Many things have been going on at our house in between posts. We are in the practice stage of Charles retiring. We want to know what we are doing before it is real.
We realize since we are considered middle income bracket here in the U.S, we must lower our expenses even more than we have already. Our home is paid for but health insurance cost is very high and so is deductibles, medical expenses after insurance pays and deductibles.
We are still studying the past which helps us to understand difficult times. I am not saying that we will have difficult times when we are both retired but we are realistic that there will be quite a difference. I am very thankful that we started these history projects because it has helped us to understand what simple really is.
The social security that I receive and that Charles will receive is not a Government check to help old people, it is from years of both of us working and money being taken out of our pay checks for us to get back at this age. It is our money but it is controlled by the government the way we get it back.
Living on just social security can be very difficult but we are going to see if we can do it and work out the kinks.
Those of you that do have pensions, it is a very good thing that you have this because most companies do not provide pensions anymore, there are some but many do not. Charles company does not.
I do not want this to be about two older people retiring, but just practical talk about if you are young or middle age or any age before retirement or in retirement but struggling.
We realize now that we have been preparing for this without knowing it by our history projects.
We are not looking through rose colored glasses, we are looking at our roses, the roses like their new trellis :)
We enjoy being home and this is what Charles wants to do the most, he just wants to get off the road and away from the traffic, pollution and rudeness and danger. He wants to garden and get up with coffee in his cup and go out into his little wood working shop.
I want him home so badly!
Every Saturday morning we cook a large breakfast. Often we get busy working in the yard on projects so our breakfast will carry us through if we miss lunch.
I have started working out the figures to find out how much each of our meals cost for the two of us.
This breakfast of two eggs each, a divided slice of pork belly to replace bacon, potatoes and onions and coffee for Charles cost $4.48. If we did not eat organic we can bring that down. We could not eat out for this amount and shows why cooking at home is better.
We cook meals that cost more and some cost less. Most important is we can figure this out so we can get pretty close to knowing what a meal costs at home. I have started writing down what single items cost such as one zucchini, one yellow squash, one avocado, one egg, one tomato, one onion, one apple and so on. I can get pretty close cost. I know some things cost by weight but after it is weighed and has gone through the register it shows how much that item cost and I write it down.
I want to be able to fully know what to expect and I know cost go up but once all of the items are in my book I can change that as the price changes. If the store knows the price, so can I.
Same goes for electricity. We know pretty close what our cost of kilowatts are. What our water and sewer cost to use it. We know we have a minimum fee on water and that we will be charged for two thousand gallons whether we use it or not. We know that fee on sewer will be double what the water coming in is. So the going out is double. So we want to try and stay as close to minimum as we can. Our electric does not have a minimum. We can use as little or as much and of course it will be as little as possible. But we must be connected in the city, it is the law. It is up to us to control it.
Hanging out laundry is another way to save.
I love hanging sheets on the line... I guess most of you know that by now. :) But I have a little secret.
I have a chair at my clothesline that I set my clothes basket on. I like to sit on the chair inside the clothesline in between the sheets and just enjoy the sheets blowing or hiding out to listen to the birds. It is especially wonderful on a windy day.
When I take the clothes off the line, I go down the row and remove one pin on each corner gathering the pins to put in the clothespin pail. Then I can rapidly remove the laundry. We all have our special ways of doing things and the fun part is we each make up our own rules.
This is not a budget meal, but, it was a meal we made at home and one that we had eaten before at a Mexican Restaurant and it was called a Fajita bowl. We wanted to learn to make a few extra tasty dishes for special occasions. We have not gone out to eat in several years now but we have picked up a few meals when we were in a tight. We remembered what was in the bowl and made it at home and it tasted the same and better.
This is what we did...
We cooked the vegetables that needed to be cooked and we had some leftover chicken so we sliced that. It can be chicken or beef but I have only tasted it with chicken. We did not use any special seasoning, just salt and pepper and a little garlic powder. We could not taste any chili seasoning or anything in this dish and it was very tasty without it.
We cooked a small amount of rice to put at the bottom of the plate/bowl and then placed the vegetables and chicken over the rice. It has two types of cheese a white Mexican cheese and a yellow grated cheese. We made guacamole with an avocado that we had and a dollop of sour cream then added a few tortilla chips. We normally do not purchase chips but we did for this and we want to learn to make our own.
The vegetables in this bowl are sauteed yellow squash, zucchini, green pepper, onion and cooked tomato, then uncooked chopped tomato and fresh cilantro, cooked black beans. We did not add black olives but that was in the bowl at the restaurant. The vegetables and chicken are "not" mixed or tossed together. They are spooned and placed over the rice, side by side. We remembered that the fresh chopped tomatoes were placed over the rice to the side.
The cheese is used sparingly and the white cheese is a small surprise under the black beans.
This can be a special treat meal but a common meal when the vegetables are ready in the garden.
We made this meal for two and we used half a yellow squash, half a zucchini, part of a chicken breast, one tomato, half a green bell pepper, half a small onion. We have left over veggies and cheese to make more of this or other dishes. Remember that if you are on a budget, just cut off and use what you need and if you julienne vegetables it will stretch a meal. We did not do that for this dish but can be done for other dishes.
To make guacamole, one avocado, sliced and smashed, chopped cilantro, lime juice, fresh or powdered garlic, salt and pepper. We did not have lime but we had some salsa and it was used to substituted and we used about a teaspoon and some of the juice from the salsa.
This meal was similar to eating out at a restaurant. If there is a meal we have enjoyed but cannot afford to go out, we can figure out how to cook it, set a pretty table and maybe light a candle.
I feel this was quite a ramble of how we cooked this but it is about how my brain feels with all the research and planning I have been doing.
Just one more thing, I have been trying to improve on not purchasing anything extra. So to stop using wax paper, or use only little wax paper, stop using zip lock bags, or butcher paper, I have started using BPA free plastic freezer containers. (I know, plastic is something we are trying to get away from. But this is reusable.
When we buy meat, Charles and I divide it right away into portions. This is how we do it. The plastic in between the meat pieces are ziploc bags I have cut and made squares from. I can wash these and clip them on a little hanger to dry and reuse. This can be used over and over so it eliminates the need to buy packaging. We can tug on the plastic inserts that are bent under the meat and lift out the meat. I had two pieces of chicken thighs so I just added them to these containers and wrote on the lids what is in the container.
I am thinking about carefully taking my snips and cutting some of the containers to make fitted inserts from the BPA boxes. So then the inserts will be bpa free. Just a thought. If you do any of this please be careful and do not cut yourself. I am just trying to cut all costs.
Some of you may remember we have a tiny refrigerator and that our chest freezer stopped running this past summer. So this is the frozen food we have and we have to keep it organized. We can and dehydrate food for shelf stable but there are some things we need to freeze. I am trying to work out everything that was in a ziplock and almost have everything in a BPA box.
Speaking of cutting all costs, we have used these patting cloths for several years now. They have saved us from purchasing toilet paper. All I can say about this is they work! I wash them and then dry them on the line or the drying rack. That is all that is to it. I would suggest as I have before to give each family member their own pattern and stack of patting cloths. I am assuming that you know this is in place of toilet paper.
We have a bidet so that washes us and then pat to dry. But before we got the bidet we had a hand held portable bidet, you can find them on the internet. Also for women to just do number 1, pee or urinate, just pat dry with the cloth and put in the pail. Number 2 or 1 use the bidet. I don't even know how much money we have saved on not buying toilet paper. Charles does use toilet paper, sometimes he is brave, so we do purchase some off and on for him so the cost is on him. I do not use it because I am an expert on using the potty wipes. :) Women use more toilet paper anyway. What else can I say about this subject? I love the potty wipes, there are no toilet paper particles left behind and it is more hygienic. Ok, I am done.
I will close this post, I need to prepare our safe place for tomorrow morning. We have very severe weather coming our way and they are warning us to prepare an area in our home to get in during a warning. They are predicting high winds, hail, possible tornadoes. I hope it does not happen but the possibility seems to be higher than normal. I sure do not want my last post ending with the subject about toilet patting cloths. :).
Seriously now, we could use some prayer for our safety from storms from you that have read this before the time this storm comes through.
Take care, Grandma Donna