Ooh, it’s been an interesting week in Dollar Diet Land. Some old habits crept back in, only to be firmly stamped out by my size 10s.
We’ve done lots of (mostly) free things for entertainment this week, a fantastic walk round Virginia Lake with friends, a brilliant dinner/movie night with more friends, and yet another family walk around the lake (we love that place, and the Autumn leaves there at the moment are beautiful).
I spent money at a cafe for the first time this year, but it was due to not anticipating quite how long we would be at the lake. I don’t begrudge it, as that was the only time I spent money on an ‘activity’ during the school holidays. The kids and I had an absolute ball there with our friends, and before I knew it, it was time for a spot of lunch. Next time I will remember that two little legs+ducks+diggers+puddles = a long trip out, and will take more food with us.
Then for some reason D and I really wanted a meat pie. It’s not something we eat often, nor can I blame the recent cold snap as the day in question was very warm. D popped out and came home clutching a couple of pies. I ate mine (not at all Trim Healthy Mama, I know) and wondered why on earth I’d wanted one in the first place. Bleugh! This popping-out-for-fast-food behaviour is something that we have no intention of ever getting back into, and we both gave each strict instructions to ignore any such requests again
I read a letter in one of our newspapers from someone wisely stating that if we don’t use our local small businesses, they will close. The letter writer was sad to hear that one of our butchers shops was closing down, and went on to say that this closure had spurred her on to go to the only small butchery left in Whanganui. I wholeheartedly concur with her sentiments, and decided it was high time I too checked out the Wanganui East Meat Market on Duncan St. I’d been meaning to go there for ages but never got round to it. I’m so glad I did. They are more expensive than my favourite supermarket, but only a dollar or so more for most things. The meat is markedly tastier than what I get at the supermarket. For me, the quality of the meat outweighs the small price increase, so we have decided to make this our new go-to place.
We are in a fortunate position to be able to do this – thanks to the Dollar Diet, I regularly underspend on groceries these days – but I am well aware that for some people $1 more is simply too costly. If you are in a position of having some wriggle room in your budget to support small businesses, I strongly encourage you to use them. In New Zealand, and indeed, in many parts of the Western World, we are in danger of being completely taken over by large multinational chain stores. Small businesses not only keep money in the local economy, but they are what helps give a place character, and a point of difference. I remember when I lived in England visiting many small, picturesque villages which all had the same shops as the last., such as Boots, Topshop, WH Smith etc. Don’t let this happen where you live!
And speaking of underspending on groceries – an advantage of the Dollar Diet is our new wriggle room means we are able to GIVE more. We had plenty of money to spend on meat, so I made up a large beef stew for a very pregnant friend and her family. I know how exhausting those last few weeks can be, and how wonderful it is to have something in the freezer so that you don’t have to cook. Watching your pennies doesn’t mean we stop looking out for each other and using what we have to bless someone else.
Here’s a tip for the socially-minded: our local supermarket also had toiletries going cheap, so I picked up toothbrushes, toothpaste and soap for our local food bank. I used to help run a Soup Kitchen, and these products are seldom donated but often desperately needed. When forced to choose between toothpaste or food, someone on the streets will naturally choose food! Other items needed are sanitary products (because many visitors to food banks in particular are women), socks, underwear, deodorant and razors.