Monday, January 2, 2012

Can I shop only every couple of months? And the house is still cold! And friends for the grand kids.

I will start off with the house.  Son built a fire into the wood stove yesterday.  He didn't like visiting with the house at 59 - they keep their apartment around 80 (but 60 during the summer).  Not a problem.  I figured we may have the fire going when we had company.  Once everyone left I didn't put any more wood into the stove.  We were done heating the house.  The wood stove did bring it up to 70 degrees by the time it was all over.  It felt warm and I had to push up my sleeves to cool down!  Now the house is back down to 64.  The temps outside are about the same.  It's supposed to be in the mid sixties during the day all week and it's not supposed to drop into the 20s at all at night.  This is going to be an easy week to keep the house unheated.  If it costs $150 a month to heat the house then so far we've saved $35! 

There's a saying we have about food: Get what you can and can what you get.  In other words, if you can grow it, someone offers you some extras from their garden, you pick it from the wild, you find the super sale, or sometimes even stop on the side of the curvy road to pick food up where the overloaded produce trucks drop bucket loads of produce over the top of the truck, get the food and do something with it!  If you don't eat if fresh then you'd better figure out a way to put it up.  Can it.  Freeze it.  Dry it.  Smoke it.  Don't throw it away!  Then use it during the year. 

I was wondering if I could cut my shopping back to every couple of months.  Even when I did the experiment of no shopping for a month I was worried that if IT happened during that time then I would have used up a months worth of supplies that weren't replenished.  Now, don't think because of that statement that I shop daily or something.  I don't.  I usually do a big shopping once a month or so but will stop by the store to pick something up if it's on sale.  I won't ever drive into town just to shop.  That's a waste of two gallons of gas! 

Some things I buy yearly.  I know that prices of baking goods go down at Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas - things like sugar, flour, etc.  I stock up then if I'm buying at Winco.  Otherwise I'll just make my major purchases at Costco. 

What kind of food do I purchase more frequently than monthly?  Bananas, fresh milk, potatoes (we didn't grow a years worth) and whatever is on sale for cheap prices.  Could we live without the bananas and fresh milk?  Yes.  The kids don't even mind powdered but fresh is often cheaper!  Would I save money by shopping only a couple of times per year?  I don't think so because I'm good at shopping sales.  I will buy stuff that's not on "the list" but I've always figured if we eat it then it doesn't go to waste. 

I know how long some nonfood things around here last.  For example, I buy the bucket of Costco laundry detergent.  It lasts between five and six months.  How do I know this?  I write the date I open the container right on the container.  When it's done I get the new container and write the start and end date of the previous container, which then gives me the start date of that container.  By showing not only when I start this new container but also how long the previous container lasted I can figure out if something has changed.  I have four or five full buckets of laundry detergent in the garage.  Since I bought those I thought about making my own from washing soda, borax, and bar soap.  So I bought that too.  I probably have enough laundry soap for three or four years. 

I have several gallons of hand soap and lots of bars of soap.  I keep all the bits of soap from the hotels when I travel and also keep the small slivers from home use.  They can be melted down and reused.  I know how to make homemade soap.  During the 1970s it was popular to do things like that, so I did.  I rendered the tallow, soaked the wood ashes, and made nice bars of soap. I'm assuming that I have enough soap to last as long as the laundry detergent.  So I guess, if all goes well, in about two more years I will go shopping for two or three more years worth of soap and detergent.  I write down the start date and end dates of the liquid hand soap and liquid dish soap as well as the dishwasher detergent...just like I do on the laundry soap.

How long does toilet paper last?  Forever if kept dry and bug free.  (Mice like it too so watch out if you are storing it.)  I buy that from Costco too.  One roll has 450 sheets.  We don't use nearly as much as most households.  We go through it very slowly.  One roll will last me over a month.  I go back and forth between "family cloths" which are the baby washcloths and toilet paper.  The grand kids use the toilet paper...when they remember to wipe!  When we have guest over then the toilet paper disappears quickly.  All totaled we probably use two to four rolls per month.  I haven't had the septic pumped in seven years, mainly because very little goes into it that doesn't decompose quickly.  We have about 100 rolls on hand.  This is about three or four years worth. 

Did you know that if you dry off your razor after using it, this includes not keeping it in the steamy bathroom while others shower, then it will last much longer?  I buy the Gillette razors at Costco.  They come in a pack of 52.  Sounds like it's supposed to last for a year.  I know people that use up the pack in 6 months or less.   But for ladies, if they dry it each time, one razor can last a month or longer!  This means that your pack of razors can last for over four years.  Same for men.  Sometime they will last a month, more often it's about two weeks.  So the pack can last for two years.  Still not bad.

The next door neighbors have their grand kids over visiting for a week.  I'm really glad because my grand kids don't have other kids around for them to play with.  During the school year it doesn't matter because they are so busy with school and then helping around the house that they don't notice that the only kids they play with are their cousins.  But they have three weeks off of school right now.  They've played with each other and their cousins for the past two weeks.  Now they have other kids to play with, nice polite kids, so hurray for them.  The neighbor grand kids came over to ask if mine can go to the movies with them.  They are going to a late matinee to watch We Bought a Zoo. Sounds like a fun movie. 


  1. I'vr been using the wood stove, because the wood is already hauled, cut, split, piled, and the piles moved into the garage. And I'm a weenie about the cold. It's amazing what you can get used to though. My family from AZ would freak at days under 60 degrees. I'm exstatic when it gets up to 60. The laundry soap I need to try. We went through all our stores when I had two Major surgeries in four months. I still need to get a pressure canner. I did water bath canning this fall with what I could. I just flat out refuse to shave my legs in the winter. It's so fine and sparse anyhow. Pits I have to do, but a razor lasts me forever.

  2. I do a lot of the same things while shopping. Like today I had to pick up the new flyer at Cash & Carry and 1 item for my list. While I was there I found a 10 pound chub of 80/20 hamburger for $12.00 I may grab another as I keep about $25.00 of Mad money just for great deals like that are not on sale or advertised, but just pop up.

  3. Wood has always been a cheap way for us to heat, though not always an efficient way. We have been able to gather orchard trimmings that burn very well.

    For half the year I don;t worry much about shaving. I trim my hair and beard once a week or so. The other half that I shave has been frustrating as the razor manufacturers change the blades so much I see to always need a new razor. I do use shaving soap and a brush which I can use for quite a while.

    Purchasing goods is a once or twice a month trip here. Living in a town with no Costco/Winco means we need to plan our trip to town and usually make sure to buy all we will need for the month. Seems to work so far.

  4. We are really self sufficient and shop twice a year. We rarely leave our property to go anywhere either so we don't even need to purchase much diesel for the truck.

  5. At my office people bring in fruit from their trees and vegetables from their gardens. Even though we have a garden and our own trees at the end of the day I take home whatever is left. If you count the calories that come with that food often I'm bringing home one or two days worth of food energy. It's amazing what people will just throw away.

  6. We do our "big" shopping at Sam's Club and are now getting the majority of our food from Shelf Reliance. As to razors. I too only shave a portion of my face. After enduring the the high cost of replacement blades I switched to a blade that has held up since the early 1900's. That's right I now use a straight razor. With practice it gives a nice smooth shave and I like the feeling of doing this "old school". Buy a blade once and keep it sharp.

  7. I hooked up our electric dryer vent to a long hose and piped all that wasted heat into the house. An old nylon stocking caught the lint and an old piece of linoleum protected the floor from the moisture. I don't think it would be a good idea to do this if you have a gas dryer, but if you have electric give it a try. It saved us $25-35/ month on PG&E plus humidified the house nicely. We keep our house at 62 during the day so it was nice to be able to get warmer without paying more for it.