Well, this post is something that been bouncing around in my head all week, so I’m way excited to post it! Crystal over at Biblical Womanhood Online had a great idea…Frugal Fridays!! It’s been a lot of fun reading how other ladies pinch those pennies and still get what they need when they need it!
Being a full time graduate student, and only working part time can get way expensive (even with the DH’s salary!). Books are so expensive, and there’s a huge monopoly on selling textbooks out there. After a few semesters of spending close on to 500-600 dollars on just books, I got sick of that, especially since I didn’t necessarily NEED those books after the class was over.
I don’t know why it never occurred to me (especially since I’ve been studying library science for a few years now, both grad and undergrad…I go to the library for many of my “fun” reads…the library is a great resource for videos, cds, and, of course, BOOKS. After searching both my local public library and the university library, I found ALL of the text books I needed that next semester.
What is so wonderful about your local library is this….if they don’t have it, chances are you can either a) find it at another public library in the local consortium of libraries, or b) you can ask them to order it! Most libraries are willing to do this from time to time, especially if it is something that will be used by other patrons too! My husband and I have often rented movies from the library for movie night too…sometimes you may have to plan ahead as you might have to wait for the movie or book for a few days, but renting it for free is better than paying 3-6 bucks a movie rental! 🙂
On average, I now only spend 50-70 dollars on books a semester. This semester cost a bit more because I had to order books from a specific printer, but they are books that will be used for a very long time.
Another thing that helps is menu planning…during the school year, I don’t always have tons of time to menu plan/ make big fancy dinners. My husband’s cooking skills are limited (we say, he’s in Andrea’s Graduate School of Cooking…), so I like to make sure dinners are taken care of when I can’t be home until later in the evening. The slow cooker is our best friend, and especially in Wisconsin when it gets cold and all you want is warm food, its the perfect solution. We utilize a program called SHARE and it really helps to keep our grocery bill down. Once I know what is in the package for the month, as well as the other ‘a la carte’ items that are being offered, I hit my cookbooks and plan! We like simple, down home food in our house, so it is never hard to find a tasty recipe. Once the recipes are marked for the month, and the food is ordered, I’m free to make and bake as I please! I usually make a meal or two and throw it in the freezer right away…this way, I won’t feel so inclined to say “honey, I don’t feel like cooking, let’s go out to eat!’ or even worse, make Hamburger Helper (love the stuff, but my tendency to get migraines from anything with lots of MSG isn’t so fun to deal with).
You definitely don’t need to be talented to menu plan…Just find a cookbook or two that you like, find recipes you can actually make (this means, stick to your cooking level. If you’re a beginnner, stick to recipes with a small amount of ingredients, and that don’t require a large working knowledge of Emeril-like skills. You’ll get there in time. In the mean time, don’t blow up the twice baked potatoes.) This is also when you can hit up your local library for a new cookbook or two to borrow for a bit!!
Cook what your hubby and your family like…if they like it, they won’t waste it. Also, I like checking out Kraft Foods website too…many of the recipes are made for busy people and families, so they’re awesome. Just watch what the ingredients are…some recipes really utilize a lot of processed/ helper type foods. I just round these meals out with a huge salad and fruit salad usually. 🙂
If you live in Wisconsin, Illinois, or the UP (Upper Michigan), check out http://www.sharewi.org. You can search to see if your area has a Share distribution center nearby! You can also check out the latest menu as well. If you live in other parts of the country, I know Angel Foods is an area that serves more of the central/Southern Midwest. Good luck, and happy savings!!