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Joan in GE

Life skills - frugal home-making & home educating

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It seems like European politics will make it difficult for one wage earner families. The EU communicated to Germany recently that they did not approve of their recent law proposing to give a parent staying at home with a child under 3 yo a 100 Euros/month...saying that it would encourage parents to stay at home and that they should be out in the work force!

 

Soooo...I've quickly decided to turn my daughter's life skills course into a course about frugal home making and educating - since she might really need it!

 

Are there materials that people can recommend for this? Ages ago we bought all the Tightwad Gazette books (which I think have now been condensed into one)...

 

Thanks!

Joan

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:bigear:

 

I'd recommend reading and discussing The Tightwad Gazette for one. There are several frugal cookbooks out there that are good too.

 

For us it's a way of life, and DD knows even at her young age that we live have to live very frugally.

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Just last night I found myself researching some life skills books. I found that these came highly recommended. I am not sure they're what you're looking for, exactly, but thought I would post them in case they could be of use.

 

Money Sucks: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0977905829/ref=ox_sc_act_title_2?ie=UTF8&m=ATVPDKIKX0DER

 

50 Ways to Leave your Mother: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/097781789X/ref=ox_sc_act_title_1?ie=UTF8&m=ATVPDKIKX0DER

 

Life Skills 101: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0970133499/ref=ox_sc_act_title_3?ie=UTF8&m=ATVPDKIKX0DER

 

The Ultimate Cheapskate's Road Map to True Riches: http://www.amazon.com/Ultimate-Cheapskates-Road-True-Riches/dp/0767926951/ref=sr_1_18?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1329147598&sr=1-18

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I think Dave Ramsey's course is a good one- paying cash, saving and no debt.

Also, I like the Down to Earth web-site.

 

I like Alexandra Stoddard's book, Living a Beautiful Life, becasue it talks about rituals and creating beauty.

 

Once a month cooking- there are tons of sites, materials on line available.

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Frugality has always been built in to our family behavior. We have been researching home-restoration products lately and the dds are masters of finding the best Quality/Expense ratios on the web. Cooking and food preparation are important to know, period. These days that is, in and of itself, deep frugality. We have begun to get into local food and regional cooking as the best answer to those home economics questions.

Love the Tight-wad books. They raise v. good questions and present great ways to work things out. I think they also encourage creative thinking which is probably the best frugality skill to learn.

I also think learning some simple mechanical skills would be helpful...like how does the house work? When/how simple maintenance must be done? How do you find people to do the work for you if you need to? So many things along those lines.

It is a great idea to give kids a simple research task or planning and execution task as you do the book learning. They really do love responsibility.

Re: education. We went to the library and looked at various textbook styles before making our purchases of used books on Amazon. Dd analyzed what looked to be most in-line with her learning style and was easy on the pocketbook. She had a big part in planning our curriculum...frugality all the way there.

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I had the best time ever when Threadbangers came out.

 

TB is a site devoted to DIY clothing and recycling for fashion and clothing.

 

Does she have basic sewing skills or a machine?

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Soooo...I've quickly decided to turn my daughter's life skills course into a course about frugal home making and educating - since she might really need it!

 

Are there materials that people can recommend for this? Ages ago we bought all the Tightwad Gazette books (which I think have now been condensed into one)...

 

I like Alexandra Stoddard's book, Living a Beautiful Life, becasue it talks about rituals and creating beauty.

 

Love the Tight-wad books. They raise v. good questions and present great ways to work things out. I think they also encourage creative thinking which is probably the best frugality skill to learn.

 

:iagree::iagree::iagree: with the bolded! Of all the frugality books I've ever read (and I've read many), this is the BEST, precisely because of Amy's articles in the book(s) (I have the one big, fat book that contains all of the books). The tips from other people and from Amy Dacyzyn are all through the book, but it's her articles on *how to be frugal in your own unique situation with your own unique priorities* that really helped me. I would even go so far as to say her articles are sort of a WTM-style course in frugality thinking. Amy is very methodical in her explanations. Even if it seems boring, learn how to calculate the pennies so that the dollars take care of themselves (and you).

 

I, too, love Alexandra Stoddard's books, for the same reason Lisa mentioned. They get you thinking about how to add beauty, ritual, and meaning to your family's life. Now, I can't go out and buy a bouquet of flowers every week, but I *could* grow a flower garden if decorating with flowers was important to me. But it's her idea of doing something ritualistic to add beauty that helps me to see beyond the constraints of money. Personally, I knit/crochet or sew, with bright colours (yarn bought at discount, or fabric obtained from thrift store sheets - and I have found some doozies of colours and patterns, which I LOVE) in order to add beauty to our family. You might decide that beauty/ritual comes from something else. My friend loves to decorate with her meal presentations. BTW, I have found my three Stoddard books at thrift stores. :D

 

Food - If it's easy for me to make big quantities at a time, then it's easy for me to make my own "convenience" foods inexpensively. For example, I buy big bags of dried beans, and soak and cook them plainly in my 6 qt. crockpot. Then I divide them out into meal-sized containers, freeze, and pop the contents out into freezer bags. For a meal, I can just grab a frozen block and plop it into whatever I'm cooking. I do the same when meat is on sale - I buy a lot, cook it all up, debone any poultry or pork, and put the cooked meat in freezer bags (having shredded any poultry or broken up any ground beef chunks or cut up any pork chunks). Then I just measure out however much cooked meat I need for a meal.

 

When grocery shopping, I think in terms of "what are the least expensive forms of protein I can buy around here? What are the least expensive grains? Veggies? Fruits?"

 

For meal planning, I don't think in terms of "what meal should I make for supper?" I think, "what protein/veggies/grains/flavourings do I have on hand, and into what form (soup/stew/casserole/stir-fry/separated items) do I want to make tonight's supper?" That way I'm not tied to "meals", but I can operate with what is actually in the house (as long as I keep it stocked with sale items from those categories), including those unusual-to-us vegetables that my husband keeps bringing home from the mother of one of his guitar students.

 

Education - my starting ground was the library. Then reading the WTM, which does give frugal ways of educating. Wasn't part of the first edition all about how to teach elementary students how to narrate and take dictation? Of course, Writing With Ease makes it easier, but one *can* still teach elementary writing with just the WTM instructions, if one puts her mind to it (I did, and I'm sure many others here did). OK, my mind is starting to roll now...THIS is EXACTLY what attracted me to the WTM forums seven or eight years ago - because I KNEW that the people here could help me out with *how to teach* questions, which would save me from having to buy books about it. I watched all of you doing that with each other years ago. So, this forum is a very frugal material to use for educating kids. I can ask the stupidest questions here about teaching something (like my recent proofreading skills thread), and they will get answered sooner or later (esp. if I refine my questions when I get a new understanding about something, lol). I will probably not be financially able to send my kids off to community colleges or enroll them in online classes or hire tutors for them, so I must figure out how to educate them, within our means, each year. (I can deal with the how-to-pay-for-university question later, as Canadian schools, for residents, anyway, are generally far less expensive than American schools.) Many times that means me sitting down and pouring through books, figuring out how this book is teaching something, looking through the library website, looking through past threads here, and asking my questions here. The WTM book and forums are definitely frugal resources for education. :D So is the library, but I'm not sure if that would helpful to your (English-speaking?) daughter in Europe? I know people can read books on the internet now; I just haven't gotten into that technology yet.

 

I guess I have found that the constraints (though I do get tired of them at times!) have been the things that have propelled me towards finding a way to make it work anyway. I know I want to home-educate my kids, that I don't want to start a big new career right now (though I do someday, I think), so I can't go out and make money for us right now (but I can to help pay for university expenses when the time comes). So I must find ways to make things work. Sometimes it's a matter of forcing myself to change my mindset. One time we had a situation where we needed to pay back an unexpected debt (the only one we've ever had besides the mortgage). I went through the "poor me" stage of anger, and then I decided to set my mind to getting rid of that thing. We pretty much ate rice, beans, frozen green beans, canned tomatoes, and oatmeal for about four months. The lack of food variety wasn't my enemy; my mind was. And I had to get past that in order to take care of this debt. So anyway, a perceived lack can bring up a creativity that we might never have known was there.

 

I feel like I'm not really helping you with specific resources, except for the Tightwad Gazette. I guess I'm just trying to illustrate my thought-principles that have really helped me over the years. Oh wait, I just thought of some books - there is a company called Rodale Press, I think, that produces some great DIY books.

 

One more thought - teach your daughter to be a good friend and to network. You never know what kind of help may come from a network of good relationships, or what help she may be able to offer to her network people. ;)

 

ETA: on that last point, I am sure you are already doing this with her.

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One more thought - teach your daughter to be a good friend and to network. You never know what kind of help may come from a network of good relationships, or what help she may be able to offer to her network people. ;)

:iagree:I totally agree with this. Bartering, too.

There is a FB page, started by a gal I know, that's local and has a couple 1000 people on it. EVERTHING is listed on there for sale or trade. Kids clothes for a buck, houses for thousands.

Learn about craigslist, free cycle and how to put a shout out for things you need. Be as generous with what you have to give to bless others. This is real life investment.

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There are several frugal cookbooks out there that are good too.
Do you have a recommendation?

 

I do think "simple" is important....(saves time too)....but dh doesn't just want boiled meat and potatoes....

 

For us it's a way of life, and DD knows even at her young age that we live have to live very frugally.

 

Yes, we're going to try to change our way of living - even though we have been frugal in many ways - I see a lot of room for improvement...

 

I think this is the real policy in North America too - it is just not stated explicitly.

 

I think you're right....

 

 

They look good. One thing that is it hard for me to scrimp on is books.:)

 

I think Dave Ramsey's course is a good one- paying cash, saving and no debt.

Also, I like the Down to Earth web-site.

 

I like Alexandra Stoddard's book, Living a Beautiful Life, becasue it talks about rituals and creating beauty.

 

Thanks!

 

Once a month cooking- there are tons of sites, materials on line available.
We did this several months but I found that then I didn't save money on esp meat on sale. As it had to be bought, then cooked and frozen. I guess if one had an enormous freezer you could freeze the sale meat ahead of time. But our deep freeze had trouble handling the meals themselves...

 

dds are masters of finding the best Quality/Expense ratios on the web.

 

I'm very curious about what this means. Could you explain, please?

 

Cooking and food preparation are important to know, period. These days that is, in and of itself, deep frugality. We have begun to get into local food and regional cooking as the best answer to those home economics questions.

 

Yes, I really need to improve in this area...

 

Love the Tight-wad books. They raise v. good questions and present great ways to work things out. I think they also encourage creative thinking which is probably the best frugality skill to learn.
Good point about creative thinking...

 

I also think learning some simple mechanical skills would be helpful...like how does the house work? When/how simple maintenance must be done? How do you find people to do the work for you if you need to? So many things along those lines.

 

Yes.

 

It is a great idea to give kids a simple research task or planning and execution task as you do the book learning. They really do love responsibility.

 

Do you have examples from your life?

 

Re: education. We went to the library and looked at various textbook styles before making our purchases of used books on Amazon. Dd analyzed what looked to be most in-line with her learning style and was easy on the pocketbook. She had a big part in planning our curriculum...frugality all the way there.
Good idea!

 

He does look different - maybe he has some really novel ideas - I'll have to read more deeply...

 

TB is a site devoted to DIY clothing and recycling for fashion and clothing. Does she have basic sewing skills or a machine?

 

She does sew already and likes it - though smaller stuff at this time. This looks quite creative and I really like the individuality!

 

I am so tired of name-brand mania. A lady recently told me - "We vote with our money every day". I completely agree.

 

it's her articles on *how to be frugal in your own unique situation with your own unique priorities* that really helped me.
Thanks for highlighting that...

 

They get you thinking about how to add beauty, ritual, and meaning to your family's life.
Since I tend to be on the utilitarian side, some beauty probably would help...

 

Food -

For meal planning, I don't think in terms of "what meal should I make for supper?" I think, "what protein/veggies/grains/flavourings do I have on hand, and into what form (soup/stew/casserole/stir-fry/separated items) do I want to make tonight's supper?" That way I'm not tied to "meals", but I can operate with what is actually in the house (as long as I keep it stocked with sale items from those categories),

 

I'm trying to learn this skill myself....I was so tied to recipes for 25 years....I think it is knowing really what stock to have on hand...I have followed other people's lists but need to adapt them to myself...

 

Education - So, this forum is a very frugal material to use for educating kids. I can ask the stupidest questions here about teaching something (like my recent proofreading skills thread), and they will get answered sooner or later (esp. if I refine my questions when I get a new understanding about something, lol).
Agree...

 

I guess I have found that the constraints (though I do get tired of them at times!) have been the things that have propelled me towards finding a way to make it work anyway.

 

This is SUCH an important point and I'm glad you raised it, as I didn't think of 'teaching' it per se. But I've just been realizing it in relation to home education in Europe and my own unique set of circumstances....Here I think the American dream of "happiness" did not help my mentality...It is the challenges that make us grow! We don't have to run from problems but embrace them.:001_smile:

 

there is a company called Rodale Press, I think, that produces some great DIY books.

 

I do know this but forgot about them....Thanks!

 

 

EVERTHING is listed on there for sale or trade. Kids clothes for a buck, houses for thousands.

Learn about craigslist, free cycle and how to put a shout out for things you need. Be as generous with what you have to give to bless others. This is real life investment.

 

Good point - things I do but need to point out so she is more conscious of it as a choice....

 

Joan

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I guess what I mean by quality/expense ratio is getting the most bang for your buck. While some things appear to be cheaper to buy, you may get what you pay for. Mining out how things are constructed and what they are made of gives a good idea of quality. If you can decide which features are most important, what HAS to be, you can decide what they are worth by comparison shopping. Recently, we've been looking at living room furniture. There is a certain style we need to have. Next we looked at the pricey designer stuff to see what it was we liked about them. Taking those ideas, we worked our way through the affordable options. Admittedly, our choices are not perfect but, a good 90% of the features are there. Sometimes the end-point prices are higher or lower than expected, dd has learned to adjust the budget to compromise on less-critical items.

Travel plans are an excellent way for kids to learn to research prices and benefits at those prices. My parents appointed me their travel agent when I was young and I really enjoyed putting together driving routes and accommodation ideas. You could assign a part of your next trip and have them do up an itinerary and budget.

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Since I tend to be on the utilitarian side, some beauty probably would help...

 

:lol:

 

This is SUCH an important point and I'm glad you raised it, as I didn't think of 'teaching' it per se.

 

You could teach this principle easily, from everyday situations.

 

"Dd, I know you like spaghetti with tomato/meat sauce, but we don't have any tomatoes right now, and I'm not going to spend any more for groceries this week. We do, however, have some turnips and green beans in the fridge. I think we have some black beans and some leftover roast beef, too. The baking supplies cupboard is stocked, as is the spice/herb storage area. We also have some overripe bananas and some applesauce. What would you like to make for supper tonight, using any of these items? Choose your medium: stew, casserole, soup, stir-fry, or separate-items-on-a-plate."

 

Nowadays, I could think of several ways to make the above into a delicious, healthy meal. Biscuits, or banana muffins, or applesauce muffins; served with one of those main-meal mediums. For those who don't like turnips, the mediums and herbs are great cover-ups! :D

 

"Dd, you need a birthday gift for a friend? No, I have no jobs you could do for pay right now - sorry you don't have any cash at the moment. How about looking through the leftover yarn/fabric/paper pile, and see what ideas you can come up with to make something pretty and useful for your friend. You can use any of my craft tools (scissors, glue, knitting needles, sewing machine, thread, markers, etc.). Google some craft websites if you need ideas - you can google things like 'gifts made with leftover fabric' if you need inspiration, or look for some craft books at the library."

 

or, coming from my ds, "Mom, I want to study programming as a course." Me: "uh, I have no idea how to put that together, and I don't have the means to take you somewhere to do that. Hmmm.....let's see what the WTM has to say about computers, I think there was a chapter about that...oh, hey, there is a blurb about programming in the rhetoric stage section! It says, 'With the proper equipment, the student should be able to work through these independently for a good grasp of programming principles.' I had no idea that programming was based on 'principles'! There must be a way to design a course to do this at home; there must be some books - the WTM says we should ask a friend for updated recs on programming skills books - let's go ask the WTM board ladies!" And off we went, and voila, for $12 (which then got refunded because Canada Post broke the CD inside the book) for a used book, and because of a lot of help from the ladies here, ds has a programming course that he is happily working through. Mostly because the ladies here helped us understand what should be involved, if we didn't want to do this in a random fashion or didn't have the means to enroll in a formal course.

 

Aha, I just remembered some resources that I did use a lot:

 

http://www.thriftyfun.com/

 

http://www.stretcher.com/

 

These two sites have SO many great ideas, esp. about how to live within your means and use what you already have. These really used to get my creativity going (I should re-read them; I need some inspiration again!).

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I think this is the real policy in North America too - it is just not stated explicitly.

 

I really enjoyed this book by Neil Gilbert

http://www.amazon.com/Mothers-Work-Feminism-Market-Policy/dp/0300164610/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1278253050&sr=8-2

He talks about it.

 

And this article by Sandra Tsing Loh about the book

http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2008/07/i-choose-my-choice/6847/

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It seems like European politics will make it difficult for one wage earner families. The EU communicated to Germany recently that they did not approve of their recent law proposing to give a parent staying at home with a child under 3 yo a 100 Euros/month...saying that it would encourage parents to stay at home and that they should be out in the work force!

 

Soooo...I've quickly decided to turn my daughter's life skills course into a course about frugal home making and educating - since she might really need it!

 

Are there materials that people can recommend for this? Ages ago we bought all the Tightwad Gazette books (which I think have now been condensed into one)...

 

Thanks!

Joan

 

Two thoughts come to mind.

 

Learn how to make your own spice mixes, for common things like Italian salad dressing (this is something I use for cooking a favorite chicken dish too) and taco seasoning. If you mix your own spices and marinades, you can control the amount of sugar, avoid fillers and preservatives and typically spend far less (and get better flavor - my taco seasoning rocks). I usually make up about a half cup at a time and store it in an old jelly jar.

 

The other thought is that rather than being just frugal, try to practice contentment. If you are satisfied with what you have, you aren't flowing money out for more and more. A big step for our family has been to be lovers of books. We read where we might otherwise be headed for the movie theatre or be watching a lot of TV. Not being TV viewers saves us a lot of money because we are more insulated from fashion trends and the "wants" of advertising.

 

Oh, one last one. Learn to make a tasty and amusing (doesn't have to be professional) birthday cake. I can crank out a cake in a few hours. It is tasty and tailored to the interests of the kid. And it saves me tons of money over a bakery cake.

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The other thought is that rather than being just frugal, try to practice contentment. If you are satisfied with what you have, you aren't flowing money out for more and more. A big step for our family has been to be lovers of books. We read where we might otherwise be headed for the movie theatre or be watching a lot of TV. Not being TV viewers saves us a lot of money because we are more insulated from fashion trends and the "wants" of advertising.

 

Sebastian - I have to make that the MOST important point. So

 

1. Contentment

It's true that I know someone who is very frugal but has so much stuff that life is no longer 'simple'....so frugality is not enough...

 

I guess what I mean by quality/expense ratio is getting the most bang for your buck. While some things appear to be cheaper to buy, you may get what you pay for. Mining out how things are constructed and what they are made of gives a good idea of quality. If you can decide which features are most important, what HAS to be, you can decide what they are worth by comparison shopping. Recently, we've been looking at living room furniture. There is a certain style we need to have. Next we looked at the pricey designer stuff to see what it was we liked about them. Taking those ideas, we worked our way through the affordable options. Admittedly, our choices are not perfect but, a good 90% of the features are there. Sometimes the end-point prices are higher or lower than expected, dd has learned to adjust the budget to compromise on less-critical items.

Travel plans are an excellent way for kids to learn to research prices and benefits at those prices. My parents appointed me their travel agent when I was young and I really enjoyed putting together driving routes and accommodation ideas. You could assign a part of your next trip and have them do up an itinerary and budget.

 

Thanks for the details - I see what you mean...

 

 

 

You could teach this principle easily, from everyday situations.

 

"Dd, I know you like spaghetti with tomato/meat sauce, but we don't have any tomatoes right now, and I'm not going to spend any more for groceries this week. We do, however, have some turnips and green beans in the fridge. I think we have some black beans and some leftover roast beef, too. The baking supplies cupboard is stocked, as is the spice/herb storage area. We also have some overripe bananas and some applesauce. What would you like to make for supper tonight, using any of these items? Choose your medium: stew, casserole, soup, stir-fry, or separate-items-on-a-plate."

.....

"Dd, you need a birthday gift for a friend? No, I have no jobs you could do for pay right now - sorry you don't have any cash at the moment. How about looking through the leftover yarn/fabric/paper pile, and see what ideas you can come up with to make something pretty and useful for your friend.

...

or, coming from my ds, "Mom, I want to study programming as a course." Me: "uh, I have no idea how to put that together, and I don't have the means to take you somewhere to do that. Hmmm.....let's see what the WTM has to say about computers, I think there was a chapter about that...oh, hey, there is a blurb about programming in the rhetoric stage section! It says, 'With the proper equipment, the student should be able to work through these independently for a good grasp of programming principles.' I had no idea that programming was based on 'principles'! There must be a way to design a course to do this at home; there must be some books - the WTM says we should ask a friend for updated recs on programming skills books - let's go ask the WTM board ladies!"

...

 

http://www.thriftyfun.com/

 

http://www.stretcher.com/

 

Thanks for those ideas Colleen! They remind me of that great entrepreneurial spirit in North America - 'do it yourself' and have fun doing it!

 

I appreciate the educational example too....It seems to be all about sharing the process you are going through to help our dc learn how to do it themselves....

 

 

Those look very pertinent to the situation here and in the US..

 

Learn how to make your own spice mixes, for common things like Italian salad dressing (this is something I use for cooking a favorite chicken dish too) and taco seasoning.

 

I really like this as I'm trying to cut down on MSG and salt...Do you want to share you recipes?

 

Learn to make a tasty and amusing (doesn't have to be professional) birthday cake. I can crank out a cake in a few hours. It is tasty and tailored to the interests of the kid. And it saves me tons of money over a bakery cake.

 

Good point, esp in this day and age....Do you have a site for that or a book?

 

Thanks all!

Joan

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1. Contentment

It's true that I know someone who is very frugal but has so much stuff that life is no longer 'simple'....so frugality is not enough...

 

*cough* *ahem* (Colleen rushes to hide her overgrown stash of thrift store fabric and discounted yarn....oh, wait, I sorted the fabric out into bags, for...quilts, yeah, quilts - really, I'm going to make quilts for each family member someday. Really. :D)

 

I appreciate the educational example too....It seems to be all about sharing the process you are going through to help our dc learn how to do it themselves....

 

Yep. Except I can go overboard with thinking this process out loud, and drive my kids crazy...still, it works. :D

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Well, I suppose I should come clean by admitting that when my mil took me aside to tell me her secret recipe for chocolate cake it was, "Duncan Hines Chocolate Fudge cake, but not the Devil's Food." :lol: Bake this and top it with homemade chocolate fudge frosting.

 

Since cake mix here is around $1, so this is a pretty good way to get homemade taste.

 

I'm still flogging the boys through school, but I'll try to come back with a couple recipes.

 

Can you get baking chocolate squares in Switzerland? I'm thinking of the little squares of unsweetened chocolate that you would melt before using?

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Lots of wonderful input here, especially contentment and creativity--the mental/emotional/spiritual aspect of frugality is often neglected but without it we risk becoming misers.

 

The only things I have not seen explicitly mentioned are gardening and food preservation skills. I never learned either of these skills growing up and frankly I have wasted a lot of time and money trying to figure them out. Making your own Italian seasoning mix is frugal, but growing the herbs saves even more!

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Well, I suppose I should come clean by admitting that when my mil took me aside to tell me her secret recipe for chocolate cake it was, "Duncan Hines Chocolate Fudge cake, but not the Devil's Food." :lol: Bake this and top it with homemade chocolate fudge frosting.

....

Can you get baking chocolate squares in Switzerland? I'm thinking of the little squares of unsweetened chocolate that you would melt before using?

 

It is called 'cooking chocolate' (chocolat de cuisine) here - and is very good.

 

(Colleen rushes to hide her overgrown stash......

 

Ha, ha....I have to say that I stash books.....

 

The only things I have not seen explicitly mentioned are gardening and food preservation skills.I never learned either of these skills growing up and frankly I have wasted a lot of time and money trying to figure them out.

 

We've had a garden for ages - but it has been more of a luxury - a place for the children to try to grow things....I'm afraid we would die if we had to feed ourselves seriously. I tried one year to be more serious and the results were so paltry. Dh and I were lying in bed on a very cold morning recently imagining that we were in Europe during the time of the Celts....thinking what would actually make us get out of bed if we were them....to go and light a fire? I think hunger would have been the driving force...We've seen samples of their houses which have looked pretty drafty and cold....It made us think of how hard it used to be to just get some simple food...

 

This isn't negating the gardening - just saying that I'm not good at it and it is not a given to get lots of food out of the ground because one plants some seeds...So I know what you mean about spending time and money trying to figure them out...

 

But about food preservation - I mostly do that in the form of freezing...canning seems to take out so many nutrients....do you have other ideas?

 

growing the herbs saves even more!

It is possible to save a lot growing herbs!

 

Joan

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Lots of wonderful input here, especially contentment and creativity--the mental/emotional/spiritual aspect of frugality is often neglected but without it we risk becoming misers.

 

The only things I have not seen explicitly mentioned are gardening and food preservation skills. I never learned either of these skills growing up and frankly I have wasted a lot of time and money trying to figure them out. Making your own Italian seasoning mix is frugal, but growing the herbs saves even more!

 

I think it depends on where you live. Here I would spend more protecting the herbs from the deer and squirrels than I think I would save. Though I do miss having a big sage plant and rosemary to just go out and grab when I wanted it.

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Though I do miss having a big sage plant and rosemary to just go out and grab when I wanted it.

 

There's hope Sebastian!

 

You could probably grow it inside. I picked a sprig of rosemary a month ago, put it in water in a vase and it's growing roots really well.

 

But I'm not so successful with other ones inside. It's one of those things I had hoped to learn when I'm retired - though maybe will now with dd.:)

 

Joan

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If canning is not your thing, (and I generally only do jam/jellies and pickles because I have lots of freezer space, so I get you) you could try dehydrating, smoking, salting or fermenting. Wild Fermentation is a great book about fermentation (think sauerkraut, kimchee, dill pickles and even things like kombucha if that is your cup of tea...)

 

We ended up with about 100 lbs of free apples from folks who didn't want to pick them up off of their lawn, and maybe 35 lb. of pears. We couldn't possibly eat them all before they went bad so I canned apple sauce and apple butter, but I also dehydrated about a quarter of them. We eat them mostly as snacks, but some folks rehydrate them and cook with them. We've made jerkey with windfall venison that we didn't have freezer room for. Maybe extending the networking idea into one that includes looking for folks who don't use what they grow, if growing doesn't work for you. (there is always someone willing to give zucchini away in August--make friends with a gardener!:lol:)

 

Cheese and yogurt are also ways of "preserving" excess milk, so there is another option...

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Oh, and More With Less is a great place to learn more about frugal cooking. Some recipes are a little too frugal for our taste buds, but it is easy to add more meat/flavor until you are comfortable.

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I think it depends on where you live. Here I would spend more protecting the herbs from the deer and squirrels than I think I would save. Though I do miss having a big sage plant and rosemary to just go out and grab when I wanted it.

 

You can grow herbs inside in pots :)

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I was coming back to add the More with Less Cookbook but I see others beat me to it.

 

Learn the fundamentals of gardening. We've lived all over the country. What grows like bushes in CA won't grow in SD. If you learn the fundamentals of gardening it won't matter where you live.

 

I also wanted to add, learn to bake bread. You don't need fancy equipment (it's nice, I've had it). You just need to know the basics: The Tassajara Bread book (can you get it anymore?) is a great starting place with many cool ideas besides your basic loaf.

Learn how to make some basic soups and white sauce from scratch.

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There are ALDIs in Switzerland... has the OP considered shopping there to bulk up on pantry goods? I find the cake mixes are moist and super cheap to stock up on, for example.

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Learn the fundamentals of gardening. ...If you learn the fundamentals of gardening it won't matter where you live.

 

What are they? Or what book could I read about this?

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Richard J. Needham, columnist:

Three things that can give any young man or woman a running start in this competitive world are good manners, good speech and the habit of reading. The humblest home can assure these, the costliest school cannot.

– Quoted in The Globe and Mail, Toronto

 

I just found that this morning and it seemed to fit right in with the frugal educating part.:001_smile:

 

Wild Fermentation is a great book about fermentation (think sauerkraut, kimchee, dill pickles and even things like kombucha if that is your cup of tea...)

 

I really like kimchee:001_smile: - the idea of fermenting for storage is not something I'd thought of...

 

I also dehydrated about a quarter of them. We eat them mostly as snacks, but some folks rehydrate them and cook with them. We've made jerkey with windfall venison that we didn't have freezer room for.

 

Your family sounds very productive and creatively self-sufficient.

 

Oh, and More With Less is a great place to learn more about frugal cooking. Some recipes are a little too frugal for our taste buds, but it is easy to add more meat/flavor until you are comfortable.

 

Ooo, I forgot about that one! Here is its companion: http://www.amazon.com/Living-More-Doris-Janzen-Longacre/dp/0836195213/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1329252369&sr=1-1 Both are good, common-sense books.

 

I have these books and have forgotten about them:) - but this is a great time to get them out! (I just got out "Living More with Less" and see that she has some good project ideas!)...

 

 

Learn the fundamentals of gardening. We've lived all over the country. What grows like bushes in CA won't grow in SD. If you learn the fundamentals of gardening it won't matter where you live.

 

As Colleen says - 'what are they'? do you have a book to recommend?

 

I also wanted to add, learn to bake bread. You don't need fancy equipment (it's nice, I've had it). You just need to know the basics: The Tassajara Bread book (can you get it anymore?) is a great starting place with many cool ideas besides your basic loaf.

Learn how to make some basic soups and white sauce from scratch.

 

Thanks for the recommendation not to get fancy equip and the Bread book recommendation!

 

There are ALDIs in Switzerland... has the OP considered shopping there to bulk up on pantry goods? I find the cake mixes are moist and super cheap to stock up on, for example.

 

There are Aldis here....I didn't know about good cake mixes there so that's a good idea.

 

I have somewhat given up on the idea of stocking up on pantry goods as it seems that the moment I do, the kids stop eating it. Has anyone else had that phenomenon? (When baggage was cheap and there were no American food stores around, we used to haul American cake mixes back to Europe:), but then they would sit there if I got too many)

 

Joan

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There are Aldis here....I didn't know about good cake mixes there so that's a good idea.

 

I have somewhat given up on the idea of stocking up on pantry goods as it seems that the moment I do, the kids stop eating it. Has anyone else had that phenomenon? (When baggage was cheap and there were no American food stores around, we used to haul American cake mixes back to Europe:), but then they would sit there if I got too many)

 

It depends on what you mean by "pantry goods". To me, pantry goods do not include cake mixes (too limiting for me). To me, pantry goods are the flour, baking soda, sugar, cocoa, vanilla, baking powder, etc. that would go into a cake "mix" and into a diversity of baked goods. To me, cake mixes say, "Make a cake", whereas basic baking ingredients (which are more than just what I listed) say, "Get creative". Then we don't get bored. So, if I've got some basic baking ingredients and then some leftover applesauce, I could say, "Hey, I'll make an apple cake today." Or if I have basic baking ingredients and some ripe bananas and a cup of raisins left in the pantry, I could say, "Hey, let's make two dozen banana muffins, and add raisins to them this time!"

 

Pantry goods, to me (sorry, I keep using that phrase - I just don't want to limit anyone else to what I think of as pantry goods), include things such as huge tins of crushed tomatoes. With those, I can make a huge variety of things, such as spaghetti sauce, pizza sauce, tomato soup, tomato flavouring in a pot of stew, a tomato sauce for some kind of "skillet meal," etc.. This efficiency eliminates the need to stock cans of items advertised as "pasta sauce," "pizza sauce," "tomato soup," "tomato paste," etc.

 

So when I think of pantry goods, I think of items that are basic - the basic grain (a bag of rice, rather than the box of pre-flavoured rice), the basic vegetable (the frozen green beans or the industrial-kitchen-sized tin of tomatoes) or fruit (pineapple canned in its own juice, for example; or the big bag of basic dried dates or raisins), the basic legume (the bag of dried chick peas), the basic meat (the sale-priced ground beef or chicken breasts), the basic sugar/flour/sodium bicarbonate/vinegar, etc. Within these categories is an endless supply of variety from which you can concoct meals not to get bored with.

 

On one trip to the States, I once bought 21 boxes of Raisin Bran because it was super-cheap at a surplus store. We got really sick of it. We like the breakfast variety and possibilities that eggs, rye grains, oat grains, wheat grains, almonds, raisins, dates (all paired with milk or yogurt or cheese, plus some fruit) give us.

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It depends on what you mean by "pantry goods". To me, pantry goods do not include cake mixes (too limiting for me). To me, pantry goods are the flour, baking soda, sugar, cocoa, vanilla, baking powder, etc. that would go into a cake "mix" and into a diversity of baked goods. To me, cake mixes say, "Make a cake", whereas basic baking ingredients (which are more than just what I listed) say, "Get creative". Then we don't get bored. So, if I've got some basic baking ingredients and then some leftover applesauce, I could say, "Hey, I'll make an apple cake today." Or if I have basic baking ingredients and some ripe bananas and a cup of raisins left in the pantry, I could say, "Hey, let's make two dozen banana muffins, and add raisins to them this time!"

 

Pantry goods, to me (sorry, I keep using that phrase - I just don't want to limit anyone else to what I think of as pantry goods), include things such as huge tins of crushed tomatoes. With those, I can make a huge variety of things, such as spaghetti sauce, pizza sauce, tomato soup, tomato flavouring in a pot of stew, a tomato sauce for some kind of "skillet meal," etc.. This efficiency eliminates the need to stock cans of items advertised as "pasta sauce," "pizza sauce," "tomato soup," "tomato paste," etc.

 

So when I think of pantry goods, I think of items that are basic - the basic grain (a bag of rice, rather than the box of pre-flavoured rice), the basic vegetable (the frozen green beans or the industrial-kitchen-sized tin of tomatoes) or fruit (pineapple canned in its own juice, for example; or the big bag of basic dried dates or raisins), the basic legume (the bag of dried chick peas), the basic meat (the sale-priced ground beef or chicken breasts), the basic sugar/flour/sodium bicarbonate/vinegar, etc. Within these categories is an endless supply of variety from which you can concoct meals not to get bored with.

 

On one trip to the States, I once bought 21 boxes of Raisin Bran because it was super-cheap at a surplus store. We got really sick of it. We like the breakfast variety and possibilities that eggs, rye grains, oat grains, wheat grains, almonds, raisins, dates (all paired with milk or yogurt or cheese, plus some fruit) give us.

 

This is a great point. There are some cookbooks in the US that start with the premise of a good pantry of things like spices, canned tomatoes, a couple types of flour, etc. On the other hand, a stocked pantry has to be balanced against small kitchens and the ability to grab something at the corner store to round out a meal

 

I think that working with your pantry also frees you from a lot of the need to buy specific cans of soup or packets of flavoring mixes.

 

The Monday to Friday Cookbook by Urvater is one that helped me think about what to stock in a pantry. But it's by no means the only one out there. And it doesn't really do you any good to have wasabi or pinenuts in the pantry if you don't cook the item that they go into. So I would start with basic items and add things as you add recipe favorites that use them. (Besides, starting a pantry from stratch is no fun and quite expensive. Something I've had to do every couple years for the last few years.)

 

Saving Dinner by Leanne Ely is another cookbook series I've enjoyed. I think some of her stuff is available online.

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I tend to use a few v. old cookbooks like the 1970s versions of the Joy of Cooking, Betty Crocker, Laurel's Kitchen, the Veg. Epicure, etc. Most of those cookbooks use straightforward simple pantry items. My kids have learned to cook that way. We stock up on our staples as we need them and incorporate fresh or frozen foods as our weekly menu dictates. I make a menu every Thurs. and shop once a week. If a staple is on sale I buy a bit (we have a v. small kitchen). Thus our main purchases for the week are mostly perishables and just a few staples as need be.

Do not be afraid to expand your cooking repetory. We have started making Indian Veg. foods this year. There is a great web-site that had dozens of straightforward basic recipes with basic ingredients. Of course this meant new spices, etc. But, we've acquired skills and ingredients slowly. Really fun. We have "curry Tuesday" each week. The leftovers are spectacular!!!

Dd has also found a cupcake site (all made from scratch) we are working our way through the recipes. She has learned many new baking techniques from this experience.

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BTW, something my extended family has done is to make a family cookbook of favorites. We print the recipes onto colored paper, put them into sheet protectors and into a 3 ring binder. This is probably my primary cookbook.

 

The recipes are tried and tested, and are things that we like and have cooked frequently. Beats having a shelf of cookbooks that might only have 1-3 recipes that you really love in each.

 

I use a lot of recipes from Allrecipes.com or from the sites of cookbook writers or chefs (Jaimie Oliver had a couple I enjoyed trying).

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Re: Fundamentals of Gardening. Everyone that gardens will have different/more info but here's my answer.

 

I like John Jeavens, Alternative Action because they use the french intensive style, (square foot) talk about ammending the soil, watering, composting, and have a very scientific approach to food production (charts/ graphs/ etc. a system to creating food production).

 

The basics have to do with answering these questions:

What do you want to grow, where can you grow it? Cost/ benefits.

 

 

You will need to be aware of soil type, watering systems, temps/zones (micro-climate) and crops; veggies, herbs, flowers, canes, bushes/shrubs and trees. Once you have that down companion gardening (tomatoes love carrots, etc) and preservation/storage. (we grow a lot but we eat from our garden every day. There's not always a lot to store.

We live in an area with rich soil but our micro-climate (10 acres) is on a river bed and very gravely. We are also in zone 4, in a river bed so we have a short growing season, but WE are always a week behind our town a mile away and 2 weeks behind our city (45 min away) because of our micro-climate (shorter growing season). One of our next gardening projects is how to extend our season.

 

We can grow grapes like nobodies business. We also live on the Great Plains, on a gravel pit. Trees are hard put to get established here. Really, where you live determines a LOT.

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It depends on what you mean by "pantry goods". To me, pantry goods do not include cake mixes (too limiting for me). To me, pantry goods are the flour, baking soda, sugar, cocoa, vanilla, baking powder, etc. that would go into a cake "mix" and into a diversity of baked goods. To me, cake mixes say, "Make a cake", whereas basic baking ingredients (which are more than just what I listed) say, "Get creative". Then we don't get bored. So, if I've got some basic baking ingredients and then some leftover applesauce, I could say, "Hey, I'll make an apple cake today." Or if I have basic baking ingredients and some ripe bananas and a cup of raisins left in the pantry, I could say, "Hey, let's make two dozen banana muffins, and add raisins to them this time!"

 

Pantry goods, to me (sorry, I keep using that phrase - I just don't want to limit anyone else to what I think of as pantry goods), include things such as huge tins of crushed tomatoes. With those, I can make a huge variety of things, such as spaghetti sauce, pizza sauce, tomato soup, tomato flavouring in a pot of stew, a tomato sauce for some kind of "skillet meal," etc.. This efficiency eliminates the need to stock cans of items advertised as "pasta sauce," "pizza sauce," "tomato soup," "tomato paste," etc.

 

So when I think of pantry goods, I think of items that are basic - the basic grain (a bag of rice, rather than the box of pre-flavoured rice), the basic vegetable (the frozen green beans or the industrial-kitchen-sized tin of tomatoes) or fruit (pineapple canned in its own juice, for example; or the big bag of basic dried dates or raisins), the basic legume (the bag of dried chick peas), the basic meat (the sale-priced ground beef or chicken breasts), the basic sugar/flour/sodium bicarbonate/vinegar, etc. Within these categories is an endless supply of variety from which you can concoct meals not to get bored with.

 

On one trip to the States, I once bought 21 boxes of Raisin Bran because it was super-cheap at a surplus store. We got really sick of it. We like the breakfast variety and possibilities that eggs, rye grains, oat grains, wheat grains, almonds, raisins, dates (all paired with milk or yogurt or cheese, plus some fruit) give us.

 

Great post, Colleen. I agree.

 

I don't know what it is like in Europe, but my pantry essentials are buckets of grain and what I refer to as 10 lb cans. Unmilled grain stored properly will last almost indefinitely.

 

Bags of grain, rice, sucanat, gallon bottles of honey, olive oil, etc provide the basic ingredients to almost any baking. Oat groats can be blended in a blender with water to make "oat milk" and be used as a milk replacer in breads (and I think actually tastes better).

 

Sauces made from scratch (ok, not quite, but from cans of crushed and diced tomatoes) are not only cheaper, but taste better. I typically use my 16 quart soup pot and make a huge batch of spaghetti sauce at one time and freeze the remainder in portions.

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Sauces made from scratch (ok, not quite, but from cans of crushed and diced tomatoes) are not only cheaper, but taste better. I typically use my 16 quart soup pot and make a huge batch of spaghetti sauce at one time and freeze the remainder in portions.

 

FYI: I just read that tomatos stored in cans (along with beans and soda because of the acid) create a chemical reaction that is dangerous. Tomatoes stored in glass are a much better alternative.

i have always purchased the 5# cans at Sams of Tomatoe sauce (sometimes under $3)- it's cheaper than growing! but I am re-thinking this.

A great way to store home-grown tomatoes is to put them in a freezer bag and freeze. When ready to use, take out what you want, rinse under hot water. The skins fall off, throw in pot, voila. I've done this with grape tomatoes too and just left the skins on. Great summer taste :001_smile:

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FYI: I just read that tomatos stored in cans (along with beans and soda because of the acid) create a chemical reaction that is dangerous. Tomatoes stored in glass are a much better alternative.

i have always purchased the 5# cans at Sams of Tomatoe sauce (sometimes under $3)- it's cheaper than growing! but I am re-thinking this.

A great way to store home-grown tomatoes is to put them in a freezer bag and freeze. When ready to use, take out what you want, rinse under hot water. The skins fall off, throw in pot, voila. I've done this with grape tomatoes too and just left the skins on. Great summer taste :001_smile:

 

When I was a kid, my grandparents had the most amazing garden. I remember bringing home paper grocery bags full of corn, beets, squash, carrots, etc.

 

We would spend a day or two in the kitchen prepping the veggies and putting them into Seal A Meal bags for the freezer. Each bag had a meal's worth of veggies. Great stuff. (Though not necessarily practical for Euro freezers. Alas.)

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Whatever the financial circumstances, I think that our teens (and younger children) need to learn how to prioritize. Determine what is important and then work/save for that goal.

 

I think back on when my now college aged son was preschool age. He attended a Montessori because that was our priority. At some event I was chatting with a mother who noted that she would love to have her child at the Montessori, but it was so expensive. I was taken aback. This family had a huge boat (the kind with a couple of motors that burns lots of fuel). It was a matter of priorities. That family wanted a big boat. We wanted a Montessori education for our child. Clearly both families had some disposable income. What they did with it was a matter of priorities.

 

When my son asked for things as a young child, I would ask him to prioritize. Do you want a computer game system or would your rather use the funds to take a science class? It seems that so many families we knew felt obligated to buy stuff for their kids. My son, while having lots of stuff, had fewer electronics for example, but many more travel opportunities.

 

Encourage saving as a habit. I am a natural saver and my son is following in my footsteps. Parents must open savings accounts for young children. My son never knew of a time when he didn't have a savings account. He grew up with the habit of making deposits--not just spending money when it came to him.

 

4-H is a learning by doing sort of organization. I believe that some of their curricular materials can be downloaded for free (link). In my area, Master Gardeners are running Junior Master Gardener clubs, a great way for kids to get their hands in the soil. There are sewing classes. My son use to teach electronics classes.

 

One of the harder things that teens sometimes is ask themselves whether they can live without something that everyone else has. I read a really great article in a newspaper last summer (wish I could find it again) on how young people are drawn to vintage clothing and how many are eating whole grain/sustainable type diets. Wouldn't it be great if there was a movement to embrace minimal and old electronics? So instead having the newest phone, how about seeing how long you can make that phone or MP3 player or whatever continue to serve your needs The argument was that our landfills would have less toxic junk. Perhaps there would be less discord in places Congo where people are exploited for the mineral coltan which goes into our cell phones.

 

Everyone else seems to have covered the cooking issue nicely. I'll just note to add beans to the pantry.

 

Jane

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Re: Fundamentals of Gardening. Everyone that gardens will have different/more info but here's my answer.

 

I like John Jeavens, Alternative Action because they use the french intensive style, (square foot) talk about ammending the soil, watering, composting, and have a very scientific approach to food production (charts/ graphs/ etc. a system to creating food production).

 

The basics have to do with answering these questions:

What do you want to grow, where can you grow it? Cost/ benefits.

 

 

You will need to be aware of soil type, watering systems, temps/zones (micro-climate) and crops; veggies, herbs, flowers, canes, bushes/shrubs and trees. Once you have that down companion gardening (tomatoes love carrots, etc) and preservation/storage. (we grow a lot but we eat from our garden every day. There's not always a lot to store.

We live in an area with rich soil but our micro-climate (10 acres) is on a river bed and very gravely. We are also in zone 4, in a river bed so we have a short growing season, but WE are always a week behind our town a mile away and 2 weeks behind our city (45 min away) because of our micro-climate (shorter growing season). One of our next gardening projects is how to extend our season.

 

We can grow grapes like nobodies business. We also live on the Great Plains, on a gravel pit. Trees are hard put to get established here. Really, where you live determines a LOT.

 

Thank you! And you just reminded me that I was in a garden down south last summer, and one of the owners mentioned that the other owner had careful notes about what could be grown when/where/with what, *about that particular plot of land,* and that a mile or two away, the notes would be radically different. I'd never thought of that before (clearly I am not a gardener - though I keep thinking I should be).

 

Whatever the financial circumstances, I think that our teens (and younger children) need to learn how to prioritize. Determine what is important and then work/save for that goal.

 

I think back on when my now college aged son was preschool age. He attended a Montessori because that was our priority. At some event I was chatting with a mother who noted that she would love to have her child at the Montessori, but it was so expensive. I was taken aback. This family had a huge boat (the kind with a couple of motors that burns lots of fuel). It was a matter of priorities. That family wanted a big boat. We wanted a Montessori education for our child. Clearly both families had some disposable income. What they did with it was a matter of priorities.

 

When my son asked for things as a young child, I would ask him to prioritize. Do you want a computer game system or would your rather use the funds to take a science class? It seems that so many families we knew felt obligated to buy stuff for their kids. My son, while having lots of stuff, had fewer electronics for example, but many more travel opportunities.

 

Encourage saving as a habit. I am a natural saver and my son is following in my footsteps. Parents must open savings accounts for young children. My son never knew of a time when he didn't have a savings account. He grew up with the habit of making deposits--not just spending money when it came to him.

 

4-H is a learning by doing sort of organization. I believe that some of their curricular materials can be downloaded for free (link). In my area, Master Gardeners are running Junior Master Gardener clubs, a great way for kids to get their hands in the soil. There are sewing classes. My son use to teach electronics classes.

 

One of the harder things that teens sometimes is ask themselves whether they can live without something that everyone else has. I read a really great article in a newspaper last summer (wish I could find it again) on how young people are drawn to vintage clothing and how many are eating whole grain/sustainable type diets. Wouldn't it be great if there was a movement to embrace minimal and old electronics? So instead having the newest phone, how about seeing how long you can make that phone or MP3 player or whatever continue to serve your needs The argument was that our landfills would have less toxic junk. Perhaps there would be less discord in places Congo where people are exploited for the mineral coltan which goes into our cell phones.

 

Everyone else seems to have covered the cooking issue nicely. I'll just note to add beans to the pantry.

 

Jane

 

Your whole post just raises the longing in me (again) to sell our house (so, not feed the mortgage monster anymore) and go do some other things instead.

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So many good ideas! I can't quote them all or there will just be pages of quotes now.:001_smile:

 

I happened to be near Aldi's today so went in....it seemed quite small - maybe smaller than in the US? and the cake mixes were the European kind - that look, and usually are, pretty dry....I think it must be due to the market - for some reason, some people here like 'dry' cakes....but I did find some other needed items.

 

Colleen - Your examples are really helpful - how to work in those extra ingredients or leftovers and ‘go with the flow' so to speak...Seems like you have this brain full of possible recipes...I think I'm just starting this flexibility. Hopefully my dd will be able to learn it earlier than I am...Thanks for helping me rethink "pantry" and ‘basics'. And for your "after Jane's post" point - how did you get to ‘selling your house' from her post? Isn't it more economical in the US/Canada to own your house?

 

Sebastian - First, I'm really glad you started the Frugal(ish) Recipes thread. I was just thinking of making soup and somehow nothing from the cookbooks looked appealing (needed a personal recommendation I think) and I was waiting for your Italian Salad Dressing (one of those items that we've brought back from the US). Thanks for the cookbook ideas too. We too, have started a family cookbook - well now the children are starting their own, with their favorite recipes and even put them on the web so that their brothers who are in distant cities can access them too (on ‘dropbox'). About the Seal a Meal bags of vegies - what do you mean ‘a meal's worth of vegies' - for a stew? Or soup? So you didn't blanche them? (Question for freezing vegies - is it bad if you don't blanche them?)

 

Memphispeg - We like the Veg Epicure too but have since moved to the Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home (I think it is - easy, economical, vegetarian mostly - we do eat meat but I like vegetarian dishes). We have done a lot of Indian food in the past (since we lived in Malaysia at one point, where they have a lot of Indian and other Asian restaurants). The kids really like dahl - which is cheap. But some Indian cooking takes so long, so I'm curious about the web-site you mention - also the cupcake one?

 

Laughing lioness - I didn't know about ‘companion gardening'....the biointensive site looks helpful....Your micro/climate comments seem so important, but something we haven't been taking into consideration....About tomatoes - yes we've been putting them in the freezer too (but don't really have enough space for too many - but they taste like fresh tomatoes then if you put in a salsa) or we've made salsa and frozen it (we do a few wise things)

 

8FTH - just looked up ‘sucanet' - I bought some of this by mistake one time and it is still sitting in the cupboard. How do you use it? I like the ‘oat milk' recipe; I used to pay a lot for oat milk until they stopped carrying it....and I was just noticing ‘oats' in my cupboard....

 

Jane in NC - "Prioritizing" could be a lesson in itself - an ongoing lesson...Thank you for all the real life examples!

 

Thank you ladies!!! I think we can take the rest of the school year going through this thread carefully....

Joan

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Sebastian - First, I'm really glad you started the Frugal(ish) Recipes thread. I was just thinking of making soup and somehow nothing from the cookbooks looked appealing (needed a personal recommendation I think) and I was waiting for your Italian Salad Dressing (one of those items that we've brought back from the US). Thanks for the cookbook ideas too. We too, have started a family cookbook - well now the children are starting their own, with their favorite recipes and even put them on the web so that their brothers who are in distant cities can access them too (on ‘dropbox'). About the Seal a Meal bags of vegies - what do you mean ‘a meal's worth of vegies' - for a stew? Or soup? So you didn't blanche them? (Question for freezing vegies - is it bad if you don't blanche them?)

 

I was pretty young when my grandparents passed away. So I remember helping seal the bags, but not necessarily how to prep everything.

 

I think the corn was blanched to make it easy to get off of the cob. Also, it probably sealed the sweetness in by cooking it a bit.

 

One bag would have enough squash, corn, beets, etc to be the side dish at a meal. So it was several servings worth, rather than just one.

 

The squash must have been pretty well cooked, because I remember it being soft, not chunked. We would dump it out of the bag into a ceramic dish and reheat it in the microwave with butter.

 

I'm afraid that other than that, you're going to have to get advice on freezing produce from elsewhere. In that sector I have good memories, but not useful skills.

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Colleen - Your examples are really helpful - how to work in those extra ingredients or leftovers and ‘go with the flow' so to speak...Seems like you have this brain full of possible recipes...I think I'm just starting this flexibility.

 

I learned this from the Tightwad Gazette. Amy has "recipe formulas" in there - she might call them something different, I can't remember - but I think of them as universal formulas. For example, she analyzed what ingredients, chemistry, and process made a great, basic muffin. Then she wrote out the formula, and wrote out the possibilities of what you could substitute in that formula. For example, she says instead of using all flour, you could sub in some rolled oats for the grain part of the recipe. She also says something like "up to 1 c. 'wet ingredients'" and then gives examples of wet ingredients (applesauce, banana, any pureed fruit or veg, etc.) and a certain amount of dry "extras" - such as raisins, chocolate chips, nuts, seeds, whatever you have on hand that you think might be great to put in a muffin.

 

I think she also had a universal bread recipe, too. So, for example, when I made whole wheat bread the other day, I discovered some flax seeds that had been sitting in my freezer for months, so I dumped them all in. We are eating flax-seedy bread this week. I've never had it before, but it's nice and crunchy (I like to experiment with using up stuff we already have - one time I made pureed-turnip cornbread - not so great-tasting, but edible for that night's stew - dunk it in the stew and it's fine :D).

 

I think she also has universal recipes for soups, stews, and casseroles. She also shows you how you can turn these mediums into the other mediums. You can make a leftover casserole into a stew by adding a bit of water, or a soup by adding more water. You can turn leftover stew into soup by adding water (and additional veggies, grains, leftover bits of meat, etc.). You can turn a soup into a stew by loading it up with more veggies/beans/grains and thickening the soup stock with flour or cornstarch. You can also put anything into a stir-fry, and a leftover stir-fry into anything. You can also put leftover *anything* into any of these formulas. Even that pureed squash could go into either a soup, or into a batch of muffins, or even batch of bread. It's fun to experiment once you get the idea.

 

So, my brain has these universal formulas in it, and I operate from there. I know the basics of how to cook (boiling water, sauteing onions, testing to see if individual ingredients are cooked all the way through, etc.), as opposed to being limited to following individual recipes. And I bet most of us know the basics of how to cook. You just have to rearrange your thinking about it. Go check out the Tightwad Gazette articles that Amy wrote - skip the letters and tidbits of tips sections for now.

 

And for your "after Jane's post" point - how did you get to ‘selling your house' from her post? Isn't it more economical in the US/Canada to own your house?

 

As opposed to renting? I guess it depends. And it depends if you want to live in a house, or apartment, or RV, or boat or...It also depends on where you live - if we moved to the boonies of NS, we could find a cheaper house to buy. But then we'd be further away from health care, opportunities, dh's work, my possible future work, future educational opportunities for our kids, etc. And so this is where Jane's "priorities post" comes in. What do I want to prioritize - living near where dh can make a living/health care/groceries/opportunities/possible work for me/etc.? Or living with a lower mortgage or possibly none, yet living further out from dh's work area/health care, etc.. These are the kinds of things dh and I hash out periodically. Is it a priority for us to live in this area? Own a house? Me to not work for pay at this time? Or, should we consider selling, moving to a different area, and figuring out a new way to take care of ourselves, so that we can do some other things like travel and give our kids some opportunities that I'd dearly love for them to have?

 

I was just thinking of making soup and somehow nothing from the cookbooks looked appealing (needed a personal recommendation I think)

 

Go find your daughter! :D Look around in your fridge/freezer/pantry with her, and tell her "I want soup. We need to put protein, veggies, and water/spices/herbs in it. What do we have that we can put into the soup pot and make the concoction taste good?" (a base of sauteed onions is soooooo good in any soup/stew/casserole/stirfry) Then you go make a batch of muffins to go with what she comes up with.

 

what do you mean ‘a meal's worth of vegies'

 

One of dh's students gave us two spaghetti squashes a few weeks ago. I cut them up and cooked ithem, mashed them, then divided the mash out into 2 c. containers (so, I calculated 1/2 c. servings for each person - there are four of us in our family) to freeze (incidentally, when they are frozen, I pop the frozen blocks out of the containers and seal them into zipped freezer bags, so I can reuse the containers to shape more easy-to-store frozen mashed or cooked items such as cooked legumes or other cooked veggies). My Canada food guide (magneted to the fridge for quick reference) tells me that 1/2 c. cooked veggies = one serving. So, if I freeze veggies in 2 c. blocks, I know one block = one meal's worth of veggies for my family. Or, if I have a bag of loose green beans or peas or broccoli or whatever, I just measure out 2 c. of veggies for one meal. Or 4 c. if I'm doubling up a soup/stew/casserole, etc. - which I often do because it's more economical as far as stove/oven use goes. My MIL gave me two more 9x13 glass baking pans for Christmas one year, to add to my two, so I can use the oven very efficiently for rolls or casseroles or apple crisps or cooking up donations of squash. :D

 

8FTH - just looked up ‘sucanet' - I bought some of this by mistake one time and it is still sitting in the cupboard. How do you use it? I like the ‘oat milk' recipe; I used to pay a lot for oat milk until they stopped carrying it....and I was just noticing ‘oats' in my cupboard....

 

Now you're talkin'.....:D

 

I'm sure 8Fill will give you some good ideas. You can also get your daughter to look up sucanat in a book, or online - "how to use up sucanat" or something like that.

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Oh, and More With Less is a great place to learn more about frugal cooking. Some recipes are a little too frugal for our taste buds, but it is easy to add more meat/flavor until you are comfortable.

 

More With Less has been my favorite cookbook for over 30 years!

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I subscribe to Get Rich Slowly blog: it covers various topics, and has featured Dave Ramsey once, and Mary Hunt, and today it was about a Teen planning on saving money for college, cuttting costs, etc. And Crown Financial is a good place as well. I am learning from the Amish this year: very humbling, although they avoid many pitfalls, they only educate up to the 8th grade. Still, I wish we could go without electricity, and work harder to live off the land. I went from canning to freezing vegetables, but an ice storm ruined a huge freezer when we lost power for over 3 weeks. So, I have decided to can again this year!

 

And it is tough following the advice on 1 income, especially with my health issues in the past year. I am hoping to get out of our pit quickly!

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I just found this thread...and I think Colleen and I were seperated at birth.;)

Reading through Tightwad Gazette when I was first married completely changed my cooking/shopping mindset. Great book. Worth every penny I paid for it (from the used book store, of course...):)

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I just found this thread...and I think Colleen and I were seperated at birth.;)

Reading through Tightwad Gazette when I was first married completely changed my cooking/shopping mindset. Great book. Worth every penny I paid for it (from the used book store, of course...):)

 

Hey, you live in Maine, and I grew up in Maine. I know Amy lives near the Lewiston-Auburn area (at least, she says so in her book), and I'd love to meet her sometime. :D A couple of years ago, I was in that city area with my Mom, and we were yard-saling. I kept thinking, "I have no idea what Amy Dacyzyn looks like, but I might run into her at one of these yard sales!!!"

 

Oh, and yes, my first copy of the complete TG was given to me as a brand-new gift. And then, one day I was yard-saling (again, with Mom in Maine, but in southern Maine), and I spotted another copy of the complete TG. For $1, I scooped it up and gave it to my son. I aim to find another copy for my daughter. :D They both love the book, too. :D

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I'm working on my Swiss taxes and was going to reward myself with getting to post when finished - but - I'm still not finished. So I'm going to cheat with a quick post:).

 

loesje (well your mother it seems), Colleen and anyone else who cooks without recipes - I don't know how you manage to do that all the time. I would never be at rest. I manage to do it very rarely. I think I'd always be worried about what we were going to eat. But also - your husbands don't mind? My husband always insisted that I don't experiment on the 'guests' - meaning with a new recipe. He didn't like me experimenting so much on him either:). Do you just have very flexible husbands?

 

I'll be back tomorrow hopefully,

Joan

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I'm working on my Swiss taxes and was going to reward myself with getting to post when finished - but - I'm still not finished. So I'm going to cheat with a quick post:).

 

loesje (well your mother it seems), Colleen and anyone else who cooks without recipes - I don't know how you manage to do that all the time. I would never be at rest. I manage to do it very rarely. I think I'd always be worried about what we were going to eat. But also - your husbands don't mind? My husband always insisted that I don't experiment on the 'guests' - meaning with a new recipe. He didn't like me experimenting so much on him either:). Do you just have very flexible husbands?

 

I'll be back tomorrow hopefully,

Joan

 

I hardly ever cook with recipes. My dh grew up with a mom who did and who couldn't cook (home ec teacher- lol!). He is very happy with about 98% of what I put in front of him. The key is to know the principals of dishes- like Amy D points out in her Tightwad Gazetter books. A casserole (we don't make them- dh won't eat them or meatloaf- the 2 big "no-no's!") is a meat, carb, binder.

That is also how I make bread. Hot liqued, yeast, flour. Add in's are optional.

Same with salad. Bed of something green; nuts, fruit, veggies, meats, seeds, nuts, cheese, etc.

 

Most of our meals consist of a meat, a carb and a veggie or two. I make marinades and put meat from the store in freezer bags with the marinade to freeze. The meat absorbs it as it thaws.

 

We eat the same types of things over and over. I do look up recipes every now and then but I have tons memorized. Also, we grow a new veggie or two every year so I have to figure out how to cook them, but roasted veggies are always a win!

hth. looking forward to reading what others have to say.

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loesje (well your mother it seems), Colleen and anyone else who cooks without recipes - I don't know how you manage to do that all the time. I would never be at rest. I manage to do it very rarely. I think I'd always be worried about what we were going to eat. But also - your husbands don't mind? My husband always insisted that I don't experiment on the 'guests' - meaning with a new recipe. He didn't like me experimenting so much on him either:). Do you just have very flexible husbands?

 

I have a tolerant husband, who hates lentils-and-lets-me-know-that but eats a small portion anyway, who also knows that I am doing my best to make the most of what we have. He's also a trained cook who hates cooking, so he defers to what I make. Along with the lentils, he gets a steady supply of homemade chocolate chip cookies and other goodies. :D So he doesn't complain much. And if I am out on a weekend evening and he needs to make supper, he appreciates having the variety of pantry, freezer, fresh produce, pre-cooked "convenience" items to choose from, to make whatever he wants. (he never chooses legumes - he always picks the pre-cooked ground beef or turkey or chicken for the protein portion :D)

 

About worry - I understand that. It took me awhile to switch my mindset around. But once I started experimenting and challenging myself to make use of what we had and what was on sale, instead of "shopping to make up a meal," it gradually got easier. It also took awhile to build up a rotating stock of pantry items and pre-cooked-and-frozen blocks of beans, shredded meat, even pre-cooked-and-frozen blocks of grain (rye, oats, kamut - which I bought at a super-duper discount months ago, etc.) that I can use for quick breakfasts. But once I got into *that* routine, too, it got easier. Going back to the other way of shopping for weekly meals would now make *me* feel worried and restless. I would be thinking, "Oh, I need green peppers for the pasta sauce, but I forgot to buy some this week!" whereas now, there are usually a few huge bags of frozen diced peppers in my freezer, to be accessed if I feel like making pasta sauce (or pizza, or chili, or...) tonight, so I don't worry about individual meals anymore.

 

It's really just a mindset change. But it does take time. I understand where you are coming from. I encourage you to dig out your Tightwad Gazette books (do you have them all? Or the complete set in one book?) and read Amy's articles - they are easy to find, because they are longer than the tips and letter sections.

 

BTW, you can always experiment with mostly things you think your dh *will* like. If he absolutely hates lentils and will draw the line at experimenting with them, and your budget can tolerate not having to use legumes most of the time for protein (assuming legumes are cheaper than meat where you live), then experiment with what he won't draw the line at. Does he like chicken? Experiment with buying a 20 kg box of chicken legs (if they are inexpensive compared to other chicken parts), de-skinning them, cooking them all, deboning them, freezing the shredded chicken. Enjoy the convenience of taking out a portion for your meal that night. Enjoy knowing that you've just cut massively down on your energy bill and cleanup time by doing a mass-cooking session (that really doesn't take that much longer to prepare). Enjoy knowing that more cooked chicken is at your disposal for another night, at a cheap price, and to your dh's liking. That chicken can go into a variety of yummy meals and be spiced up any way you like. Experiment within what your marriage/family/budget can tolerate, and then step back and see what experiment results will thrive. :D And you never know what he may come to tolerate and enjoy, too.

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