The price of food is going up, the price of gas is going up. All of the sudden making sure my kids are fed and taken care of is becoming worrisome and with the loss of my consulting contracts, a little scary. Some ways that my family of 6 children, my husband and I are using to cut back on expenses include:
1. Eating the lawn – I’m not kidding here. Our grandparents did it and then the art was lost. I now throw dandelion leaves (not the stems or flowers) into everything I make, I add them to salads, meatloaf, even chopped up into lasagna. They can be on the bitter side which only means that I need to be clever in how I prepare them but even the youngest will eat Dandelion greens sautéed with onions and garlic.
Dandelion leaves are free and are filled with nutrients, a perfect natural food. As we don’t use chemicals on our lawn so I send my kids out the back door to gather some for dinners. If you do use chemicals then go to the woods or the side of the road and gather them there.
We also use Peppermint leaves that grow wild everywhere. Peppermint leaves in cold water with just a touch of honey makes a delightful and very cost effective drink that rivals any lemonade.
2. Leftovers, a chance to be creative – There was a time in my life when I would throw out all leftovers but not now. Vegetables get put into a plastic bag in the freezer and they will become the weekend soup. Meats are chopped up and used in sauces or re-used in stir-fries or salads.
The point is to be creative. Some of my kids are still young and still hold onto the “yuk” factor of re-used food. I use the don’t ask, don’t tell rule when it comes to leftovers, if you don’t ask me where it came from I’m not going to tell you.
3. Say Yes to Handouts – already we have been given rhubarb. It is more than I can use but I’ve cut it into small pieces, packaged it in “pie” amounts and have stored it in my freezer.
In the fall, people will very happily send over squashes and tomatoes to which we will always be thankful.
When people find out we have 6 children, they always want to pass clothes along, again we always take them with the understanding that anything that doesn’t fit will be passed on from us. In the total 16 years that we’ve had kids, I’ve only had to buy 3 new winter coats, all others have been hand-me downs. That’s a lot of money that was saved over the years.
4. Consolidate car trips – we keep a running list in our kitchen of school supplies that are needed. We go once a week to the local department store for all our supplies. This has the added advantage of teaching our kids to organize and plan ahead. Whoa be it to him who tells me the night before that he needs a pack of construction paper for a school project!
We also shop once a week for our main groceries. We sit down with the kids and based on the Grocery stores’ sales, we figure out the menu for the week and then create a shopping list.
5. Get those Bikes out – We have bikes. Some of them are rusty, some have dents, but all work. If I need something from the grocery store that didn’t make it on my original list, I send one of my boys on his bike to get it. The Grocery store is about 2 miles away. It’s a nice ride for him and nice gas savings for me.
6. Use your car as an office– One of my sons has Gymnastics practice the next town over. When he was recovering from an injury, he only went for one hour at a time. I couldn’t justify the cost of gas to come home only to turn around and pick him up again so I packed my laptop and notebooks in the car and spent the time doing work.
I also do this at my daughters’ soccer practices. I actually don’t mind it simply because it is amazing how much one can get done in a quiet car (alone).
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