Faith,  Family,  Frugal Living

Dollar Diet Week Two: Panic stations?

Our budget has taken quite a beating as we settle into our life in Wellington. School and stationery fees, building up pantry supplies, items for the new house or garden etc. This is just the reality of moving – it’s expensive.

Not only are groceries in Wellington way more expensive than our previous home of Pleasant Point, but we’ve had to spend considerable moolah just building up a supply of basic pantry items and cleaning supplies. Because we were required to put our things in storage for several weeks between houses, we had to run down our pantry supplies before the move; as movers will not move and store pantry and cleaning supplies that are open. For obvious reasons like vermin and spills.

We have also usually kept a supply of items to last us several days in case of an emergency – most usually earthquakes here in New Zealand. You can find my previous post about putting together a kid-friendly survival kit here. I get a few days worth of non-perishable items that will make nutritious meals, water for drinking and cooking, plus a few treats and things like colouring books for the kids – because I imagine it’s pretty damn traumatic to be in a natural disaster.

I said to Mr G a couple of Fridays ago, “We need to get our earthquake kit together. Should we get a bit extra in case Covid-19 gets here?” We weren’t panicking, but it seemed like a wise idea in case schools get shut. Later that day, after we’d finished putting our kit together, it was announced that the first case of Covid-19 had come to New Zealand.

I am not freaked out about the virus, as it seems unlikely it will give my family and I more than a bad cold. However I do have a propensity to developing pneumonia – my last bout was only 18 months ago, and it took me three months to recover – so I’d say I am a bit more worried about it than my peers.

I’m not sure why people are stocking up on toilet paper like it’s Armageddon. If Covid-19 was a gastro bug, I could totally understand! I do think it’s prudent to have two weeks worth of food in your cupboards, especially if workplaces or schools are closed down. If that doesn’t happen, then you’ve got a disaster kit at the ready.

Two weeks worth is a lot of food, but Covid-19 seems to stay present for several days after symptoms have gone, and is why the recommended period for self-isolation is so long. You don’t have to rush out immediately and get two weeks worth at once, but you might want to pop a few extra items in your trolley, if you can afford it. And if you are able, think about donating non-perishable items to food banks, as for many people on low incomes buying ‘extra’ is impossible.

My tip is to mark on your calendar to start using those supplies six months from now, so nothing goes to waste. We have done this for years and this system works well. Just remember to buy a few days worth of food to replace your emergency kit – at least three days is recommended. I would rather feel a bit silly for ‘overreacting’ (I’m finding the language and shaming around this pandemic very interesting!), than be stuck at home for two weeks with hungry and bored kids.

Anyway, that was a long ramble just to say we went over our usual grocery budget.

Here are some things I did to be frugal this week:

  • Started packing Rev G’s lunch for him. That sounds absolutely vomitous, seeing it written down. I swear I’m not Suzy Homemaker, with my apron and coiffed hair, kissing Rev G on the cheek as he goes to work. I currently pack lunch for everyone as my family seriously struggle with getting out the door in the morning (I’m sure we’re not alone in this!). Whilst totally capable of making his own lunch, this simple act has reduced his time pressure in the morning, and means no one is late to school or work. Rev G has taken a packed lunch for work for years, but me making his lunch has reduced the times he’s had to pop to a cafe for lunch because he forgot to make it/ran out of time. There are many times that frugality requires teamwork. And I like that.
  • Batched my errands to minimise car use.
  • Relied on free entertainment: books, catching up with friends, hobbies (most of my free time has been taken up with writing a small-group Lent study based on The Two Popes).
  • Meal planned and was diligent about using leftovers and things lurking at the back of the fridge.

Anyway, wishing you a safe and healthy week!

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