Saturday, March 02, 2013

Saturday Pantry Suggestions

I am so happy we've built up a garden a little at a time!

Many thanks for those who let me know Michigan sugar is now all grown from Monsanto GMO seeds!  I did a little research and found others who preferred to purchase "as local as possible" were not happy about the switch.  I had no idea!

This past week I have once again been pondering a Truth I learned from my mother about spending to save.  That is... a frugal person knows how to spend wisely, a cheap person just does not spend.

It all started when I was happy to find frozen veggies on Kroger's 10 for $10 sale so $20.00 of my limited grocery budget went to the vegetables.   I not only bought frozen spinach, broccoli, peas, and California mix, but I also purchased a few bags of frozen peppers (red, green, and yellow in one bag).  This time of year, it far more economical than purchasing them fresh.

As usual, I checked for clearances on the fresh veggies and found a number of items with the familiar orange clearance price.  This is the only way I can afford fresh fruit and veggies this time of year.  Although the savings did allow me to purchase three good vine ripened tomatoes on sale, too.

Recently I wanted to make a recipe which called for ham but I really didn't want to spend the money on sliced ham and a whole ham was out of my budget.  So... I went to the aisle where sliced ham was sold and was pleased to find a Manager's Special on a few packages (near their Use By date) for half price.

I could afford a package of the reduced price sliced ham, which went not only for the recipe but was used in scrambled eggs and as a protein on a salad.  It is always worth checking for clearance prices if your grocery store does this, my local Kroger is the best for reducing the price close to and on the Sell Buy date!  Produce will have to be used quickly.

A pantry stocked this way is the epitome of being frugal as it usually means we don't have to run to the store for one item at the last minute (using extra gas... and really... how many times do we go to the store for one item and just come home with ONE?).  ;)

That's why I know doing can be just as important (and more in some circumstances) than buying.  It takes awhile to gain frugal shopping and cooking skills.   It took me a long time and I was raised by a very frugal mother!

When both my husband and I worked, it was important that we spend our money on time saved.  So when I stopped working outside the home, I had to do a 180 degree turn in thinking and buying... now I had more time and less money.  It was not easy.

More and more people these days are needing to develop frugal skills.  

I was chatting with my daughter recently about her efforts at reducing their grocery budget while eating healthy.  Her husband makes an excellent salary but even then with five children, the increasing cost of food and gas (he commutes over an hour each way to work),  and the recent increases in payroll taxes... she has to economize more than ever.  They actually had more spending money when my son-in-law was in graduate school.

Of course, a frugal way of thinking expands far outside of the kitchen.  

Just recently I stopped by Goodwill and looked through their summer tops.  I already knew I needed to replace a few for the upcoming warm weather so I've been perusing that rack in the clothing section.

I hadn't found anything I liked but this time there were two pretty Alfred Dunner short sleeve summer pullovers that were just what I needed.   It takes patience to shop this way but it often pays off over time.

When I can't find a needed item at Goodwill or a thrift shop, I do what my mother did when shopping for important clothing items.  She hit the end-of-season sales at stores like Macy's (there were no actual Macy's in the Midwest at that time).

Before this season of Forced Simplicity... I always shopped the pre-season and post-season sales at the "stores which sell purple" (a term learned from Anne Ortlund's books for the stores which sell nice clothing) for most of our clothing.

Frugality doesn't mean cheap.  When I can't find an item at Goodwill or on sale... as God provides the money I pay... gasp... full price.  But by that time I have done my best to save money so there is no little guilt. 

I am now in desprate need of new SAS sandals (as a diabetic, the only sandals my former specialist said I could wear) and after searching for a few years, it is looking like full price.

Sigh...  a frugal person learns there are times one must spend for quality.  A cheap person witholds needed items from themselves and their family.

What does all of this have to do with the pantry?  

It gets back to living a Pantry Lifestyle.   Which can be very enjoyable.  We learn that stocking up is frugal and that doing it ourselves is a good thing when possible.  We realize the meal which cost a lot of money at a restaurant can be made at home for a fraction of the cost.

Eating out becomes special again instead of something we do because we are always in a hurry or we have not learned to cook.  (Unless circumstances are such that funds budgeted for eating out is purchasing precious family time together... been there.)

We know the joy that homemade bread can bring and that leftovers make great soup.  We never cease to be amazed that when one combines butter and sugar and eggs and flour... magic happens. 

We know what the Culture today seems to have forgotten... that frugality brings out the creativity we all desire.  If we let it...


Vee said...

Most of us are feeling the pinch of the times for sure. I always enjoy reading your Saturday posts to see what else I might do or what else I might add. I'd like to add something today. It is soooo very helpful to the homemaker to have a husband (who is already out and about) call home to see if anything might be needed before coming home. John has started doing this with regularity and it really has been a blessing.

SAS you say...must look into that. I'm not a diabetic, but I so want my feet to be comfortable these days.

Anonymous said...

In case you weren't aware, it is very easy to grown and freeze peppers. We always put out a half dozen plants in the garden. They produce more than we can eat fresh so I just chop them up and freeze them to enjoy in the winter.


Rebecca said...

You explain the differences between being "frugal" and "cheap" SO well. I'm not sure where "stingy" fits in - maybe another category?

You're right about the skill to be frugal taking some time to learn & perfect! And while a person can gather SO many tips from other people, in the end everyone develops their own style of frugality, I think....Custom-made for their household.

Buttercup said...

Great ideas here. I've found that my local grocery discounts fish on the last day of sale. If I'm able to cook it that night it's a great opportunity to buy something I enjoy and would otherwise be out of the budget. At least once a week I'm eating jumbo shrimp.

Maryann said...

I enjoy these Saturday posts. We have gone from two incomes to one, so there is a new way of thinking that I have to embrace. One being that I now have more time than money. These posts are always full of ideas, and although I feel like I have always been frugal, I am always interested in new ways to save

Anonymous said...

I walk a lot at work so decent quality shoes are more frugal in the end. Cheap shoes fall apart in no time.

Deanna Rabe - Creekside Cottage Blog said...

This is a timely post!

We are finding ourselves in the same situation as Stephanie and her family. Trying to reduce where we can.

I find that your view of frugal vs cheap is an important one. There is a difference!


TeresaAngelina said...

Nicely said, Brenda. What I have found myself recently pondering about is finishing. I start a lot of projects - really it seems endless - but though many do indeed get finished, there is quite a pile that are left. So what I find myself doing is finding the next exciting project and yes, spending money to get that all set up and started and so the cycle goes. I was recently at a weaving retreat (just prior to a business trip) and one of the weavers there also knits and was generous in showing me some tips. She also said that she generally has several projects on the go but also said "I'm a finisher" and that struck me. I aim to be a finisher this year. And I know not only will I have the joy of completed projects (plus the removal of guilt of not completing projects) I will also save money to start yet new projects once those waiting in the wings are all done.

LauraC said...

95% of our meat (which I could do without, but not my husband) is reduced meat in our nearest 2 supermarkets. This requires quickly scanning the meat dept. shelves every time we enter the stores for ANY reason. (I have also had to learn to use breakfast and Italian sausage in many recipes since there is always a lot of that.) 95% of our bread/rolls comes from one day a week scanning the shelves at the only nearby grocery store that reduces their bakery products (the other one donates it all to food cupboards, I think). We eat wonderful breads (including artisan ones) and rolls because of this. The store is right across the street from the library we visit weekly and both are within a few minutes of our home. In produce season, we shop at a small roadside stand/garden that we drive by at least 2 times per week. I have also started to buy onions in larger bags (MUCH cheaper) because we use so many even tho there are only 2 of us in the house now. All of my household and clothing shopping is done in thrift stores which we are lucky enough to live within a few miles of. It all requires many stops along a route we are taking anyway and the ability to quickly scan the shelves, which you get very good at with practice.

Anonymous said...

I wish the 10 for $10 bags of frozen veggies at Krogers was still 16 ounces instead of 12 like they are now! :) :(
Here diabetic people get one free pair of shoes every year or two. Do they there? I hope you can get your sandals this way. I have to use orthopedic shoes too but a grade higher than SAS now. Not pretty but my feet love them! :) At full price they are expensive but necessary for me. I am not complaining as I am so grateful they make a good shoe that works. Yes it gets to be tricky to find bargains..good bargains. Ya always have to try to keep a step ahead! We try for the grocery markdowns still but find little these days. So many are looking just like we do for them I guess. Our Kroger is the best too but does not mark down any veggies unless they come in a bag. They said they are not allowed to sell marked down loose veggies or fruits any more. How sad. We are still so blessed though to live here in America. I try to help anyone I can to keep on budget does take a while to learn the ropes and sometimes they change the ropes!! I think of it all as a game and I am trying to win at it. :) No use to feel glum. I so have always loved your pantry posts too. You seem to come up with a new angle all the time and something to share. Thanks again! Sarah

Anonymous said...

Kroger really is generous with their produce markdowns here, too!
I scan for the happy orange tags as well. The produce guy told me that they are allowed to mark an item down if it is within two days of the freshness date. Oftentimes, he will tag it for me if I ask - especially if there is a backlog and they haven't caught up yet. Artisan bread is also a great deal.
Some of us are gluten-free, and I always look there for the occasional closeout. Once in a while, I can snag grass-fed beef on a markdown for the meat-eaters. I would rather support the local Kroger than the Walmart, but that's for another discussion. :)

Manuela@A Cultivated Nest said...

Actually Brenda, it's not that easy growing peppers. They need very warm consistent temps and don't like to be watered too much. I've found them fussy. I do grow them in the summer but that's because it's pretty hot and dry here then. What is easy for some people to grow is not so easy for others. It all depends on your climate (which can change year to year anyway). So I think it's very smart to buy the frozen ones, I do the same.

Yep, we had reduced price chicken for dinner last night. Just froze it when I came home from the store. I also bought a few hams when they were marked down after Christmas. I have one left which will be for Easter dinner. So if you have room in your freezer and the budget, it's a good thing to buy a few turkeys or hams at the end of a holiday when the grocery store wants to get rid of them.

Great post with lots of good info!

Thickethouse.wordpress said...

You make a very good point, Brenda. There is a world of difference between cheap and frugal. I think I am lucky to have been the child of parents who lived through the depression. They were not cheap at all, but they definitely were frugal and not wasteful. It's a state of mind, I think.

I wear keen sandals and merrells during the rest of the year. I was very excited recently when online shoes had a sale on Merrells. Usually they are one of the excedptions to any sales they have going.

I am now only cooking for one, for the most part. Different, though I still like to cook larger amounts often, and then freeze them.

mdoe37 said...

I always hit the reduced meat at Family Fare. I snagged a couple pieces of some cut of steak that I froze up for future stir fries.

Meijer has a cart out with reduced produce. I think I nabbed peppers for 35 cents a pounds, mixed bags of green, red, orange and yellow. I bought a several bags for dehydrating and freezing. We never have a need for fresh peppers here. And I have Noooooo ability to grow peppers!!!

We had an exchange here a couple of days ago. The Papa Murphy pizza (take and bake) closed. They always had a cheaper pizza on sale. The other half said, well just call so-an-so and have them deliver
one. I pointed out that I can make a pizza for $5 and their delivery was $5, not counting the pizza. Times are tighter!!

Anonymous said...

I love your raised bed garden! What do you put between the beds on the ground to keep out grass and weeds?

Anonymous said...

If you know what size sandal you want, do search online. I bought a couple pairs of Klogs last year, then got online and got another pair, but similar style, for almost half. Hope you can find a sale too!!
Elizabeth in VA