When I was growing up, we lived on a pastor's salary while my mom stayed home. So... you do the math and figure out if we were the kind of family that ate out three or four times a week. Hint: no.
We had a garden. We bought ingredients instead of prepared food and cooked all our meals from scratch. We bought beef once a year from a local rancher. We didn't waste food, ever.
For my mother, it wasn't such a stretch. She, like many in my parents' generation, was raised by folks who grew up during the depression, whose frugality wasn't an affectation, but a characteristic learned by bitter necessity. But somewhere in the prosperity of the last thirty years, my parents' generation struggled to pass the skills of frugal living and frugal eating along to my generation. And for many people my age, we had little motivation to learn those skills. In times of unparalleled economic growth and national wealth, it seemed unnecessary to many of us to learn how to bake our own bread, how to plant a garden, how to make a roast chicken stretch into three meals, how to can and preserve food.
But I'm blessed to have a stubborn mother whose dad was the youngest of eleven and grew up on a farm. Gardening, baking, canning, and generally saving money were second nature to her. I basically grew up in her kitchen. And now that we seem to be in for a long haul with this recession, I'm more glad than ever for that fact. I can bake bread (and I do!). I can make delicious meals with frugal ingredients. I can home-can produce and beans. And these skills are saving me money.
I was talking with my awesome, gorgeous sister-in-law last night and, on the topic of stretching grocery budgets and feeding ourselves and our loved ones with less meat and more love, I said, "By golly, if our grandmothers could do it, so can we!"
Too often what hinders people (especially women) in my generation from really mastering domestic frugality is just plain fear: fear that it's too hard, that it's not worth it, that we really can't do it even if we try. But that's just not true! We can do everything our grandmothers did to steward our finances and care for our families. We truly can.
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