The Simple Life – Simple Grocery List During Hard Times

As a follow up to the previous post, I thought that this topic would be of some practicality. I’ve met all kinds of people in my lifetime, rich people, poor people, and people in between. Each person views the world/life in a different way. Their life situation determines how they see the most basic things. Some people might consider eating steak daily, or an iPhone, a necessity, while for others it is a luxury. Their views are different according to their experience. For some people, “hard times” might be lacking the luxuries they are accustomed to enjoy, but for other people, it might mean lacking the basic necessities such as food, water, electricity … At the grocery store, I have seen people putting a basic staple back on the shelf, the shopping cart containing only a couple of necessary items. I’ve also seen the frustration in their faces. What would you do if you had to come up with a small grocery list that would give you the most for your very limited budget, last longer, and provide basic nutrients? Would you know what to buy or how to make it last? Would you even know where to start?

When having a very limited budget sale price is important, but also, brands and organic products might have to be passed by if the cost is much more than you can afford at the moment. Price per ounce or servings might become important instead, and knowing shelf life might be necessary, in case you cannot shop in a longer period of time. Knowing how to preserve and make last what you bought might also be important. During hard times, your brain will be rewired differently, and you will start thinking in ways you have never thought before. Words such as ration, preparedness, long-lasting … and other words will become familiar words. Suddenly, your vocabulary has been expanded, and so has your old world.

Once I met a very educated elderly lady who had been very prosperous. Her world change one day when her country became a communist country. She was left with nothing. Her nephews and other family members were shot against a wall, and she had to escape her beloved country in a cargo boat, thanks to a captain she knew and was her friend. She left her country with only the clothes she had on, and her daughter, hidden on that boat. I will never forget the lessons I learned through that lady.

Your world, your situation can change in a short period of time (there is no blame here). When life changes and hard times come, how you respond to change is extremely important. I also met a rich gentleman who once told me that his kids only received one gift for Christmas. He wanted them to appreciate what they had and see the season for what it truly was. I met many people for whom the only source of food was the local food pantry and not the supermarket. All of them beautiful souls in very different circumstances.

What would you do if suddenly, food became an important challenge in your life? You would probably go back to simple basics. Here is an example of a very simple, basic, and long-lasting food and basic essentials list. Although this list is very basic, I know that for some people it might seem a long list (26 items), depending on the circumstances. The list requires for you to know how to cook, combine meals or ingredients, and ration meals. Also, assuming you only can purchase one of each, or what your budget allows.

  • milk (any kind). Powder milk is long-lasting. A source for calcium, vitamin D, your dairy.
  • butter or oil (your fats, also for cooking.
  • flour – for many uses (any kind of flour, and also will last)
  • rice or pasta – a little fills you up.
  • beans – good source of protein; you need protein to live.
  • bread or crackers – fills you up, carbohydrates/sugar give you energy. Can be used for breakfast, lunch or dinner. You can also make your own bread or crackers by using flour.
  • eggs (liquid or powder too, powder will last you longer). Source of protein. Can use any time as a meal.
  • salt – for flavor, cooking, and medicinal. Also supplies iodine which you need to survive.
  • pepper – for flavor.
  • cheese – (your dairy and protein). Any kind will do in an extreme situation, even powder cheese or Velveeta cheese, which are long-lasting.
  • coffee or any powder drink – Although not essentials, (you can drink water if needed) some people need their caffeine, and many powder drinks provide sugars and are enhanced with vitamins or minerals.
  • meat, fish, or poultry – for extra protein, but if you cannot afford these, an alternative is canned meat or peanut butter. Peanut butter is long-lasting and does not require refrigeration. It will provide fats, sugars, and protein for your body. It is also affordable in comparison to other items.
  • fruit – for vitamins and antioxidants.
  • tomato sauce (or canned tomatoes, puree) – for cooking
  • sugar or honey – for cooking or if you cannot go without it for flavoring meals.
  • canned veggies – if you cannot afford more expensive veggies these will do.
  • apple cider vinegar – for cooking, but also aids in digestion, and also for cleaning.
  • baking soda – for baking, but can also be used as a toothpaste, for acid and indigestion, or even cleaning your home.
  • bar of soap – for bathing, but also cleaning and laundry.
  • toilet paper
  • toothpaste
  • pain relief pills/alcohol/hydrogen peroxide/Vaseline – first aid as needed. Hydrogen peroxide can also be used to clean your teeth.

If you can afford a bottle of multi-vitamins that will help provide what is lacking in your diet.

One can make bread, crackers, tortillas, cookies, cakes, pancakes with flour.

Anything in powder form or canned is longer-lasting.

Pets, kids, and people with special diets or medical conditions will require other food items, meds …

When in need, your local food pantry, church, or community action center can be of much help. They can also direct you to other services.

I hope this list is helpful, however, when in need, I will also add a prayer to your Creator. I hope you enjoyed this post.

Love and light.

“I shall walk in a wide place, for I have sought your precepts.”

Psalm 119:45

Let Me Let You In On a Secret

All good things must be shared, so I am sharing this bit of information that is great for business owners and authors who work hard at marketing and promoting their business.  I have looked at several print services for some promotional items for my novels – rack cards, pens … and decided to use Vistaprint since they had a variety of items.  Well, I am glad that I chose them because I got so many great coupons and discount offers from them that I could not believe it at first.

To give you an example, on my last 2 orders for promotional items for my business all I had to pay for was the shipping, and I got 10 items free of charge.  I got a lawn sign, 10 sheets of stationery, 25 magnets, 50 rack cards, 140 address labels, 50 rack cards for my business, 50 rack cards for my novel, and another 50 rack cards for my other novel on a separate order.  All these items were free of charge, and all I had to pay for was the shipping.  For small business owners and entrepreneurs, it does not get better than that.  You might be thinking, was I overcharged for shipping? Not at all, shipping was what it usually is, and you can select to receive it sooner, the next day, or in 2 weeks, like I did.  Right now, I have more than 5 coupons between mail and emails with great deals, which I will probably use before they expire.  I am not promoting Vistaprint; I am just letting you know my experience so far, since I know many of you are authors and writers on a tight budget, and it is always good to know where to get the good deals.  I used to print all my promo items by myself – flyers, business cards … but the cost of ink and paper has proven to be more expensive than ordering out, and the printing quality is better.  Adding all these amazing coupons and offers, the cost is considerably less than doing it myself.  I still keep my designs in case one day I run out and need to print something quick.

So far, the quality of items has been great.  I am waiting for these last items to see their quality.  I think it will be great; so far I have been happy with the items .  This is all I wanted to share for today, and I will update you on this with a post and pics, once I get the stuff.

I hope that this post was of use to you.



I will be giving away three copies of Ramblings of the Spirit, the first book of the trilogy The Dinorah Chronicles.  To enter for a chance to win one of the three copies, just like my Facebook page (link at the right of the screen on this blog) and that is all you have to do.  I will announce the three winners on May 20, which is the birth date of the person to whom I have dedicated this book – my maternal grandmother.

The Three Forgotten Rules for Living


Image via Wikipedia

The other day, I was pondering on this adage (yes, I ponder a lot – even as a toddler, according to my Mom) – “Use it up, Make do, Do without.”  I don’t know if you are familiar with it, but it has been thrown around from time to time.  I realized that these words have been forgotten in today’s society.  Although, some people are turning their lives around and embracing these words (many times they are called “greenies”) most people live the opposite to this, at least that is what I’ve observed.  I was there once.

Use it Up – Most people throw away things before they even finish their contents, many times, unused items that they never got to open, spoiled food, and so on.

Make Do – That has become an insult in today’s society.  To some, Make Do is synonym to being a loser, or being poor.  I’ve known people with lots of money that live by the Make Do rule; it doesn’t have to do with how much money you have.  Some people choose this way of living, but this is the minority.

Do Without – This is unheard these days, especially since the invention of credit cards.  It is the source of many tantrums at stores or at home, and I am not talking about kids.  People become miserable if they cannot have stuff NOW!  Do Without? – But that is impossible!

The New Rules of the Game

1.  Use it Halfway, if ever.

2.  Get the newest and latest.

3.  Get it Now before it becomes old.

Disclaimer:  Some people will hate me for this post.  After the Zombies invade, nothing will matter, so old goods will become new again, and the old rules will become survival techniques.

Writer’s Wisdom 94

Writing for a Higher Purpose

Why do you write?  Have you ever thought about it?  Many writers dream to see their work published, or the movie come out, and their name in the best seller’s list.  This is all good, and striving for the best should always be there in our most important to do list.  However, we run into problems when this is all we care about, and all we strive for – becoming published and known.  When you put such amount of pressure on yourself, creativity will suffer. When your focus becomes something else outside writing, and your attention leaves the page, your work suffers.  When being published becomes more important than writing, you have lost yourself as a writer.

When listening to best-selling author’s being interviewed, most of them express that they love to write, and they would not have it any other way.  They are thrilled at how things have turned around for them, but number one seems to be the love for writing.  And by loving what they do, and doing what they love, the money seems to come at the right time.

You may think writers have to eat too.  And that is the absolute truth, however, you can make an income without losing focus.  It is when your attention is taken away from the story and put on the $$$ that your work will become weak. 

Why not write for a Higher Purpose instead?

Writer’s Wisdom 59

Green Writers

There are little ways in which you can contribute everyday to reduce waste and care for the environment.  Think twice before crumbling that piece of paper.  If the back is blank, cut it in half or four pieces and use it as scrap or doodle paper.  Staple a couple and use it as a small note pad that you can carry in your bag, for when ideas come to you.  There are many other uses that you can think of.  Use it as packaging material, shredded or crumbled.  Or as paper to test your pens before you write.

How about that ink cartridge?  Take it to your supply store when it is empty, sometimes you get discounts for recycling them.  Print in fast or economy mode to save ink.  Print in black and white if you don’t need the color; why waste color ink if you don’t need it?  You can reuse the small plastic container where the ink cartridge comes and use it to plant seeds.  Keep your PC in energy-saving mode if you are going to be away from it for a while.

There are many things that you can do to contribute to a greener environment as a writer.  I am sure you can come up with some according to your daily writing routine.  Be a green writer!

100 Ways to Save

More and more people seem to be sharing the same boat these days.  In a though economy, every bit of good or creative advice to save your hard earned dollar, helps.  Here’s a hundred money saving tips, just to start you off.

Surf the internet for free product samples.  It’s like shopping for free!

  1. Utilize coupons.  Double them when possible.
  2. Take advantage of “buy one get one free sales.”  But, make sure that the price has not been inflated.
  3. Re-invent leftovers.  Study some recipes, learn new food tricks.
  4. Squeeze toothpaste to the end.
  5. Save soap shavings in a jar, and make a new bar of soap.
  6. Utilize natural food products (eggs, oil…) as beauty aids.  Research ways to use these products which you already have in the kitchen.
  7. Learn the many uses of baking soda (cleaning, beauty, cooking…)
  8. When products are almost at the end, dilute with water, and you will get more uses.
  9. Use a multi-purpose cleaner.  Commercial strength multi-purpose cleaners are strong, and because they need to be diluted, you get more for your money.
  10. Learn how to make your own shampoo/detergent.
  11. Makeup – Have a fall-winter/spring-summer makeup palette, so you can easy replace the used up item.
  12. Clothes – Buy basics and classics that you can mix and match.
  13. If you have the skill, mend or convert pieces of clothing.  Alter for different outfits.
  14. Trade in with friends and family.
  15. Ditch your home phone line.  Utilize a family program for your cell phones.
  16. Do you really watch all those cable channels?
  17. Have you heard of the meal portions of the 1940-50’s?  That’s how you should eat!
  18.  Buy foods and ingredients that have a long shelf life, like cornmeal, all purpose flour, rice, pasta.  These can be turned into different meals.
  19. Learn to make things from scratch (cookies, cakes, bread).
  20. Visit your local farm market to save money on veggies and fruits.
  21. Turn off the lights.  If you are not in the room, the light should be off.  By now, all your fixtures should have energy saving bulbs.
  22.  Unplug appliances when not in use.  For an easy way, buy a power strip.
  23. Visit your dollar store.  It is a source for many good items such as party favors, school supplies, cards, cleaning supplies and many more.
  24. Visit consignment shops, garage sales, flea markets.  You never know where you can find what you are looking for.
  25. Make a trade in party with family and friends.  Anything goes, bring any items and exchange for others.  Invite your neighbors.
  26. Sell your unwanted items for extra cash.
  27. Collect rain water.
  28. Do full loads of laundry.
  29. Dilute fabric softener.
  30. Paper towels can double as napkins.
  31. Make your lunch to take to work.
  32. Make coffee in the morning.  Take some with you.  Use a travel mug.
  33. Reuse plastic bags for pet waste or to line small trash cans.
  34. Forget gym memberships.  Do it the natural way – walk, hike, bike, become active in sports.  A can of beans can double a weights.
  35. Think of a second life for items.  For example a cup that has a small chip can become a key holder, change holder; a small saucer can be a soap or sponge holder; a tall glass can be used as a makeup-brush or toothbrush holder.
  36. Shop on EBay.  Sell on EBay.  You can get brand new books for 99 cents and free shipping!
  37. If you have a very expensive pair of shoes, take them to the shoe maker before ditching them.
  38. Donate clothes or other items, a car, and take the tax deduction.
  39. If you live in the country, decorating for the holidays (a la natural) should be easy and fun!  If not, take a trip, enjoy it, and collect pine cones, leaves, branches, and anything that you can use to decorate your home.  If you are in a coastal area, the beach is full of treasures!
  40. Take advantage of a friend’s garden.  Ask for seeds (before going to the nursery).
  41. Learn to use natural products (coffee grinders …) as fertilizers and bug repellents.
  42. Ask your bank, mechanic … for freebies such as pens, note pads, calendars.  They are usually available for customers; people don’t ask.
  43. Learn to make gifts, its fun!
  44. For big families, have a secret pal during the holidays.
  45. Don’t leave the faucet running.
  46. Don’t leave the refrigerator door open.
  47. Trade music, movies and books with friends and family.
  48. If you don’t have carpet flooring, go back to basics:  a broom, a mop and a bucket.  It will save you some bucks!
  49. Start an all year garden.  Cut your own flowers, don’t buy them.  For winter, pines and holly arrangements will look gorgeous!
  50. Use your library.
  51. Scout your township for free events (concerts, movie night, festivals).
  52. DIY – when advisable.
  53. Make use of your free weekends (cell phone) and use the email or social networking sites to say hello.
  54. When you donate to some organizations, (whatever amount) they will send you mugs, calendars, stationary, address labels, and even t-shirts.  You get tons of freebies and your donation is tax deductible.
  55. Schedule your errands – to save gas and wear and tear in your vehicle.
  56. Plan your menus.
  57. Old towels/clothes/sheets can become cleaning rags.
  58. Adopt an animal, don’t buy one.
  59. Dried summer flowers can make beautiful fall arrangements.
  60. If you don’t have the budget to replace a rusty fence, paint it, or plant vines to cover it: morning glory or honey -suckle will do.  It will look beautiful and fragrant.
  61. Repaint garden items; they will look like new again.
  62. Sell your metals (old appliances, pots, iron, and aluminum).
  63. Sell good parts of appliances that you no longer need (timer, motor …).  There’s a market for it.
  64.  Maintain your vehicle (wash, tune-ups …).  It will last you longer, perform better and save you money.
  65. Some clothes, sheets, can be converted into pillows.
  66. Bundle services, but beware.  Do the math first, to see if you are saving money by bundling.
  67. Take advantage of free credit card rewards.  But use your credit wisely.
  68. Save on postage.  Pay electronically.
  69. Leasing is a waste of money.
  70. Trade services:  “I’ll do your taxes for a tune-up.”
  71. Reuse computer paper as scrap paper/notes.
  72. Start healthy habits; you’ll save on medical bills.
  73. Sell your old gold jewelry (I made over $1,000.00).
  74. Can you cut your husband’s hair?
  75. Old pillows + old bed sheets = good pet beds.
  76. Bundle up in the winter, and lower your thermostat.
  77. Dress appropriately in the summer, and use ceiling fans.
  78. Take advantage of rebates.  Send them out.
  79. Easy on the pedal, save gas.
  80. Have a change piggy bank.  And please, bend over and pick up that cent or nickel on the floor.  It adds up!
  81. Old nail polish can be used on craft projects.
  82. Shake your printer’s ink.  You can get more from it.
  83. Use old Christmas cards as bookmarks.  Cut the part that is not written on and use it as post cards or note cards.  Perfect for those Christmas recipes.
  84. Be creative with pet toys.  Balls made of old socks, an old computer mouse …but, always make sure – safety first!
  85. Evaluate your purchases.  Buy what you need.
  86. Cook your own meals.
  87. Compare brand ingredients with store brands.  Why pay more if it contains the same ingredients?
  88. Grow your own veggies.
  89. Do your own pet grooming.
  90. Cancel subscriptions of magazines that you don’t read.  Keep one subscription and tell your friends to do the same, and then trade in between yourselves.
  91. Networking pays.
  92. Visit Craig’s list for great bargains and free stuff.
  93. Air dry clothes, when possible.
  94. Do some freelancing.
  95. Ask your doctor for generic drugs.
  96. Ask your vet for multiple pet’s discount.
  97. Take advantage of discounts for having multiple policies with an insurance company (auto + home).
  98. Organize your home.  If you know where things are, and what you have, then, you won’t buy things twice.
  99. 100.   Do you really need that boat?

There are many other ways of saving money.  These are only 100 tips to get you started.  Apply what you learn, otherwise is money down the drain – your drain.