The list of approaches to minimizing the unemployment fallout continues. Find a job, give yourself instead of stuff, reuse and recycle whenever you can, and find a good used bookstore as a backup for your local library – what more can one do? Well, return to the coupon approach I used when the kids were little and I was a stay at home mom. There doesn’t seem to be the rampant double and triple coupon days they used to have. Now it really is a science. Finding coupons is more challenging now that we read our news online. Now I have to consider the sale prices at various stores, the amount of gas expended to get to said store, and the value of the coupon. Another thing I’ve noticed is that some prices go up right before the sale ads come out. It really is a case of knowing what you buy and how your local stores operate.
And then the more difficult values to discern. Is this something my family will eat? Is this something my family should eat? Can I add some form of filler and keep it healthy? These are all valid questions and concerns. I’m trying to save money, not create new health expenses. I’ve also adopted more of a European view on my shopping habits. I go to the store more frequently and buy less at each visit. Don’t be alarmed, the three stores I generally frequent are less than one mile from my home and are also conveniently close to the library. The results? Our cupboard and fridge are not overstuffed like they used to be. I can actually see what we have and remember what leftovers are in the reused sour cream container. The foods we eat seem fresher. We also seem to have eliminated waste with this new habit.
At first I was concerned that our limited food funds would really put a damper on the meal planning. I foresaw a sea of macaroni and cheese. With thoughtful shopping this turns out not to be the case. I’ve learned how to cook an inexpensive pot roast old school like my grandma used to. Turns out some searing and a dutch oven work wonders on a cheap piece of meat. Add a few vegetables, on sale this week, and you have a meal. A really good meal for a family of four adults for under $5 is actually possible some weeks. I’ve also had a great time entering some of our favorite foods, items I have on hand, into a Google search with amazing results. Our favorite base recipe for chicken curry soup was discovered this way.
While all of these things have been born out of a new necessity, we have reaped some unexpected benefits. Home cooked meals seem to naturally encourage our family to sit down to eat together. Our sons frequently have their girlfriends join us, so we are getting a chance to know these wonderful young women in a relaxed and comfortable setting. My husband and sons also take the apron occasionally and with practice are becoming decent chefs. We gave up restaurants and take out, but we have gained so much more.