4 Things I’d Like to Stop Buying

This post is part three of a four-part series on living frugally after the altar. With a wedding behind us, student loan payments now, and a family in the future, the husband and I are looking for ways to save money, make money, and spend less. You can also read part two (4 Things We DO Buy) and part one (6 Things We Just Don’t Buy).

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{This post may contain affiliate links. I only recommend products I use and love.}

The number one way to save money is to buy less, with the exception of buying items in bulk. However, the following items are things I would like to stop buying, even in bulk, even on sale, because there is probably a better option.

Pizza Dough / Crusts

We love making our own pizzas. It’s cheaper than ordering takeout and better than frozen pizzas. However, unless pre-baked pizza crusts are very much on sale, it’s a lot cheaper to make your own. They taste better as well. One reason we have not yet gone to homemade pizza dough is because I don’t want to wait for the yeast to rise and I don’t want to have such a big, floury mess to clean up each time we want pizza. I found this dough recipe, though, and it looks good. What do you think? Do you make your own pizza dough?

Ice Cream

I love ice cream, particularly mint chocolate chip and cookie dough and moose tracks… Mmm! Unfortunately, that money and that sugar add up a lot. I have not found any good ice cream recipes don’t require an ice cream maker… Maybe we’ll purchase an ice cream churn they get marked up for summer.

Salad Dressings

A couple weekends ago, I made a lovely vinaigrette with olive oil, red wine vinegar, garlic, salt, and pepper. It cost basically nothing since I already have all of those pantry staples. I would love to make ranch-style dressings as well, and I’ve seen some ideas using plain yogurt or sour cream. I already make my own vinaigrettes, but I would like to start making my own creamy dressings. We’ve recently stocked up due to several coupons and deals, however, I think I’ll use what we already have first.

Breads and Bagels

We eat bagels (with either peanut butter or eggs) around 3 or 4 mornings a week. If I could find a way to make my own bagels, I could save a lot of money. Currently, we take advantage of a free bread ministry offered by our workplace, and we stock up and freeze bagels when they’re on sale. Bread is the same way. I LOVE making my own bread, but it never comes out quite like sandwich bread, which is over half of the reason we buy bread.

Friends, I would love to hear YOUR ideas! Which items would you like to stop buying? And what suggestions do you have for me and my list?

4 Things We DO Buy

With a wedding behind us, student loan payments now, and a family in the future, the husband and I are looking for ways to save money, make money, and spend less. This post is part two of a four part series on living frugally. See part one (6 Things We Just Don’t Buy) here.

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{This post may contain affiliate links. I only recommend products I use and love.}

The number one way to save money is to buy less, with the exception of buying items in bulk or buying things that will last. Here are some of my favorite things that we do buy, even though they might seem more expensive, because it pays off in the long run.

Multi-Use Food Items

I spend money on quality ingredients that can be used for a variety of recipes. Food items such as breads are only as good as in the ingredients in them. When I’m buying a premade ingredient, however, especially one that will only be used for one purpose, I usually buy a lesser or least expensive option. For example, I generally only use pasta sauce for pasta, so I buy a cheap pasta sauce and then doctor it up with canned or fresh tomatoes, which are usually a higher quality because I can use canned tomatoes in a variety of different ways.

Larger Sizes or Bulk-Packaged Foods

I always check the price per ounce or per item on foods that are nonperishable or easily frozen. Often, it is ridiculously cheaper to buy the larger size, since the items cost less when packaged together.

Higher Quality Household Items

We saved up some money to buy higher quality items for our first home. We also put some of these on our wedding registry. Many well-made products last a lot longer than those that are cheaper, meaning you have to buy a replacement rarely or never. For example, I got tired of buying new muffin/cupcake pans every time a tin pan rusted or get scraped. Instead, I bought Wilton silicone muffin pans, and they are absolutely wonderful. They have lasted me a lot longer than tin or aluminum pans and they are easy to use, clean, and store.

Another high quality product that we love is our glass Pyrex food storage containers. This is a twenty piece glass storage set with plastic lids that we have and highly recommend. When we used plastic storage containers for our leftovers, I would have to throw one away weekly due to staining or warping. Glass containers do not have that problem.

Frozen Fruit and Vegetables

We love frozen food items that contain just the fruit or veggie, not a sauce or rice combination. I use frozen blueberries in smoothies, infused water, or homemade muffins, and I use frozen green beans in casseroles or side dishes. The best part is that they don’t go bad! In addition, most of the time, frozen fruits and veggies are picked and flash-frozen at a perfect ripeness, so you can have good produce even in its off-season.

Stay tuned next week for part three of the series! Missed part one? Check it out here

What do you buy in order to save money?

Tears and Comfort Food

It happened this morning. My eyes started “leaking” again.

It felt just like it did two years ago when God called me to Asia for a summer

I had just finished my online Bible Study for the day. The passage for today is Philippians 2:1-5, and I reflected on the study group Facebook page: “True fellowship and true compassion happen when I take an interest in other people and consider their needs before my own.” I read up through verse 11, and basked in Christ’s humility, even unto death, that brought about life and hope for me. What a beautiful act of sacrifice.

Then I checked the blogs I read often to see what had been updated over the weekend. A Deeper Story author, Velynn, wrote a deep and meaningful post on an experience in which she felt judged and how she sought solace through her comfort foods. She titled the post “A Fried Chicken Kind of Day.” Velynn, an African American woman, wrote regarding the post’s title:

I was reluctant to title the post this way but it would have been untruthful [if I had not. I was] afraid of projecting a stereotype, but the truth is soul food is where I’m from. And those days when I experience racism subtle and/or overt I reach out quickly and grab those things that comfort and restore my place in this world.

I understand this.

Although my first lunch choice is a sliced turkey, tomato, and Duke’s mayonnaise sandwich on wheat bread with a Dr. Pepper, I have found myself in many different food circumstances based on the different financial situations, people, cultures, and countries I’ve experienced. I’m the kind of person who would enjoy a fancy dinner in a nice dress with multiple forks and cloth tablecloths just as much as I would enjoy licking my fingers after eating pulled pork barbecue on a paper plate. I have spent some special occasions at a Japanese steakhouse and some at a small town Hardee’s. I have sat on the floor with my feet tucked under me until they fell asleep eating spicy duck larp in lettuce wraps. I have guzzled down guoy tee-ow and khao soi with a soup spoon in my left hand and chopsticks in my right hand in a Thai shopping mall. I have eaten fried chicken legs and wings with sticky rice and sweet chili sauce. I have unwrapped homemade corn tortillas alongside Mexican brothers and sisters. I’ve eaten pork and mushroom satays with peanut dipping sauce. I’ve had Dim Sum with jasmine tea in Hong Kong twice. I have eaten pizza in three different countries. I can cook salmon patties and fried squash one day and then turn around and whip up vegetarian Pad Thai the next.

Food is one of the easiest ways for me to talk about cultural differences. I understand the desire for comfort food when you’re feeling different, uncomfortable, or judged. I missed my sliced turkey sandwiches in Thailand. Interestingly, I now miss guoy tee-ow in America!

Ironically, the next blog post on my feed was by Rachel Pieh Jones, who lives in Djibouti in Africa with her family. She is posting on culture shock in pictures this week, including clothing and my personal favorite, grocery stores. Again, the issue of food came up. I thought back to Lao markets on the side of a dirt road, Hong Kong Wellcome stores with basement produce and meat sections, Thai shopping malls, that convenience store in my muu bann in Chiang Mai, the mae-hia market where we bought fresh fruit and flowers… 

That’s when my eyes started leaking, because I realized that I want to go overseas again. What a terrifying and exciting realization. I enjoy learning new cultures, clothing, cooking, and dialects. I am fascinated by the different ways people use language: spoken, written, and non-verbal. I like seeing the way cultures affect people. I like the feel of new languages on my tongue. I am terribly fearful of the unknown, but also terribly excited for new things. I long to listen to people who are different from me, to hear their stories, to teach them and learn from them. 

When I talk about going overseas, I much more aware of Philippians chapter two. New cultures are difficult to adjust to, and always make me realize that other people will not change their culture for me. Whatever rights I think I have as an American are not “something to cling to,” but rather something to give up. In any culture, albeit difficult, I am called to “look out not only for my own interests, but take an interest in others, too.” Whenever I go into a new situation, I am tempted to assert my authority, knowledge, and power, but instead I am called to go in with humility and an attempt to understand. I am called to go in with my mouth shut and my ears open. 

And sometimes, my eyes are “leaking,” too. It’s a sign that I feel God working. Maybe this morning’s Bible and blog post reading is a sign that God is still moving in all areas of my life. He is molding and shaping me to be prepared for the tasks to which he has called me. I don’t know what those will be. I don’t know where life will find me in a few years. But I know that God knows what he’s doing. His plans were already at work long before I came along and they will continue after I pass on. Who am I that he would include me in his magnificent plans? I am blessed beyond measure, no matter what my comfort food happens to be.