillet (9" or 10") that was my mother-in-law's. It's a workhorse of a skillet and perfect for making a "scrambled breakfast". I have a Calphalon stir fry pan that was a Christmas present so long ago I can't remember what year... it is perfect for... um... stir frying.
I have lots and lots of baking pans, both for general use and speciality pans for Holidays and such. I'd say 90% of them come from Goodwill and garage sales.
Other items on the Priority List have been a car repair (one that didn't stop us from driving but needed to be done), the deep freeze I use constantly, a new antennae since the old one died in a storm (it is in the garage waiting for the roof to be less slippery), the flowers I planted last Spring, clothing needs not found at Goodwill, etc. The money used to send Christopher to the Community College his Senior year of high school was on the Priority List.
We have to budget differently then we did when there was a regular income. Since we are on a fixed income, we pay everything that must be paid at the beginning of the month. Even those things (like the mortgage) that don't get taken out until later are put in the checkbook as if they have been paid. This month we had about $30.00 left for food and gas.
The income my husband made from the seasonal work at the bookstore these past four weeks went mostly to paying for the car repairs. However, he has another week's pay coming on Friday. With it he will get an oil change for the old car and give the remaining to me to purchase food for the pantry. I'll explain more about that next week.
Hopefully that helps a little for people who have asked about the Priority List? It's really part of the budget process.
As for why I believe a pantry is so important... I actually believe it is essential these days. If nothing else, keeping "one extra" of necessary food and products keep us from having to run out to the grocery store at the last minute.
I call stocking up "deepening the pantry" because when I stock up, that is what I am doing... I am "deepening" it. Basically, I am purchasing extra of what I would keep in the pantry regardless of "bad times or good times". I've written about it before but I'll write more next week.
I hope this answers a few questions. It seems like I am rambling. :)