Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Way I See Things...

In response to Sally's comment on this post (which I laughed at, by the way :P ):

When I walk in your house, nope I don't look around to see what ways you should be more frugal. Well, not on purpose anyway. I don't open your frige or freezer to see if you're saving butter wrappers to grease pans with (I don't - they go in the trash. If they have enough stuck on them, I pull out a scraper and scrape them off before putting them in the trash). I don't look to see if you dump the dirt out of our vacuum bag so you can reuse it (remember those days?), or if you only have 1 bulb per light, or if you like to use lots of hot water just because. And I don't buy Tide so I won't have to hide it when you come to visit... but if I did, I probably wouldn't hide it anyway.

The things I (would) notice would be things like... if you use paper towels to wipe up a mess or wash the dishes instead of a rag or dishcloth. You exclaim over your high grocery bill and I see cake mixes, canned icing, Bertolli spaghetti sauce, Texas Toast, Kraft cheese, salad-in-a-bag, boxes of frozen breakfast thingys, or... even worse, frozen dinners, individual sized soup-cup thingies, single serving packets of whatevers. (See, I don't even know what's out there!)

I'm climbing up on my soapbox here - wait, I think I'm already on it!!!

Last night we had to make a run by WalMart to pick up a bag of Dog Food and to get some salt (I had unknowingly run plumb out of salt). Wow, the price of salt was amazing!! It was $.33 a CAN!! I don't remember seeing salt that cheap ever! I don't know of anything you can buy for $.33!! Not even a candy bar at the checkout line!! I bought 3 cans. It will probably last for a LONG time, but it was $.33 a can!! We were walking back down the "baking goods" aisle, and I was horrified to see there on the shelf little packages of "individual cake bakers" or whatever they are. A little plastic bowl with (I presume) some kind of pre-fab cake goop in it that you microwave and have an instant serving of cake. CUM-ON. It irked me even more to compare the prices: You could get 2 of these microwave cake thingies for $2.12 (that is $2.12 for TWO servings of cake!), OR you could buy a box of cake mix (if you're not frugal enough to make your own from scratch) for $2.00 - and that was Betty Crocker brand, I think. That one box of cake mix for $2 makes 24 servings. If you only need 2 servings... buy the $2 cake mix, make the cake, cut out your two servings and freeze the rest. If frozen cake turns your stomach - get a stronger stomach - or give the rest of it away. Take it to work, whatever, but you've just saved yourself some dignity and $.12.

Probably the other thing that irks me is individual servings of premade food. Frozen dinners, snacks, etc. I am newly amazed each time I'm in the grocery store at what they have come up with now to sell in single servings. It's crazy. Do people not realize that these drain the life-blood from their checking accounts?

For sure, there are some times when convenience foods are the only way to go. Last year when we went on our 10 day vacation and took all our food along to keep from buying fast food or restaurant eating, we did take SOME convenience food. I bought OJ that was already mixed up and fruit and pudding cups. But I think that was it. The chips - the big bag. The sandwich stuff - we threw the stuff from the frige into the cooler and I put mayo and mustard from the big jug into some yogurt cups. But in everyday life, you could save SO MUCH MONEY if you "made your own".

If you need caramel sauce to dip your apple in, don't buy the cute little foil-topped fancy looking packets of caramel sauce. Buy a bottle of caramel sauce and some little tiny container thingies and squirt some sauce into that. And when you're done, throw the container in the dishwasher to use next time. Shucks, if one day you decide you want peanut butter instead of caramel sauce, you just have to put peanut butter in the little container thingy instead of caramel sauce! You don't have to make a trip to the store to find little fancy foil-topped things of peanut butter.

Need pudding cups for your lunchbox? Mix up a batch of pudding, and fill your little container thingies. The extras will keep in the frige for a bit until you use them up.

Chips for snacks? Buy the big family sized bag and a box of 200 (or however many) snack baggies. Fill up several snack baggies with chips, and there ya go! I bet if you compared the big bag of chips by weight, you'd come out with more "home-made" snack packs for less money than if you bought the "case" of 8 at the store.

Need quick breakfasts? Muffins, waffles and pancakes you can all make from scratch (or box mix if you have to) and freeze. Pop the waffles and pancakes in the toaster for a few, and ta-da!

Frozen dinners for lunch? Some night drum up some extra energy, cook up a pot of stew or a pan of casserole, and divide it into containers. Freeze them. Pull them out and stick 'em in your lunchbox with an apple and a tiny container holding a few squirts of caramel goop from the bottle and you got lunch!!

Shucks... if your kids need juice boxes, buy some (cheap) cool looking drink bottles and some fruit punch mix (or some jugs of fruit juices and mix them up to make fruit drinks). Make your own. I bet they'll fast become the cool kids with the cool drink bottles with the cool fruit punch drink that their cool mom made!!

And I probably should get off my soapbox now. If I have friends out there reading this that I just made red-hot mad, sorry. Didn't mean to.

So yeah, that's only like a drop in the bucket of ways you can save money in the food department. Like a minuscule drop. But if you're into convenience foods and looking to save a little, I hope this really helped. I guess this post kinda ended on a different note from what it started out to be. Oh well :)

I wonder how many comments I'll get... And before I close this out, I'm frantically thinking through my cupboards and freezers to see if I'm sitting here typing this hypocritically... and aside from Daniel's sodas (technically we could buy 2 liters instead of the cans and it would be cheaper, but he'd end up with flat soda), I really can't think of anything. You're welcome to come visit and hold me true to my word. Unless you're some freaky stalker, then stay away!


Liz said... [Reply to comment]

Miriam, you crack me up. I was giggling the whole time I was reading this post thinking how I could picture myself ranting & raving like about this very topic. And I could SO picture you waving a fist in the air while your lecturing! How funny!

Miriam said... [Reply to comment]

Liz, *shh* don't tell anybody, but I did delete a whole paragraph where it was OBVIOUS that I was ranting and raving. LOL. I didn't want to completely scare of everybody!! Your comment made me laugh, thanks :)

debbie said... [Reply to comment]

I so agree with you. But did you know you could use those same cake mixes and do the microwave individual cakes just like the package thing? I can't remember the exact amounts but it seems I read this on hillbillyhousewife. I'll do some digging and see if I can find it. What's even better is if the cake mix is on sale for a $1 and you can get several of these little mixes for that same $1.

Phoebe @ GettingFreedom said... [Reply to comment]

I'm with Liz on this one...laughing the whole way through it. And imagining in my head you ranting and raving at all the less than frugal choices in the supermarket. Priceless!

Funny thing is that I was just ranting and raving all the same things at a friend of mine the other day who buys all those crazy things. She told me I was crazy for doing all the things I do (making laundry soap, from scratch food)...until I told her how much she could save not buying those things. She finally told me she was just jealous that I had the patience to do make it..instead of buy it!!

Thanks for the laugh! And sorry for the novel!

Sally said... [Reply to comment]

Man, (oops. I guess I should say "woman") you just made me feel like I actually am saving money. I spend way more at the store than you, but goodness! I didn't even know most of that stuff existed! I've never seen it, probably because I am too intently focused on my list, my kids, and quickly grabbing the things I need.

My thing with all that pre-fab food is I can't stomach it! Just the thought of it will ruin my appetite. I am so much into high-quality food (made from high-quality ingredients and fresh--not stale), I will suffer without something until I can make it rather than buy some styrofoam version from the store, even if it is ready to eat, or easier to put together. Most of the convenience items I have never tasted, but I am sure they taste like wet cement (which I have never tasted, but I can imagine what it tastes like due to how it smells).

Thanks for the courageous and informative post! Also, it's good information to know that you're not a frugal-sleuth!

Anonymous said... [Reply to comment]

I love reading what you write! I agree with you on going to the grocery store and being amazed at what people buy in individual packets. It's unreal!

Elizabeth said... [Reply to comment]

You're more than welcome to come visit me... but please let me know ahead of time so I can hide the juice boxes!! LOL I have a reason. My son has to bring unopened storebrought snacks to his preschool halloween party! Can you imagine why? They said "we don't know what parents put in their homemade stuff." Could you imagine a parent wanting to drug or poison a group of 4-year-olds?? SERIOUSLY?? But, I'm glad my little man's safe!

Oh and I also do what Debbie said... I make my own single serving cakes. It's like cake in a coffee mug. You put a certain amount of each ingredient in a coffee mug, mix it up, heat it for so long in the microwave and viola! I think I calculated once that my coffee mug cake cost 11 cents. And with only making a serving at a time, I don't overdo it on those weeks where I JUST WANT CHOCOLATE :)

Oh and I rant and rave too... at my mom. She'll tell me that she can't afford her grocery bills and I'll tell her that she overspends by like 400%.

Sally said... [Reply to comment]

P.S. I DO remember the days of emptying the vacuum sweeper bag into the trash in order to reuse it again. I also remember the days of going through it out in the garden to find the button, or baby doll shoe, or whatever important item got sucked up in the sweeper.