Sunday, April 21, 2013

The 15-year supply of aluminum foil

Shortly after my folks got married in '73, my father went on one of his "OMG, there's a sale!!!" shopping binges. He bought aluminum foil. Lots and lots of aluminum foil.

Enough aluminum foil, in fact, that I was seven years old when we finally ran out.

Please note: my parents waited ten years to have me. If my dad bought the foil in '75 and I was seven in 1990, then my father purchased 15 years of aluminum foil. I might be able to justify that if it were canned food and we were expecting an apocalypse, but really? Aluminum foil?

My mother may be the hoarder, but my father is a compulsive saver, particularly when it comes to food.  He will drive to every. single. grocery store in town to save 50 cents on butter, $1.00 on eggs, and buy-one-get-one-free ice cream. It would be fine except that I figure 1/3 of what he purchases gets thrown out because it goes bad or no one likes it. The freezers (plural) in my parents' house are pretty good evidence of this.

My eating disorder has made me particularly dodgy about hoarding food. I feel a compulsion to save food and buy large quantities of it because I starved myself for so many years and my body and mind are quite honestly afraid that the food will go away. I've also probably acquired some of my dad's tendencies to hoard food that's on sale. I once broke my own granny cart trying to haul home 35 pounds of flour that was on sale. It's been a real challenge to start to break myself of this habit.

How can I avoid hoarding food?

Some of my food hoarding problems are being addressed as I work with my dietician and my psychologist. I've developed a mantra of, "I can always have more later," and have learned to give myself permission to go out and get specific foods when I really crave them instead of hoarding them in the house in case the urge strikes. Not keeping half the grocery store cookie aisle in my cupboard also makes me less likely to act on my bulimic habits.

Some of my food hoarding habits are a result of an occasionally obsessive desire to live in a more self-sufficient way. There's nothing wrong with this, but I tend to take it to an extreme. Do I need 75 pounds of flour? Good question.

To get through the compulsive saver tendencies I've inherited from dad, I have to ask myself these two things:

1. Am I likely to use it before it goes bad? It won't be saving any money if I waste any!
2. How long will it take me to go through this? 6 months is my limit. I won't keep more than a six-month supply of anything.

I've tried adding up the cost of wasted food and that has helped me see that I'm not saving any money by buying large packages. I clean out the fridge each week to keep better track of what we're using and how much we actually need to buy when we shop. I'm slowly learning to buy normal packages of fruit and veg instead of the costco-sized boxes which invariably end up going bad.

Food gone bad this week: alioli leftover from takeout (pennies), bean soup ($1),  rice-corn-and-bean taco filling ($2),  rice and haddock dinner leftovers ($7 of the $15 filet we bought.) Total: $10! In a week!
For pantry items I do have to think about how frequently we go through those items, which are tempting to buy in large quantities because they take a long time to go bad. And yet we bought 75 pounds of flour at costco last week.
a mere 25 pounds. each of those containers holds five.

This stuff we use and we go through 75 pounds in about 4 months. We make all our own bread, baked goods, and even our own bisquick. In the spirit of blogging more about eco-friendly and sustainable living, I'll post the recipe for that tomorrow as this post is already too long!

So how do you balance saving money / being frugal / living more sustainably with overbuying or hoarding food?

For those of you who were wondering, the first phase of the kitchen semi-remodel finished up on Thursday.

Next we'll be putting in a cabinet and counter where the table currently is and replacing the floor. That will probably happen in June/July as we do not plan to use loans to complete the project. If we don't have enough money, we'll wait. 

The countertop and the sink in the existing area are in pretty bad shape and need to be replaced along with the backsplash, so those we will have replaced in the Fall. The existing cabinets are brand new ( to us!) and it didn't seem very eco-friendly or wallet-friendly to replace a bunch of cabinets that are in pretty good shape. Those and the appliances stay. 

It's been a relief already. We each have food allergies (different ones) so it's comforting that I can make my dairy meals far, far away from the Chief Engineer's food with no worries that anything will accidentally get cross-contaminated. No ER visits for us tonight!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Two-by-fours in front of the piano

The past seven days have been pretty momentous for me. On Thursday I graduated from seven weeks of intensive outpatient treatment for the eating disorder I've struggled with since 2001 (go me!). While I'm by no means fixed, and I'll fight this for the rest of my life, I'm much, much better than I was before I started treatment. It's nice to have 15 hours of my life back each week.

Also last week our contractors started work taking down the kitchen wall, I gave a well-received presentation in front of 200 people and started to possibly get over my phobia of public speaking, I played my guitar and sang in front of human beings other than the one I'm married to, and got psychologically ready to turn 30 tomorrow. Okay, there wasn't much work with that. I'm pretty excited about being 30.

I definitely wasn't sleeping much last week and I was really concerned that all of the disorganized patterns of life that I learned growing up would rear their ugly heads amidst the insanity. Funny thing was, the condo was more organized last week than it's been in ages. I couldn't afford not to be organized.

But the minute everything was over on Friday afternoon, this happened:
So I've kept the kitchen neat (AND THE WALL IS GONE!!)
There's only a small amount of clutter on the kitchen table...and a melon
Yes, I did leave a pillow on the table next to the front door
The gerbils, the contents of the kitchen and part of the dining room had to migrate
into the spare bedroom during construction
And this photo is just here to prove that the last one really isn't as bad as it looks
Ignore the floor...I kept my nightstand clear. I get points for that, right?
My bathroom has stayed organized--
I only had to pick two shirts, one jacket, and my sneakers off the floor to take this picture.
Thank heavens!
But this is my personal favorite...
The two-by-fours in front of the piano make me laugh every time. 
And they're not going anywhere for a while.

If I learned anything from my eating disorder treatment, it's that I need to have a little more compassion for myself. I was freakin' exhausted after the last seven weeks and I just didn't want to expend the energy to be neat this weekend -- and that's okay! It's just one weekend. And three weeks of construction. 

See you later this week for a return to our regularly scheduled decluttering.