Surviving a Layoff: Getting Acquainted with Your Kitchen Part I
When my husband was laid off from his job six years ago, the first thing we did was sit down and write out our current budget. The next thing we did, was figure out our ‘new’ budget.
To determine our new budget we needed to examine our lifestyle, our needs instead of wants and where we could cut expenses where possible. Sounds easy, but in reality, it’s difficult to change your entire life because of an event you had no control over, has disrupted your future economic well-being.
Where could we cut expenses?
Examining Our Food Budget
As we examined our spending habits, we found one of our biggest non-essential expenses: we ate out more than we expected. Much, much more than we expected! The privilege of paying someone to cook our food, literally ate up our money. Our new budget did not allow for dining out. Period.
Eating meals at home became our new mantra.
Coffee,Tea or ?
The other eye opener was adding up the cost of beverages from popular coffee houses or tea rooms.
Before the layoff, we never really considered the daily cost of a $2.50 to $4.00 cup of coffee (sometimes, several in one day) or regular visits to tea rooms, could contribute to financial instability or nearing financial ruin. The monthly expense was shocking! Our new budget ended visiting coffee houses and tea rooms.
Eliminating The Deadly Trinity of Food:
Convenience Foods, Highly Processed Foods and Fast Food
The entire reason of getting back into the kitchen was to save money, and in the process I learned how the American diet is slowly killing us, and our children. I began reading the labels and learning about ingredients.
The things we’re willing to put into our mouths to save time is appalling! Corn syrup is a major component of nearly every convenience food in the grocery store. Convenience food or highly processed foods are laden with fats, salt, chemicals and preservatives. We needed to get the highest nutrition ‘bang for our buck’ as possible, and junk food or junk ingredients, weren’t in the budget.
As a result of reading labels, something clicked one day…my mother cooked from scratch and didn’t use highly processed or convenience foods, why can’t I? It was also at this time, I realized I should have paid more attention in the kitchen, when my mother was cooking and preparing meals.
Our New Budget Meant Getting Back in the Kitchen
Cooking from scratch or making meals and food using wholesome, basic ingredients was a challenge. In order to save money, I used the Sunday circulars of grocery stores to create a menu each week. Planning a menu from what’s on sale, was a challenge at first and became easier each week. The next thing: determine from my menu, which meals I could create with wholesome, nutritional ingredients from scratch without using any prepackaged or convenience foods.
Breakfast From Scratch
Pancakes and Waffles and Breads…OH, MY!
Pancakes and waffles are popular in our family. This meant no more Bisquick, prepackaged pancake or waffle mixes. I had to create my own mix. I tried several recipes and after several batches, put together a pancake/waffle mix that is easy and makes the most delicious pancakes we ever had!
Eventually, I found my omelettes made with egg whites or eggs, combined with fresh vegetables and herbs were more flavorful than our favorite ‘breakfast’ restaurant.
I learned how to bake my own bread. Breads of all kinds. Quick breads, sandwich breads and dessert breads.
Coffee & Tea
We invested in a Bunn coffeemaker and electric tea kettle, and brewed our own beverages at home. We also discovered when traveling on the road, McDonalds was a good place to get a great cup of coffee without great expense.
Layoffs and Losing Jobs-Change our Lives and The Way We Live
Discover ways to creatively live within your new budget. One way, is to examine your food budget, dining habits and how you connect with food sources (restaurants, coffee houses, grocery stores, farmers markets) in the community.
Layoffs create a great deal of stress and anxiety regarding money. One way of dealing with money matters is understanding the budget you’re going to need going forward. You can gain control of your food budget and in the process, gain a deeper understanding of nutritional influences in your life.
Getting acquainted with your kitchen, doesn’t require professional appliances or vast culinary knowledge. It starts by creating food you and your family enjoy, with wholesome, nutritious ingredients. You can begin to manage your food budget by avoiding the pitfalls of fast food, convenience foods and prepackaged foods by eliminating them from your diet and life…one meal at a time.