I didn't do any baking or cooking today, so I'm going to share a few more of my penny pinching tips that really make a difference in our house:
I love milk. I could drink a liter every day without noticing. We buy milk once a week (as a splurge) and drink it exclusively on it's own. We don't use it for cereal or baking. We use powdered milk for those types of things. Powdered milk costs $1.25 per litre, as opposed to $1.42/liter (which is for the cheapest milk, not the premium or organic varieties). The $1.25/liter is based on their mix suggestion, which is 1 1/2 cups for every 4 cups. I use 1 1/2 cups for 1.5 liters and get a far better bang for my buck and it just tastes like skim milk. Try a small bag of the powdered milk, see if you can handle watering it down to a "skim" or the difference in cost just may not be worth it. Make powdered milk well in advance (the night before you need it) so it has time to dissolve thoroughly - and you'll barely tell the difference (if you do it's probably in your head).
I love candy. I hate paying for it because it's like paying someone to produce something irresponsibly (look into Fair Trade sugar) that is bad for you! If you're going to indulge in something that is not even close to healthy, at least try making it for yourself! Think of something and you can probably make it (well, not red licorice or cheezies).
Some of our family favourites are:
Caramel.... yikes, only make this once or twice a year
Sponge Toffee (sometimes drizzled with chocolate)
- No recipe for this one. If you have oil for frying, simply use a cheese slicer to get nice thin pieces of potato, soak them in cold water, dry them off as best you can and fry at 350 until crispy and golden brown. My kids like sprinkling the popcorn flavour powder on them, but I like mine with just a bit of salt. You will only need a small amount per person, these fill you up a lot more than chips from a bag.
Other Kitchen Costs:
- Stop using paper towel for everything! There are a few brands of 100% post-consumer recycled paper towel available now, so our family is getting used to having paper towel back in our life - but we still don't use it for much. Use rags and cloths! The amount of money you are throwing in your garbage or compost would blow your mind! Not to mention the environmental costs of using paper towel. I'm not sure what's so hard about using a cloth, rinsing it out and using it again - but we seem to be pretty spoiled about this. Just try eliminating paper towel for a week and see how you fare.
- Bags bags and more bags. How many of you send your kids to school with litterless lunches? Do you brown bag it to work? Besides the environmental plusses of doing the "litterless lunch" there are many financial plusses. Bags, saran wrap, waxed paper and aluminum foil cost money. It may not seem to be that big of a deal, but over the course of a year it can really add up. I have all these items in my cupboard, but some of them last for years (literally). Why not use something that can be rinsed and reused? We've been using the same tupperware for lunches for two years, and the kids have managed to keep track of them. We don't wash everything every night (what's the point?) but we make sure they get a good scrub at least once or twice a week or when the jam leaks out of the sandwich, etc. This is a great opportunity to open dialogue with your kids not only about the environment and their responsibility, but about what things cost. They may want the Spiderman ziploc bag like their friends, but maybe if they want it that bad they can do a few jobs around the house to pay for it themselves.