Cooking Like a Copycat

A few years ago, we decided that eating at most restaurants wasn’t really worth the money. Yes, it was nice not to cook. Yes, it was nice to go out, but the food wasn’t the central focus of the event. Of course, restaurant meals are no way to cut the food budget and, if it isn’t good, why bother.

Copycat recipes can replace the food that is missed by cooking at home instead of eating out. Last week, I tried one of my husband’s favorites–Jack-in-the-Box tacos. I tried to follow this recipe, but I didn’t have everything listed. I had to make refried beans and, of course, they don’t taste like those from a can. I didn’t have the specific taco sauce called for in the recipe, so I used what I had on hand. I’ve never had a Jack-in-the-Box taco, but I thought they tasted fine. The expert, my spouse, said they tasted fine but were nowhere near the real thing. I guess I’ll have to go out for a taco dinner to know for sure.


If you miss some of your favorites, there is a recipe for just about any restaurant dish:


Dipping Into the Dumpster

The Learning Channel has a show called Extreme Cheapskates which showcases how people save money and live cheaply. It’s intriguing how many ways people employ to save money. My objection to this show is that it is done in a way that pokes fun at them. Maybe some go to real extremes and do things that most of us wouldn’t do, but that doesn’t suggest that there is anything to laugh about. I guess these people are freaks to the producers of the show. Saving money is nothing to be ashamed about nor is it freaky. Earning money while saving money is a double whammy!trash

Trash picking has been around for a long time. I’m sure most of us have, at one time or another, picked up something that was left as trash. There are some who take dumpster diving very seriously and use their finds to furnish their homes, supplement their incomes and put supper on their tables. I hope to never have to search out tonight’s dinner at the bottom of a dumpster. That’s taking trash picking to a level I’m not willing to explore.

A lengthy article on Wired, “The Pro Dumpster Diver Who’s Making Thousands Off America’s Biggest Retailers,” showcases one person who found the benefits of dumpster diving by accident and turned it into a lucrative sideline. At first, he used the items he found for himself and later discovered there was a market for many of his finds. According to the Wired article, Americans dumped 251 tons of trash in 2012. There’s no reason to believe that the amount has decreased in subsequent years. So, is picking trash a possibility for supplementing retirement income?

Being an extreme tightwad isn’t on my radar but maybe I could be persuaded to take a peek into a dumpster. Wikihow has a complete How-to get me started.

Hold on for the Ride


I saw Easy Rider when I was 16. Of course, you were supposed to be 17 to see it without an adult but, oh well. I got in any way.

It was a great movie then. It spoke to teenagers. It tried to showcase the alternate lifestyle that Hollywood thought we all aspired to achieve.

The movie was on television recently and I watched it again. Have I changed that much? It was lame, at best. The dialog was bad. The acting was bad. The plot was too predictable. My how our tastes change with age; all the things we thought were cool aren’t really cool at all.

You can’t go home again. Nothing is the same and never will be. Somehow we think that while our life has moved on, some things will be the same.

Have you ever reconnected with an old friend? Thanks to Classmates and Facebook, I have found people from high school and even a few from junior high. In all cases, once you get past the “what have you been doing for 40 years,” there isn’t much to say. Life went on, and I wasn’t in theirs for decades. The memories of our time together, if they still exist, are fuzzy. They didn’t stand still waiting for me to return.

So now, I think that life should be all about new things. There are more years behind us than ahead, so why waste any of it? New experiences, new skills, new friends, that’s where I’m going.

New things have to include the possibility of living on less money and that means changing things we do everyday. I’ve already begun to do things differently but, as the day of complete retirement approaches, I need to step up my game. Retirement looms. It’s ominous. It’s not for sissies.

Complete retirement means the day my husband finally bids adieu to his job. Not only does his paycheck stop but we face the demise of the benefits, too. Don’t get me started on the state of health insurance now. It’s one of the biggest hurdles to retiring before 65. But, that’s a discussion for another post.

I’ve lived frugally for decades. I started out of necessity when I was young and money was scarce. It became habit and I continued throughout life but I never truly embraced all I could do to save money. It’s easier to pick a product off the shelf but it’s better to make your own.

It’s unlikely that anyone can jump into total frugality all at once. It takes some experimentation to find the solutions that will work for you. Not all will. Experiment freely. You won’t be out much money or time.

Ease into frugality. Don’t try to change everything at once. Pick one area to work on and find solutions that work for you.

Cooking from scratch
DIY cleaning products
DIY health and beauty products
DIY garden care
Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without

Not all efforts will work for you. Just because a cleaning solution gets rid of grime doesn’t mean that it will be the best answer for you. If the ingredients are hard to find or include something that is irritating, that’s not going to be your answer. Find something else. I’ll show you the things that work for me but a quick Internet search will find dozens more answers.

This is fun. This is cool. Try it. It’ll be a great ride.

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