Monday, August 10, 2009

How I Do It: Homemaking During Lean Times

When finances are tight that is when I get creative. I have to be especially with meals or we wouldn't be able to eat! I am determined to provide a cozy nest and make my home an oasis whether we have little or much. I am convinced that living the good life is not dependent on an abundance of money. If Mama has a quiet peaceful heart, then her children are less likely to worry. You have to create the spirit of abundance - by keeping the cookie jar filled, setting a beautiful dinner table (with inexpensive foods), keeping the home clean and tidy, and making sure you keep up your appearance (clean, neat, and sweet-smelling).

Children do not need a bunch of stuff. They need happy memories of home being their haven, of Mama listening to them and laughing with them, of stories being read to them, going for walks with them or a trip to the park, and tucking them in at night. They need to know they are loved. They need attention, understanding, and patience. My girls (at ages 12 and 9) read, draw and paint (watercolors and poster paints), play outdoors, watch tv, help with baking, do puzzles, play board games, play dolls, do chores, play on the computer, and get in their small pool to splash around and cool off. We take advantage of free community events, go to nature trails, parks, and beaches.

I look for games and puzzles at thrift stores (sometimes the dollar stores). Paints are cheap, as are crayons, paper, and pencils. We borrow books and movies from the library. I buy much of our clothing from thrift shops. When grocery shopping, I use coupons and shop the sales, but mostly I buy basic ingredients and make my own foods.

I noticed the kids were going through cereal like crazy, so I stopped buying it and will now make pancakes, muffins, and eggs with toast. This saves me money and it tastes better and is more filling. When making pancakes and muffins, double or triple the recipe to save time later on in the week. I bake cookies, cakes, and brownies. We eat a lot of inexpensive meals with hamburger - but I purchase roast, pork chops, and chicken when on sale (buy one, get one free). We have canned/frozen veggies, homemade breads, homemade mac and cheese, instant potatoes (my hands hurt when I peel potatoes from my RA) or baked potatoes. Lunches are leftovers or sandwiches (bologna, turkey or ham & cheese, egg salad, pb&j), or ramen noodle soup (my kids love it!). We drink Kool-aid, sweet tea, and water. I am always on the lookout for new recipes and inexpensive meal ideas.

We do have quite a bit of debt, but we are actively working to become debt-free and build up a reserve of savings. I am continually learning and trying new things as I strive to whittle our expenses and make our home a cozy, restful place. Our work as homemakers is important - we set the atmosphere of our homes. Every day, we are either building our homes or tearing it down with our own hands and words. Pray continually, practice gratitude & contentment, and expect to work hard, but remember that "all hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty." (Proverbs 14:23 NIV)


Grandma Elsie said...

I love your attitude about life!
You are on the right track and by allowing God to help you ,you will do great.
No life is of course without painful lessons nor worry but its what we do with it all that counts.
I really enjoyed your blog today.
Elsie <><

Rhonda in OK said...

Tracey - we had very low income for several years after Jeff was discharged before he got the decent job he has now. I did just about the same things you are talking about here.
Our children say they had no idea we were so poor. They thought we like Martha Stewart because we were always making things, fixing things and cooking like she did on her tv shows.
The work you are doing to make a happy home is so important.

Anna said...

Keep it up! As a daughter, I can attest that a mother's attitude is what makes the family "rich" or "poor". Never, ever have an attitude of "Oh, our house is falling down, why can't I ever have nice stuff like everyone else," or "I have to keep my job to put food on the table because Dad doesn't make enough," etc., etc. Your children will thank you ten times over for just being happy.
Thanks for the post!

Debra said...

Oh you so remind me of me so much when I was younger. I used to do all those things, too, during the lean times when my daughter was a little girl. Thanks for the reminders and for your nice comments at my blog today, too! Blessings, Debra

Kavindra said...

This is a great post Tracy.

Your kids are lucky to have you as a mom!

Tammy said...

It sounds like you are on the right path...when I was a kid, it was so good to come home from school to Mama's fresh cookies!

I have to use instant potatoes too. Due to a weekness in my right hand...I think I've already told you about it though.

Keep up your good work Lil Mama!♥

Jenn@Spejory said...

We are sooo in the same frame of mind! We are paying down some medical debt, cutting back, enjoying the simple pleasures, even down to the cereal thing. I have stopped buying a bajillion boxes each week and buy one per child and label it with their name. When that runs out, they have to find something else. I have a great recipe for mini-frittatas. I like to double or triple it and keep the frittatas in the freezer for quick, nutritious meals during the week. I might share it on my blog soon.

Hugs to you today,

Stephanie Ann said...

It is true that a nice environment is better than stuff. I definitely need to perfect cheap meals. I love cooking but I do need to minimize the expensive ingredients. Good post.

Lyric said...

Bravo! Bravooo!! As one fairly new to homemaking this post caught my eye. As a matter of fact I am quoting and blogging about it at

I have so much to learn as my children are grown and gone but the new hubby has crumbsnatchers still in the coop (and will most probably be there for a looong time looking at the economy and world condition).

Thank you for being a force on the WWW. And, please, stop by and visit my lil space on the web.