I saw an interesting statistic the other day, the average American family eats out 18 times every month (they included delivery items like pizza in this number) at a cost of $12.75 per person. For a family of four, that translates into a cost of $915.84 per month! I don't know about you, but I know for sure that my family doesn't spend $915 a month eating out, but even our moderate pizza delivery habit runs us about $80 per month. I could easily cut that in half and put the money in my rainy day fund.
By contrast, cooking a meal at home averages $4.00 per person so just cutting back on the number of of times we eat out can make a huge difference in the budget.
For Mama's Mama, dining out was most likely a very rare treat...like you could count the number of times on one hand kind of rare. We marvel at the price of restaurant meals in "the good old days", but those prices were relative to the average income at the time. The average wage for a man might have been $1 per day. I grew up hearing the story about how my grandfather moved my dad's family almost 1000 miles across Texas because he found work that paid $2 per day.
Introducing Thrifty Meals
Cooking at home is definitely a money-saver, but at $4 a serving or more, it can still add up. When you're trying to build up your pantry, medicine cabinet and preparedness items, saving a few dollars here and there can be a real help. We're bringing you Thrifty Meals as a once-a-month low cost dinner, usually less than $1 per serving. For the most part, Thrifty Meals are simple food, the kind Mama's Mama probably served her family on weeknights. They're just ideas and if you are certain your family won't like a certain food, feel free to substitute anything you like, The idea is to keep the cost of the meal lower than your regular meals and save the difference in your Rainy Day Fund.
The Rainy Day Fund
If you haven't heard of a rainy day fund before, it's a little store of money that Mama's Mama usually kept in a coffee can on a high cupboard shelf. One of my grandmas called it her "pin money" my mom calls it "mad money". Whatever you want to call it, it's a handy thing to have. It's kept separate from the family budget and is used to buy little things needed around the house. It will come in handy when you want to buy an apple-corer or a wheat grinder. The trick to a successful rainy day fund is to leave it alone (except to add to it). It's not for buying milk or paying the electric bill (although I've had to loan my rainy day money to the household budget for things like that, I make sure to put it back). I find I'm better at contributing to the fund when I'm saving up for something specific, like my pressure canner ($300) or my water purifier (also about $300). Lately I've starting putting my tax refund into my rainy day account and using it for purchases for the house. It feels great to pull my coffee can off the shelf and see all the money in it, In this day of electronic money that just goes from computer to computer, I never knew how satisfying it is to see a can full of money, but I can understand now why my dad kept jar after jar of coins on his closet shelf.