Since I became a SAHM, my attempts at frugality have been all over the place. I try something, then I forget to keep doing it. I order supplies for a project and then never start it. Right now I’m sitting on my son’s bed, which is next to his crib that needs to be taken down, which is full of a hundred dollars’ worth of never-used cloth diapering supplies. So here is a list of frugal goals, to give myself some focus.
1. Follow the Compact. Try very hard to not buy new; buy used, borrow, decide if I really need it. It’s almost time for the Great Wardrobe Changeover, from winter to spring/summer. Can I get everything the kids need without buying new? (And still have them look good?) I think so.
2. Reduce use of paper towels, plastic baggies, aluminum foil, and similar supplies. Whenever there is a spill, I instinctively reach for the paper towels, but what’s wrong with a rag? In my son’s lunch, why can’t use a Tupperware container instead of a baggie? I’ve made pretty good progress with this goal, but I have a ways to go. Here is one of my favorite things, the “litterless juice box”:
We used to go through scads of juice boxes; now I hardly buy them. Someday, I’ll focus on water instead of juice in the lunchbox and maybe not drinking from plastic, but not right now.
3. Cook from scratch more. I’m trying to like cooking. I really am. It’s difficult when faced with so many picky eaters, and when even I am not that adventurous. I love to eat out, order in, and go to other people’s houses to eat. Thank God for the Internet. My search history is filled with things like “getting cake unstuck from pan,” “why is my rice-a-roni crunchy,” and “how soon do you start to feel sick from salmonella poisoning.” My cookbooks and printed-out recipes are filled with angry scribbles like “DON’T walk away — stir constantly or it will suck!!” and “DON’T put this in the wrong size pan!!” But for every disaster there has been a small victory, too. I have learned a lot over the past year, and I only wish I had paid more attention to my mom when she cooked when I was younger. A Home Ec class would have been nice too.
4. Make my own household cleaners. Turns out I can’t give up the dream of homemade dishwasher detergent. I already ordered supplies for a new recipe. I don’t think this will be a huge savings, since it’s not like I’m flying through the bottles of Mr. Clean over here, what with my… relaxed cleaning schedule. But still. It’s just fun.
5. Work on making the house energy efficient. Our house is old, big, and a giant sieve. Right now, in this 25-degree weather, there is cold air streaming in the bottom of the side door, because the weatherstripping peeled off a while ago. The air conditioner in the family room wall is covered up with taped-up plastic bags. The broken window on the third floor was covered with the same thing, but the gusty winds have blown it off. The front door and sidelights are original to the house, so air is flowing through their seams. I’m not particularly handy, but I’m sure there are some things I can do, and other things that I can make the full focus of my nagging powers.
I have a few more goals, but I’ll save them for another time. Happy almost St. Patrick’s Day. Last night we had shamrock-shaped sweet potato pancakes. Thanks, Mom, for the pancake batter pen!