Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Recession Ponderings - Priorities & Pantries

Pantry pic from last year

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. :)


scrappy quilter said...

You're not rambling at all. I agree the pantry can be an very important item when we go through financial struggles. We lived off our ours for almost a year a number of years ago when hubby was out of work. Mine isn't where it should be right now, however we continue to work on it.

I love your priority list. What a clever idea. Going to make one of my own.

Glenda said...

I just found your blog through a link on Kymber's sidebar. Can't tell you how much I agree with your way of looking at a pantry. When I buy groceries, I am mostly able to shop to replace the items used the previous week.

I really look forward to browsing your past posts.

Nita in South Carolina said...

I never buy clothing/accessories that aren't discounted. However, my feet are oddly sized - they're small (6 1/2) but wide across the front part of my foot. It's incredibly hard to find any professional looking shoes that are comfortable, without sliding up and down over my heels - and it's impossible to find inexpensive office shoes that don't hurt. I finally broke down and got two pairs of Clarks shoes ($60 each! I've NEVER spent $60 on one pair of shoes before !!!) They look nice with slacks and with skirts, I can wear them to my office, and my feet are very, very happy. Sometimes full price is WELL worth it.

Anonymous said...

Dee from Tennessee

Great post as usual...reread it while sitting down at the computer. Thanks so much.

Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

Hi! First time visitor to your blog and I enjoyed reading through your posts. My husband and I came from frugal families and we valued all we learned about the old rule of "use it up, wear it out, make do or do without," as now we feel we have a little nest egg to help us through the present tough times.

the pleasures of homemaking said...

I think having a stocked pantry is extremely important. I know I can feed my family out of our pantry for at least a month should anything (job loss, ice storm etc) happen and that's a good feeling. Plus shopping for your pantry saves you money because you're always buying at the cheapest price (I know you know this!).

I also agree that somethings you can buy at the thriftstore and some you can't. I cannot buy sneakers at the thriftstore. I have to have really well made supportive ones or I start having problems with my knees and feet. So spending the extra money is worth it to me. Plus Sports Authority usually has a coupon which I use alot.


P.S. Brenda, I have an extra TWG 3 and I'd be happy to send it to you so you have the complete set. Let me know if it's something you can still use.


cheri said...

Not rambling at all (that is my job). Those of us who know some of this stuff can certainly use the reminder and the inspiration. Younger women will truly benefit from this way of thinking.

I have Revere Ware and cast iron frying pan and dutch oven. Both are still going strong after 35 years!

Keep up the good work, Brenda!

Anonymous said...

I don't know if the picture of your pantry is a recent one or the ones you showed us much earlier. I hope it is recent. Looks like you have good start building it back up if it is. Thanks for reinstating your ideas on your priority list. Sure helps you not stray and use up any extra $ for something not on the needs list. Yes we all need good tools for our professions and as ladies about the home our tools need to be the best for our needs too. I am going to list your ideas on the pots and pans and when window shopping at the department store I will look and learn as I did not have reference to the better brands before. [all my pots were used and some at almost 40 years old!]. By looking at the prices now and the types and sizes of pots etc I will be ready if I see them used or on sale later. ..and can start saving for the one I need. You are soooo helpful :) Jody

Anonymous said...

Now and then I come across a recipe that calls for using a dutch oven.
What is a dutch oven and what recipes do you use it for?
As an aside, I believe t.v. antennae's will be of no use after Feb. 17th when everything gets switched over to digital.
Are you anticipating the switch? I hope so, as I know you watch t.v. now and then.

Anonymous said...

Excellent post, Brenda! I'm glad you weren't offended by my correction (FDR). I would not want to hurt your feelings as too many comments had been hurtful not too long ago.

Do you have access to any salvage stores or an Aldi's in your area? I can get some amazing deals in these stores. How in the world can you make $30 last for gas and food?? I wish I lived closer to you, I would share my pantry with you! I know God can do amazing things with that $30 and I am praying right now about that. (I think of the oil that did not run out in the jar)

I love the idea of the priority list. We do that, too, and it helps make the decision when it comes to spending.

Quality is important in some items. For the lady who bought the Clark's shoes---very smart choice. Mine have lasted for years and look like new. They are the most comfortable shoes I own! I would rather have 1-2 pair of good shoes than 10 pair of cheap ones. They are classic and you can wear them anywhere.

Thank you for the time and thought that you put into your posts. You have a great ministry here! God bless and know that I am praying for you and your family and your situation.

Paula said...

I would LOVE to know how you use your dutch oven (since you say you could not live without it). I really love my cast iron, but have not figured out the dutch oven thing (though I have one). THANKS!!! :D