Things on a budget

We’re always looking for ways to shrink our spending – ebooks instead of paper books that risk being lost to silverfish, mildew, and the general vagaries of monsoon; buying on-sale suit material; reusing water bottles until they get sketchy, meal planning, etc. One blog I started following awhile back is The Savvy Life – while I can’t always get benefits from some things, it has been fun to read and given me some new ideas on how we can stretch Adam’s income (and the bits I get from my proofreading work).

So now Melissa over at TSL is doing a Pantry Challenge again, and I’m going to have Adam and I work through it, too. We’ve got home leave coming up in about two months (we’re taking a stupid-early train out of Dehradun to get to Delhi, and then over to IGI), and the last thing I want is leftovers hanging out in the cabinets while we’re gone… so it’s time to work through the kilos of atta, jars of honey, and other things we’ve snowball-purchased.

Of course, I emailed Melissa to let her know she’d have another body doing it, out in India… and then we get the care package from my mother, and it included some food products. So our pantry grew a bit, but I made no purchases!

Wheat flour (atta), rice (basmati), and sugar. I have another 5kg bag of rice – BOGO offer, but it meant 10kg of rice for about $7 US – we go through enough rice that it’s necessary! The sugar is a 5kg container, which sounds like a lot – and it is! – and it should last us through June. It may get used up faster if we bake cookies for Adam’s advisees, foods for potlucks, etc.

A variety of these pantry objects are actually gifts: the Kirkland maple syrup, the unsweetened chocolate (the plastic bag on the top of the cabinet), the spices, the Cadbury mini-eggs and the GIANT can of clam chowder. Clever eyes might catch our carefully-rationed Tim Hortons’ cappuccino mixes. Some of the other things we have in the pantry: Nutella (it comes locally!), maple extract, dried lotus seeds, a variety of pastas, cashews, almonds, tamarind paste, garlic paste, ginger paste, ginger-garlic paste, and boullion cubes. The yarn is not part of the pantry contents – it has a whole cabinet of its own it shall move to. (I really need to do the Yarn Pantry Challenge, and use up some more of my precious non-acrylic yarns).

Gifts from my mother, the Taco Stuffers. Not sure when we’ll enjoy these, but we’ll ration them out. 😉 Most of the jars behind them contain various dried lentils (black, orange, yellow, dried white chickpeas & dried black chickpeas), and there’s a jar of honey that lived through the winter and has turned into creamed honey for Adam. The other jar of white powder is baking soda. There’s a plastic bag on top of the lentils, and that contains poha – it’s a dried pounded rice used often in South India for idlisdosa and other things. Adam eats it straight up in handfuls as snacks, or sometimes as oatmeal. The tupperware on the far left contains white flour, and then there is one next to it (not in the picture) which contains some oatmeal. Our oatmeal used to hide in the cabinets, but we kept forgetting it, so I introduced it to the counter.

We stockpile a lot because when we go down the mountain, it’s easier to comparison shop, and to make some of the big purchases. It can cost around Rs200 for 10kg of atta (USD$4) up here, and cost Rs150 down the mountain, or cheaper… so on the free trips down that the school provides, we take advantage of them to make purchases. Our monthly grocery shopping runs around Rs8.000-10.000, and that’s because we’re not strict veg; the meat is a fair dent in it, but with Adam eating more veg, 2kg of chicken can last us a month. We also eat 1 meal a day at school, sometimes more; sometimes we also get given food (one of my students is bringing us dinner on Friday).

I’ll hopefully do a post a week about how the pantry challenge is going, and some photos.

#Update-edit: Glad we’re doing this now. Cleaning up after dinner, evidently the outdoor construction has relocated a rat into our kitchen. I have no idea what Adam is doing except it involves our old floor mop/squeegee, and a hammer.

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