Going Back to Work and Staying Frugal

A budget-friendly strategy since going back to work full-time.

Hi there TFF readers, new and old!  It’s great to be back online.

One of the many dimensions of having been a stay-at-home mom for many years is attempting-and-failing and, eventually learning how to cook healthier meals. 

When regularly blogging for TFF, I often shared a few tried and true recipes, made easier with kitchen toys bought with various combinations of sales and coupons.  Some favorites are hummus, homemade pizzared lentil soup, and bread-machine bread.

plastic bread slicer
Ready for slicing! This handy slicer is available online.

Right before I went back to work teaching full time about a year and a half ago, I was warned by another CT frugal mom on a budget to be aware of the temptation or necessity to spend money on eating dinner out.  She was right.  In those first few months of transition, it was rough going from being at-home most of the time to being out of the house 8-10 hours a day.  We were going out at least once a week.

As much as I wanted to support the local economy, fast food was not the way I wanted to do this.  So I re-discovered planning dinners for the week really works.  Now, I really see that whenever I don’t take the time to actually write down the meals for each day, we either waste money on a non-nutritionally dense convenience food or spend money going out to eat something semi-nutritious.  Not only is planning for home-cooked meals that include fruit and vegetables better for your pocketbook, but it’s an investment in your long-term health.  As I used to say in my blog posts, “Your Health is Your Wealth!”

For the past year I have loosely kept a notebook on my weekly planning.  It starts with having a Master list of main entrée and vegetable side dishes.  Every weekend with my notebook open, on the left hand side, I write down what produce we have in the fridge and try to build around that.  Or, I brainstorm a wish list of dinners.  Then I make my grocery list.

One day a week is devoted to breakfast-for-dinner.  That is the one meal my husband feels comfortable making (it’s also the one weekday that I can devote to exercise!).   The other meals during the week are not gourmet.  Often they are prepared with the help of kitchen toys, such as a crock pot (for chili and soups), pressure cooker (for brown rice and dry beans), electric mixer (for big batches of pancakes and muffins), or food processor (for hummus, guacamole, and shredded vegetables or cheese).

Stay tuned for more specifics – photos from my notebook that show the epic fails as well as triumphs, recipe staples and tips for prepping ahead.

~Aimee, TFF