Is it seriously already Wednesday? We have been busy with VBS and check-ups at the dentist and the OB, but I have been thinking about writing this all weekend!
You guys came out of the woodwork to introduce and share a little bit about yourselves. I tried to respond to every single comment and I hope I didn’t miss anyone (I also asked a few follow-up questions, ahem-hem). I absolutely loved reading a bit about who YOU areand why you read here.
The biggest questions it seemed people had were in relation to our solar set-up, our plans for our (un)expected arrival, and why exactly we’re going to build a large house if we seem to be doing a-ok in an itty-bitty space, so I am planning posts addressing each of those issues specifically in the upcoming weeks (when I say “planning posts” what I really mean is that I think about them for a while before sitting down at the computer and hammering one out while Finn is napping – just so we’re clear).
One of the things that struck me the most is how many of you have your OWN stories to tell. Some of you own land that you want to build on someday, some of you have spent time living in unusual spaces. Many of you are just interested in a simple, less expensive, less consumerist lifestyle. Me too.
My confession is this (and maybe it’s not much of a confession because it’s probably glaringly obvious): I have no idea as of yet what exactly a simple, less expensive, less consumerist lifestyle consists of for us, necessarily.
So far, living in the bus hasn’t been exactly simple OR less expensive and we’ve had to buy a lot of things! There have been a plethora of problems to deal with and some additional costs that we hadn’t really planned on.
As far as living with less is concerned, there are things that I packed away thinking that they would only contribute to cluttering up the small space that I really wish I had out right now (certain electric kitchen tools specifically, since our electricity is free and propane is not). There are other things that I kept out or even purchased that are turning out to be a pretty useless waste of space (most of the under-couch storage that I bought from Ikea is practically empty and just makes it harder to sweep under the futon). There is also a ton of stuff we have packed away in storage that I think is going to go directly to Goodwill when we finally unpack it.
I think, though, that all that is just part of the journey. We’re not experts or professionals in any capacity (except the capacity that Noah is a professional in… which doesn’t relate to bus-dwelling at all). We really are just a normal family trying out a very un-normal situation in the hopes that it will help us reach our goal. We are bound to make a huge load of mistakes along the way, but hopefully we’ll come out the other end stronger and wiser and with lots of stories to tell!
Having said all that, and now that we all know each other, can I present to you a particular challenge that we’re facing?
Since a big part of this endeavor is about saving money, it is terribly frustrating when certain aspects of this lifestyle cost MORE than when we were living in a house. I’ve mentioned before that one of those higher cost areas is our grocery budget. Many of you noted that you found this blog after my guest posts at Money Saving Mom and at Southern Cali Saver, so I feel confident that I’m dealing with a group of financially savvy individuals.
However, our situation is rather unique due to the fact that one of the big principles of saving money on your grocery budget – Stock Up on Good Deals – is harder to do when you don’t have a freezer and your fridge space is very minimal (think hotel mini-fridge size). I find that I keep having to go to the grocery store to buy fresh food (milk especially, since we can only fit one or two gallons and we go through much more than that weekly), when before I could buy and cook in bulk and freeze a large portion of food. I have also had to pass up deals on meat on clearance because I had no way to save it before it would go bad (I’m thinking of you, giant, half-off ham).
Some of the things I’ve been doing to try and combat this include buying lots of shelf-stable fruits and veggies and keeping them out on the counter (works quite well), buying canned goods (although not my favorite thing health-wise) and baking more (which uses more dry ingredients like flour).
We do own a full-size fridge/freezer, but it won’t run off our little solar set-up (one thing I’ve learned since being out here is that the appliances that take up the MOST energy are those whose purposes are to heat or cool things). Our current fridge actually runs off propane, and propane freezers are crazy expensive (from what I’ve seen).
So, any ideas on how to save money on fresh food without a freezer and only a teeny fridge? Running to the store all the time is killing me AND our budget and definitely not contributing to “living simply” in any way, shape or form.
*Interesting side-note: In relation to the issue that we’re having, it strikes me that there are probably many people who are unable to afford to eat fresh, healthy food due to the inability to stock up or store it properly. What are your thoughts?