Sometimes, the budget is squeezed as tight as it can go, and yet I still feel that I should be contributing more to the family. Lately I’ve been pondering that thought, and came up with the idea of saving money by spending time. I know that might sound weird, so let me explain.
When I was working as well as DH, often dinners were rushed. We regularly bought ready-meals, or even takeaway on bad nights. I justified it because I was bringing in money to the house, so this was an “expense” to go with that, just like day-care or paying for petrol to get to or from work.
However, now my job IS looking after my family, I’m enjoying more and more the act of caring for them. Making a nutritious meal, often still frugally, is my way of contributing to the day for them. A little gesture to say I love you, when I make something that is a particular favourite, or go the extra mile to make dessert as well. Yes, some nights we are kept on the run with outside commitments, and we just have to grab takeaway because we are far from home and everyone is starving. Yet, they appreciate more and more my own cooking because of realising that it is my gift to my family.
And that is where it needs to come from…. my gift. Not my obligation, my traditional chore. Because to be perfectly honest, my DH can cook as well as I can. My gift to the family is the care and effort I put into the meals, the planning, the shopping for the best value ingredients. So we eat – we eat well in fact, and on a tight budget. These things I couldn’t achieve with ease if I was working as well, so this is how I can be frugal – by using my time to care for my family. I take time to organise the pantry, to shop from my fridge and make sure that I plan meals around what I have rather than making special trips to buy that elusive ingredient. All of this takes time. But the job satisfaction is extreme!
I also try to spend my time wisely in other regards. By tending to the chickens who provide extra protein with their wonderful eggs, by tending to our fledgling vegetable garden so we will one day have organic vegetables on the table. By caring for our clothes and possessions as best I can, so that they last as long as possible, and by teaching my children these skills also. All these things are extensions of my care, my gifts I give my family, using my time in their benefit.
The best part of all? I still have plenty of time left over for me – to rest, to heal, and to follow my own small dreams. Which is also time well spent, as it makes me a happier person inside. You know you can’t keep giving forever and ever without anything coming back in.
So, on this very stormy winter’s night, where there has been hail all day and reports of snow, I’m signing off. I have a Quiche to get in the oven, so that my family is both warm and well fed.
What gifts do you use in caring for your family? Anything you’ve learnt to make from scratch? I make awesome focaccia, naan and so forth, but the next one is a big step – home-made pasta! I’d love any tips if you’ve tried it!