Tuesday, June 7, 2011

New Experiences

Years ago, I had the chance to spend a length of time living with my grandmother Laney.  Before this, I had lived a typical suburban lifestyle for the most part, except that my parents did grown a garden to provide fresh veggies to freeze and cucumbers for my mom’s famous (family only) sweet pickles.  We bought the majority of our food, we bought all of our clothes, and we lived in a nice suburb outside a large college town.  Then I went to my gram’s home.
Grams lived on a 40 acre “farm”  with a large garden, chickens, and hogs, and ducks, just to name a few of the things she raised.  That does not include the hunted wildlife, or the slithering creatures that made me never want to step foot outside the house.  To say I was in culture shock would be putting it mildly, but in the following months, I learned a great deal about the person I wanted to become.  I have only recently discovered just how much I learned about that person.  This is the story of the trials and successes of learning to be that person. 

Now I am almost 40 with two grown children and 2 more that want to be grown.  In this time of economic struggle, I have found that all those canning sessions and lectures about not wasting from grams are coming in rather handy.  The kids think it is great that I make all the foods that they love but we suddenly never had around the house anymore.  We live in a small apartment, not a lot of storage space and even less room for a garden or chickens.  Luckily, for me, there is a small closet sized pantry in the kitchen and while the kitchen is not a large farm sized kitchen, it is at least workable with moderate storage space.  So now, the task of planning and putting into action a frugal lifestyle into action begins. 

I did not even know that people lived this way till one day while surfing the net I came across a website, Budget101.  I devoured the site for days reading everything I could find.  Recipes galore, suggestions for more frugal ways of life; I was amazed.  I started trying to implement some of the suggestions, cutting back our grocery budget by extreme planning.  And I do mean extreme.  I was loving it, my husband thought I was insane, but like all of my other past “hobbies” he just nodded and let me do my thing. 

Now we have menus for every week breakfast lunch dinner and snacks.  Even planning who does chores and when they do them.  I try to shop for a month at a time, because I plan for a month at a time.  By doing this I can spend approximately $75 a week on groceries.  That is cutting my grocery bill by more than 50%, which I never thought would happen. 
The slow cooker / over sized counter top roaster has become my best kitchen friend, along with my new hand crank pasta maker.  However, the savior of it all is the freezer.  We have a small chest deep freezer.  I am able to store meats, veggies, homemade breads, and all sorts of homemade snacks, leftovers, and cooking mixes in the freezer.  It is a simple matter of pulling something out and using it.  We no longer use box meals at all, it’s a great feeling to know what you are feeding your family, and to know that it cost less than half of what you would have paid for it if bought prepackaged.

I will be posting tips, tricks and recipes that I have gathered along the way soon.


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