Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Convenience at What Cost?

We live in a very convenient society. We have all sorts of electronic gadgets, fast foods, convenience foods, convenience stores, and more just to make life more convenient. Is that really how we are supposed to live our lives? Before you say, whoa and stop reading, let me clarify. I am the queen of convenience, well I used to be. I am slowly learning that forgoing the convenience can save money in a lot of ways. Of course, what we save in money is going to cost us in time, but is that really such a bad thing? Are we really as busy as we think we are? Sometimes all we need is a little better planning. Here's a couple of things that I have changed recently to become less convenient.

Cutting the grass is a task that needs to happen quite often in the summer. Up north the grass cutting season is relatively short. Down here, we have a much longer grass cutting season, and much different grass to cut. The most convenient method would be to hire someone to cut the grass. Of course, most of us don't do that. We have a lawn mower and do it ourselves. Have you ever thought about how much your lawn mower really costs you? I'm going to use the gas mower example. If you buy a cheap model, you may be able to get it for around $200 (unless you can get one used). Our situation is a bit different, because we rent and the lawn mower came with the house. With ever rising gas prices, how much does it cost in gas over that grass cutting season? Half the summer, the grass would get overrun, because we had to wait to buy gas for the mower. Then, there's the problem that I can never get the mower started. My dad replaced all kinds of parts and did repairs to make the thing run. Finally, last fall the pull cord just stopped pulling. I'm sure my dad could fix it again, but in the meantime my grass continues to grow. The mower gets fixed again and then dies again. I was sick of it. When my neighbor came over and asked if he could mow our weeds, that was the last straw. I had to do something. I decided on a classic reel push mower, see it here. It starts every time, because all I have to do is push it. I don't have to buy gas (or pay electricity to run it), and it was very inexpensive at just over $100. Don't get me wrong, there are limitations. It is a pretty good workout to cut the grass that way, which really isn't a bad thing when you think about it. The other thing is, it does not cut the really long weeds that make up a good portion of our yard. I guess that really won't be a problem now that we can keep up with it regularly, but I did have to pull a lot of weeds by hand today. When you think about it, that's probably better also. They are getting out by the root and not spreading seeds all over the yard by being cut down. The biggest challenge of pulling the weeds was that most of them were full of flowers. Did I mention I am deathly afraid of bees? Once I got rid of the worst of the weeds, the mowing was actually quite easy. It does not do well if sticks get in the way either. So, I still have more work to get the yard cleaned up, but I figure if I do a little at a time that soon it will just be easy maintenance.

Sliced bread is another great convenience. At what cost? It's not terribly expensive to buy a loaf of bread. I think the cost here really isn't monetary as much as it is related to our health. The purpose of eating is to nourish our bodies. Does sliced bread do that? Of course, it's enriched with all those vitamins and preservatives. In order to mass produce bread and extend it's shelf life, the processed flour they use really has little or no nutritional value. Yes, I'm even talking about the "healthy" whole grain breads. I decided that if we were going to eat bread, we would have to make it ourselves. Again, it does cost us with a little more time. This is time that is spent away from the TV and computer, working together. I'm willing to make that sacrifice. I bought a grain mill and ordered a big bucket of wheat berries. The mill is not difficult to use. I pour the wheat in, and turn the machine on. When it's done grinding, I turn it off. It takes about a minute or two at the most. I mix the dough in my electric mixer, let it rise, and bake it. It really is not difficult nor that time consuming. If I cannot be home for the whole time to let it rise and bake, I could make a loaf in the bread maker. I find it easier to not use the bread maker, because then I can make more loaves at a time. The final cost is about the same as buying the cheap store brand bread at the store. Oh, and nothing beats a warm slice of homemade bread fresh from the oven. Not only that, but there are so many different types of grains that I am looking forward to experimenting with.

Those are just a couple of the conveniences I have decided to give up to both save money and become more healthy. What conveniences have you given up? I would love to hear suggestions of other ways to make our lives healthier.


Debbie(single;complicated) said...

great tips..I will admit I do think I am WAY busy!!(don't we all!!!!!LOL):) and I am not sure if I am willing to give up my non-at work hours to do some of the things that would save money but take time! and yet....I know it may be needed. We have NO mower. I might look into the one I suggested!!

Cristy said...

We have given up most boxed and canned items. No Hamburger Helper or mac and cheese or stuff like that. No fruit or veggies in a can. The best thing we did was get a crockpot. I can put dinner on before we leave and no running through the drive thru on the way home.

My next step is homemade bread. But not until I get a mixer!

GardenofGems said...

I totally understand that Debbie. I was the same way when I was working full time. One thing that helped was periodic freezer cooking. Spending one day making a bunch of stuff to freeze, then have our own homemade convenience meals. Like Cristy said, the crockpot is fabulous. I use mine all the time, even when I was working full time. It was great to come home and have dinner already done.

Randi Sue said...

Go Gidget!