Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Thrifty Kitchen

Cookie Baking Day

Must the cookie jar always be full?  Do Mothers have to keep a steady supply of cake, brownies and other treats in the kitchen?  Must she provide her family with gourmet dinners each night, or special meals that taste delightful?

Or is it okay to have a thrifty kitchen? This kind of kitchen produces things like oatmeal in the morning, or whole grain apple muffins. Lunches might be sandwiches or leftovers.  Supper might be the main meal of the day, served around 5 or 6 in the evening.  This could be pasta, meatloaf, or one of our frugal favorites, southern cornbread, home fried potatoes and baked beans.

It is not required that Mother buy soda, candy or chips. It is completely unnecessary for her to serve dessert every single day.  It is also extremely expensive.

Simple, homemade foods from the kitchen help keep household expenses low.

It has been said that we must not be fashionably dressed above our means. It is also true that we must not grocery shop and cook beyond what we can afford.

One of the biggest leaks in the family budget is an abundance of food.

Here are some ideas for keeping costs down:


1. Have meals at specific times, whenever possible. This way everyone knows what to expect.  It also helps Mother plan her day. (For example - Breakfast at 8 a.m.  Lunch at noon. Dinner at 5 p.m.)

2. Have basic foods in the pantry - like potatoes, vegetables, fruit, flour, sugar, cornmeal, and meat. This way you can quickly come up with something to make, without worrying about rushing off to the store.

3.  I know many people write up weekly menus and meal plans, but it is not always necessary if you have basic ingredients available.  You should also have some basic family recipes handy that are easy, quick and frugal.

4. Make special foods, like cookies, once a week. This is something the family will look forward to and appreciate. It could be a Friday night treat. Or, plan on making a cake or nice dessert for Sunday afternoons.   The less often treats are offered, the less likely money will be wasted.

5. Offer children basic beverages like juice, tea, water or milk.  If the older ones want soda, or some name brand drink, have them use their own money. (Mother is not obligated to provide the children with commercially prepared, designer beverages.)  This goes the same for candy bars and other processed snacks.

6. Serve whole grains and fresh foods. This is nutritious and helps keep everyone feeling full.

7. In restaurants, patrons are served ice water before their meal. This helps fill them up. Try this at home! Why? Because in this current day, people tend to eat much larger portions than they really need. If they have some water first, they will eat a more appropriate amount of food.

8. Some nutritious snacks include: crackers with peanut butter; celery with cream cheese; sliced apples; carrot sticks; or wheat crackers with cheese.  (Not donuts, danishes, or cupcakes.)

I realize it takes a tremendous amount of work to have a thrifty kitchen. It is much easier to buy convenience foods. However, there is more at stake than just saving time or money. We need to save our health.

Mrs. White

From the Archives -

What To Do - When There Isn't Much.

Idle Moments - How a Housewife Passes the Time.

The Essential Childhood Question - Is Mother at Home?

An Invitation - Subscribe to The Legacy of Home and have it delivered directly to your email.


Tracy said...

So true, Mrs. White!

Tracey said...

I truly believe this.. I always try to think through my meals and use what I have on hand. Making homemade is easier and less expensive, but I also know exactly what ingredients are in my food! Love this!!

Stacielynn said...

I love this post, Mrs. White! I have recently been reading the Laura Ingalls books and noticed a theme that when it is just the girls, Ma and Pa, the meals are basic with less frills. It's when company comes, whether to help build their home or to help with the wheat harvest that their is an overabundance of food. I think we should all live this way. For just my husband and I, beans and rice are just fine but perhaps we can splurge when company comes calling.

I love reading your posts. Thanks again for another great one.


Sally@threeblondeboyz said...

I totally agree. When we lived through our financial crisis we managed to feed the family of five on $60 per week. All with nutritious meals with fruit and vegetables. We dropped deserts, and sodas and planned meals ahead of time. Great post! Sally xx

Unknown said...

This last week or so, I've been focusing on making old-fashioned, homemade meals. My husband even said how much he'd prefer that I do things from scratch, rather than buying gourmet! :)

It's been fun looking through my grandma's old cookbooks for some basic meals!

Have a great day,

Mrs. Sarah Coller

LouLou said...

Such good advice! My problem with people wanting pop, sweets, and name brand snacks is not my children. Unfortunately, its my husband!

Because he is the provider for our home, I try to keep his preferences in mind when we can afford it. That means less meals with meat in them and a little room for pop, sweets, and other snacks. I portion them out as soon as I get home, and he has his "special" bin- only after our son is in bed. He enjoys having a treat, and we don't mind having a few less meals a week with meat in them to satisfy his preferences.

When our son is older, things will have to change of course, but this is a good weaning process for my husband, whose parents have always let him eat whatever he wanted. To this day, they have a freezer solely for ice cream! I can't imagine it, and I have to remind them that a treat is okay, but my son cannot have ice cream after each meal, especially breakfast.

Anonymous said...

This is an excellent post. It's helpful for children to be raised with simple tastes, as they will seldom complain about what mother puts on the table (which makes for a happy mother and a pleasant mealtime) and they will become adults who aren't picky eaters, so they are welcome guests and healthy, too.

I used to buy cookies or bake cookies once in awhile, but ran out of time and money for a season. So I filled the cookie jar with graham crackers! My daughter said that at first when she saw the crackers in the cookie jar, she thought it wasn't too thrilling. But when she actually began to eat them, they were tastier than she thought!

Anonymous said...

It is a health issue as well. Both my husband and younger son are obese. I can't do anything about my husband's meals outside the house, but I work to make home meals healthy and properly portioned. So small meat portions, more beans and whole grains, lots of seasonal vegetables, healthier snack choices like air-popped popcorn and apples and peanut butter, and a small dessert only once or twice a week. My husband still wants soda, but I only buy two bottles for him per week and when they are gone, they are gone. I was surprised to see how much my grocery budget dropped when I cut out the junk and cooked just enough for four people at each meal. My husband is less than thrilled with the change, but I plan to stick to my guns since he has been referred to a cardiologist for possible heart disease. I have realized that it is not loving to help your husband dig a grave with his fork and not loving to encourage your children to develop unhealthy eating habits.

larlee said...

EXCELLENT POST! THANKS SO MUCH FOR THE BOST OF ENCOURAGEMENT! It seems impossible to be frugal with grocery shopping if everyone is always expecting chips, candy, cookies, ice cream as standard instead of treats. I feel like I'm being mean or stingy when I don't come home w/what everyone wants.

Linda said...

I agree Mrs. White, we are so spoiled thinking we should have all our favorite foods and sweets and *junk* whenever we want. It is expensive in both money and our health.


Stephanie said...

So true. Even though we try to eat healthy, my kids want home-made sweets all of the time. Dessert is a treat; not a part of our daily meal. Love your idea about buying their own soda. I know a family that will only drink water when they eat out. If their kids want soda, they have to purchase it themselves. Smart thinking.

RebeccaL. said...

I do not subscribe to the always having cookies in the cookie jar theory BUT I think having a dessert made once or twice a week is a good thing. I make our cookies, cakes, etc. from scratch with good, whole ingredients. We live a very basic and simple life, cooking from scratch, preserving our vegetables from our gardens, buying our meats from local farmers and I like making a special treat for my family on occasion. In the summer, in the heat, it's not that hard to make some pudding. My husband asked for Jello last week, that is one simple dessert to make. By desserts, I also mean any kind of sweet breads or muffins. If I remember correctly, the Ingalls household DID make their breads and butter was considered a treat as well as sugar. They didn't go without an occasional treat. When you make your own, there is less temptation to buy the packaged stuff in the stores and it's much cheaper to buy the ingredients. It just makes for an inviting and cozy home to have an occasional dessert....generally I can make a couple desserts on the weekend and they last most of the next week or make them on Monday and they last all week. If I am having a season of a lot of busyness, such as the garden harvest week or some transition period in my life, I don't worry if I have to stop making them for a while but otherwise, it only takes minutes, what with the modern conveniences of blenders/choppers/ovens. My kids like to help as well or sometimes they just take the initiative and make something themselves. Treats don't have to be laden with calories and sugar, there are so many great fruits that will be coming in soon, make something with those! Apples are a wonderful treat here, we fry them, make jellies, jams, apple butter, bake appples....jelly and jam is considered a dessert treat, too. I enjoy this part of homemaking as well, probably more than the cleaning and day to day cooking.

Mahek said...

Lovely post....
I read Your blog regularly
In Our Indian household most families cook from scratch as food is quite expensive here and so convenience food is a luxury
There are upper society people who might be having a different lifestyle but majority cook and eat at home
Each region has its own way of cooking depending on the region from where they come
I cook three meals every day breakfast at around 9.00 lunch which is a complete meal consisting of vegetable, rice,roti,salad and dal or lentil to be had with rice (you can check out the Indian thali links and. Know how our plate looks ,like you can see it on my blog too www.goan
Dinner is normally either similar to lunch or something filling like paratha, dosa, biryani pulao (one dish meals)
I lo ve to read about homemaking on your blog although a little different from us it's interesting

Parker Nutrition Center said...

This is some very good advice! My teenage son thinks he has to have something sweet every night. I love the idea of picking out one night a week for special treats. I am going to try that for sure. This way we will not only save money but we will have something to look forward to.