Updated 2009-03-14 15:08:13 ID=337:0

© 2009 The Romantic Table
©2008 The Romantic Table, Susan McGourty's Table Talk, a California Central Coast Lifestyle blog. 2011-06-09 16:33:16:80
©2008 The Romantic Table

Susan McGourty's Table Talk

Simplifying things

I don't know about you, but after going through our expenditures of 2008, I see a need to simplify.

Tax Season! I hate this time of year! Especially THIS year!

We're in the process of doing our taxes for the government, and with the tight money situation caused by this deep recession, we're starting to feel like hamsters on a treadmill going through the motions but not making much progress. Only the government and tax preparers seem to be benefiting from all our year's worth of toil. Those people seem to be in another world! Our frustrations bring them money. It seems like everyone is taking advantage of us! But let's take a deep breath and see what we can do about it.

I tell you, this tax review is making me a lot more ruthless in how I spend each dollar! Actually it's almost a "good thing." I needed to examine all our expenditures and get "a handle of things!" One thing though we have on "our side": We normally don't eat a lot of meat-centered meals. That in itself, brings down the grocery bills by not paying for high-priced meats, so it could be worse. And our meals in most cases are so healthy too! But I'm going to start giving even more scrutiny to the cost of how we spend our dollars. No more "Mr. Nice-Guy!" (I'm saying that in jest because I take my food very seriously, and I'm pretty serious when dealing with the grocery-people as it is!)

Looking over the check register report of expenditures for our groceries in 2008, I see our grocery stores' receipts are really not all that bad. Last year, in an attempt to conserve gas and money, I changed my going to the grocery store from twice weekly to one "three-store marathon" a week. In order to do that though, I needed to plan ahead carefully.

On average I spent about $170 a week on groceries and sundries like soap, tissues etc...That did not include food items that were paid for in cash such as Farmers Markets and incidental food items that my husband would occasionally pick up for me. Also that $170 includes extra food-stuffs we'd buy for special occasions and business like food for dinner parties, Holidays, extra beverages on hand for guests, and lots of extra food that we were making for our web site's photographs.

That's more than I'd like to spend, but on the other hand, that's our "entertainment and recreation budget" too since we rarely go out to eat, love to cook and that's how we spend our discretionary income-what little there is!

As the prices on groceries keep going up and up, we're almost getting numbed by this everyday occurrence. Nothing really surprises us anymore! I've been feeling this for the last year or so, since I do most of the grocery shopping. Just the other day, when my husband read the price on the grocery receipt for a bag of potato chips that he had requested that I buy, he stared in disbelief. "If you think that's bad, you should see what the other stores are charging," I told him.

This Spring we're planting a "survival garden" that will provide some of the more costly vegetables and herbs that we love this summer. See Planning For This Summer's Coming Produce Shortages. Just by doing that, will help reduce our daily food expenses even more!

After looking at all of our expenditures other than food, I see glaring 'over-spending" in our "non-business" expenses. (Those refer to credit cards and checks for non-essential items such as Christmas and birthday gifts, barbers, and other service-oriented items.) This we CAN improve on. In fact, with everyone feeling the "pinch"this year, maybe we can get some cooperation with minimizing these rituals--especially when it comes to Christmas presents.

After reviewing, and thinking about all of our expenses for the year, I think that quality food is very important or you could say vital to our health and well-being. If we eat a healthy diet, rich in vegetables and lower cholesterol proteins, we're bound to stay healthier and prevent more being paid for medical-related expenses. So we really shouldn't skimp on what goes into our bodies providing it's not "outlandish!"

The other expenses though, "No Mr. Nice-Guy" here I come!

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A tip from Sue!

Cooking with onions and garlic

When your recipe calls for both sauted onions and garlic, saute the onions first - they take longer to soften. Then when the onions are almost softened, add the garlic.The garlic doesn't need very long to become fragrant - and you don't want to burn your garlic and turn it bitter!