Blue Apron (and their ilk) | Bread Freezing | Other Frugal Blogs (it’s a Q&A post!)

Every Monday, I answer a few of the questions that my readers send me. If you have a question you’d like me to answer in a future Q&A post, just leave me a comment here or email me (thefrugalgirl [at] gmail [dot] com) and put Q&A in the subject line. I look forward to hearing from you!

Hey Kristen! I’ve never done Julep, but I did try a nearly free trial of Hello Fresh, the produce meal box. Have you ever considered trying one of those? I’d be interested in hearing your opinion of them.

-Danielle

I’ve come across some similar things on the web (like Blue Apron), and at first, I thought it seemed like a reasonable idea…you get to cook a meal, but you don’t have to plan anything or even shop for ingredients.

And I thought $10 for a meal sounded like a good price.

Then I realized the charge was per person.

For my family, each meal would run us $60.

<thud>

We can practically eat at a sit-down restaurant for $60.  And I could make many, many dinners for $60, even if I buy local meats.

blue apron ingredients

On average, I spend about $21-$25/day, and that feeds the six of us for three meals.

That means each meal is really costing us around $7-$10, and each serving runs about $1 to $1.50.

I’m sure breakfast is less expensive than dinner, but even if dinner used up $15 of my daily spending, that’s still only a little over $2 per person.

At that rate, a meal delivery service would cost me 5 times what I currently spend.

Maybe this would work out well for small families who mainly subsist on restaurant meals and who really want to spend a little time cooking a few nights a week.

But me?  If I’m going to spend $60 on dinner, I would really like to not be cooking.  ;)

Kristen,

How do you make fresh bread ahead of time / what do you do when the recipe makes more than you need?  My favorite recipe makes two loaves, but at the current time, my family can only eat one before it dries out.  I don’t want to half my recipe – what can I do to preserve my dough so I can bake it when we run out?  How can I make my recipe the night (or several nights) before (when my kids are in bed), and keep it fresh to bake for dinner during the week?

Michelle

The freezer is your friend!  Finished homemade bread freezes very well, so make a big batch and freeze whatever you don’t need right away.  That’s what I do all the time.

3 loaves of bread

You can freeze unbaked dough, but it takes a fairly long time to thaw and then once it thaws, it needs time to rise, so I don’t find that to be a super efficient way to bake.

If you want to keep fresh dough around for baking during the week, you could try the popular no-knead artisan bread, which you can store in the fridge and bake throughout the week.

I was hoping you could share other blogs that are somewhat like yours? I follow the minimalist mom as well and both of you are such an amazing inspiration! I would like to find other inspiring people to learn and grow. Thank you! :)

Martina

Hmm.  There are a LOT of money-saving blogs out there, but a great proportion of them are deal/couponing blogs (I’m assuming that’s not what you’re looking for!)

Give these ones a try:

The Non-Consumer Advocate

Katy buys almost nothing new, and her blog obviously focuses on not consuming stuff.

MoneySavingMom (the no deals version)

I like the Money Saving Mom blog except for the deals (which feel like a lot of clutter to me).  I recently discovered the link above which gives you her blog minus all the deals.  Perfect.

Living Well, Spending Less

Ruth does blog about coupons to a degree, but mostly her blog is about saving money in a variety of other ways (DIY, cooking, etc.)

I bet my readers will have some good suggestions for you too!

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You know the drill: the floor is now yours.

Got thoughts about meal delivery services?  Or some good blog reads to suggest?  Share in the comments!

How to balance ethics and frugality (plus: MyPublisher Winners!)

Every Monday, I answer a few of the questions that my readers send me. If you have a question you’d like me to answer in a future Q&A post, just leave me a comment here or email me (thefrugalgirl [at] gmail [dot] com) and put Q&A in the subject line. I look forward to hearing from you!

Good Monday morning, dear readers!

The MyPublisher giveaway closed last night, and here are the five lucky people who will be receiving a free photo book.

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74-Lanell

124-Rebecca

219- Leslie

302- Michelle

601 – Debbie

You’ve all been emailed!  Write me back, and I’ll get your code sent out to you.

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Normally I answer a few questions in a Q&A post, but my answer to this one became so long, I only had room for one question this week.

I have a question that I just can’t seem to answer satisfactorily for myself, no matter how much I think about it.  Here it goes: Frugality and morality often seem at odds when I make purchases.  

No doubt, food produced by people who are paid poorly and with chemicals that harm our soil and water are cheaper, but the way that this food is created doesn’t align with my desire to treat people and the earth with respect.  

The same goes with, say, clothes, that are mass produced in factories that don’t prioritize the safety of their workers and aren’t meant to last for years to come.  

But, it’s hard for me to part with hard-earned dollars, and making the choice to buy food and clothing sourced responsibly is definitely more expensive, and less convenient.  It also means I have fewer dollars to put elsewhere.

I’m wondering if you and your readers struggle similarly and, if so, how do you make decisions that you’re comfortable with?

Abigail

This is a little tough, isn’t it?  I’m pretty sure all of us have been there!

Here are some ways I deal with this conundrum.

1. I buy/consume less overall so that I have more money to spend on what I do buy and consume.

I don’t own a lot of clothes, which means that I can afford to spend a little bit more to get quality items.  For instance, Mr. FG and I both own American Giant hoodies, which are crazy durable and are made in the U.S. by a company who fairly pays their workers.

american giant hoodie on the frugal girl

They’re pricey, but they should last us for a long time, and we both chose neutral colors, which means we each really only need one hoodie.

I also don’t own very much jewelry, which means that I’ve been able to afford to buy some well-made, fair-trade pieces from Novica.

(I just realized in the photo above, I’m wearing American Giant and Novica!)

You can’t exactly apply this to food without starving yourself, but if you are doing less shopping overall, your other budget categories should shrink a bit, which could give you more room in your food budget.

2. I buy used.

Second-hand goods are an epic solution to this problem.  When you buy them, you make use of something someone else didn’t want, you are not creating demand for products made in sweatshops, AND you save money.

Win, win, win.

3. I ask, “Could this be an heirloom?”

I wrote a whole post about this, but basically here’s the idea: before you buy something, ask yourself if it will have a long life (after you’re done with it, could someone else use it?)

If the answer is no, then don’t buy it.

IMG_2010

Heirloom quality items do tend to cost more (unless you snag them used), but if you slowly switch over to buying them, you’ll soon see a net savings because you will not have to keep replacing things that break.

And applying tip #1 helps here, because if you buy fewer items, you can afford to get the heirloom stuff.

4. I eschew most disposables.

Disposable items most certainly do not pass the heirloom test, and opting for reusables instead should eventually free up some room in your budget.

Bonus: life with non-disposables is a little more luxurious!

5. I make a lot of things from scratch.

Organic yogurt is pretty expensive, but if you buy a gallon of organic milk and use it to make yogurt, your quarts of yogurt will cost about the same as conventional yogurt.

If you opt to buy local or organic ingredients rather than ready-to-eat foods, you can often save money while still buying ethically.

6. I settle for less than perfection.

I buy local chicken breasts and a local quarter of beef.  I choose the organic items that are available at Aldi.  I visit farm stands in the summer and fall for local produce.  I signed up for a local produce delivery box this summer.  I buy organic wheat from a local co-op and grind it to make flour, and I make applesauce from local apples.


But on the other hand, we still eat some conventionally-raised meats, plenty of our food is not organic, and I still buy some unnecessary food items (such as M&Ms!).

I probably will never reach ethical shopping perfection, but I make more ethical choices now than I did 10 years ago, so that’s progress.  And you know I am all about not letting the perfect be the enemy of the good.  ;)

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How do YOU find a good balance between frugality and ethical shopping? Share your wisdom with Abigail, please!

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P.S. When I was writing this post, I remembered that I have a referral link from American Giant that gives you 15% off your first purchase. That’ll net you almost $14 off the purchase of a heavyweight hoodie, which is what we own.

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Joshua’s 52 Project post: One more snake picture

(So, you’ve been warned.  Don’t click over if snakes give you the heebie-jeebies!)