Lately, in case you have not noticed, it has become trendy to be frugal. Living within one's means, or at least desiring to do so, is now chic. It's no longer cool to throw money around; it implies that one does not care about the suffering of one's neighbors and fellow countrymen. (Like about 10 years ago it suddenly became trendy to pretend to care about the environment.) So all kinds of blogs and websites are suddenly springing up around frugality, simplifying, living well under reduced circumstances, becoming debt free, repurposing, etc. I like to think I have been on this bandwagon since long before it was a bandwagon. I have long been a subscriber to Cheapskate Monthly and am even in one of Mary Hunt's books.
But I have put aside my snit over these johnny-come-latelies and am just trying to glean what goodness I can from the sudden wealth of words out there on the subject.
Many of these sources of words center around food. Eating well on a budget. Eating healthily on a budget. Eating well on food stamps. Gardening on the cheap. That sort of thing. And while I enjoy reading these and pick up good ideas, one thing that I notice is that they all seem to be aimed at an urban readership.
Take Poor Girl Eats Well, for example. Now I really like this blog. She does very interesting things with simple ingredients. Her goal is to give examples of meals that can be made for $8-$10 each, for a family of 4. This is a great idea, and I do find some goodies here. However, she is also an excellent example of my complaint. Her recipes count on two things: That you live near to a) a farmer's market that is in operation year round, and b) a Trader Joe's.
First of all, we don't live near ANYTHING. We are in the back of beyond. We drive at least half an hour to get to just about anywhere one can procure food.
Secondly, we do have a little farmer's market here in the New Albin town square, but at this time of year the farmers are all sensibly hunkered down inside nice warm farmhouses, not setting up veggie stands. The only thing they would have to sell would be wrinkly last-year's root vegetables, anyway. Our markets don't really get going until the middle of July, at least. And even then, they are, like, 5 people, max, each with a few examples of whatever is in season at the moment, which is exactly the same as everybody else at the market has. So one week, it's tomatoes and green beans, and the next week it's tomatoes and zucchini, and the next week it's zucchini and zucchini, and the next week it's tomatoes, zucchini, green beans and zucchini. And tomatoes.
And thirdly, while I would love to pop over to TJ's any old time, the nearest one I know of is in Woodbury, Minnesota. It's a nice one, I've been there, but it's about 3 hours' drive away. And up until a few years ago, most of the United States would say "Trader who?" when we mentioned Trader Joe's, and had no idea how amazing the chain is. There still aren't that many of them out there. Yet. For most of the country.
So what I need is for someone to start a blog on living well, within one's means, in the heartland, in the countryside, starting from scratch. Start with the premise that there are no upscale grocers within reach, that there are no downscale grocers within reach for that matter, and that it's not growing season so starting a garden this very instant is not an option. Teach me to make wonderful, inexpensive, healthy meals from what I can buy in bulk at Sam's Club and keep in the basement for weeks between shopping expeditions. Teach me to use the limited number of green things that I can buy, and in the limited time that I have before they go bad in the fridge. Teach me to be imaginative with dried herbs that keep, rather than assuming that I will be buying fresh herbs every few days.
My friend Lisa said I should just start this blog for myself, but I want someone else to teach ME. :o)