This is a phrase I have grown up with my entire life. My mum was one of 10 children and grew up in a little village in Scotland. I'm sure I've written about that before. I've heard stories all my life about how my grandmother stole borrowed potatoes from the nearby fields to be able to put food on the table for her children in the most meagher of times. My mother has told me many times of how she would sit down to a meal of 'bangers & mash' and be so excited to sit down to a plate full of mash with a sausage slipped into the middle of the plate into the mash, only to find out that it was just a little bit of sausage, not the whole thing. Obviously it had been divided up & shared around! My grandmother sure was thrifty, she did everything she could to make sure her chidren were fed & clothed and she had no option but to "make do" with what she had at hand.
How times have changed.
We have convenience upon convenience upon convenience today. And I've been thinking about that alot this week.
And I've also been thinking about making do as our budget tightens up & school fees are pressing. Health insurance has just gone up & we are trying so desperately to save up for something special down the track. My kids all seem to be going through a growth spurt at the moment & they are going through food like I've never seen before. We are constantly pushing through & over the weekly food grocery budget.
So it got me thinking. There are budgetry reasons & health reasons to just try and make do. Whilst you may not have the perfect healthy ingredients for every meal within your home, chances what can be rustled up is still likely to be healthier than another option that we may have considered buying. So this week that is what I am trying to do. And I want to practice this often. This week, I'm not doing the usual big grocery shop. I'm just not doing it. Ding ding money saved immediately! Well not exactly. Here's my plan...
In trying to make do this week we will be:
- shopping our pantry & freezer & making our meal plan around that
- keeping expenditure to an absolute minimum - shopping every other day on the way home - a quick pop in on the way home from work by my disciplined Jeff to grab one or two items ONLY, to help us get through the week. Yes yes its way more efficient to do a weekly grocery shop but I can handle Jeff taking an extra 15minutes to get home every other day, if he's grabbing top up items.
- having some nights where there is a mixed bag of meals to take advantage of leftovers or small portions
- having a meal with my family [thanks mum!]
So I started yesterday by going through my freezer to see what meat I had, checking out the pantry & then doing a stocktake of fruit & vegetables.
Ordinarily, I would have shopped yesterday & vastly plumped up our fruits & vegetable stocks, bought a weeks worth of meat plus other stuff. I would have easily given Coles & our fresh food grocer $250, ok probably more.
Instead I pulled out a bunch of veggies we had, washed them, cut them and divided them into 2 portions. Last night I tossed them around the wok & we had them with some egg, some rice & a little bacon. This is one of my fave dishes and so fabulous for using up end of week ingredients. You can find my basic thrown together recipe here. These days rather than the egg nets I just whisk the eggs, add seasoning, and make an egg pancake. Once cooked on both sides I roll up and slice into thin strips. Its alot quicker than making egg nets and the meal tastes exactly the same.
The kids had leftover spaghetti [a small portion] and enjoyed a little rice & vegetables too.
Tonight we will use the other half of those veggies, bake & wrap them in filo and have vege parcels for dinner. We just had to buy filo. The kids will have sausages & salad. I detest sausages but most kids love them. I've found some good sausages that are lower on sodium, use natural skins, lower in cholesterol, a higher grade of meat & have no added hormones. I have to concede that these are good enough and so my kids enjoy these once a week.
Eating out at grandparents is easy & a great week to enjoy others hospitality.
A slow cooked butter chicken for the family with a cucumber salad is another easy dinner taken care of. I have all ingredients on hand. I don't like butter chicken so I'll have a ham, baby spinach & tomato omelette instead. Only need to buy the baby spinach.
As we go through the week it'll become more challenging. Particularly as the freshies run out & I need to pack school lunches. This is where checking in & taking stock each day & working out what I need to get through the next day or two will be important. And having Jeff doing the little mini top-ups of items like an extra bag of carrots here, a punnet of strawberries there, I'm hopeful we CAN make ends meet without doing the whole big grocery shop for that week.
Because I often buy ahead & take advantage of specials, all the "buy2 and save" type deals, I often have lots of extra things on hand that we usually wouldn't use within the week I buy them. So every so often, whilst I might not have all my usual ingredients & the usual abundance of fresh, I still have lots of things on hand. Maybe many of you do too? This is where this type of challenge can be done, every so often. A little creativity with the weekly menu, planning some mixed bag nights of a few small dishes & I'm quietly confident we can pull this off.
Maybe some people do this instinctively, but maybe some of you don't and you might get some ideas. Its a learning curve for me but it feels good & hopefully we will still be well fed and save money this week. Good skills for good healthing living. Learning to live within means, making do, helping to reduce financial stress, getting creative and having more home cooked meals etc.
I'm going to keep a tab on the little purchases we make through the week and report back on how we go next week. Wish me luck!
Do you think there are areas in your life where you might be able to 'make do'?
Enjoy your week!