Monday, May 24, 2010

Day 13 The family copes - Saving Money

Several have asked how the children are feeling about the new challenge. One daughter replied "I guess pretty well because I haven't really noticed." At home though, I field requests for macaroni and cheese or pork lo mein and I have to say "Sorry, we don't have any pasta in our virtual pantry yet, If you can just be patient for one more week, I'll fix those dishes for you." The whole exercise is developing a self control through self denial.

Our family could easily finish off a gallon of ice cream every day if permitted. One weekend several years ago I purchased over $100 of fruit from Sams on Friday (not the cheapest prices but fair). By Monday all of it was gone. So to stay on budget and stay healthy I have to limit the free for all consumption of fruits and sweets. Which is okay!

There are several reasons we are saving money besides using lower cost recipes. Being frugal these first few weeks allows us to expand our shelf stable items more quickly. Ways to save: 1) Eliminate all "extra' food like juice, potato chips, ice cream, yogurts, fruit snacks, cookies, cake mixes, raisins, nuts, granola bars, etc.. 2) Change brands from a private label to a generic brand - from the $3.00 hot dogs to the $.75 brand - at least for everyday use. 3) Eliminating the use of box mixes or prepackaged items to cook from scratch. 4) Eliminating all fast food or dine out restaurants. Applying just one of these would yield yeild a significant savings but all together we are yeilding substancial savings. The children are used to cooking from scratch through so the only trick for me is to stay ahead of them. If food is ready, they don't complain. If food is not ready they start rumaging and ususally pull something off my well stocked real pantry. Saturday was a busy and I was not home. Four or five packs of ramen noodles left over from my son's college survival food served as a snack. My family doesn't really care what the food is as long as there is food that I am preparing. if I am not cooking though, then they tell me repeatedly "Get rid of this blog."

This "experiment" is exactly what I have been voicing then past three months in various posts. Not only children but adults are seriously spoiled and self centered. We are a "welfare" nation if we insist on a particular brand, or on eating at a fast food joint, or on an pricey cut of meat at every meal at the expense of food on our shelves. In other words, if too much money is being spent on pricey tastes and we can't afford $8.00 worth of rice, we are enacting an entitlement mentality. We are living in a welfare state even if we are not going to the government. When I refer to receiving welfare, it is often assumed that I am talking about the poorest of the poor who have no transportation etc... I am not. I am talking about the houses on my circle. All of them have 2-3 modes of transportation. Only one or two have food to last more that one week. They would be relying on the government in a very short time for assistance. They think they are providing well by giving them the "best" of everything. That is living a lie. The "best of everything" does not include survival skills. To many do not know how to boil rice if the directions are not on a box in front of them. They will be unable to feed their children. The government will not have food nor money. Look at Greece. I think it is naive to think "that will never happen here." I hope not - because we will learn from their failures. If people will sacrifice and put their homes in order, as a people we can demand the government to put it's finances in order.

This is not just a fun game. I do not have time for games.

Breakfast: Oatmeal
Snack apples
Lunch: Refried beans:

2 pounds pintos sorted and rinsed
placed in a pressure cooker with water to cover them plus about one inch above
Turn pressure cooker on full heat without the weight let boil for at least 10 minutes when a full head of steam is venting. put the weight on and bring up to 15# pressure. Turn the heat off and let it cool on it's own. When at zero degreese preasure, take the lid off and the beans are soft. (It takes 30-45 minutes to cook beans this way!)

Add 1/2 cup margarine or butter
1 TBS cumin
1 TBS chilli powder
2 tsp salt
Mash with a potato masher.

(I'll pretend we got a preasure cooker for our wedding. Soaking the beans for 8 hours, then changing the water and boiling them until soft is the method I used for 20 of the 21 years we've been married.)
Snack after lunch: ice cream. I enjoyed sitting around the table visisting with the children while they ate their ice cream. We talked about how our imagination doesn't make as scary monsters as the movies do. One child piped "I imagine very scary monsters. The three year old said, "I imagine Spider Man."

Dinner: Grilled chicken coated in oil, cumin, basil, salt, and the mesquite grill flavoring. Good! Sides were a vegetable medley in a vinegret and steamed rice. Birthday cake

Plain cake: (this recipe my mother made regularly. It is a "high altitude cake" that works nicely at elevations even in WY.

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup oil (Crisco is called for)
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour
4 tsp baking powder

Mix. Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes depending on the size pan (rounds, flat, cupcakes, etc...) or until when lightly touched the cake springs back.


  1. thank you! i've been wondering how to make homemade refried beans!

  2. You can just put the beans in the crockpot also and leave them overnight if you don't have a pressure cooker.