Oct 19, 2014

Back to Basics

My younger sister, Sarah, recently joined the world of the unemployed. Scary stuff when it's not what you planned to do, but exciting for her because she's wanted to be a stay-at-home wife (her kids are grown) for awhile now. She and I both wish we lived closer so I could help her through this transition time. I am budget-conscious (AKA cheap) to a fault. I have developed routines that keep my house clean and organized. My husband recently retired, so I now make foods from scratch, grow what I can, buy in bulk, buy multiple meat items when I find a good sale, have a fully stocked pantry and freezer, dehydrate, grow my own herbs, and, with all these combined, currently spend about $100-$150 a month on food (as opposed to my old $160-$200 a week).

So how can I share my techniques with Sarah when she lives 1100 miles away?

Right here, right now - by blogging about my daily routines and life.

So this is my gift to you, Sarah -- and to anyone else that is undergoing a major change in their lives and are just starting to focus on home and budget.

I'm not going to tell YOU how to do it all -- you have to find what works for you. What I'm going to write about is what works for ME, and you can take from it what helps you with your own personal goals.

SO.... This is how my day went.

Today was a pretty average day for me. We have a "Schedule" on our refrigerator, and Sunday is listed as "Laundry, Family, or Go Out".  Well, laundry was done on Friday, Mr. B spent the day with us on Saturday,  and after a hectic week, neither of us felt like going out. So today was up for grabs.

Up, dressed (including shoes, which works best for me), coffee and downstairs by 8 a.m. I'm a morning person, energy-wise, and I dislike sleeping past 7:30. Makes my day too short.

Once downstairs, I do my daily routine.
-- Empty dishwasher
-- Put any dirty dishes into dishwasher
-- Clean sink
-- Wipe down counters
-- Sweep kitchen floor
-- Check family room and straighten if necessary
-- Check downstairs bathroom, straighten, clean up if needed
-- Quick walk around the downstairs and see if anything needs to be put away

Next I sat down with a cup of coffee to figure out what's for dinner and what to put on my To Do List for the day. It's Sunday. I didn't really want to do much!

Take meat out of freezer for canning on Monday
Make beef vegetable soup for dinner
Dehydrate lemons
Clean out and organize storage unit in kitchen

Ready to make soup!
I took two 10 pound Eye of Round roasts out of the freezer so they could defrost for tomorrow (Monday) when I will pressure can them in various forms (more about that tomorrow). I decided to cut off about 3 pounds of one of the roasts to make a very large pot of beef vegetable soup for dinner tonight, with extra to pressure can tomorrow.

The roasts, by the way, were on sale a few weeks ago. Normally $5.99 a pound, they went on sale for $3.99 a pound, but shortly after went on sale for Buy One Get One Free, which brings it down to $2 a pound! At that price, I bought 20 pounds - that's an $80 saving for one of my favorite cuts of meats.

So, I made a large pot - about 15 quarts - of beef vegetable soup today. Tomatoes and carrots from the garden, an onion, garlic, leftover peas and carrots, celery, bags from the freezer containing bits of vegetables and leftover meats and juices from past meals. All went in the pot, simmered all afternoon and we had some very tasty soup for dinner tonight, plus I have soup to can tomorrow.

BASIC 101 - When you're cooking, in many cases it takes no longer to cook extra meals. I could have cooked just one pot of soup for dinner tonight with some left over for lunch tomorrow. But it didn't take much longer to cut extra beef, onions, celery, garlic, etc for 15 quarts of soup to eat later, than it did for just one meal. Whenever possible, double or triple what you're cooking for dinner and put the extra in the freezer or preserve it by canning.

A few days ago, I also picked up two five pound bags of fresh lemons. I use a lot of lemons and lemon peels in cooking and in iced tea, and lemons can be quite expensive. I normally pay $4.99 for a bag of lemons, and these were on sale at 2 for $5. As winter approaches, the price of lemons will go up so I stocked up. I "preserve" them by dehydrating them. I cut them into thin slices and then I cut the peel off the ends to have dehydrated peels as well. These took about six hours to dehydrate, then I stored the slices and the peels in two separate mason jars, sealed with my vac sealer.

Jeff was busy down in our basement all day, and came upstairs with some sheets and blankets he'd found and wanted to use for various storage items, but needed them washed. So I did two loads of laundry.

BASIC 101 - "Doing the Laundry" should mean only ONE thing - wash, dry, fold AND put away. Never leave a load in the washer - they'll smell. Never leave a load in the dryer - they will be too wrinkled! Never leave clothes in a pile or laundry basket to be put away later. Later never comes. Do it now. Stop allowing yourself to think you "did laundry" if there's still laundry in the dryer or in a pile or in a laundry basket. You should not consider it done until you wash, dry, fold and put away.
I have a storage unit in my kitchen that was actually once a pulpit. Weird, I know. But I like weird things and I needed a place to park my laptop and to store supplies like envelopes, notebooks, extra cords for the camera, etc. Non-kitchen stuff that I wanted handy in the kitchen. I'd cleaned out the entire unit a few weeks ago, but forgot about the drawer, so wanted to get that done. There wasn't much in there, but I did pull out two manuals (printer and virus software) that needed to go in our manuals binders, so I gave those to Jeff to put away. Threw out a lot of paperwork and receipts I needed to keep for just a little while, but now could be thrown out. Found two birthday cards I'd bought but forgot to send, so put them back in the drawer - so I can forget to send them again next year. Sigh...

1 comment:

sarah said...

Thank you! Funny, yesterday while driving, somewhere, I was thinking of your blog and wondering if you were still doing it and how I needed to check it out, it had been too long since I've been here, and look what I found! :-)
I am looking forward to learning all you have to offer and I am SURE hubby will be excited to see the out come also.
Off to the kitchen to clean I go! My first room to tackle.
Love you.