Friday, March 23, 2012

How Far Can You Go?

Penny Pinching can strain any sweet Elastic Mom to the point of pinched lips and frustrated frowns. As much as cooking from scratch is a wonderful way to USE WHAT YOU HAVE, it also taxes one's time resources. The rewards are worth it though, extra nutrition and added flavour, but what if that is not enough?

Here are a few more budget stretching ideas when shopping:

* The best way to save money at the shops is to STAY OUT OF THEM. No temptation to splurge can grab you then.

* The best time to go shopping is JUST AFTER A MEAL. A full tummy won't demand snacks and sweets.

* The best way to shop is WITH A LIST that you stick to.

* The best way to pay for shopping is CASH rather than card, this will stop overspending.

* The best question to ask your potential purchase is "CAN I LIVE WITHOUT YOU?" Then wait a while to think over your decision before buying on impulse.

* In my home, I am the best PERSON to do the shopping, my husband is not all that skilled in frugality.

Another excellent way to save is to WEAR THE CLOTHES YOU HAVE, and only buy more when they wear out or you grow out of them. My current monthly clothing budget is zero. I honestly don't need anything new.

* Most of us have MORE clothing than we wear.

*Clothes that you no longer love can be DONATED, SOLD OR SWOPPED for something that you do love.

* MENDING AND RECYCLING damaged clothes can stretch their lives. For example, I recently turned an old pink sweatshirt into a cute cushion cover and my daughter converted her denim jeans into a handbag.

* SEWING, KNITTING and CROCHETING are satisfying skills that can clothe your family.

* On the other hand, FACTORY OR THRIFT SHOPPING may prove even more economical than homemade items.

Here are a few more ideas:

* GROW YOUR OWN food in whatever form your lifestyle allows, be it sprouts, herbs, fruit, vegetables, eggs, honey, milk and even meat.

* Collect, pick or catch food in the wild by FISHING, HUNTING or FORAGING. Mushrooms, venison and fresh fish are delicious treats, as are peaches picked along the roadside, sour figs from the dunes, mussels and clams from the seashore, pine nuts from the forest, rose hips and bramble berries.

* Don't pay others when you can DO IT YOURSELF, or persuade your children or even husband to do it. Washing cars, mowing lawns, house and garden chores come to mind first. But what about paying others to teach your children crafts and skills, when a good book and the necessary materials can help you to teach them yourself.

*Cutting back on extra mural activities can save barrows of money. Remember to replace the forgone activities with other fun ideas. Take a look at my fun free fitness post.

* Gather up unused clutter and SELL IT at garage sales, car boot sales or over the internet. Even sold for ridiculous prices, unused goods will be worth more to you as cash than clutter. Recently we sold some old toys and books at our local farmer's market. My children earned a generous amount of money, and the children receiving their goodies were thrilled.

* Refuse to bow to the peer pressure to provide extravagant, expensive gifts for Christmas and children's birthday parties. HOMEMADE GIFTS are usually just as welcome. Over the past few years I have given knitted hats, homemade soaps and cosmetics, boxes of fudge, tubs of my ice-cream, jams and preserves, sewn items and many more much appreciated gifts.

I know that these ideas are old news, but I hope that they spark some inspiration for you Elastic Moms reading my blog.

You might also enjoy the tips in my Stretching Further post.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Stretching in the Pantry

We have been away on a lovely but money guzzling holiday for ten days. Now that we are home again, it’s time to cut back. What is an Elastic Mom to do?

The most flexible part of any budget is the food bill. There are many ways to save money here. Cooking everything from scratch is a start. Forget about buying any pre-made sauces, condiments or ready meals. I try to buy pure basic ingredients and make everything from scratch. From bread to dips and pasta sauces, cakes and all my meals. Frozen and canned vegetables are very expensive and it is far better to pick or buy whatever is in season and going for a song and freeze or preserve it at home. It also helps that I have a vegetable patch, chickens, a beekeeping husband, a cow and we live on a farm. I know that living in suburbia makes it harder, but USE WHAT YOU HAVE still stands.
Elastic Moms plan their meals from what they have in the house before rushing out to buy anything. For example, take my menu for this week. First I peeked into garden, freezer and pantry, then I planned our meals.
I have eggs from our chickens, some mieliemeel (corn meal), flour, sugar, farm honey, bags of picked and frozen apricots, a bag of oats that I was able to buy for an excellent price and milk from the farm. The milk and cream will be turned into butter, yoghurt, cream cheese, buttermilk and also used fresh.
So I plan to make scrambled eggs on toast, apricot honey and mint smoothies, muffins, mieliemeel porridge, flapjacks with yoghurt, honey and fresh grapes, poached eggs, and some homemade muesli with the oats.

We have half a loaf of frozen bread, plenty of eggs, a half block of cheese, vegetables in the garden and fridge, two cans of tuna fish, some pasta supper leftovers, farm milk, lentils in the pantry as well as quite a few jars of jams, preserves and pickles.
I will bake bread, and some lunches I will serve are leftover pasta with salad followed by jam on toast, tuna salad, summer vegetable quiche, lentil burgers with roasted vegetables, homemade cream cheese and pickles on bread, garden brinjal dip, and maybe a curried spinach and egg salad or a homemade soup.
 In the freezer, I have, amongst other things, a meal of boston baked beans, some kudu mince from my kind brother-in-law,  and lots of tomatoes and tomato sauces from the summer. Then there is everything else that I have mentioned already.
I will make some lovely dinners: reheated boston beans on mashed potatoes with green beans and gem squash from the garden; eggs and leftover beans on hot fresh bread; chilled cucumber soup with homemade bread and an apricot crumble; Babotie (South African curried mince dish) with rice, lentil dhal, chutney, cucumber and tomato; Spinach and homemade cream cheese on my made-from-scratch pizza or pasta; Defrosted tomato sauce and tuna on rice with vegetables on the side. My husband will provide supper on Friday night as that is our Special Night tradition. 
There is a packet of popcorn in the pantry just waiting to be popped. There are plenty of grapes on our verandah vine. The prickly pears are fruiting, the walnuts are falling and there are pomegranates for the picking. Once I have baked bread there are jams, honey and marmite for toast, and if my children feel so inclined, they are welcome to bake anytime.

So there you have it, delicious meals, healthy, home grown and homemade and my shopping list for the week consists of two lightbulbs, a jar of peanut butter, some cleaning products, and that’s it. I might even make some of the cleaning products from scratch too, but that’s another blog.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Marrow Matters - Marrow Muffins


1 c wholewheat flour
1 c white flour
1 c grated marrow (mine were sliced, but grated is better)
1 t baking powder
1 t mixed herbs
1/4 c melted butter
1 1/2 c milk
1 egg

Mix together and bake in muffin pans at 180˚ for about 1/2 hour until golden.

 Slice some yummy homemade cheese and a tomato from the garden.