Second entry of the day (technically).

I feel like I need to address the new, frugal lifestyle. Iím so glad that job transition has been a slow process, especially because itís allowing me to grow into the practice of being frugal while still having a job. Itís taking me some time to get used to the idea of stopping and thinking before making a purchase or donation.

Itís not that I never thought about purchases before, but itís been awhile since Iíve been forced to prioritize or think about cheaper alternatives.

Now when I stop and think about these things, it makes me realize how much money I could have saved over the years. Over those years, I didnít want to have to think about it, which is why I made the money, in the first place. So, I guess present-me and past-me will just have to agree to disagreeÖ or something.

The first change weíve made is to seriously cut back on eating out. Thatís our biggest vice and indulgence, mostly spurred on by the fact that we both work full-time (sometimes more).

Previously, weíd often find ourselves at the end of a long work day, with nearly no food in the house, and no energy to prepare the food we did have. A restaurant or delivery was the easy solution. With a little more effort, and planning, Iíve found that it doesnít have to be that way.

Iíve procured a crockpot. Iíve made a few vats of easy soups and stews that provide dinners, and lunches the next day, for Adam. Iíve been making steel cut oats regularly (we like them so much better than instant). The only problem is that a portion that would last me a week, easy, disappears within a couple of days with Adam around. Feeding him on a budget is going to be a challenge. I suddenly have a whole new respect for wives and mothers that can stretch a food budget.

I think that the veganism is a positive thing. Iíve never purchased meat, as an adult. I donít know how much it costs or how much is a normal serving.

Iíve been slowly whittling down the number of vegan convenience foods that we buy. That means; fake meats, fake ice creams, fake yogurts or any kind of pre-made vegan food. Those things are expensive. If I stick to buying raw ingredients and preparing the food myself, itís much cheaper.

Itís always been my tendency to buy in-season fruits and vegetables. Thatís mainly because they look so much better and appetizing than anything out of season. If Iím unfamiliar with the plant, Iíll familiarize myself. I had to learn this tactic when I was a member of a local-food delivery service. You pay them a monthly fee and a box of fresh veggies shows up on your doorstep. The veggies are organic and in-season (they try to keep it local, but it isnít always possible). The only downside is that youíre at the mercy of availability, but man, talk about an exercise in creativity. It was a nice service, but it got to the point where I just couldnít deal, anymore, especially after we had a particularly long spell of beet deliveries.

Anyway, the point is, in-season is usually cheaper. Itís also usually better quality.

Staples, like grains and beans are usually pretty cheap year-round. I might even start skipping the bread aisle in favor of making my own.

The only real money saving ďtrickĒ I know is shopping in ethnic grocery stores. Immigrants tend to be poorer when they first move here, and they like to bring their foods over. An immigrant guy opens up a store in his neighborhood, and that ingredient thatís considered an expensive, exotic, international food in the regular grocery store becomes a normal ho-hum thing, thatís shipped over in bulk, in his store. The American version will be portioned out in tiny amounts, with a lot of packaging. In the ethnic grocery store, it will likely be in a large, fuss-free container.

Also, even the normal ho-hum American stuff can even be found cheaper there, as well. Thereís a little Chinese mart near my house that keeps a tiny selection of vegetables, but everything they stock is high quality and crazy cheap.

Adamís mom is Puerto Rican, mine is Japanese. Heís from New York, Iím from LA. We donít eat a lot of what we call, ďwhite people food,Ē anyway (the main exception being Italian). Because of that, and because of our dietary choices, weíve incorporated a lot of foods that are not of our own ethnicity.

As a result of the aforementioned points (about ethnic food and bread making), Iíve purchased some teff flour, in hopes of making some injera. I paid through the nose at the regular grocery store because it was convenient. I just couldnít see myself driving all the way to the Ethiopian neighborhood (which is on the opposite side of the city) to get a small amount of flour to test my injera making skills.

We love Ethiopian food, and I thought it would be nice if I were capable of making some. If I can do it well, it should pay off. Besides, itís flat bread, how hard can it be? God, I hope Iím not forced to eat those words.

Other than that, I have not discovered any other major cost saving measures. Iíve thought about couponing, but I think coupons are normally for things that we wouldnít eat, anyway. Iím not sure, though, Iíve never looked.

1 comments so far

Tuesday, Mar. 20, 2012 at 4:47 PM