Saturday, July 13, 2019

Where did it begin....the road to groceries on the cheap

I grew up with a mother that was always frugal in her special way.  Some things were a bit over the top like when she insisted we don’t buy Kleenex and I had to , with allergies go to school, with my roll of tp.  Can we spell gross. Meds were something to be shunned, even when we got them for free with my dad’s insurance,    She would buy gallons of pure casteel shampoo because I had two sisters and we used a lot of shampoo.   There was the time that she was bound and determined that we were going to save money for a new house.  She decided we could each have a bar of hotel soap to brush our teeth.  Yuk is all I can say.

Mom was a plain cook.  She didn’t like to cook, but what she made was always really delicious,   She would take the time to separate eggs, whip the whites and fold them together to make an omelette that she finished in the oven.  She would start it in our big aluminum pan and take the handle off to finish it in the oven,   We all started baking when we were about 9 yo.  That’s when we got to do the dishes without the benefit of a dishwasher.  One summer there were the five of us as well as two aunts and cousin that came to live with us for the summer. 

At thirteen we got her old iron and she got a new one.  We got to learn how to iron your cotton clothes. You put  them wet in a zipper bag .  If you didn’t get to them they moulded  ,   Ironing something until it’s dry is not an easy task at 13.   I babysat and could buy some of my own clothes.  We were to save 1/2 of our money to buy our silverware for our “hope chest” for every place setting, she would match it.  At 8 yo we started getting teaspoons for our birthdays and Christmas.   Buying something that didn’t have substance was a waste of money.  I went to two movies in 18 years.  One when I was about 8 or so when we went to visit friends in Utah.  We saw Pollyanna. When I was 18, my sister and I went to a Hard Days Night in Anacortes.   I started junior high with two gingham
dresses, both the same, one blue, one green.  Besides that, I had some jeans and a boys sweatshirt. 

We were far from poor.  Mom always bought quality food and no junk food,  Dad wouldn’t allow pop, hotdogs, kool aid or the like in the house. He said it was garbage.  He said if coke would take rust off a screw, what would it do to your stomach,  lol.  We had Karastan rugs and formal curtains on the living room windows.  Mom bought quality and said it was better to buy one good thing and take care of it than to buy cheap furniture and replace it.   It was a durable thing.  You bought things that lasted and things that you had something to show for your money.  She would have never understood the minimalist, buy experiences mantra of today.  To her, that was economy.   Her Karastan still sits on our living room floor.

Fast forward.   It was the early 70’s.  I became a single parent.  My dad always said that a marriage only can work if you are both pulling  the cart in the same direction,   Truer words were never
spoken. Dad was a man of few words but what he said was usually very wise.   

We had had a rough few years.   I had two 202.00 paychecks that December and 5.12 in the savings account.  Rent was 145.00 and daycare was 185.00.  I had to pay an insurance fee and December and January’s fees in December,.  I called DSHS and they told me I earned too much to get food stamps and  it didn’t matter how much daycare was.

I cried, Then I put my big girl pants on and......called my sister.   Brainstorming always helped.   She gave me some ideas and I worked out a plan. I spent 25.00 for food that month.  My son wanted a hot wheels set from Santa.  I found one that had a plastic c clamp that put the track to a chair for 3.50.  

We made it through the hard times.  I set out to learn everything I could about saving money.  We cut the heat in some rooms.  Caught the dishwasher and turned off the dry cycle.  I read everything I could find at the library and watched everything that came across the 10 inch black and white tv with
an antenna.  It was months before we got a telephone.  When the tv went, we listened to radio drama.

We lived through double digit inflation, and no raises in three years.  I still had a job, so things were good.  If we couldn’t afford something, we went without. My son came first.  I did my best to keep him in clothes the other kids wore and bought his school lunches so he was like the other kids.

Seven years later I remarried and things got better.   I still looked for ways to s t r e t c h a dollar.   I never stopped.

Fast forward, my daughter has taught children from low income families for years.  She was hearing of a lot of women that were having a hard time stretching their food dollars.  She told one that oh, her mom knew how to do that!   That is when my children convinced me that this non tech savvy soon to be grandmother could start a blog.

I knew a lot. I set out to learn and try more things,  retry things I had failed at before.   Like scratch bread!   It wasn’t until I was writing a class that I discovered we were actually eating well on less than snap money would be. I started several years ago using a spread sheet to record where and how much we were spending per week.   Periodically we take an inventory.

That’s how I got here.  I write a blog everyday for seven years now with the exception of a few days that I was out of commission.  I would like to reach more people, but, a salesperson, I’m not and google has quit their sharing part of the blog.   It’s free, I can’t complain.

Groceries on the cheap takes a new or not so new approach to grocery shopping.  The upshot  is you always have food on the house, you efficiently scratch cook so you aren’t eating a lot of things you can’t pronounce, and you can do it on four dollars a day or less.

Come join me,  it’s free.

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