Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Unlearning Old Habits and Starting Some New

On her blog post today, Rhonda at Down-To-Earth said, "It is so easy to become complacent and lazy." Her point was that without a regular evaluation of her life, it is too easy to fall into the old traps, the old habits, the way "normal" people do things.

And she's right. I notice it about myself and about my life, too. It's very easy for me to fall back into a way of doing things that I struggled to get out of.

In fact, I've been to the mall twice this week. Once was to buy some jeans and underclothes for Deus Ex Machina. In my defense, he hadn't bought himself any new clothes in a long time, and the ones he had showed it. I mean, it's one thing for me to wear clothes that need repairs, or that have obvious repairs - I work from home, and people don't see me much, but he has to go to an office and work.

So, I went to the mall and bought him some jeans.

The second time was to pick-up Big Little Sister after her sleep over at her BFF's house, which is about an hour's drive from here. The mall was a convenient place for us to meet-up so that neither parent had to drive the entire way.

I didn't buy anything the second time, and in fact, didn't really even make it into the mall (just to the food court area), which was fine by me.

But ....

At one point, during the day, as I was listening to my girls playing with their niece, the thought that maybe they might like to have another little Polly Pocket doll ....

Yes, they would like to have another Polly Pocket doll, because the forty-some-odd ones that they have need more companions.

What was I thinking?

See? See how easy it is to just fall right back into that mindset? It's scary how easy. I thought I was beyond thinking like that, and, yet, somehow that little thought just crept so easily into my little brain.

I've worked so hard to change that way of thinking, to change my attitude toward spending, it really was a shock to realize how ingrained the "consumer" habit is.

I was updating my "food" spreadsheet this afternoon. The month's total was $835.80. I'm pretty sure I missed a few things. The total is down $37.24 from May, but our eating out total was up by $26.56 - most of which was directly attributable to the first two weeks of the month that were devoted to dance recital activities.

Our overall grocery bill was down by $63.80, and that's because we only went to the grocery store twice last month - on purpose. One of The Frugal Zealot's recommendations is to limit visits to the grocery store, because the more you go, the more likely you'll succumb to "impulse purchases." Even with a list, I know we do that.

Of course, I didn't go to the Farmer's Market for a couple of those weeks, either. But we had $36.00 worth of butchering and $43 worth of strawberries (now mostly jam).

So, I guess, all in all, we did pretty well (except the eating out).

We're still well above the goal of $698.00/month on total food costs, but we seem to be making progress. The fact that I have to record it makes me a little more conscientious about where we're sending. Accoutability certainly makes one more mindful of one's actions ;).

I think, though, in the fall, after I've finished buying winter storage "stuff", that our overall food bill will be reduced - if we can kick the take-out habit. My plan is to can something every week from now until ... well, until the garden stops giving, I guess, which will be October or so (apple season ;). Even if there's nothing from the garden or the Farmer's Market, I'll put up something.

So far, I've done chicken soup, baked beans and strawberry jam. This weekend will (hopefully) be more jam and maybe I'll open one of the jars of jam from last week that didn't set as hard as I wanted and use it for fruit leathers :). Over at Fleecenik Farm I read about a great way to use (and store) garlic scapes. I definitely need to do more with dehydrating, and this sounds like a quick and easy way to take advantage of something I don't really have a lot of experience using :).


  1. You're problem is the food budget-mine is gasoline. We spent $400 on gasoline last month!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! My husband has been going to auctions, and most of them are 25-50 miles from us. I've tried and TRIED to explain that it's not a bargain if you're putting $15-20 in the gas tank everytime you go to one, and since I write down everything we spend, well, he can't argue with that. We're trying to KEEP him retired!!
    But, anyway, I loved this post. We do have to keep mindful's just too easy to just "buy" our way out of any problem.

  2. Yeah I'm guilty of this too. YOu know what though--you've got a leg up on the competition. Why? a.) because you KNOW you think like this and b.) you're cool with changing those habits. I think this recession is a recession because many people don't have a. or b.; or a. but are still not willing to do b.

    I gave up dehydrating. I did it one time and holy moly, the electric bill that month!!!!!! I freecycled that blasted dehydrator--and got some GREAT stories as to why people needed it.

  3. I hate to be even slightly negative in commenting on other people's blogs. But you might want to wait on the reports for those dehydrated garlic scapes. I've been told that dehydrated and chipped or powdered scapes taste, well, awful. And this is from someone with a no-waste attitude towards the food they grow. Some herbs just lose all their charm when dried (sage and cilantro for instance). If you're willing to try it anyway though, I'd love to get a second opinion from you.

    My garlic scape preservation choice is to make pesto out of them, with walnuts. True, I have to freeze the stuff so it's not the most shelf stable form, but it sure is delicious.