Home Economics (Quirk Books, 2010) compiled by Jennifer McKnight Trontz, is great for first-time home buyers, as it provideds the may useful tips to use around the house. This book would be a helpful read for anyone looking to make some changes around their home in a budget-friendly way. Find this excerpt in Chapters, “1 and 2.”
Be a Wise Consumer
As the saying goes: Buyer beware. When the homemaker goes shopping, she has a responsibility of getting good value for her money. One of the first requisites of good buying is the ability to know standard qualities. By so doing, you will not be at the mercy of the salespeople. Another necessary thing is to know what you yourself need, so that a cleverly worded advertisement will not lure you into making unnecessary purchases. Keep a list of needed articles, and do your shopping accordingly. Caution: Always keep within your budget system.
Watch for Deceptive Advertising.
In order to be a wise buyer, it is necessary to be familiar with descriptive words used by manufacturers and merchants. One who shops for clothes, food, and household furnishings should know not only the quality and standards of goods and equipment but also the terms of describing quality or grade. She should be on the alert to learn more about buying. If you have doubts about a product’s worth or quality, walk away.
You should notice whether an advertisement:
- Advertises the quality of a product or appeals to a buyer’s desire for beauty, romance, pride, or to a sense of fear. (The focus should be on quality.)
- Makes false or extravagant claims about products.
- Is sufficiently definite to give a clear idea about the quality and durability of goods.
The Danger of Credit and “Easy” Payments.
Paying more than you can afford is one of the weaknesses of installment buying. Because payments are spread over a long period, they sound “easy” to some persons. Nothing should be bought on an installment plan without reasonable assurance that the purchaser will be able to meet all payments.
Perhaps the greatest drawback to installment buying is the carelessness with which people enter into buying contracts in not figuring how much interest-deferred payments will cost. Because the payment for goods is spread over a period of time, interest is charged to the buyer. Be sure you understand the credit terms (read the fine print!) and, most important, do the math.
Selecting Items for Yourself and Your Home.
Never before in history has it been necessary for women to know so much about materials in order to select the necessities of life, to provide herself and her family with appropriate food, shelter, and clothing. This is a woman’s time to show her ingenuity in thrift and in the preservation of the essentials of life.
In buying, do not go to any except know firms that have established a reputation for reliability. If you’re too busy to attend in person to your shopping, telephone calls certainly aid in making purchases. Mail-order houses are sometimes a help to the shopper, although because of community welfare, it is better to patronize local stores. Do not confine your buying entirely to telephoning, for nothing can equal personal visits. And it goes without saying to watch the sales. Much can be saved in buying out of season—many times a winter garment bought in December can be had at less than half the price the next January or March. Practice patience and your budget will thank you.
A good shopper thinks out her needs most carefully and knows just how much money she has to spend. All of this careful planning saves one much time and money.
In order that food be pleasing, it is not necessary that it be expensive. The larger part of the price of costlier foods is paid for appearance, flavor, or scarcity. And while people who can afford them may be justified in buying, it is well to remember that the cheaper foods frequently contain as much if not more nutriment and, with a little care, can be made just as pleasing. It is the lazy and unskilled cook who pays exorbitant prices for food rather than taking the trouble to make the common foodstuffs appeal to the palate.
A Trip to The Market.
If all women would insist upon clean markets, grocery stores, bakeries, and meat shops, it would not take long to bring about more sanitary conditions in many of them. It is not necessary to go to the market every day; two or three trips a week should be enough. One should make a list of things needed and try to save time and effort by purchasing all the necessary articles at one time and in one place, or in the same neighborhood if possible. It is well too, occasionally, to weigh the contents of packages put up by manufacturers to see how they compare in price with the same amount bought in bulk. Package goods usually cost more than goods bought in bulk. Extra glass, tin, paper, and baskets must be paid for.
“Ready-To-Eat,” Bulk Foods, and Other Rules for Saving.
One point worth mentioning is that “ready-to-eat” foods, except perhaps in the case of cereals, are expensive and not always so good as the old-fashioned dishes prepared in the old-fashioned way. Also, except for fruit and vegetables, which will be used at once, food should not be bought in small amounts; food in bulk is usually cheaper.
Another way to save is by buying less-tender and cheaper cuts of meat (see pages 46 and 47 for popular cuts). It also pays to consider the amount of waste in meat, such as the bone in many cuts. These are minor matters, but they all play their part in economical living.
Here are additional suggestions for good shopping:
- Avoid food put in fancy packages, such as nuts in small glass jars.
- Buy in large packages except when the food may deteriorate if the package stands open.
- Remember that uncooked foods are always less expensive than the ready cooked.
- Know the prevailing market prices and quality of foods that you wish to purchase.
- Avoid handling food. Fresh fruit and vegetables, such as pears, plums, and tomatoes, may be bruised and will spoil.
- Remember that out-of-season foods are always expensive.
- Make a study of sizes, brands, and grades in order that you may get the best value for your money.
- Do not follow fads or fancies in foods. Always choose foods that provide the most nutrition.
- Remember to satisfy aesthetic demands, too. Food must be enjoyed in order to be thoroughly digested.
Avoiding Food Waste
Tossing pennies into the garbage can or pouring nectar down the drain pipe of the sink would be unthinkable waste. Nevertheless, solid foods that cost money are often thrown into the garbage can, and nourishing liquids are poured into the sink. Let us consider some common food wastes and ways of avoiding them.
Vegetable and fruit pairings: All fruits and vegetables should be pared as thinly as possible. This will effect a great saving as well as conserve their vitamin and mineral value.
Vegetable water: Cook vegetables in as little water as possible.
Bacon fat: Since it has the decided flavor of bacon, it cannot be used in dishes requiring bland fats, such as a fruit pie crust. But it can be used in the crust of meat pies.
Stale and dry bread: What shall I do with bread crusts or bread too stale for table use? That is a question that perplexes the home manager who strives to cut down food wastes to a minimum. There are many recipes containing bread or crumbs, including those in the chart below.
- French toast
- Soft breads
- Soup topper
Soft Bread Crumbs
- Scalloped or au gratin dishes
- Macaroni and cheese
Dried Bread Crumbs
- Dipping croquettes
- Scalloped dishes using moist food
It is thrifty to buy day-old bread, which usually sells for less than the fresh product.
Excerpted from Home Economics by Jennifer McKnight Trontz. Reprinted with permission from Quirk Books.