I've been thinking a lot since my last post, and seriously wondered if my complaints were justified. In my mind's eye I felt we had been proper Scrooges throughout last year, so I dove into the accounts and took a long look at what we spent.
Everything we spent, in fact. Because we are anal enough to actually use our bank card for sales as little a 1.99. It took me three days to organize, tally and separate the good spending from the bad (which is harder than it sounds!), but I've finally finished. And the numbers were shocking.
I can honestly say I had no idea I was having that much fun, or I was that generous at Christmas. Last year was a pretty fun year; I must have complained my way through it and missed out on all the frivolity. But not this year!
I'm breaking out the Yardstick of Really Strict Budgeting, and whacking the snot out of our Finite Financial Status, slapping silly the Income and Payments of Uncertainty to try to make the money stretch like Gumby on a griddle.
Here are a few things I'm doing to cut costs that you can do too!
Bake you own bread. It sounds hard, but it really isn't- just a little time consuming. Most of it is waiting anyway, and you can do other things while it's rising. I've found it better to not use a bread machine. Why? Because I can do four loaves of bread in the oven vs. one loaf in a bread machine- and I don't have to worry about taking that stupid little mixer-thingie out before the bread bakes! I always forget to remove it- then I have a loaf with a hole big enough for a weaver bird to nest in. Besides, with a teenage boy in the house, that one loaf might only last 3.2 seconds. I need to bake in bulk- I just wish my oven was bigger- about the size of Indiana- then I might satisfy Mr. Hormonal Growth Spurt for more than an eyeblink.
One of the benefits to baking your own bread is that great fresh-baked smell that wafts through the entire house. Anyone who's had a bad day walks in and just can't help but smile! That smell ought to be used during Congressional meetings- there would be a lot less arguing.
I don't just mean loaf bread either- you can make rolls for sandwiches or as a side for soup or dinner, bagels take more effort but are a lot cheaper if you make them, and don't forget tortillas- those suckers are easy to store or freeze and are great for making wraps for school lunches- just toast them before packing lunches, and you suddenly become the Best. Mom. Ever. And no preservatives either!
Make your own goodies. Cookies of almost any kind, cakes big and small, soft pretzels, popcorn, krispy treats- it doesn't matter- they'll be appreciated and gobbled up. Just ask my husband who made rice pudding last night and put the leftovers in the fridge to tempt me. Let's just say I did a really good job of cleaning out the fridge this morning. Don't tell him, and I'll share his next batch with you.
Not only will you save a lot of money doing all this, but the homemade stuff tastes better.
Stretch what you have. Pasta, rice, potatoes or leftover veggies can make a meal go a long way, but since I refrain from eating anything with wheat flour, my choices are a bit more limited. I still make meals with pasta or bread, but I switch my portion out with rice, potatoes or vegetables. Soups, stews and casseroles are great one pot wonders, and there's very little cleanup afterwards. If you have canned soups, stretch them out with a little more water and add rice or pasta (or milk and potatoes if it's a cream soup). I've made one can stretch to feed all four of us this way (at least when the kids were younger), or use that cream soup as a sauce for a big pile of pasta or rice- and watch your family make it disappear. Gumby on a griddle, I'm telling you!
I might just take this one step further and see how long I can live out of my pantry and freezer. Any fresh stuff I would buy, but what kind of wacky concoctions could I come up with if I did this? I'll keep you posted if I do!
In the meantime, I'm going to bake some fresh bread before my husband comes home- maybe the bread will distract him from wanting any pudding....