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Joan in GE

Life skills - frugal home-making & home educating

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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 very rarely use recipes, I just improvise with whatever ingredients are at hand. My husband is pretty easygoing where food is concerned - but really, the food I prepare without a recipe does not taste less good than the food I prepare with a recipe.

I mean, once you know basic techniques for preparing meat or veggies, you can improvise, add stuff, swap ingredients.

My DD likes to cook too, and she just thrown things together. I don't know, it's really not difficult.

 

There are a few things DH does not like, and if I cook them (a few veggies) I prepare a second side dish he likes.

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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 think knowing how to cook without a recipe is about knowing how the foods react to heat and with eachother, how to blend flavors that you know go well together.

 

You'll get an instinctive feel to how long something is going to need to be sauteed, roasted, or, like Laughing Lioness said, blended (as in a meatloaf).

 

I DO have a flexible husband but he also has a broad food base in his own heritage, so he thinks nothing of eating pretty strange stuff. :D And, there's always toast and eggs for when you screw up. ;)

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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.

 

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.

 

I am so guilty of "shopping to make a meal", and I really need to do better. There is usually almost everything I need in the pantry to cook a meal, but I always end up at the grocery store, looking for some kind of meat. I probably need to order the More With Less cookbook that has been mentioned.

 

I also have two of the Tightwad Gazette books, so I should get those out and read through them again this weekend.

 

I am enjoying following along with this thread. It is very helpful, enlightening, and motivating!

 

Editing....

 

One thing I do with lentils is to add them to meatball mix as a stretcher. I also like to make lentil *burgers*. They are wonderful on a whole wheat bun with all the fixings. Black bean burgers are great, too!

 

I found boxes of stuffing mix after the holidays on sale for 25 cents a box. Granted, it's not entirely healthy, but it's a wonderful add-in to meatloaf or salmon patties. I usually use only about a third of the box to mix in with the meatloaf or salmon mix. I tend to throw everything but the kitchen sink into salmon patties when I make them (grated carrot, bread crumbs, dill pickle relish, tablespoon of mayo, mustard.)

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I am so guilty of "shopping to make a meal", and I really need to do better. QUOTE]

 

I think this might be something to address re: life skills. How to save money by shopping from a list, going to the store infrequently and sticking to a budget.

 

I shop once a week (very, very rarely buy groceries outside of the shopping trip). Many gals in our co-op couldn't belive it. There were comments about how I let my kids starve. Um, no we plan for the week :lol:. We eat kind of the same things over and over but it's fairly healthy and simple within an adequate but not overly generous budget. We have baking supplies at home- it's easy to bake bread or cookies if people get bored.

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I am so guilty of "shopping to make a meal", and I really need to do better. QUOTE]

 

I think this might be something to address re: life skills. How to save money by shopping from a list, going to the store infrequently and sticking to a budget.

 

I shop once a week (very, very rarely buy groceries outside of the shopping trip). Many gals in our co-op couldn't belive it. There were comments about how I let my kids starve. Um, no we plan for the week :lol:. We eat kind of the same things over and over but it's fairly healthy and simple within an adequate but not overly generous budget. We have baking supplies at home- it's easy to bake bread or cookies if people get bored.

I do the same. I hate shopping and getting it over with in one go around not only saves money but time (which is money). We eat a lot of the same things over and over also, but if "interesting" stuff is on sale or in season, we change up our menu to incorporate that.

My family realizes that my cooking is largely improvisational and have learned that that is part of their "luxury" of having someone preparing hot, fresh homecooked meals daily. They offer their opinions and if they are "sick of the same old stuff" offer new recipes or ideas. The kids do a lot of the "sweets" preparation. I really am not a big dessert person, though I do love a good pie!!!!

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My post got rejected as it was too long - so I'm cutting it in two....I've cut out part of the posts just so this post isn't so long. But it doesn't mean that I'm not learning from the part I cut out.

 

And even for the advice that is at odds with each other - I'm getting good at holding contradictory information in my head and find that for various situations one works and the other doesn't and then vice versa...Thinking of the recipe vs no recipe lifestyles.....I definitely have to learn more about how to go with the flow. But recipes will still come in handy

 

newsbreak - we had a dinner guest so I made your carrot soup Sebastian, which was delicious and so easy with a hand blender (immersion), as I didn't want to experiment on my guest:), thinking that at least you had experience with the recipe. But Colleen, I'll do as you say for soup without guest next time.

 

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.

 

Thank you for the info you did include....

 

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 did actually use her muffin recipe a lot - though tended after awhile to just make blueberry muffins. Very good. BUT I never saw/remembered seeing her other universal formulas....I'll tell you a new anecdote about this in another thread (to be started soon)

 

Thanks for encouraging about those other formulas as I see it is an invaluable base to start with - now for dd....If only I can 'free' my mind a bit.

 

Ok, I understand your 'house' comment now.

 

 

 

Go find your daughter! :D

 

I wish I could watch you in action. But all the examples that you've written out are almost as good. I'm starting to see how it works....Thanks for the push:001_smile:

 

 

 

 

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!

 

:grouphug: about the freezer food loss and health issues!!!! Thanks for the other ideas...

 

..and I think Colleen and I were seperated at birth.;)
You made me laugh!

 

Maybe not home-making in it's original meaning, but what always have been helpfull in our family was:

 

being able to

do (small) repairs of house hold items yourself,

do maintenance of house, car or bicycle,

do wallpapering, painting

re-use materials (making a skirt from a dress, table mats from old cloths etc. )

 

how to live without too much electric items.

and how to knit/sew/crochet warm cloths.

 

and yes my mother never uses any recipe, she always cooked with the available items so we ate very diverse and alternative but we enjoyed :D

 

 

Thanks loesje. I never thought of making a skirt from a dress. I'm going to look at dresses in the reusit shops with new eyes.....we have saved lots of money with home repairs. And thankfully my husband feels personally challenged every time a repairman says the appliance needs to be replaced. Eg. three months ago, they said our dishwasher wouldn't work any more and dh had him put in a little valve that stops backflow and it is still working..

 

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.

 

I'm glad you give your examples too. The more people write with out they do it personally, the more I can start to see myself doing these things.....

 

Continued in next post....

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Continuation from previous post, due to length...

 

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.

 

You're going to make me a creative cook yet, Colleen.:001_smile:

 

I very rarely use recipes, I just improvise with whatever ingredients are at hand. My husband is pretty easygoing where food is concerned - but really, the food I prepare without a recipe does not taste less good than the food I prepare with a recipe.

I mean, once you know basic techniques for preparing meat or veggies, you can improvise, add stuff, swap ingredients.

My DD likes to cook too, and she just thrown things together. I don't know, it's really not difficult.

 

There are a few things DH does not like, and if I cook them (a few veggies) I prepare a second side dish he likes.

This is sweet of you; I see how you are accommodating your dh and it gives me ideas....

 

there's always toast and eggs for when you screw up. ;)

 

Good point...

 

I am so guilty of "shopping to make a meal", and I really need to do better. .....

 

One thing I do with lentils is to add them to meatball mix as a stretcher. I also like to make lentil *burgers*. They are wonderful on a whole wheat bun with all the fixings. Black bean burgers are great, too!

 

I found boxes of stuffing mix after the holidays on sale for 25 cents a box. Granted, it's not entirely healthy, but it's a wonderful add-in to meatloaf or salmon patties. I usually use only about a third of the box to mix in with the meatloaf or salmon mix. I tend to throw everything but the kitchen sink into salmon patties when I make them (grated carrot, bread crumbs, dill pickle relish, tablespoon of mayo, mustard.)

 

I appreciate the 'editted' part ideas! We love black beans but I've never made burgers with them...and adding lentils as a stretcher would be really useful here where meat is very expensive....

 

I think this might be something to address re: life skills. How to save money by shopping from a list, going to the store infrequently and sticking to a budget.

 

I shop once a week (very, very rarely buy groceries outside of the shopping trip). Many gals in our co-op couldn't belive it. There were comments about how I let my kids starve. Um, no we plan for the week :lol:. We eat kind of the same things over and over but it's fairly healthy and simple within an adequate but not overly generous budget. We have baking supplies at home- it's easy to bake bread or cookies if people get bored.

 

I like to shop once a week too. But my husband complains that the vegies aren't fresh then. I try to tell him that they're sitting around in a storeroom somewhere before they get to the store too....but he isn't convinced...but you are giving a good example for me - about contentment...

 

I do the same. I hate shopping and getting it over with in one go around not only saves money but time (which is money). We eat a lot of the same things over and over also, but if "interesting" stuff is on sale or in season, we change up our menu to incorporate that.

My family realizes that my cooking is largely improvisational and have learned that that is part of their "luxury" of having someone preparing hot, fresh homecooked meals daily.

 

Thank you for more good examples...

 

They offer their opinions and if they are "sick of the same old stuff" offer new recipes or ideas.

 

You've also helped me see that I was catering too much to my husband and children in years past....getting them to find new recipes and take initiative...I'm thinking I was the helicopter cook...

 

From all these posts I can see how important it is to be concerned about the time, energy, money, and attitude towards food!

 

This really has to be one of the concepts in relation to contentment I think - gratefulness for what is on the plate even if it isn't like something from a gourmet restaurant...

 

It seems important in relation to choice of spouse....:)

 

Joan

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I never thought of making a skirt from a dress. I'm going to look at dresses in the reusit shops with new eyes.....we have saved lots of money with home repairs. And thankfully my husband feels personally challenged every time a repairman says the appliance needs to be replaced. Eg. three months ago, they said our dishwasher wouldn't work any more and dh had him put in a little valve that stops backflow and it is still working..

 

Sounds like your dh is already frugal-minded - everyone has their areas of interest and expertise in making the most of what we have.

 

I made a (non-necessity, but fun anyway) Christmas tree skirt this past year from a thrift shop tablecloth. It was a circular tablecloth, made from a really nice, tightly-woven, medium-weight red cotton. I snapped it up for about $3 and went to work on it. I cut a circle from the middle of the circle, cut a slit from the edge to the newly-created circle, and bound and hemmed the raw edges. Then I decorated it with embroidery.

 

Something else I once did was go to a "Bag Sale Day" at a thrift store - they were selling all-you-can-stuff-into-a-huge-garbage-bag clothing for $7/bag. My mother and I were looking around, seeing if there was clothing we wanted to buy. We found a few items, but not really enough to bother stuffing a bag. :D Then, I had an idea. I love to use "real" fabrics for small sewing/gift projects (thus, why I like to buy pretty cotton sheets from thrift stores) - I don't like synthetics. I said to my mother (who loves crazy ideas, too), "Hey, Mom, I'm going to stuff the bag with pretty cotton shirts (not stretchy cotton as in t-shirts, though) and silk shirts, and use the fabric for projects!" She lit right up. We stuffed that bag. And I have wonderful pieces of fabric to use for all sorts of small gifts or decorating projects. One year for Christmas gifts I made those little purse tissue holders, out of bright silk and with cotton linings - then I embroidered them. My friends to whom I gave them loved them - said they were luxurious.

 

You're going to make me a creative cook yet, Colleen.:001_smile:

 

From all these posts I can see how important it is to be concerned about the time, energy, money, and attitude towards food!

 

I hope I haven't seemed pushy - I am just passionate about this because learning how to do this was so helpful to our budget a few years ago during a crisis.

 

But, there are so many creative ways to frugally make a home and to frugally home-educate. But yes, food is one of the bigger expenses of a family, so it pays to pay attention to the food budget.

 

I hope you'll post in the future, about what kinds of things you are doing with your daughter! It would be fun to hear what you come up with.

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I hope I haven't seemed pushy - I am just passionate about this because learning how to do this was so helpful to our budget a few years ago during a crisis.

 

But, there are so many creative ways to frugally make a home and to frugally home-educate. But yes, food is one of the bigger expenses of a family, so it pays to pay attention to the food budget.

 

I hope you'll post in the future, about what kinds of things you are doing with your daughter! It would be fun to hear what you come up with.

 

No you don't seem pushy, just full of good will and ideas. I truly appreciate all your explanations and descriptions as they help me imagine the process....

 

And I truly feel the need of these skills for my dd, and my sons too....this is an area that I think Americans (including Canada there :-) on the continent) have a lot of creativity that younger Europeans have lost...The older Swiss were very frugal and energetic...the younger ones tend in another direction....but even the older ones didn't do nearly as many 'do it yourself' projects as Americans tend to do...for cooking, they did do more 'from scratch' at least here in Switzerland...there aren't nearly the number of processed foods as the US...and I haven't been really exposed enough to their kitchens with the kind of discussions we're having on this thread....This is making me curious...You know, I was so recipe minded that I didn't even think of asking these kinds of questions to my local friends, that I am asking on the board...:) But I'm going to start now...

 

Joan

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...this is an area that I think Americans have a lot of creativity that younger Europeans have lost...The older Swiss were very frugal and energetic...the younger ones tend in another direction....but even the older ones didn't do nearly as many 'do it yourself' projects as Americans tend to do...for cooking, they did do more 'from scratch' at least here in Switzerland...there aren't nearly the number of processed foods as the US..

 

Similar things would be true for Germany. All my German friends and relatives cook and bake from scratch; they do not buy highly processed foods.

OTOH, I find that fewer people in Germany do "crafty" projects. (there are of course people who knit and sew, but that's about it). I think part of the reason is that people have much smaller homes (a family of four would consider a 1,000 sq ft apartment huge); there is less room to store large amounts of crafts supplies and "stuff" - knickknacks and craft products that are not serving an essential purpose (btw, the same is true for all kinds of decorative furniture - end tables and such do not exist because people don't have space). We don't "decorate" much, except for Christmas. People just own much less stuff than people do in the US.

So, they tend to make less stuff, too.

ETA: Another aspect for less DIY in home repair etc: most people do not own their homes, they rent. So, the landlord is responsible for repairs, and the tenant may not even be allowed to do anything himself. The people who do own homes, OTOH, are quite savvy with tools, because labor is horrendously expensive and you do as much work as possible by yourself.

 

ETA: Just rereading some posts and had to chuckle about the 20kg of chicken legs. The apartment we had when we lived in Germany was 750 sq ft. Our fridge was tiny and had a freezer compartment with a volume of two gallons. So, most people will not be in the habit of precooking and freezing large quantities of food (unless you have a room in the shared basement where you can put a freezer.)

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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.

 

Thank you! :iagree:

 

And ALDI's carries many of the described pantry items at low prices. What I save with buying at ALDI, I then can buy top quality meat or produce at another supermarket.

 

I usually look in my pantry and deep freezer for ideas for the week's menu. Jot a M-F note on the fridge for the family to know what I have planned. Leftovers usually are 1-2 nights of what I call "Cafeteria Night" where we finish up entrees or side dishes and heat them up in the microwave. I stick to a tight budget and we eat a lot of delicious homecooked meals. Never eat out. It is a lot of work to inventory pantry & freezer, prep, cook, and clean... but meal time with family is a top priority. HTH

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Let me add a blog that readers of this thread might enjoy. Rhonda Hetzel is an award winning Australian blogger who has been writing about the simple and sustainable life for years. (Here.) There is such a peaceful tone to her writing. Now she has a book too but I don't think it is readily available in the States.

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ETA: Just rereading some posts and had to chuckle about the 20kg of chicken legs. The apartment we had when we lived in Germany was 750 sq ft. Our fridge was tiny and had a freezer compartment with a volume of two gallons. So, most people will not be in the habit of precooking and freezing large quantities of food (unless you have a room in the shared basement where you can put a freezer.)

 

I thought about the European housing issue, but I was just trying to give an example of thinking creatively within one's own circumstances. In my example, I cook the chicken legs as soon as I get home with them and then debone them. The actual cooked meat has shrunk, and the skin and bones get tossed (or, bones could be used to make broth). So, the cooked meat doesn't take up nearly as much space as the raw chicken.

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I subscribe to Get Rich Slowly blog

 

Do you have a link to the blog? I got many random sites when i searched.

 

 

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.

 

I'll be back tomorrow hopefully,

Joan

 

Joan, thank you for starting this thread! It has given me lots of food for thought. Considering everything, and I mean everything has a rising price, however wages are not.

 

I cook with out a recipe for most things, most of the time. My husband isn't very tolerant, he's a fussy eater, so I have to stay within the scope of his food repertoire. However, there ARE ways around it. Dh doesn't mind stews and soups. Easy to make, add biscuits and soda crackers he's a happy man. But beans for get it. However I did just find out he doesn't mind lentils. So a possibility there. I am stubborn and need to get more nutrition in to my family. i have a whole family of picky eaters.

 

To save money, I resign myself to the basic foods they'll eat. They don't eat beans, but what they don't know is they do. I will cook up navy beans until tender. Then blend them as part of the gravy of a stew, into soup with the blended tomatoes(they like the flavor of tomatoes, but not the texture). I have used blended beans for the moist part of the Tightwad formula for muffins. I can even use them in chocolate chip cookies. How's that for creative.

 

As to skills to learn. Learning to alter already owned clothing that isn't being worn, into something that IS, is a great way to save money. You don't need much more than basic skills for many things. IE - alter a huge t-shirt(a thrift store find, or one your dh will never wear) into a trendy vest. Find the center front and cut from hem to neck line. Cut out the collar. Cut off sleeves. Now you have a drapey vest. Depending on the fabric, it can be quite elegant. I had a grey light weight t-shirt that had metallic roses. I treated it to a make over, and now dd12 has a very pretty vest that every one asks about. If there is a little one, remake it into a simple dress, carefully cut along the seams to have fabric peices, and then cut your pattern pieces from it. Pants worn at the hem, can be hemmed up to capris, worn at the knees into shorts, or a casual skirt. Pinterst has lots of ideas for re-fashions or upcycles. Clothes that are worn, often still have something worth keeping. Nice buttons, pretty trim, perhaps a unique waist band you could use on a simple skirt(cut off part of the fabric below so you have something to work with on a new garment). Back pockets from jeans can be sewn onto a backing to make a hanging organizer for the back of a door. Old jeans can be made into stripes to make long braids that are then wound and stitched together to make area rug or mats in front of sink. If you have colored twills it can be very pretty and bright. Even stained and torn clothing can be used this way.

 

My grandmother used bread bags to make little mats woven together, I can't remember how tho.

 

Knowing what you have in the house is very helpful for cooking. (sorry scattered thoughts). I had to defrost the upright freezer today, and found some REALLY old meat :( I didn't through it out, it was given to some one for her dogs. But I will be putting a white board on the freezer to track what goes in and what goes out, so we don't lose things like that again. I will have an accurate inventory and eat from that for a few more weeks.

 

Growing food. Our soil is horrible. Too many huge trees, which are beautiful, but wreaks havoc to the soil. Last year we did container gardening. And on a whim, made some self-watering containers. Like the Earthbox principle. The plants in those did SO well. We'll be constructing more of those this spring. But modified, so they sit on top of a 5 gallon pail. So there would be a whole 5 gallons of harvested water(from the rain barrel) in there, as the way it is on most sites, there is maybe a gallon of water, and when it's hot, it's not enough to last more that 36 hours, where 5 gallons, would last a long long time :)

 

Another nice site for diy, is Mother Earth News.

Sorry, this is all over the place, randomly laid out.

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I want to move to the "Clothes" topic in my next post...

 

Similar things would be true for Germany. All my German friends and relatives cook and bake from scratch; they do not buy highly processed foods.

 

Generally some Europeans (Swiss, Germans, - and others but not sure which countries exactly) are much more leary of additives in food as well....

 

I think part of the reason is that people have much smaller homes (a family of four would consider a 1,000 sq ft apartment huge); there is less room to store large amounts of crafts supplies and "stuff" - knickknacks and craft products that are not serving an essential purpose (btw, the same is true for all kinds of decorative furniture - end tables and such do not exist because people don't have space). We don't "decorate" much, except for Christmas. People just own much less stuff than people do in the US.

 

These are very interesting details...I know a huge percent are renting apartments BUT I'm not sure which is the chicken and the egg so to speak...I find these apartment blocks so barren - children have trouble getting out and working the earth, doing healthy activities (ok you can do organized sports and music, but on dark winter nights, I think people tend to do a lot of TV, video, computer game stuff - which also tend to stultify the creative spirit - maybe this is an oversimplification and you can educate me regentrude)

 

The people who do own homes, OTOH, are quite savvy with tools, because labor is horrendously expensive and you do as much work as possible by yourself.

 

Good point about renting apartments...but we rent our house and I think the owner has let us stay in spite of rents doubling, and we're paying the lower rent, partly because my dh fixes things for her....I'm curious whether the do -it yourself mentality you are alotting to European home owners is something for the old "East"? There I think people had to do it themselves due to the old traditions....My German friends on the old Western side, do not seem to be at all 'do it yourself'....but I don't have that many German friends either, so it's a small sampling...

 

ETA: Just rereading some posts and had to chuckle about the 20kg of chicken legs. The apartment we had when we lived in Germany was 750 sq ft. Our fridge was tiny and had a freezer compartment with a volume of two gallons. So, most people will not be in the habit of precooking and freezing large quantities of food (unless you have a room in the shared basement where you can put a freezer.)

 

It is true that dd might be faced with this situation at some point...but the concept of freezing the cooked meat is not bad, even in smaller quantities, as it is a lot smaller...And I think that people are still moving to larger refrigerators here. With two working parents, they don't have time to go food shopping every day either - which they used to when there was one parent working...

 

And ALDI's carries many of the described pantry items at low prices. What I save with buying at ALDI, I then can buy top quality meat or produce at another supermarket.

 

I'm going to have to do a price check here....When I went the other day, it did not seem like the savings was really so drastic. I did do the Tightwad Gazette price comparison notebook years ago, but that was before Aldi's was in Geneva:).

 

I stick to a tight budget and we eat a lot of delicious homecooked meals. Never eat out. It is a lot of work to inventory pantry & freezer, prep, cook, and clean... but meal time with family is a top priority. HTH

 

Mealtime with family is something to be guarded - it can be so easily squandered in the modern world. I am now working on my inventory system - it takes training the kids too, to check off when they take something.

 

Let me add a blog that readers of this thread might enjoy. Rhonda Hetzel is an award winning Australian blogger who has been writing about the simple and sustainable life for years. (Here.) There is such a peaceful tone to her writing. Now she has a book too but I don't think it is readily available in the States.

 

I thought about the European housing issue, but I was just trying to give an example of thinking creatively within one's own circumstances. In my example, I cook the chicken legs as soon as I get home with them and then debone them. The actual cooked meat has shrunk, and the skin and bones get tossed (or, bones could be used to make broth). So, the cooked meat doesn't take up nearly as much space as the raw chicken.

 

It's true that even getting one extra chicken on sale and cooking and deboning can save money and space...We just have to work with smaller quantities. We do live in a house but dd might not...

 

They don't eat beans, but what they don't know is they do. I will cook up navy beans until tender. Then blend them as part of the gravy of a stew, into soup with the blended tomatoes(they like the flavor of tomatoes, but not the texture). I have used blended beans for the moist part of the Tightwad formula for muffins. I can even use them in chocolate chip cookies. How's that for creative.

 

I'm amazed that you get beans into choc chip cookies and muffins! I have a long way to go in terms of increasing protein in this way....so they are only/usually navy beans that you put in bakery?

 

About your clothes comments, I'm starting another post because that's a subject I hope to discuss more too...

 

But I will be putting a white board on the freezer to track what goes in and what goes out, so we don't lose things like that again. I will have an accurate inventory and eat from that for a few more weeks.

 

This is a good question for people = how do you keep track of your inventory?

 

I tried the white board and no success....Now I've listed the different types of meats, cans, cereal, grains, pasta, oil, etc etc. on sheets of paper and put them in plastic 'sleeves' (one for the pantry and one for the freezer). Then there is a check in erasable marker which a person is supposed to erase when they take the item out of the freezer or off the shelf....But so far it is not working because people aren't disciplined....So maybe it is just a discipline issue or is there another way?

 

Last year we did container gardening. And on a whim, made some self-watering containers. Like the Earthbox principle. The plants in those did SO well. We'll be constructing more of those this spring. But modified, so they sit on top of a 5 gallon pail. So there would be a whole 5 gallons of harvested water(from the rain barrel) in there, as the way it is on most sites, there is maybe a gallon of water, and when it's hot, it's not enough to last more that 36 hours, where 5 gallons, would last a long long time :)

 

Another nice site for diy, is Mother Earth News.

 

Never heard of the Earthbox principle but will have to look into it as our earth is close to deadpan and not really so productive....We catch some rainwater as well....and I'd forgotten about Mother Earth News....Thanks!

 

Continue in next post - re clothes...

 

Joan

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I'm amazed that you get beans into choc chip cookies and muffins! I have a long way to go in terms of increasing protein in this way....so they are only/usually navy beans that you put in bakery?

 

.

 

No, any softer skinned beans or lentils work. Chickpeas, navy, white etc. Dark ones will alter the color of the cookies.

 

This is a good question for people = how do you keep track of your inventory?

 

I tried the white board and no success....Now I've listed the different types of meats, cans, cereal, grains, pasta, oil, etc etc. on sheets of paper and put them in plastic 'sleeves' (one for the pantry and one for the freezer). Then there is a check in erasable marker which a person is supposed to erase when they take the item out of the freezer or off the shelf....But so far it is not working because people aren't disciplined....So maybe it is just a discipline issue or is there another way?

 

I find anything organization is doomed by lack of commitment. This is my project, so I need to be on top of it. The only thing the kids go in the freezer with out being asked to is ice cream, so I should be able to track the freezer fairly easily

 

Never heard of the Earthbox principle but will have to look into it as our earth is close to deadpan and not really so productive....We catch some rainwater as well....and I'd forgotten about Mother Earth News....Thanks!

 

Continue in next post - re clothes...

 

Joan

 

Essentially, it is 2 buckets stacked. The inner or top bucket has a large hole with a big container packed with soil that extends to the lower bucket, it will wick water up to the soil in the top. The lower bucked gets filled with water.

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Continued from the last post....

 

I'm hoping that people will discuss 'Clothes' with me....

 

We buy almost no 'new' clothes, except undies, socks, tights - that type of thing.

 

But then it seems like we end up buying too many clothes...I did note that Amy Dacyczyn had a lot of shoes, for example...We have done the storage box thing, saving over the years...But it just seems that we ended up with clothes the kids didn't wear....

 

So then I thought, maybe if we use a catalog and just buy a few items that the kids pick out specifically, it will actually be more cost effective. (I simply hate going store to store to store - it takes so much time. Give me a used clothes store where there is such a big selection just in one row, any day)...Anyway, we spent sooo much money on just a few clothes - some of which they did wear and some they did not, that I think that is not cost effective either....

 

How do you master the clothes issue? And does anyone have a general formula of how many of each item one needs in general? I know boys need more generally, esp if they live near dirt...But I have to say my dd ended up with lots of spots on her shirts...so maybe she went through more clothes than her brothers after all.

 

And sewing ones own clothes can take an enormous amount of time and not really be cheaper...

 

Now this suggestion seems cheap and less time consuming...

 

Learning to alter already owned clothing that isn't being worn, into something that IS, is a great way to save money. You don't need much more than basic skills for many things. IE - alter a huge t-shirt(a thrift store find, or one your dh will never wear) into a trendy vest. Find the center front and cut from hem to neck line. Cut out the collar. Cut off sleeves. Now you have a drapey vest. Depending on the fabric, it can be quite elegant. I had a grey light weight t-shirt that had metallic roses. I treated it to a make over, and now dd12 has a very pretty vest that every one asks about. If there is a little one, remake it into a simple dress, carefully cut along the seams to have fabric peices, and then cut your pattern pieces from it. Pants worn at the hem, can be hemmed up to capris, worn at the knees into shorts, or a casual skirt. Pinterst has lots of ideas for re-fashions or upcycles. Clothes that are worn, often still have something worth keeping. Nice buttons, pretty trim, perhaps a unique waist band you could use on a simple skirt(cut off part of the fabric below so you have something to work with on a new garment). Back pockets from jeans can be sewn onto a backing to make a hanging organizer for the back of a door. Old jeans can be made into stripes to make long braids that are then wound and stitched together to make area rug or mats in front of sink. If you have colored twills it can be very pretty and bright. Even stained and torn clothing can be used this way.

 

Thank you for this!

 

Joan

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No, any softer skinned beans or lentils work. Chickpeas, navy, white etc. Dark ones will alter the color of the cookies.

 

Thanks!

 

I find anything organization is doomed by lack of commitment. This is my project, so I need to be on top of it. The only thing the kids go in the freezer with out being asked to is ice cream, so I should be able to track the freezer fairly easily

 

Ok, here, when the big boys are home, there are six of us dipping into the freezer. I see how that changes things....

 

 

Essentially, it is 2 buckets stacked. The inner or top bucket has a large hole with a big container packed with soil that extends to the lower bucket, it will wick water up to the soil in the top. The lower bucked gets filled with water.

 

So one bucket is larger than the other and the water goes into the outside bucket from the rain collection system?

 

Joan

PS Have you ladies tried Sebastian's carrot soup yet? It is delicious and I even forgot the dill...

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So one bucket is larger than the other and the water goes into the outside bucket from the rain collection system?

 

Joan

.

 

Typically, the directions are for the same size buckets. 5-gallon pails generally next together, leaving about a 6 inch gap at the bottom, with a pipe running through the soil the bottom of the pail into the air space. you'd fill through the pipe. however i plan to use the lids, and have the bucket with soil sitting on top of the lid of the bottom bucket. Stacked rather than nested. You can use a siphoning system to fill the buckets from a larger water barrel, however, i think if you have nearly 5 gallons of water, you would be fine for at least a week without concern.

 

http://www.globalbuckets.org/ this is the site I originally saw them on. It also has the siphoning system too. I might have to do that..lol. Just because.

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I have used blended beans for the moist part of the Tightwad formula for muffins. I can even use them in chocolate chip cookies. How's that for creative.

 

That. is. awesome.

 

Oh, Zoooooooo Keeeeeper!!!! Look, we have a triplet! :D

 

This is a good question for people = how do you keep track of your inventory?

 

I started off with lists and charts, and then gradually let them go. I would forget to check something off; someone else would forget....but, the discipline of having made the chart/list helped me to start thinking more precisely about what was in the freezer/pantry, and so then that thinking infiltrated my everyday habits. Now with a quick glance into the big freezer or the cupboards, I pretty much know what's around.

 

I'm hoping that people will discuss 'Clothes' with me....

 

 

I will, but later - family day today. :lurk5: to hear what others come up with.

 

If not, you can cut it in parts and use it for a garment in patchwork style ;-)

 

I love patching scraps together! I made a beautiful patchwork skirt for my daughter (but she won't wear it, grrrr!!!). She picked out the fabric scraps from our supply and laid out the squares in a pattern she liked. I sewed it all together and added elastic and a ruffle at the bottom. Then she decided she didn't like the look of patchwork. Sigh. I should have done it when she was younger. :D (But, when she did wear it out in public, she got lots of compliments. AND, I noticed for awhile there that patchwork shirts and skirts were all in fashion on store shelves, for like $30 each!!) But anyway, my point is that :iagree: with loesje's post - another great way to recycle.

 

I also made patchwork curtains a few months ago. I didn't have thrifted cotton sheets big enough for some of my windows, so I patched curtains together. I've gotten many compliments on them, though I was afraid people would think they were weird. :D

 

Will check in later or tomorrow...this is such an inspiring thread.

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Joan, I wonder if this thread I started nearly four years ago would be helpful to your thinking about frugality training, too: http://www.welltrainedmind.com/forums/showthread.php?t=34751

 

This is the thread (esp. Angela's thoughts) that inspired me to start the spin-off thread: http://www.welltrainedmind.com/forums/showthread.php?t=28591&highlight=crafts

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These are very interesting details...I know a huge percent are renting apartments BUT I'm not sure which is the chicken and the egg so to speak...I find these apartment blocks so barren - children have trouble getting out and working the earth, doing healthy activities (ok you can do organized sports and music, but on dark winter nights, I think people tend to do a lot of TV, video, computer game stuff - which also tend to stultify the creative spirit - maybe this is an oversimplification and you can educate me regentrude)

 

There are many different kinds of apartments. Not all people live in huge blocks (these are a bit desolate, I agree). Very typical, at least in Germany, are 3-4 story houses for 10-14 families. When we lived in an apartment, we were outside for several hours every single day with the kids- you just go to a public park instead of your own backyard. And that was not just us; there were large crowds of regulars who all lived in apartments and who all found it important that the kids spend several hours each day in nature. Many people here in the US who own their own house and who have a yard spend more time indoors.

So, I do not believe there is any connection between living in apartments and lack of creativity.

 

I'm curious whether the do -it yourself mentality you are alotting to European home owners is something for the old "East"? There I think people had to do it themselves due to the old traditions....My German friends on the old Western side, do not seem to be at all 'do it yourself'....but I don't have that many German friends either, so it's a small sampling...

I don't know,since I do not have many friends in the West. Nowadays you can get people to work for you, even in the East, but everywhere in Germany labor is very expensive. My friends who do own houses could simply not afford NOT to do stuff themselves. Maybe more affluent West Germans can, I do not know.

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Something else I once did was go to a "Bag Sale Day" at a thrift store - they were selling all-you-can-stuff-into-a-huge-garbage-bag clothing for $7/bag. My mother and I were looking around, seeing if there was clothing we wanted to buy. We found a few items, but not really enough to bother stuffing a bag. :D Then, I had an idea. I love to use "real" fabrics for small sewing/gift projects (thus, why I like to buy pretty cotton sheets from thrift stores) - I don't like synthetics. I said to my mother (who loves crazy ideas, too), "Hey, Mom, I'm going to stuff the bag with pretty cotton shirts (not stretchy cotton as in t-shirts, though) and silk shirts, and use the fabric for projects!" She lit right up. We stuffed that bag. And I have wonderful pieces of fabric to use for all sorts of small gifts or decorating projects. One year for Christmas gifts I made those little purse tissue holders, out of bright silk and with cotton linings - then I embroidered them. My friends to whom I gave them loved them - said they were luxurious.

 

This post describes how I shop in the local thrift shop to a *T*. :D This is a wonderful idea, and I know your friends were thrilled with your handiwork. I love to receive something homemade. There is so much thought that goes behind a gift of that kind!

 

On a recent thrift store jaunt, I spied a beautiful beaded and embroidered wedding train of an eggshell hue. I asked the clerk the price and was told it was five dollars. Needless to say, it went straight into my buggy! I don't know how I'll make this work, but I have an idea for an old girls canopy bed that has a sort of *shabby chic* look. In my mind's eye, I saw this hanging from a hook off the ceiling as a kind of drape around the headboard. I want to use sheers which I found the same day for $1 as the canopy from post to post. I have no idea if this will work, but I'll have fun trying, and it will be very inexpensive.

 

One more thought I had about frugal meals. I recently discovered that I can use plain old Aunt Jemima corn meal to make polenta. I mix in some freshly grated Parmesan cheese, and a bit of the powdered that comes in the little bottle, and it's great! I serve a chicken cacciatore on top, made with cheap chicken thighs.

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On the topic of food storage and shopping rarely:

I actually found that we had the smallest amount of food waste when I had no possibility to buy or store much, but had to shop every day or every two days. When we lived in Germany three years ago, we did not have a car, so bulk shopping was impossible and I had to shop every other day. This meant that bread, produce, and dairy were always fresh; nothing got stale or wilted, because the quantities I could bring home were just enough for a few days and got eaten before they could spoil (or be forgotten in the back of the fridge).

I see the same thing at my parents' house: my mom shops on foot, and they almost never have anything they must throw away.

OTOH I notice that when I shop here, with a car, I sometimes bring home things that eventually end up going bad. So, while I keep a store of non-perishable staples, I find that frequent shopping for perishables cuts down on waste.

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On the topic of food storage and shopping rarely:

I actually found that we had the smallest amount of food waste when I had no possibility to buy or store much, but had to shop every day or every two days. When we lived in Germany three years ago, we did not have a car, so bulk shopping was impossible and I had to shop every other day. This meant that bread, produce, and dairy were always fresh; nothing got stale or wilted, because the quantities I could bring home were just enough for a few days and got eaten before they could spoil (or be forgotten in the back of the fridge).

I see the same thing at my parents' house: my mom shops on foot, and they almost never have anything they must throw away.

OTOH I notice that when I shop here, with a car, I sometimes bring home things that eventually end up going bad. So, while I keep a store of non-perishable staples, I find that frequent shopping for perishables cuts down on waste.

 

Having JUST cleaned the freezer out, I have to agree with this. There was alot of forgotten things that had to go :(

 

That said, I now have a well organized freezer, I've written down the full inventory. I have it on my computer. I will be sitting down this evening and planning my next week meals based on what is in there. I have enough to do nearly 3 weeks of main courses. I do have a large amount of frozen fruit that we'll be using up, starting after Lent.

 

Further continuation of my pantry challenge..lol

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Having JUST cleaned the freezer out, I have to agree with this. There was alot of forgotten things that had to go :(

 

That said, I now have a well organized freezer, I've written down the full inventory. I have it on my computer. I will be sitting down this evening and planning my next week meals based on what is in there. I have enough to do nearly 3 weeks of main courses. I do have a large amount of frozen fruit that we'll be using up, starting after Lent.

 

Further continuation of my pantry challenge..lol

 

If it helps, I make a "stockpile" and a "pantry" to organize.

 

Stockpiled items like canned goods, TP, refillable liquid soap, and flour store in the garage or another part of the house. Pantry is in the kitchen. I train everyone in our home if the item leaves the stockpile as the last item... they have to write it on the grocery list. A stockpile can be created in 3-4 months with shelves and a deep freeze.

 

The main thing to remember when you’re restocking is to rotate your stock. This is a simple matter of moving what is already there to the front and placing the newly bought goods behind.

 

I make sure all my items are grouped with similar items so when I go looking for baked beans they’re all together, just like the canned tomatoes and the honey. All chicken is with other chicken in the deep freeze labeled with a sharpie the date purchased. Once my deep freeze is established, I do NOT buy any meat or frozen foods. We then have up to 6 months to use up what is in there. Same idea for what is in the stockpile. Which helps with monthly grocery budget. I tend to buy big on sales or clearance (top quality meats) when I see it at the upscale market and stock the deep freeze. HTH

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Most of the posts in this thread have had to do with the day to day or monthly budget. I would like to add another component: learn about investing for the long term.

 

I manage our family's money. The only vehicles that I knew for saving from my childhood were savings accounts and CDs. Since then I have educated myself on stocks, IRAs, 401-Ks, annuities, etc. In fact, my official title within this household is Chief Financial Officer.

 

My mother managed my family's money--better than I ever knew but she never shared her knowledge because, in her world, discussing money was forbidden. Even with one's children.

 

I have taken a different approach. Before my son applied to colleges, I gave him a view into our financial situation. His eyes glazed over and he has told me that he is perfectly content having me manage his money. But I want him to be in a more knowledgeable place than I was when I began my working career.

 

Managing family finances is not a role that should be assigned to a wife or husband by proxy. It really takes a certain personality (petty like mine) to be a good steward. Our kids need to learn about finances and also recognize personal limitations should they have them.

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I am so guilty of "shopping to make a meal", and I really need to do better. QUOTE]

 

I think this might be something to address re: life skills. How to save money by shopping from a list, going to the store infrequently and sticking to a budget.

 

I shop once a week (very, very rarely buy groceries outside of the shopping trip). Many gals in our co-op couldn't belive it. There were comments about how I let my kids starve. Um, no we plan for the week :lol:. We eat kind of the same things over and over but it's fairly healthy and simple within an adequate but not overly generous budget. We have baking supplies at home- it's easy to bake bread or cookies if people get bored.

 

I also shop for the week, and there are also things we purchase monthly in bulk (TP, Coffee, legumes, rice). If I had to keep my pantry items on a sheet of paper, I'd never use it. There are some things I have to write down, this is not one. I just tend to have a good idea of when we're low.

 

As far as stuff going bad, I'm guilty, but I've started to stop it by cooking whatever is about to go bad and freezing it. ie: I had parsley that was going to go bad and so I popped it in the blender, liquefied it then froze it in an ice cube tray.

 

Most of the posts in this thread have had to do with the day to day or monthly budget. I would like to add another component: learn about investing for the long term.

 

I manage our family's money. The only vehicles that I knew for saving from my childhood were savings accounts and CDs. Since then I have educated myself on stocks, IRAs, 401-Ks, annuities, etc. In fact, my official title within this household is Chief Financial Officer.

 

My mother managed my family's money--better than I ever knew but she never shared her knowledge because, in her world, discussing money was forbidden. Even with one's children.

 

I have taken a different approach. Before my son applied to colleges, I gave him a view into our financial situation. His eyes glazed over and he has told me that he is perfectly content having me manage his money. But I want him to be in a more knowledgeable place than I was when I began my working career.

 

Managing family finances is not a role that should be assigned to a wife or husband by proxy. It really takes a certain personality (petty like mine) to be a good steward. Our kids need to learn about finances and also recognize personal limitations should they have them.

:iagree: My Dh is gifted with finances and though I had to point it out to him that he had to teach the kids (it wasn't on his radar) he has been.

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I have learned many things in this thread. Some new, some refreshed.

 

I have been trying to cook more or less only what we need that meal. Dh isn't taking leftovers to work, no heating facility, and ds isn't working right now. Leftovers are often wasted in the fridge.

 

As I was tidying today, I realized something, why not freeze them? Not a major epiphany. Some things I already do that for. Left over ham is cubed for soup or scalloped potatoes and ham. Mashed potatoes for potato dough. Why not everything else? No one will take that 1/2 cup of veggies left over. But tossed into a container with complimentary veggies for a soup or stew would make use. Left over roast could be cubed to be warmed with broth and served over rice. Left over rice can be frozen for mini rice puddings or heated with milk and cinnamon for a warm breakfast. There is no reason to have a fridge full of leftovers. Freeze it, and plan to use it in the next 2 weeks. The kids don't like having a left over day, but leftovers can be made into fresh new meals.

 

I'm going to need to think on this more. I see great potential with approaching leftovers as an ingredient to a new meal, vs the main course a 2nd go round.

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Yesterday I made oat milk and today rice milk for the first time in my life. Don't know why it never crossed my mind.

 

I'm so grateful for the ideas on this thread so far as already I'm changing my ways

 

Jane - finances is a good one to work on too...

 

I have to time out for European home education politics - things are still not resolved - if anyone hasn't written - please write HSLDA (see this thread or this one if unaware).

 

Joan

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How do you master the clothes issue? And does anyone have a general formula of how many of each item one needs in general?

 

I haven't mastered it - there are seasons when I go into the clothing stockpile and discover that some thing that I'd been saving for them to grow into have become too small. I think I stockpiled a lot more when my kids were younger, because they were growing so fast. And now some of those things get forgotten until too late. So, I've slowed down my clothes-buying. I've also slowed it down because my kids are more choosy now about what they like. But, I still only will buy from the selections at thrift stores. My kids know that there is actually more variety at thrift stores than there is at retail stores.

 

Formulas - socks/underwear - enough for a week - I will always do a load of laundry within a week, so they don't need more than a week's worth. Same with shirts (although each kids has more than seven shirts, because I can't resist a nice-looking, well-made shirt from the thrift store...). Pants/sweaters - they could easily get away with fewer than seven. (But again, if I spot something at the thrift store that is nice-looking and well-made, I might scoop it up)

 

This post describes how I shop in the local thrift shop to a *T*. :D This is a wonderful idea, and I know your friends were thrilled with your handiwork. I love to receive something homemade. There is so much thought that goes behind a gift of that kind!

 

Thank you!

 

On a recent thrift store jaunt, I spied a beautiful beaded and embroidered wedding train of an eggshell hue. I asked the clerk the price and was told it was five dollars. Needless to say, it went straight into my buggy! I don't know how I'll make this work, but I have an idea for an old girls canopy bed that has a sort of *shabby chic* look. In my mind's eye, I saw this hanging from a hook off the ceiling as a kind of drape around the headboard. I want to use sheers which I found the same day for $1 as the canopy from post to post. I have no idea if this will work, but I'll have fun trying, and it will be very inexpensive.

 

Sounds nice!!

 

On the topic of food storage and shopping rarely:

I actually found that we had the smallest amount of food waste when I had no possibility to buy or store much, but had to shop every day or every two days. When we lived in Germany three years ago, we did not have a car, so bulk shopping was impossible and I had to shop every other day. This meant that bread, produce, and dairy were always fresh; nothing got stale or wilted, because the quantities I could bring home were just enough for a few days and got eaten before they could spoil (or be forgotten in the back of the fridge).

I see the same thing at my parents' house: my mom shops on foot, and they almost never have anything they must throw away.

OTOH I notice that when I shop here, with a car, I sometimes bring home things that eventually end up going bad. So, while I keep a store of non-perishable staples, I find that frequent shopping for perishables cuts down on waste.

 

This is do-able if you live in walking distance from produce/perishables shops. I do not. I also do not shop even once a week anymore, and because of these two factors plus gas prices, I am very careful to waste very little. I use up all our leftovers, and fresh produce starting to "go" gets incorporated into a meal or snack somehow. Our "green bin" (where veg/fruit scraps go for composting) usually only has peelings/cores in it - not pieces of produce gone bad. Bread and other baked goods go in the freezer. In my house, milk is made, as needed, from powder. :tongue_smilie: Cheese blocks are bought in bulk on sale, grated in the food processor, and the gratings are stored in freezer bags in the freezer.

 

Managing family finances is not a role that should be assigned to a wife or husband by proxy. It really takes a certain personality (petty like mine) to be a good steward. Our kids need to learn about finances and also recognize personal limitations should they have them.

 

:iagree: I don't know a whole lot about investing, but as CFO in my house, I make sure my kids understand how basic finances work. They each have to put aside a certain portion of their earnings for savings. They are well-indoctrinated :lol: about how credit cards work and have a sufficient horror about that. :D They hear me talking all the time about why I will pay for this but not pay for that, etc.. I've showed my kids the blurb (in tiny print) on my credit card statement, where it tells me something like, "If you only pay the minimum payment this month, it will take you 26 years and 3 months to pay off this balance." It was hilarious to see my kids' reactions to this! We've also, with the kids' savings, done a few business opportunity stints. They used some of their savings to buy ingredients from me, made cookies, and sold them at craft fairs for a very nice profit. The ingredient investment was paid back to savings, along with a portion of their new earnings. They saw the increase in savings, plus pocket money, with that little opportunity.

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Had to cut out lots of useful info to make it not so long....

 

Thanks about global buckets!

Joan, I wonder if this thread I started nearly four years ago would be helpful to your thinking about frugality training, too: http://www.welltrain...ead.php?t=34751

This is the thread (esp. Angela's thoughts) that inspired me to start the spin-off thread: http://www.welltrain...ighlight=crafts

 

Thanks Colleen. My dd really enjoys sewing, knitting, and crafty projects....I think I'll send her the links to your threads.

 

So, I do not believe there is any connection between living in apartments and lack of creativity.

Hmmm. I see your point. It is generally actually the parents that make a difference. At the same time, I can think of poorer children with uneducated parents who lived close to nature in the 'olden' days and would then poke around and discover things in nature...eg George Washington Carver...who then really developed because of that.

But - I don't see a return to the 'olden' days in the near future - due to population increases and modern media....

 

On the topic of food storage and shopping rarely:

I actually found that we had the smallest amount of food waste when I had no possibility to buy or store much, but had to shop every day or every two days.

 

I can see the potential there - and the idea of walking to shops has always intrigued me. At the same time, waiting in the lines every day all takes time too. It's quite hard to really quantify all the variables. There's the time to walk to the store, which could be counted as exercise. But when it is interrupted exercise (meaning stopping and starting), it doesn't work the body as much. Then going past the same food isles several times a week is redundant....and I always found that the more I went to the foodstore, the more money I spent. But maybe if one has a tiny apartment, one is more self-limiting...This is one of the factors I think about when thinking about China - in their cities, with their tiny apartments...they can only buy so much, so therefore they can't end up with the same consumer trends as in the US....

 

I make sure all my items are grouped with similar items so when I go looking for baked beans they’re all together, just like the canned tomatoes and the honey. All chicken is with other chicken in the deep freeze labeled with a sharpie the date purchased. Once my deep freeze is established, I do NOT buy any meat or frozen foods. We then have up to 6 months to use up what is in there. Same idea for what is in the stockpile. Which helps with monthly grocery budget. I tend to buy big on sales or clearance (top quality meats) when I see it at the upscale market and stock the deep freeze. HTH

 

Pantry organization sounds like an important skill. Not buying anything once the freezer is stocked up sounds like it solves a lot of problems. So do you have a master list for the stock up time? I see our tendency to keep buying things on sale and then losing track...

But how do you time the sales for when you are doing your stock up?

 

As far as stuff going bad, I'm guilty, but I've started to stop it by cooking whatever is about to go bad and freezing it. ie: I had parsley that was going to go bad and so I popped it in the blender, liquefied it then froze it in an ice cube tray.

Good idea!

 

As I was tidying today, I realized something, why not freeze them?

snip for space

I'm going to need to think on this more. I see great potential with approaching leftovers as an ingredient to a new meal, vs the main course a 2nd go round.

 

Maybe if there is a bucket that collects certain kinds of frozen leftovers - for soup, or stew, etc...it wouldn't be hard to keep organized.

While we do eat lots of leftovers for lunch almost every day, it seems we are still throwing out food. Maybe this bucket or something similar is the answer

 

I've also slowed it down because my kids are more choosy now about what they like. But, I still only will buy from the selections at thrift stores. My kids know that there is actually more variety at thrift stores than there is at retail stores.

 

I certainly get favorites that I wear much more than other clothes...and my kids seem to be the same....It is hard to predict which will be favorites that they won't mind wearing a lot.

 

If I could have just bought what have become their 'favorites', I would save a lot of time, money, and space....

 

Anyone know how to predict this? I can't even predict it in myself. And then, sometimes some article of clothes that I've had for a year or two, suddenly becomes a favorite (or I lose weight and can fit into it again:))...

 

Formulas - socks/underwear - enough for a week - I will always do a load of laundry within a week, so they don't need more than a week's worth. Same with shirts (although each kids has more than seven shirts, because I can't resist a nice-looking, well-made shirt from the thrift store...). Pants/sweaters - they could easily get away with fewer than seven.

 

Hmmm...maybe it is European to wear clothes for many days? or rotate but not wash them? But I'd still want a certain number of possibilities so that over the month/two I wouldn't always want to wear the same thing...

 

I'm pretty sure it is not just European to rotate, as I've bought things at the thrift shop that have clearly been worn before (there's still a hanky in the pocket). And I think that is where the thrift shop smell comes from - used and not quite clean clothes...

 

Ohhhh regentrude....what are your clothing habits? and those of your German friends and relations?

 

I use up all our leftovers, and fresh produce starting to "go" gets incorporated into a meal or snack somehow. Our "green bin" (where veg/fruit scraps go for composting) usually only has peelings/cores in it - not pieces of produce gone bad. Bread and other baked goods go in the freezer. In my house, milk is made, as needed, from powder. :tongue_smilie: Cheese blocks are bought in bulk on sale, grated in the food processor, and the gratings are stored in freezer bags in the freezer.

 

You sound like a very good steward of resources...and give me useful ideas with incorporating into a meal or snack...

 

"If you only pay the minimum payment this month, it will take you 26 years and 3 months to pay off this balance."

 

I'll have to try to find this! It's sure to make an impression.

 

Wow, Ratio looks like what I'm looking for now that I'm rearranging my thinking...and esp to help dd start out with the right idea...

 

Joan

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Ohhhh regentrude....what are your clothing habits? and those of your German friends and relations?

 

Most people do have more clothes than they need - not just one for each day of the week. But this said, yes, it is completely normal to re-wear items (not underwear) that are not visibly soiled or stinky. You don't thrown jeans into the wash after a day of wearing them. You can wear the same shirt two days in a row and nobody will give you grief.

Washing machines are much smaller and do not hold as much as in the US. Clothes dryers are almost non-existent; nobody has space, and energy is expensive- clothes are hung to dry outside. If you live in an apartment building, the washing machines are often in the shared basement. People are more environmentally conscious. So, Germans do not do laundry as often as Americans.

 

Just to make things clear: we don't smell. Our clothes don't smell. They get hung up and aired out at night. When they are dirty, they get washed. But not when they are still clean.

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But this said, yes, it is completely normal to re-wear items (not underwear) that are not visibly soiled or stinky. You don't thrown jeans into the wash after a day of wearing them. You can wear the same shirt two days in a row and nobody will give you grief.

Washing machines are much smaller and do not hold as much as in the US. Clothes dryers are almost non-existent; nobody has space, and energy is expensive- clothes are hung to dry outside. If you live in an apartment building, the washing machines are often in the shared basement. People are more environmentally conscious. So, Germans do not do laundry as often as Americans.

 

Just to make things clear: we don't smell. Our clothes don't smell. They get hung up and aired out at night. When they are dirty, they get washed. But not when they are still clean.

 

This explains the house I pass by which frequently has one set of clothes hanging out the window. I used to think they must be smokers as I hang ours out if we've been in a smokey restaurant (which is almost never but did happen before the smoking law went into effect).

 

I quite agree that there is no need to wash clothes that are not yet dirty. And I've taken to washing out a spot rather than throwing the whole thing in the washer as I tend to wear my clothes for several days at least (though sometimes alternate and hang them up for a day, esp if a different kind of clothes are needed...)

 

As for stinkiness, if one is not 'stressed' they don't get stinky so easily.

 

Joan

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Doing laundry became a "science" in our house for a while, given my dd's eczema. I wash only one day a week (it is a chore I despise) and have learned to sort things efficiently and wash and dry according to their fabric content. Most girl's clothes these days really have to be washed fairly gently and hung up to dry as they tend to have some stretch fibers in them. I hang most of their clothes as a result. About the only things I put in the dryer are dh's work clothes (they come out looking better) and sox, undies, linens, sheets and towels. So, I end up with about 3 or 4 dryer loads for the week.

Washing the dds' clothes has necessitated gentle cycles and cold water which save lots of energy. Given that I do wash only once a week, our loads are all "full" which saves time, energy and money. No-one else does any laundry during the week, they are expected to plan their outfits accordingly and plan ahead if they need something "freshened" up. We have had this routine for a v. long time so, it is just that, a routine.

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Doing laundry became a "science" in our house for a while, given my dd's eczema.

 

I've had eczema but didn't know it could be changed by the manner in which I wash my clothes...can you tell me more?

 

Thanks,

Joan

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This thread has taken some interesting twists and turns, often in light of culture. On that note, may we discuss refrigerators? :D

 

Americans tend to have huge refrigerators--often two. I cannot, for the life of me, figure out what people keep in their refrigerators.

 

Refrigerators in the States tend to be large--even a smallish US fridge (say 16 or 18 cubic feet capacity) is large compared to the European refrigerators that I have seen. But maybe this is changing, too. Anyway, it seems that most American refrigerators have about 60-70% of their capacity dedicated to refrigeration with the remaining 30-40% as a freezer unit. Personally I would love a unit that has the opposite ratio--but I don't think they exist.

 

In the big picture, refrigerators are huge energy drains. If the refrigerator is really more of a beverage cooler than food container, is a large unit needed? I think that a lot of people buy an appliance that they assume they should own based on ads or slick magazine tableaus rather than analyzing their needs and determining the appliance that suits them.

 

The same perhaps could be said for cars. One of my friends had a small car. When her family expanded, she wanted a larger vehicle for vacations when they carried bicycles and tents. She then realized that it was cheaper to rent a car for vacation than keep one year round. Obviously this formula won't work for everyone, but I think the idea to instill in our kids is a series of questions on need vs. want and the cost of ownership. This can start young with something as simple as a DVD. Do we need to own this or should we can rent it for fewer dollars or even wait until the library acquires it and then watch it for free? Somethings we might want to own, some rent, some borrow.

 

I have a favorite pair of Austrian wool slippers that acquired a hole in the toe. I realized that it was going to be more of a pain in the neck to try to find the same slipper (since I really like these) than just repair the one that needed mending. I cut some wool felt appliques which I stitched on. I now have slippers that look like they came with decorations!

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Americans tend to have huge refrigerators--often two. I cannot, for the life of me, figure out what people keep in their refrigerators.

 

 

I think the large refrigerators go hand in hand with the shopping habits and the sizing of food packages. If I shop only once a week for a family, I need a fridge that can hold a couple of gallons of milk, all the fruit and veggies, yoghurt, cheese, etc. We do not purchase any carbonated beverages, but our fridge is fairly full. It holds at least four times as much as our German fridge did - which made it necessary to shop daily or every other day.

One big factor is the size of containers: In Germany, there are no gallon containers of anything, because no German fridge has room to store a gallon jug; beverages/milk come in liters (which is about one quart). Here, any smaller size is not economical to buy, so we get gallons.

 

Speaking of energy use: way ahead of the fridge, by far the largest user of electrical energy is air conditioning, followed by the water heater.

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Speaking of energy use: way ahead of the fridge, by far the largest user of electrical energy is air conditioning, followed by the water heater.

 

Clothes dryers are also right up there.

 

Back to refrigerators: People with larger families obviously need more capacity than a smaller family. So perhaps this also colors the issue for me.

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Hmmm...maybe it is European to wear clothes for many days? or rotate but not wash them? But I'd still want a certain number of possibilities so that over the month/two I wouldn't always want to wear the same thing...

 

No, we wear pants 3-4 times before washing, sweaters many times, and shirts 2-3 times. I think I just have "a week's worth" as "7" in my head, so that I feel like we have "enough." Or really, so I can snap up that really pretty and unusual sweater for dd (because the next time she really needs a sweater, the selection may be limited to an ugly, trendy acrylic thing...) when I see it at the thrift store.

 

For our family of four, I do about four loads of laundry a week, including towels and sheets. I air-dry in the spring/summer/fall. I've tried rigging up winter indoor air-drying scenarios in our current home (the last home had forced hot air vents, so I placed gull-wing dryers over those in the winter), but haven't had success (mold, moisture - either from being in a cooler part of the house or because of being near the floor - the ceiling is the warmer part of a room)...yet....Jane, you sent me a link a long time ago for dryer contraptions you could hang from the ceiling - do you still remember where that was? I wonder if I can talk my dh into letting me hang it from the LR ceiling - it's the warmest room in the house....

 

I've had eczema but didn't know it could be changed by the manner in which I wash my clothes...can you tell me more?

 

Laundry detergent can affect eczema, as can dryer sheets.

 

Did you know you can make your own laundry detergent? Saves a ton of money for us.

 

This thread has taken some interesting twists and turns, often in light of culture. On that note, may we discuss refrigerators? :D

 

Americans tend to have huge refrigerators--often two. I cannot, for the life of me, figure out what people keep in their refrigerators.

 

Refrigerators in the States tend to be large--even a smallish US fridge (say 16 or 18 cubic feet capacity) is large compared to the European refrigerators that I have seen. But maybe this is changing, too. Anyway, it seems that most American refrigerators have about 60-70% of their capacity dedicated to refrigeration with the remaining 30-40% as a freezer unit. Personally I would love a unit that has the opposite ratio--but I don't think they exist.

 

In the big picture, refrigerators are huge energy drains. If the refrigerator is really more of a beverage cooler than food container, is a large unit needed? I think that a lot of people buy an appliance that they assume they should own based on ads or slick magazine tableaus rather than analyzing their needs and determining the appliance that suits them.

 

 

Here is where we need Rosie (from Australia). She is the queen of refrigeratorlessness.

 

I just opened our bi-monthly power bill this morning - prices increased by 9% in January - OUCH!!!!

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Oh, Zoooooooo Keeeeeper!!!! Look, we have a triplet! :D

 

Colleen, our family is larger than we thought. This thread has been great. I thought I was an orphan...:)

 

 

 

 

 

I also made patchwork curtains a few months ago. I didn't have thrifted cotton sheets big enough for some of my windows, so I patched curtains together. I've gotten many compliments on them, though I was afraid people would think they were weird. :D

 

I would love to see your patchwork curtains. I thought about patchwork when I made new kitchen curtains; the former owners had left up their butterfly lace curtains...not quite the cosy kitchen I had envisioned. Patchwork didn't make it in the kitchen, but I'm thinking the boys' room needs something new...

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In the big picture, refrigerators are huge energy drains. If the refrigerator is really more of a beverage cooler than food container, is a large unit needed? I think that a lot of people buy an appliance that they assume they should own based on ads or slick magazine tableaus rather than analyzing their needs and determining the appliance that suits them.

 

I think people buy those large fridges because they are afraid of being inconvenienced and because they don't know what does and doesn't need refrigerating.

 

Rosie

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Clothes dryers are also right up there.

 

Back to refrigerators: People with larger families obviously need more capacity than a smaller family. So perhaps this also colors the issue for me.

 

:D I think it probably does in many ways. I can't imagine not having a large refrigerator and freezer. I also hate to go shopping, so when I do, it is about 2 weeks worth of food at a time. My fridge pops at the seams when I get home from a large shop (so does my freezer). (and I think running a fridge is cheaper than the cost of gas driving my big van back and forth to the grocery store! ;))

 

But, hey, when I watch house hunters international, I think there is no way I would want to sardine my family into those houses (or more typically apts). I like space. I like my large fridge. I like my large stove. I wish I had a bigger oven! and don't even think about messing w/my mega size washer and dryer. :lol:

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:D I think it probably does in many ways. I can't imagine not having a large refrigerator and freezer. I also hate to go shopping, so when I do, it is about 2 weeks worth of food at a time. My fridge pops at the seams when I get home from a large shop (so does my freezer). (and I think running a fridge is cheaper than the cost of gas driving my big van back and forth to the grocery store! ;))

 

But, hey, when I watch house hunters international, I think there is no way I would want to sardine my family into those houses (or more typically apts). I like space. I like my large fridge. I like my large stove. I wish I had a bigger oven! and don't even think about messing w/my mega size washer and dryer. :lol:

 

Your post reminds of the days when three or four teen boys (between ages thirteen and fifteen, growth years) would come over to play games. I would spend the entire evening putting out plate after plate of food that would disappear. Having one teenage boy regularly at the chuck-wagon was one thing. But families with several? I don't know how they do it.

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Your post reminds of the days when three or four teen boys (between ages thirteen and fifteen, growth years) would come over to play games. I would spend the entire evening putting out plate after plate of food that would disappear. Having one teenage boy regularly at the chuck-wagon was one thing. But families with several? I don't know how they do it.

 

I knew a family of teenaged boys who used a padlock on their refrigerator. :tongue_smilie:

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I think the large refrigerators go hand in hand with the shopping habits and the sizing of food packages. If I shop only once a week for a family, I need a fridge that can hold a couple of gallons of milk, all the fruit and veggies, yoghurt, cheese, etc. We do not purchase any carbonated beverages, but our fridge is fairly full. It holds at least four times as much as our German fridge did - which made it necessary to shop daily or every other day.

One big factor is the size of containers: In Germany, there are no gallon containers of anything, because no German fridge has room to store a gallon jug; beverages/milk come in liters (which is about one quart). Here, any smaller size is not economical to buy, so we get gallons.

 

Speaking of energy use: way ahead of the fridge, by far the largest user of electrical energy is air conditioning, followed by the water heater.

 

This was our observation when we lived in Germany. There is a cycle. If you are walking to and from the store, say on your way home from the bus or train, then you buy frequently and get packages you can carry.

 

But if you are driving, then you can buy bigger packages. Like a gallon of milk or a big jug of laundry soap.

 

It is hard to find economical, small sizes of food packages in the US. And in most locales, you will be stuffing everything into a car.

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Joan - When my dd's eczema was acting up badly especially in the middle of the winter, I started using the "clear and free" laundry detergents and washing in cold water and sometimes running the clothes through a 2nd rinse. I hung them in the sun if possible. It helped but, not as much as a chlorinated swimming pool on a sunny day slathered with coppertone baby sunblock!!! or some time at the beach also with the sunblock.

 

BTW - just shocked a guy at Sears by insisting that we only need an 18.2 - sized fridge. It really is enough for us.

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There is a thread on the GB about a poster trying to break her twice daily habit of buying coffee at Starbucks. Within the thread, a link was given to an article in a recent NY Times magazine entitled How Companies Learn Your Secrets. Given the twists and turns of this thread, a look at how marketing influences how we spend money may be interesting. From the article:

 

One study from Duke University estimated that habits, rather than conscious decision-making, shape 45 percent of the choices we make every day...

 

The article focuses on how statistics are used by Target to fill consumer's mailboxes with coupons and ad flyers. A lot of people think that saving money is a good enough reason to buy something. But perhaps the better question is whether the money should even be spent at all.

 

The article may be a good reading assignment for teens along with follow up questions on their own or family spending habits.

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