Friday, April 9, 2010

Food for thought Fridays - Frugal culture

Something I'm completely fascinated with but really bad at implementing is frugality. I'm always asking my frugal friends how they do it, what their secrets are for stretching a dollar further. I've even come up with the catch phrase 'frugal culture' to help inspire me to be more careful with my money.

However, I wouldn't blame my husband for thinking I'm like the boy that cried 'frugal culture', as I start new money-saving plans with great enthusiasm but soon revert back to my same old bad habits.

One of the great things about being a stay-at-home mum is that I have the time to browse blogs and find ways to be a wiser steward of what God has entrusted me with.

Two great blogs I've found are Money Saving Mom and Life as Mom. I'm working my way through their budgeting tips; things like menu planning, shopping with cash, having freezer cooking days and shopping from the pantry.

I'm not trying everything at once, because I don't want to get overwhelmed and burn out. I have, however, started menu planning and shopping with cash. To be exact, I've shopped with cash once, last week. It went really well.

I used my cellphone as a calculator and tallied everything up as I went, stopping 20 cents short of my cash allowance. That 20 cents went into my grocery fund for next week, so I'll have a little extra to spend if I want - or I can leave it to accumulate even more. It may not seem like much, but I'm sure every little bit will add up over time. And what will make an even bigger difference is keeping to a budget. I just find it so easy to spend an extra $20, $50 or $100 on groceries if I see lots of 'bargains' when I'm at the supermarket.

That's where menu planning comes in. If I know exactly what I need to make for dinners in the coming week, it's a lot easier to refrain from stocking up on 10 packets of feta cheese (which I've been known to buy. Hey, it lasts for more than a year and is so useful in cooking and salads!).

Menu planning is also great because it ensures I look in my pantry, fridge, freezer and garden to begin with, so I get rid of items that have been lurking in dark corners for months.

A recent Butter Chicken dinner I made is a perfect example of this.
It used up an Asian Home Gourmet packet I bought on a whim more than a year ago, several tomatoes from my garden, some leftover rice I had previously frozen in a ziplock bag, a chicken breast from my freezer, one onion and 1/4 cup of red lentils I had on hand. Instead of buying the recommended cream for it, I used light coconut milk from my pantry. This meal was whipped up entirely with ingredients I had at home.

Best of all, if I had waited another month before checking my pantry, the Asian Home Gourmet packet would have expired and I probably wouldn't have had any fresh tomatoes growing in the garden.

So that's the gist of frugal culture for now. I'll keep you updated on my progress.

Check back on Sunday to see What's been cooking?


  1. Menu planning is so great for keeping your costs down, plus a quick check/stocktake of the pantry/freezer before you plan is helpful. I find it hard to stick to frugal ways too but like you am trying my best - at least you grow your own veg, we are on tank water and I refuse to buy a tank load of water so am showering and washing clothes at my parents which means I can't waste our water on the garden until we get a good rain! Trying to save the $170 that it will cost to get 1/3 of a tank of water! Love your blog.

  2. Hi Samantha, the weather is doing crazy things at the moment. I haven't been watering my garden because it keeps looking like rain, but then the rain doesn't come. I hope you get a good downpour soon!


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