Events, features and things to do for families in New Hampshire
Your kids will remember the care, not the cost-cutting
By Wendy Thomas
I was talking with my sister on the phone the other day, telling her about having to watch our budget very carefully now that we had two kids in college, medical issues, and sports to pay for.
She chuckled and said she remembered those days well. When her four children were starting to go to college, Pat said that her standard money-saving meal was chicken thighs (the cheapest cut), vegetables and rice. It was served so often that on more than one occasion she heard groans as the kids sat down to dinner. “Not again!” they'd cry.
As a parent, going through tight times is almost a rite of passage. It happens and it's something we just need to get through. The key, though, is to see it as the challenge it is, and not life punishing you for things beyond your control. It's just the way it is right now, so carry on.
Cutting back on grocery money is certainly one way many families use to save pennies. In our family we set a food budget each week and the money I save from the week's groceries fund is collected in a tin and at the end of each month is used to pay a bill. Here's a case where little bits, over time, really do add up.
When I bring the kids food shopping with me, they take pride in being able to have good healthy food and still be able to contribute toward their braces or the cost of playing sports. They are also starting to understand the importance of a budget and saving here and there to pay off costs. It's an important lesson for anyone to learn.
My personal go-to meal is sliced, fried kielbasa, vegetables, pasta, and a sauce all cooked up in one large pan. Add salad, raw carrots and chips with salsa, and you've got yourself a pretty good meal that feeds a family of six with some leftovers for lunch or snacks the next day for a little less than $10.
We had this meal again last night (we tend to have it at least once a week) and I was starting to think that maybe the kids were getting a little tired of it. Maybe they were going to start saying “not again.” But as we sat at the table (outdoors because it was so nice) talking about our days while we ate the pasta and munched on the salad and carrots, complaining wasn't something that came to anyone's mind.
No one was in any hurry to leave and several of the kids even went back for seconds.
Later that night when my older son came home from gymnastics practice (his dinners are always reheats of what we had that night) he heated up the pasta dish and ate his fill.
“Great dinner, Mom. Thanks.” he said as he popped his head into the doorway before he went upstairs to start his homework.
“Great dinner, Mom. Thanks.” - a simple reminder that it's not the saving money or the pinching pennies the kids will remember when they get older, it will be the care we gave them and the understanding that even though money was a bit tight, we still had enough to always put food on the table, tell each other how our day went and be grateful for what we had.
Wendy Thomas lives in Merrimack with her husband and six children, and has been published in various regional magazines and newspapers. Check out her blog, Simple Thrift-Creative Living on Less, at http://simplethrift.wordpress.com.
Last updated by Parenting NH Administrator Apr 24, 2012.