Shh… don't tell anyone I'm poor. They all think I'm living frugal and green just like everyone these days. This is a blog about a senior citizen living a frugal life, on a fixed income, in a low income food desert, and passing along knowledge from lessons learned. Some she learned from her Grandma Mama many years ago and some learned only a few days ago.
I’ve had some requests for me to explain how I manage with a grocery budget of only $20 a month. Right now all my food comes from the mobile food bank so I’m not buying any food. Its non-edible stuff that I buy with the $20 budget. By doing without or making do I’m able to keep the purchases at or under $20 a month.
Today I’ll start with trash bags.
My SIL and I were at the Dollar Tree store. Everything in that store is one dollar. It seemed like the best place to get the non-edible items at the cheapest cost. I had picked up a box of trash bags and suddenly a tv commercial popped into my head. The commercial is about a woman being nose blind to trash odors in her kitchen. That was a turning point for me. I had to ask myself why do people keep a trash bin lined with a plastic bag in the kitchen? If trash stinks then why is it kept in the house? Shouldn’t smelly trash be taken outside? Trash is kept inside because some big rich company owner wants to “sell” us a product.
I put the box back on the shelf. My SIL asked my why I put them back and I replied they cost too much. Surprised my SIL said but Anita trash bags are only a dollar a box. Ok, but if you don’t have a dollar in the first place they cost too much. She offered to give me a dollar. I refused of course because that’s not what I had in mind. I wanted to eliminate the need to purchase trash bags. If I don’t need trash bags I won’t need money for them.
Here’s my thinking. When I was a child, Grandma Mama didn’t have a trash bin in the house. She had a small bucket for food scraps to feed the chickens and pigs, which she did everyday. There was a burn barrel out back near the outhouse for other stuff. Back in those days even the folks living in the city had burn barrels in the back yard. Grandma Mama burned anything that couldn’t be fed to an animal or couldn’t be recycled into use for something else. In winter time trash stuff was burned in the pot belly stove to help heat the house.
You have to realize that in those days people were still living with the effects of WW2 make do and mend propaganda. Nothing was wasted. Tin cans and bottles were either set aside for the ww2 version of recycling or dropped into an older outhouse hole after a new one was dug. Old lard and old bones were picked up to be used in manufacturing soap and gun powder. There were no use one time and throw away items back then. No plastic either.
I kept thinking about the fact I rarely have any trash. Most of my food is either home canned or scratch made. There is either recyclable packages or no packages for almost all my groceries. When I’m peeling veggies I use a plastic grocery bag to put all the peeling in and take it straight to the outside trash can.
My point is that I really have no need for a kitchen trash bin or to purchase trash bags. This may not be true for you. Maybe you do have lots of trash for a kitchen trash bin. But, do you really need to keep it in the house? For several days? Could you make use of free grocery bags and stop paying for thrash bags? After thinking about the use of plastic store bags I’ve decided I really don’t need the bags at all. All I really need is a pot, or a bucket, or a bowl, or my two hands to carry stuff from the kitchen to the trash can just a few feet from the door. I’ve been making plans for a compost bin and a worm farm as a part of my garden next year. My hope is that I won’t need the city trash can either. Hee, hee, I wonder what my neighbors will think if my trash bin is never set at the curb?
So, on a limited $20 a month grocery budget I’ve eliminated one item. What other non-edible item can I eliminate from the grocery list?
To be continued: