Frugal Living: Stretching Your Homesteading Grocery Dollar

Homesteader Cathy Johnson shares her dollar stretching tips to make the most out of your food budget.

| November/December 1971

Currently homesteading in Missouri with her husband (Sleepy), some goats, cats, chickens and rabbits—is past and present master of the art of a makin' do style of frugal Cathy Johnson's art work and following lively description of three days with a hambone will indicate. 

I've found I can beat the circle of frantic consumerism, ecological rape and mountains of trash and garbage — and really feel good at the same time — with mileage.

No, not automobile mileage. I'm talking about stretching a dollar and every possible bit of distance out of whatever Sleepy and I consume. Sometimes I even feel we've become really creative and expanded our imaginations to fantastic lengths in thinking of just one more way to use something before putting it in its final (if there ever really is a "final") resting place.

Food is obviously a natural for this kind of mileage cause it's so easy to recycle in order to maintain a frugal living style. First dinner — you know — then leftover bones and vegetable scraps and cooking water, then soup, then garbage, then compost, then new soil ... then more vegetables.

Take a ham bone for starters. I often ask the corner grocer for a small chunk of ham to cook with beans and he usually gives me a piece about 4" by 5" — with a bone — for eleven cents. We slice off a little the first night, cut up a chunk leftover cheese, dice some green onions (as much of the top as is crisp, saving the rest in a keepin' bowl) or a regular onion (putting the soggy outside-the skin is even useful as a plant-based dye — with the green onion tops) and a little celery (save the trimmings). Add this to four or five beaten eggs, a little milk, salt, pepper and some fresh chives, garlic or sage . . . and you've got an omelet, a little "garbage" and a chunk of left-over ham.

By the way, we use flake salt from a feed store. It doesn't have any aluminum in it to make it pour (as "regular" salt does) and 25 pounds cost about as much as ONE pound of grocery salt.

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