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Saturday, November 14, 2009

Incorporating frugal changes into busy lives

I am the breadwinner of my family. Since my position is a management position over several departments and around 30 people, my work week is often 60+ hours. 13 hour days can (and do!) make other family responsibilities difficult. Despite this, I manage to sit down with my family 7 days a week for a home cooked meal (we typically only eat out for special occasions, and almost never eat fast food). I menu plan, coupon, stockpile, garden, can, and make many meals ahead of time and freeze for easy reheating later. I have managed to purge many items, like canned chicken broth, from our house completely. Foods like macaroni and cheese are made from scratch here, not out of a box.

Many of my friends, family members and co-workers are constantly surprised at some of the things I have incorporated into my schedule to help our family save money, eat healthier, and be more organized. It is a common assumption that couponing, meal planning and cooking meals from scratch are very time consuming.

No lie. Some things are. But many are not, and even a few of the things that take a little more time might make sense to do if it helps substantially in another area. The key is to find what works for YOU. And to start small. It's kind of like a diet. You are much more likely to succeed in changing your eating habits if you start small, like cutting out soda, or adding one more vegetable every day. I've tried those no fat, no calorie, no fun, nothing like your regular lifestyle diets before, and yes, I've lost weight, but I couldn't keep up with the changes because there were too many at once, and I gained the weight back.

Making changes to be more frugal are exactly the same. It's incredibly unrealistic to think if you have a monthly food budget of $1000 a month for your family right now, that you can suddenly cut it to $300. If you eat out 4 times a week, cutting to zero might feel like that diet. No fun.

What you can do, though, is begin adding small steps that you can live with, one at a time. Instead of trying to cut back all eating out, just make a decision to eat out one less time a week, and STICK TO IT. If you spend $25 on your family that one night a week, and can instead feed them at home for $10, you just saved $15 a week. That's $780 a year. Pretty cool, huh?

You find the things that work for you. I make many things from scratch, but one thing I'll probably never do is make all of our bread from scratch. Not that I wouldn't love to, and not that I haven't from time to time, but this is one thing I find time consuming and very difficult to fit into my schedule. It's not worth the time I lose for other things, like family. That's just what works for me.

When I started this blog, I wanted to be able to show people that you can work, spend time with your family, and still be able to do things like cook, coupon and eat healthy unprocessed food. In the coming weeks and months, I will be posting a series of articles on very small changes you can make one at a time, just as I did.

If you have posted any articles on subjects like this on your blog, or would like to guest write on a topic you are passionate about, please reach out to me! I would love to show lots of different ideas, and spotlight some of the amazing blogs out there!

2 comments:

Martha (Menagerie) said...

Sounds like we have a lot in common! My schedule is outrageous but I manage home-cooked, frugal and healthy meals all week too. I concentrate on making a large main dish one night and then creatively use the leftovers to create new meals the next night or two. I also prepare some things to freeze, and have a couple of favorite crock pot recipes to throw in here and there.

I was lucky to be given a bread machine for a gift. It now only takes 5 minutes of my time to bake my own bread!

biz319 said...

I am a total menu/meal planner. While we do eat out on occassion, I make almost everything from scratch - my weekly budget is $125 a week.

Love the idea of starting small to make big changes!