Crabby over at Cranky Fitness wrote a post yesterday about staying fit in these hard economic times. Some of you have probably figured out by now that the Bag Lady isn't exactly a fitness guru (hehehehe), but she does try to live a simple, economical life, so she has decided to share a few tips she has learned for stretching your dollar.
The first thing you have to ask yourself is do you really NEED that Ipod/new outfit/couch/DVD/whatever, or do you simply WANT it? Is shopping a form of recreation for you, or do you shop for specific items and ignore all the "deals" on display? In the past few years of rampant consumerism, the Bag Lady has been astounded at the sight of people lined up for hours, waiting for a store to open in order to buy the newest computer game/electronic gadget/whatever. She wonders if, due to this new economic reality, those will be the same people lined up waiting for the soup kitchens to open?
Oh, wait, she was going to give you some tips for pinching pennies. Sorry, she got sidetracked!
Most of her tips involve food, because that is an area she knows well. Some of you who have been reading her blog for awhile are probably aware that she likes food. She likes to cook and create new dishes, and she loves to eat!
Meal planning is an important part of staying within your budget. With a little planning, you can create simple, nutritious meals for far less money than you would spend on one meal out in a fancy restaurant. For example, buy a less expensive cut of meat with a bone in it. Roast it for supper on Sunday, then boil the bone and any leftover meat and vegetables for soup for later in the week.
As some of you are aware, the Bag Lady cooked a big meal this past Thanksgiving weekend for a large family gathering. From the leftover turkey, she will make hot turkey sandwiches, cold turkey sandwiches, turkey pot pie, a few TV dinners, and she has boiled the carcass for soup. She also has leftover ham, which will be used for omelettes and sandwiches, and that bone has also been boiled for soup.
The TV dinners and the soups will go into the deep freeze for later. So from that one big dinner, she will have enough leftovers for roughly 10 meals. Nothing will go to waste, if she can help it. Her dog will eat fairly well, too!
Don't eat meat? Try making vegetable soup. Use those leafy bits off the celery, some potatoes and the less-than-pretty parts of the carrots and onions, throw in some dried beans or lentils, herbs and spices (don't forget the bay leaf, and don't forget to remove it before you serve the soup!) and let it cook.
Think you don't have time to make soup? If you have time to do laundry and clean your house, you have time to make soup. Ten minutes of cutting up the ingredients, leaving it to simmer on the back of the stove while you go about your other tasks, giving it a stir occasionally when you walk past. If you divide it into serving sizes, put it into glass jars, let it cool and then freeze it, you'll have a ready supply of easy meals. (You ask why glass jars? They can be washed and re-used over and over, and don't release the toxins that plastic sometimes does!)
Do you use a lot of paper towel in your kitchen (something the Bag Lady is guilty of)? Try hanging a hand towel over the handle of your oven door and using it to dry your hands. It can be washed and re-used countless times.
Don't waste money buying bottled water. The tap water in most cities is probably better for you. Buy a refillable bottle and fill it at home. You'd be surprised at the money you'll save.
The Bag Lady is afraid that there are going to be hard economic times ahead for many people, and they are going to have to relearn some of the tricks that their grandparents knew. In the last couple of decades of prosperity, the Bag Lady thinks we have become a throw-away society. The movement toward recycling is, in reality, a step back to our grandparents time when they knew how to be self-sufficient and to get by with less. Nothing was wasted on the farm because there wasn't any money to buy new. They turned frayed collars, replaced sleeve cuffs, patched and altered their clothing. Table scraps fed the dogs, chickens or pigs. You made do, or did without. This is a lesson that may have to be re-learned in the coming days.
What's your favourite tip for saving money?