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Prioritizing Frugal Activities

As you know, for the last several weeks, painting has kind of consumed my life. The cabinet project was a doozy, of course, and then I jumped right into the project of painting Lisey’s new room.

cabinets by fridge

All that painting didn’t leave a whole lot of extra time for other money-saving efforts, and at times like these, I have to decide what’s important to do and what’s not.

To a degree, I do this all the time, but during especially busy seasons, prioritizing is even more important.

So, during my painting project, I didn’t stay on top of my fridge.

I did very little baking and we’ve had a number of store-bought loaves of bread (My kids, who used to think store-bought bread was a treat, have changed their minds.)

We ate a lot more cereal breakfasts than usual.

I didn’t set foot in a thrift store.

No mending or repurposing happened.

I kept my grocery shopping super simple.


I did keep cooking meals (albeit simple ones!), because eating out or getting takeout is crazy-ridiculous for a family of six.

fish cakes with salad and asparagus

No matter how busy I get, cooking at home is very nearly at the top of my priority list because the savings are so great.

For the six of us to get fast food or a kind of cheap takeout meal, we usually have to spend $35 or so. And if we eat out somewhere, the damage is even worse.

$35 is a lot of money for a meal, and if we did that a couple of times a week, it would really start to add up.

I can easily feed our family for a week on $140 (that’s 21 meals), but that same $140 will only buy us 4 dinner meals if we get takeout.

That is very much not a bargain.

And then when you consider that what I serve at home is almost always more nutritious than what we eat when we’re out, the meals at home are an even better deal.

So, I’m curious now…what money-saving activity is at the top of your priority list during busy seasons of life?

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Friday 6th of September 2013

always always cooking meals at home

Aaron Crawford

Wednesday 21st of August 2013

Just wanted to cheer you up. You did do repurposing in a major way. You redid your kitchen cabinets! You could have chose to buy new ones but you chose to make to old ones work. We eat leftovers. I know it sounds simple but it saves lots of money. I end up preparing dinner 3 to 4 times a week. We eat the leftovers the rest of the time or something very simple like grilled cheese sandwiches and a bowl of soup (sometimes homemade from freezer and sometimes from a wholesale store). I have a couple of money saving ideas and regards to "fast food" at home. When you make tacos double the ingredients. Then, at the end of the meal make a pan of enchiladas with the ingredients. Yes, toss it all in. tomatoes, onions, olives, beans, cheese, and meat. Whatever is left it will all taste good together. Save this meal for a day or two later or freeze it for one of those nights you know you are going to be too exhausted to cook. I also do something similar with turkey dinner leftovers. I pour the gravy and veg into a casserole dish. Next comes the diced turkey meat, mashed potatoes and last but not least the stuffing. Bake it all till it is heated through and the stuffing is nice and crispy on top. Never make one lasagna always make two or more. You already have the mess out, do yourself a favor and make one for the future.


Wednesday 21st of August 2013

I totally agree. Eating out is not fun with 7 kids (youngest 1 and 3), and cooking is an area where it's so easy to save money. Even buying some "convenience" food like the ALDI stir fry mixes or pizza for those occasional nights saves a ton of money.

Laura Vanderkam

Tuesday 20th of August 2013

We don't eat out much with the family, mostly because the children are still at the stage where I can't guarantee no one will throw something. This makes restaurant eating stressful. The upside is not having to cook or do dishes -- which is not a negligible upside -- but weighed against the possibility of a complete tantrum/meltdown, it's a limited upside.

But because we're not eating a lot of restaurant meals of convenience (or take out -- oh, sometimes I miss living somewhere that I could get sushi delivered!) I feel free to eat at very nice restaurants when my husband and I got out without the kids. :)

In general, my frugal behavior consists of setting our recurring expenses at a lower percentage of income than we could. Getting the big things right frees up a lot of cash for smaller things. We can eat out a lot for what we saved by moving to a cheaper (and lower tax) state.


Tuesday 20th of August 2013

Although cost is a factor preparing homemade meals is a priority for me in many ways. We are currently into our second week camping/caravaning around Dorset and I choose to cook rather than eat out 90% of the time. So far we've enjoyed slow cooked lasagne (I rarely travel without a crockpot) and chicken fajitas (cooked on my amazing buy from Aldi - a Teppanyaki grill!). We have had a couple of meals out. Our bill is approximately £40 for us four. Yesterday I tracked down an Aldi in Weymouth and spent just short of £50 and got food for 3 days plus lots of treats/beers etc ... Well we are on holiday!

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