Tuesday, June 21, 2011

How much am I actually saving?

A while back a friend asked how much money I was actually saving by doing all the ‘weird things’ that are so typical in my life now. He has stressed a few times that even though I make things from scratch, I still have to buy something. He’s right to a certain extent. My usual answer is ‘that’s not the point’. Here’s my take on it:

Saving money at the grocery store - Usually making something from scratch is a lot cheaper than buying convenience foods, but not always. I could buy a cheap brownie mix for $1.07, but the homemade recipe I use is so much better although it probably costs as much or more to make. If I used a more generic recipe, it’d be cheaper.
Bread is another thing that I don’t feel guilty about buying, especially in the warm months. We like several types of ‘bird seed bread’, like 12 grain, etc. I don’t want to buy a bunch of different grains to make that. But during the winter we also have homemade white, whole wheat, oatmeal, skillet bread, etc.

Keeping as much plastic and other packaging out of the waste and recycle stream - Plastic can be recycled only so many times before it becomes toxic. I switched to real butter sticks instead of plastic tubs of margarine, make grape jelly (one aluminum can from shelf stable grape juice vs. three plastic jars to recycle), etc.

Not having to drive into town as often to get groceries - It’s a full gallon of gas round trip. Need I say more? I can make tons of things with just staples I keep on the shelf so there’s no running to the store to pick up a couple of things.

The ability to make pretty much whatever I want or need from the staples I keep on hand. - Now this is where the ‘make it from scratch’ really shines. I hate the taste of powdered milk, but it’s great for cooking and mixes. I use it in cream of chicken (or mushroom or celery) soup mix, flavored coffee creamers, all kinds of substitutions like sweetened condensed milk sub, on and on. The cream of whatever soup mix is stored in a smallish glass jar, and makes the equivalent of 9 cans of condensed soup. You’re just making your own convenience foods. It really doesn’t take that long to make the mixes and most use just simple ingredients.

So how much am I actually saving by doing all my ‘weird things‘? I tried to figure it out about 6 months ago. Although the numbers would vary month to month, it was $197 for that month.