Use It Up, Wear It Out, Make It Do, or Do Without

It’s an old maxim– popularly attributed to the Great Depression of the 1930’s.  I’ve never been a fan of it.  No, I’m not against using things up, wearing them out, making things do or doing without.  I’m just against the work that comes with it.  Yeah.  Work.  UGH.

Yes, I’m lazy.  You knew that.  This is no big shocker.  Well, it’s time to de-lazify.  You see, our personal finances have hit their own mini “Great Depression” (trust me, I’m depressed looking at the amount we’ve spent this year).  See… twenty thousand in dental bills is a lot of money for people like us.  Thirty-five hundred is a lot for auto repair bills.  Add to that replacing dishwashers, computer servers, operating systems, and then paying for things like graduations, weddings, birthday parties… well, at some point, the funds get dangerously dry.

Now the thing is, Kevin has a good job with a steady income.  We can weather this storm, but it’s going to take a little teeny bit of sacrifice.  I’m thinking about starting with long distance telephone service if you want the truth.  If we kill it for six  months, that’s three hundred dollars!  We can surely live off of cell phone minutes for that long!

So, I got to thinking.  Summer.  It’s a short three months (that seems like a long three years, I grant you).  So… what if we just do a Depression Era Summer?  We “make do or do without.”  We use things up and wear them out.  Now I’m trying to figure out how.


That’ll be a big one.  We don’t spend nearly as much on food as a lot of people, but we sure do throw away an unconscionable amount of it.  Food that is.  Of course, that means money too.  It’s horrible.  I have a few ideas.  I do best when I have a menu plan.  I hate menu plans, but they work.  So, I’m doing it.  Posting it too.  If today is Tuesday and it’s lunch time, EAT WHAT IT SAYS FOR LUNCH.  Period.  Same for dinner… CHAUTONA.  *giggles*

I’m also making smaller quantities of food.  This is my theory.  If I make enough for everyone to have a full serving, plus a couple of spares, half the food will be eaten.  If I make enough for everyone to half half a serving, half will be eaten.  If I make enough so that I have deliberate leftovers for the next night, the whole meal will be gone and the kids will be clamoring for more.  It’s Murphy’s Law.  Part two, section four, subsection 32.5 A.

So, I’ll make dinner.  Let’s say it’s Lemon Pepper chicken.  I’ll use one full chicken chest.  That’s it.  If the family is still hungry, they can have bread, fruit, salad, cucumbers, or a PBJ.  I really don’t care.  However, there won’t be any wasted Lemon Pepper Chicken!  It won’t end up in the fridge until the chicken sprouts hair and attempts to grow moldy feathers.

Lunch.  I’m considering doing a “if the leftovers are all gone, we get ice cream” kind of thing.  I mean, the fact is, we’d likely have had the ice cream anyway.  So, why not reward ourselves for keeping the fridge free of foods that otherwise get ignored until they are unsafe to eat?  Yeah.

I’ll have to think of other things.  This is a good start.  🙂

3 thoughts on “Use It Up, Wear It Out, Make It Do, or Do Without

  1. If you want to avoid the work, make your full dinner and plan NO lunch except for leftovers unless the leftovers have been eaten. Then they can make themselves a PBJ.

    • Cathe, that worked back when I did the lunch making– now that the kids do, it doesn’t work as well. By the time I supervise whether there’s enough for lunch etc, I could make it myself. Kind of kills the point of the kids doing lunch. I’d rather avoid the leftovers all together. I know. I’m weird. But I’ve been “doing” that all along. It clearly isn’t working.

  2. I wish I were better at that maxim, too. I guess we all have room for improvement in stewardship. I had a few ideas, though…

    Phones: It doesn’t work for everyone, but a Magic Jack is really cheap phone service. You just need a computer that stays connected to the ‘net all the time. Can be an old one. We bought a cheapo tower off the college for around twelve bucks and will dedicate it for running the Jack. That’s $20 a year for phone service, plus the cost of power to run the computer, and the minimal cost of the computer itself. (We actually turn the computer off at night since no one ever calls in the middle of the night. I just make sure to check voice mail promptly first thing in the morning when I get it running again. Family has cell phone number. See below.)

    Cell Phone: I have a very basic $20 Tracfone as a backup just in case the power fails and the Magic Jack doesn’t work. I buy minutes/service as needed. For about $100, you can cover yourself in minutes/service for a year. (There may be a smarter way to parlay the Tracfone deals…need to research that.) I hardly ever use it, unless I’m out and about on errands and the family needs to contact me. Just as well…don’t need a cell phone stuck to my head all the time. It’s only for emergencies.

    Using up food…I’ve always cooked from cupboard/freezer. Not every exciting. Wish I could be of more help there. I definitely would go with your plan to cook less food upfront. There was a time when three chicken pieces would feed my family of 6. Seriously, my kids ate like birds. I wasn’t wasting an entire piece of chicken on a child who wouldn’t eat it. I’d cut up the third and distribute it amongst the finicky ones and still wind up with leftovers. In fact, I learned that cutting up a small amount of meat into even smaller pieces can distribute it better throughout a main dish (say, stir fry or casseroles). So use recipes that distribute meat better, and cut your more expensive ingredients into much smaller pieces.

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