Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Ok...here's the potential cabin plan

So...here it is.  The potential wee cabin.  But be WARNED...I want ZERO commentary and will probably shut off comments.  I am sick to death of ill informed comments and other people's dreams.  I want what I want and I know how I want it.  I've thought it through.  So buzz off.  Do not ever talk to me using these phrases:
1)  You know what you should do..... (You know what YOU should do...buzz off and buy your own land if you have such great ideas)
2) You know what you need.... (You know what YOU need...you need to shut up)
3) Why don't you....(Why don't YOU shut up.  I'm doing what I want. That is why I'm not doing EVERYTHING ELSE)
4) You should buy one of those tiny houses (Shut up shut up shut up.  Those are expensive and high maintenance compared to what I want.  I DO NOT WANT ONE I DON'T CARE IF YOU THINK THEY ARE AWESOME. BUY ONE YOURSELF IF YOU THINK THEY ARE AWESOME.)

Clearly I am sick to death of ill informed ideas.  If I want your opinion I will ask for it.  I have asked people for their opinions.  Just not you.  Because I don't want it.

OK...here's the plan. 
Now...buzz off.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Where To Cut The Budget Next?

Have you ever found that you want to cut the budget again but you can’t quite figure out where to do it?

I’m there right now.  I want to cut the budget so I can build my luxury 96’sq cabin (hopefully with the help of Sher and Julie!  Hi Sher and Julie!)

Anyway, to make sure I have the $$ for that AND a well, I want to shave a bit off the monthly budget.

The phone:  My only option for reception is AT&T so I looked for the lowest cost version.  I have a used flip-phone (and a back up one) I got so I could sign up without a contract, but on “contract” rates rather than pay-as-you-go rates.  The cost difference was minimal, but the coverage area is larger so more value for the money.  I got unlimited talk, text, and pics and the least data (they always make you get some data so that when you hit the GIANT web button you have time to go “oh crap” and get out of that before you run up a bill).  It’s about $46/month.  Looking online, I can’t find an AT&T that will go any lower and not leave me rationing minutes.  It’s my only phone so I do want to have the option to chat.   Will continue to see how many minutes I use but so far, this is my best bet.
Car: I paid cash so no loan.  I may be able to raise my deductible.  I’m not ready to give up full coverage yet.  I will look into towing/roadside assistance coverage vs the cost/benefits of keeping the AAA.  I use the AAA discounts for hotels when I travel so I need to include that in the mix.  I’m keeping the speed down to keep the gas mileage up and combining trips to further lower fuel costs.  When in town I walk.

Travel: That will be cut back this year.  One fewer trips to Seattle.  Possibly no trip to Santa Fe.  We’ll see about the trip to Scotland.  We don’t want to delay that TOO long as none of us are getting younger.

Food: Groceries are getting about as low as I can go while still eating quite a bit of organic.  I’m using the “clean 15” and “dirty dozen” lists to buy/avoid the conventional produce that is safest and cheaper than organic.  I’ve done 2 “pantry challenges” now to eat up what I have, then restock with what’s cheap and eat that for the next while.  This is helping quite a bit with expenses.  I’ve even tried pig heart since it was $2/lb for local, free range and organic.  I’m underwhelmed with my first attempts at cooking it, but I’ve eaten most of it.  With any luck I can gag down the final bit of pig heart soup tonight.  It’s just hard having it for the 5th day in a row when it’s not delicious and seems to bet getting tougher and tougher in storage.  Oh well.  It’s cheap high quality protein so I’ll try try again.  I’m also making good use of the Grocery Outlet deals.  Not sure where else to cut on groceries.

Food: Eating out.  This could be cut.  I had a couple of spendy meals out this month to treat a friend.  And one not so spendy meal out because I was sick of everything in the house.  It would have been cheaper to buy one treat to cook at home.  Will redouble the efforts in March to cut that budget item back.

Coffee:  Doing darn well here.  Only one coffee-hut incident in Feb 2015 and that was again to treat a friend.  Otherwise I’m making it at home and drinking the free swill at work.  MUCH cheaper.

Rent: $425 is pretty good and once I can move back into the camper it will be zero from here on out unless I can’t make it through winter in the wee cabin.

Utilities:  The high so far this winter is $70.  That’s not bad.  It’s coming down and I’m going to start timing showers and trying to do better combining baking things to cut back on oven time.  I was baking more partly because organic flour was on super-sale so I've made bread and muffins and things, and also to help heat up the apartment without using the baseboard heater some days.

Storage: I’m giving away some things this week and next week in a 2nd cull.  I’ll see if I could switch to a smaller storage unit to save $$.  Possibly after I get the cabin going, and get a storage shed of some sort out there, I could put the non-sensitive items (tires on rims, etc) in there and get a smaller unit.  It is spendy at $120/month for the heated/cooled unit and yet that keeps several expensive items from being wrecked by a freeze/thaw issue.

Gifts:  I’ve cut these back to the point of being a bit of an asshole so I don’t think I’ll cut  more here.

Medical/Dental: I signed up for a Flexible Spending Account (FSA) so am saving whatever my tax rate is on those expenses (it’s all pre-tax).  I did sign up for the concierge medical in January at $1500 for a year of doctoring.  It includes the personal training, long term health goal work, and much more.  I think it is worth it and the money’s spend for 2015 so can’t cut that at the moment.  I COULD choose not to get a tooth put on the dental implant but that would be stupid. The point of the implant in the jaw was to put a tooth on it to help save the opposing tooth/teeth in the long run rather than let them creep out of the jaw unopposed.  And that money is in the FSA.  Hopefully 2016 will be cheaper and the concierge doctoring will eliminate issues like the partly dead finger that was such a highlight of 2014 and now looks a bit like a creepy monkey finger.

Household:  This is the budget line I use for cleaners/sheets/towels/etc.  This area is cut compared to others.  I am currently cleaning with baking soda, vinegar, peroxide, and borax that I’ve gotten on sale.  I’ve owned my vacuum for something like 20 years (seriously…wow).  I get vacuum cleaner bags at thrift.  I do filter my water.  I got the britta pitcher at thrift for 1$, and the current filters are generic ones from the drugstore…because I didn’t find them at thrift. I use dishtowels I get as gifts rather than buying paper towels.  I have cloth napkins so don’t buy paper napkins. I’m using the last of the dish soap I got on supersale and will go back to the bulk dish soap which is my cheapest option. Once I’m back out on the land I use the biodegradable soap for pretty much everything.  I’m experimenting with using soapnuts for this.

Personal care/Hygiene: Use baking soda instead of toothpaste and shampoo.  Vinegar instead of conditioner. Shea butter at 8$/lb instead of designer lotion, along with the lovely designer lotion I got for xmas!  I got enough lovely soap for xmas to not have to buy any for ages.  And of course I’ve culled soap from hotel stays.

Clothes: I’m continuing to cut this.  I stop by Ross Dress for Less, TJMaxx, etc in my quest for cheap bras.  The stock is low at the moment.  I got NICE sox for xmas and probably have plenty to get through 2015 especially if I mend the older ones and use those for work.   I got boots for $52 online in January which gives me one back-up pair of boots so shouldn’t need any more until 2016.  I COULD use a pair of walking shoes.  I’ve been wearing my “best” pair at the gym and they have a split on the side that can’t be repaired anymore and the soles are paper thin.  I have one other pair that is slightly narrow so I’ll see if I can make them work better.  They also make a farty noise while I walk but maybe I can just pretend I don’t hear it.  Or work with it when I’m a bit flatulent.  I got 2 or 3 more pairs of jeans at thrift in January so I can make it through much of 2015.  I could use a good pair of sturdy workpants.  My carhartts are beyond hope and I need to just cut them up for other uses.   I’m a bit low on sweatshirts but that will sort itself out.  I have plenty of thermal undershirts and longjohns and will work with that rather than more sweatshirts.  I have 1 dressy outfit and haven’t needed it in 18months so no one will recognize it.

Laundry: I spent 4$ at the laundromat in Feb!   Part of this was because I rotated more undies into the mix.  With 2 weeks worth of undies I just need to wash one “heavy” (jeans, sweatshirts, towels etc) and one load of “not heavy” (undies, t-shirts, sheets) per month.  I’ve done the dishtowels with my manual laundry kit (buckets and a rapid washer plunger thingy) and that worked fine.  I hang everything to dry hence no cost for drying).  Here’s hoping I can keep it that low next month.  I think sox and undies can be rotated into the manual washing system.

Insurance:  Right now I’m carrying renters and auto.  As noted above, I’ll try to cut the auto insurance cost.  The options are limited for items in storage when one has no stable address.  Will reassess that when I convince the county that I need an address on my land and if I can move things into storage on the land.

So, I’m taking suggestions on where to cut the budget.  What am I forgetting?

Monday, February 9, 2015


I think maybe I overdid the leftovers.

I just realized that my lunch at work today was the third iteration of the key ingredient.

A couple of weeks ago I roasted a chicken.  I ate some and froze the rest of the meat and then boiled the carcass with vinegar for broth.
I picked the meat bits out of the broth and froze those.  The bones got composted and trashed.

Then I made soup with some of the leftover roasted chicken meat and the broth with some added vegies.

About the 5th meal of leftover soup made from left over chicken...I'd had it.
So I strained out the broth and used it to make a white sauce with coconut oil and flour (dairy free you know). I used that and some cracked wheat I found in the cupboard and a few more veggies to turn the last 2 servings of soup into 4 servings of casserole (it was a loves/fishes sort of thing).

I just ate the last damn serving of that casserole...though it was tempting to chop it up and scramble it in and egg and have leftover-soup-casserole-frittata.  But that would have made 2 or 3 servings and this chicken loop would never end. 

Still, my food waste is at an all time low.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

A Visit to My Land and Weird Weather Update!

I was out at the land and thought I'd write up a summary.  Maybe I'll remember things then.  Probably not.

First:  The lock on the camper is getting very dodgy.  I need to replace it.  It's just a doorknob assembly so I can do that pretty easily.  I'll keep an eye out at thrift, and a screw driver in my car in case I need to break in.

Second: It's been so CRAZY warm that the plants are coming to life way way way way too early.  I hope they make it.  The hazelnuts, gooseberries, and currents had buds.  The container blueberry is loaded with buds.  There is even a strawberry plant in the 4' square raised bed that is already leafing out a great deal.  I only pulled back a bit of the leaves and didn't check the other strawberries or the garlics.  Crazy to see stuff going this early.  The wild oregon grape is also already growing like gangbusters. I didn't see buds on the apple trees or new canes on the rasberries.  The upper blueberries...uh...one has gone completely missing and one is looking not particularly robust and one looks like it could soldier on nicely if it chooses.  The deer have eaten bits off most of the bushes and possibly one entire blueberry.  But I think it was one of the 4$ ones I got at Grocery Outlet that looked pretty dead anyway.  We'll see.  You never know what's going on below ground or if I just couldn't find it.   We may have another missing shrub.  I swear I planted a total of 6 gooseberry and currant bushes.  I can locate 5.  Either I only planted 5...which could have happened as I found the pair of gooseberries and I found the 3 colors of currants that I know I planted, or one ran off with the missing blueberry bush.  At any rate...it's both nice to see new growth and disturbing to see it 2 or 3 months ahead of schedule.  A hard freeze could murder the new buds and other growth. 

We've had crazy warm weather.  It's 55 today in town.  My thermometer inside the camper read 45.  It could well have been warmer, certainly up at the pond where most of the berries are planted.  

Speaking of the pond!  FULL!!!  The overflow pipe is working nicely.  I checked it and spent a bit of time leaning on it and staring down into the water.  I didn't see anything swimming around, but water plants were greening up.  

When I arrived at the pond I did see somethings swimming around...followed shortly by somethings flying off.  I scared a pair of canada geese off the pond!  Very nice to see them, but again, a tad early.
While I was up there, I pulled the memory card out of the wildlife cam and just sorted through the photos.  I'd seen deer, elk, and turkey on it so far...along with a lot of moths.  This time more deer, more elk, AND a coyote.  I healthy looking one.  Very bushy tail.  Nice to see him/her out and about taking care of things.

The lone remaining pink flamingo (plastic, obviously) was still there, looked forlorn and lonely.  Hopefully someone will send him a little friend or two for a solstice prize sometime.  I'm glad he didn't leave with the others, but he has to be lonely.

The camper is doing well!  NO MICE!!! (yes, I did just take a break and actually knock on actual wood).  And no new apparent leaks (more knocking on wood).  If it's this warm next week I may throw the sleeping bag in the car and spend a night there.

The composting toilet has thawed out nicely so I added some enzyme and activator and stirred that up.  Seems to be appropriately moist in there and no visible TP left which the instructions say is a good sign. I keep it covered with a thriftstore sheet to avoid too much sun damage.  I don't know what sun does to fiberglass or whatever it's made of.  I'm also contemplating going to a sawdust toilet and selling the composting toilet...though I know that any visiting officials would be happier with the composting toilet than with a sawdust toilet and a separate compost system well removed from the creeks and drainages (which would actually be a superior system environmentally but whatever).

Speaking of creeks...they are also pretty full, flowing nicely.  The real creek runs the length of the hypotenuse of the land, more or less, and is not as full as I've seen it.  It's comfortably full rather 'holy crap' full.  I did need to get a couple of logs (ok...good size branches) away from the inlet to the culvert.  they were not blocking it but were diverting the main flow to the side a bit before it came back and went through the culvert.  This looked like it could be digging into the bank and the area where the culvert goes under the access road.  So, best to remove them.  I was very very very careful because falling into the inlet end of a culvert while alone would be worse than falling in with someone there to tell the guy with a backhoe where to dig to find the body.  It's possible I could have gone all the way through, but that would have been unpleasant at least.  I do have extra pants and a shirt and things in the car thanks to the sister-in-law (HI!) who gave me a nice bag for Christmas which reminded me that I should have a bag packed in the car in case I am somewhere and don't want to drive home.  Like sometimes at work I'm called to a remote location at the end of the day.  If it's dark and icy by the time I'm done working there, I don't want to have to choose between wearing mungy undies and driving on ice.

I think that is all the news on the land.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Wee Clothing Experiment Update


All those years worrying about repeating and outfit (OK...I spent far less time on this than most but there was still some lost time in my life) and no one gives a flying crap.  Apparently.

Could it be that the rules I've been following since I got this job 10 years ago actually work:

Wear Clothes That Are:

1) Clean (at least smell clean)...I haven't washed the sweaters since last spring but I never wear them without an undershirt of some sort and I take them off when I get home or change into another shirt before into a particularly dirty situation.  Other than gardening and the like, I always wear clean clothes.

2) Work Appropriate.  No cleavage (boob or butt) at work (that goes for you too, fellas).  Not overly tight anywhere.  It just looks bad.

Um....that might actually be it...I guess I also try to wear clothes that I'm comfortable in.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Personal Pantry Challenge Lessons Part 2

I went through 10 lessons, or things, I learned in my 2 week PPC in the previous blog.  Here are some more:

11) Points out where I over/under buy.  E.g.  I have too many dried tomatoes.  I like to buy 20lb boxes of local tomatoes at the end of the season.  I dry tons of them.  This is fine because they store for ages, but not great from a food variety stand point.  More of them diced and canned, more as tomato powder, and using what I have before I buy again would be good.  Next fall I will try to remember to get OTHER things than just tomatoes.  We won't even discuss the number of pints of ketchup...  On the other hand, I ran out of grains.  I could use a bit more backstock of rice, barley, and the like.

12) Inspires me to be more creative with cooking.  Turns out you can make a damn fine soup with a jar of diced tomatoes, the remains of a can of fire roasted diced tomatoes, dehydrated onion, spices, a bit of fried garlic, and a can of coconut cream.  Coconut milk would be great too, but I had coconut cream.  It was quite a rich soup.

13) Made me plan ahead so I had protein and veg at every meal. I bought a dozen eggs at the start.  I didn't want to run out after the first week.  So I paid attention to how many I was using up.  At the end I boiled the last 3 so I could eat per meal without being tempted to make a giant frittata and use them all up at once.  I also rationed the carrots, onions, and celery a bit so I would make it 10 days with those to start a meal like soup, or lentils and cracked wheat.  Dehydrated veg are good, but not a soup is much much better with a newly sauteed onion rather than just dehydrated onion.  At the end, I remembered the sprout seeds in the cupboard and had sprouts under pickled beets as my side salad.  Quite nice really.

14) Made me more careful to use of all of a jar/bag/can of something.  If you've only got one can of coconut cream, scrape ALL of it out when making that soup.  I made muffins with the dregs of 3 different flours (regular, whole wheat, and cornmeal). I also remembered a tip that making salad dressing in the scraped out but unrinsed jam jar adds a bit of berry to the dressing (and avoids dirtying a new jar).

15) It was easy to meet calories per day due to honey and nut butters and seeds.  It was harder to feel filled up once the fresh fruit and veg dwindled.  I added gelatin (homemade jell-o with 2 envelopes knox gelatin, 1 can of zevia soda, a tablespoon of blackberry shrub, and 2 C hot water) for volume.  I even tried to be thrifty and filling by making gelatin with the juice from pickled beets.  It wasn't great and didn't all get eaten.  I'll go back to putting peeled boiled eggs in it as a quick lunch.

16) Some starchy veg like squash or potatoes was sorely missed after I ran out in the first week. With also being so low on grains, I was eating a very dense diet. 

17) Found the Mennonite cookbook, More-with-Less by Doris Janzen Longacre, very useful.  Of course the internet and having decades of cooking experience helped too. 

18) Herbs/spices became important for nutrition, such as putting 2T of herbs in an egg for a breakfast with a bit of fiber.

19) Condiments became side dishes.  I have large quantities (all homemade) of mustard, ketchup, kim chi, sauerkraut, and fermented carrots.  I started eating larger quantities than most people would.

20) It takes time, energy, and creativity to work with the remains of a food supply, even with a good amount in stock.  People in tough circumstances may not have time, energy, and creativity enough after coping with the rest of life. 

I'm sure I learned more but let's stop now, shall we?

I'm thinking of trying a food stamp budget one of these days.  I watched the documentary Food Stamped.  It's excellent and it's easy to point out all the mistakes both the bourgeois dabblers trying to live one week on a food stamp budget, and the actual food stamp recipients are making...but when one tries it either for interest or through necessity it's different. The documentarians tried living on a food stamp budget for a week.  They ended up not eating enough calories to maintain their healthy weights and activity levels.  One of the documentarians is a nutrition educator and was trying to find out if she and her husband could eat healthily on the budget.   Well...sort of. They were a bit low on the number of servings of fruit and veg, and low on calories.  A couple of the long term food stamp recipients knew the calorie game instinctively and bought foods that provide calories and bulk for the price.  These are cheap processed foods.  Neither approach is sustainable.   One thing the documentarians didn't do was buy flour or other grains.   I'd like to see if one could make up the calorie gap by making one's own bread and pancakes and muffins, and still leave enough $$ for the fruit and veg. 

I got my dander up on this watching them buy a challah for the sabbath dinner (this was a giant compromise since they should have had 2)...I was thinking that they could have gotten pounds of flour for the price of that one loaf of bread.  To that end, I looked up a recipe for refrigerator dough.  I already own yeast.  With refrigerator dough I won't need to make a giant quantity of bread at once.  It should also make a 100% whole wheat loaf more doable since it will have lots of time to slowly digest the flour.  I'm starting with regular flour though because that's what I found on sale (along with organic blue corn meal!  Gorgeous stuff!)  Sourdough bread is one way I got through a couple of my poorer times.  Not the world's most nutritious food, but not bad and extremely cheap.   Clearly I'm going to have to try it. 

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Personal Pantry Challenge Lessons Part 1 (and an update on the Wee Clothing Experiment)

So, I've been doing a Personal Pantry Challenge.   By "personal" I just mean that I'm going it alone, not competing against anyone.

A "Pantry Challenge" is an attempt to eat what one has on hand.  Some people do NO supplementing from the grocery store.  Some people go ahead and buy fresh fruit and vegetables, or meat.  Some people eat lunch out or otherwise eat some meals/snacks elsewhere.  Some people go for extreme orthodoxy and eat ONLY WHAT IS ON HAND. 

Here's what I have been doing.

After coming back from a vacation with friends (Hi guys!), I felt a bit bloated from so much good food, and coffee and other treats.  So, I figured it would be a good time to take on a simpler eating plan for a bit.  Let things settle, you know? 

First I took an informal inventory.  I looked through the cupboards, on the shelf of home canned goods, in the fridge and in the freezer.  I had much food.  Some dehydrated, some dry goods, some home canned, a bit of store canned, some home ferments, plenty of condiments and spices, coffee, tea, and so on.  I didn't have much meat, no eggs, and no fresh fruit or vegetables.

It looked like I could do 2 weeks without much suffering if I added a bit of fresh. I could live for a couple of boring and very high fiber months if I really needed to but this is not a mission from god.

I decided on a grocery list of a dozen local pastured eggs, some greens, 2or 3 onions, and a week's worth of apples.  At the store I found that local pastured eggs were out of stock so I went with organic eggs, as large as I could get.

That was on January 6th. I managed to get out of the store with just what was on the list...and some extra rolls of toilet paper because I hadn't checked my stock on that and didn't want to have to run into a food store while not buying food.  I knew I'd get antsy to shop a bit.

As I type it is January 18th. (Probably won't get this posted for a few days though).

So far so good!  I ran out of fresh veg yesterday.  I went ahead and used up the last 1/4 of an onion and the last few carrots in a lunch frittata.  It was nice!  Overall I've eaten well and actually had some trouble keeping the calories down to a reasonable level as I ran out of fresh fruit and vegetables in the past few days.   I remembered that I had clover, alfalfa and broccoli seeds for sprouting and got a couple of jars of those going.  The first half of a batch of sprouts went on the frittata yesterday and the crunch was nice.  I'll be making a salad of them tomorrow.

I also remembered my lentils.  I had a jar of black beluga lentils for a year.  I didn't know what to do with them.  As I got ran low on other things I checked the internet and decided to do lentils and grain.  I cooked the lentils just in water and made more than needed for the recipe.  Extras went into the freezer in small containers and a few in the freezer soup container.  More on that in a moment.

The only grain I had other than flour, having eaten the last of the quinoa already, was what I thought was bulgur.  Turned out it was just cracked wheat.  I cooked it as though it was bulgur and it got a tad mushy...but was still delicious on the lentils!  I mixed the lentils into it, threw on a mixed southwestern spice that an aunt had sent me and it was delicious!  The black lentils stayed lentil shape rather than getting mushy.  True even when reheated after freezing.

I cooked up my last meat 2 days ago...a pound of local sage pork sausage.  Yum.  I had it with tomato sauce (made from home canned tomatoes, home dehydrated tomatoes, garlic from my garden, some onion, and various spices).  I had no pasta and no flour that would work for noodles (I wasn't willing to try 100% whole wheat noodles and risk wasting flour and an egg), but I did have a GIANT daikon radish that has been in the fridge since mid October.  It was growing new leaves so I figured it was not rotten.  I had checked the internet and saw that I could just blanch strips of it to use as "vegetable spaghetti" so I tried that.  It worked fine!  I used a vegie peeler to make strips, peeling away the outer skin first and using the inner bits as spaghetti.  It was good.  And super filling...and high fiber.  This has been a gassy experiment overall.

The last couple of days have featured freezer soup supplemented with dehydrated vegies.  For those not in the know, freezer soup is concocted of the remains of whatever you've eaten in the past while.  You keep a container in the freezer, I used a bowl with tin foil cover this time, and put in the little bits and bobs and ends you have left when cooking other things. I had a bit of unclarified, slightly fatty, duck stock.  On that was some bits of bok choy that didn't fit in the pan when I was making a stir fry a while back.  And the remains of the stir fry.  A few of those lentils.  The end of an onion that I didn't feel was worth chopping into an omelet or anything and yet was about to go bad so I chopped it into the freezer soup rather than throw it out. I saw some carrots in there too.  I threw in a spoonful of the sausage because sausage is always good.  When it was soup day, I fried some garlic (because a bit of fried garlic or onion or both really helps a soup), emptied the freezer soup container into the pan, added water to thin out the fatty stock quite a bit.  Then added some dehydrated mushrooms, tomatoes, and a bunch of herbs until it smelled good. It was really delicious and I ate on it for 3 meals.  I had a few corn/whole-wheat/coconut flour muffins (using up the dregs of flour around the place) which were dry and unappealing as muffins, but quite good dipped in soup.

There have been a few more creative cooking successes, and a few failures (coconut oil, honey and cocoa do NOT make good truffles no matter how pretty the picture in the magazine looks...and that was the actual recipe...it would be a decent ganache though...) but we'll leave those for another post.

The PPC (personal pantry challenge) has thus far yielded quite a few good lessons that I want to remember so I'm putting them here:

1) Putting left over soup in pint jars makes packing lunch in the morning much easier, faster, and more likely to happen.

2) Muffins are handy and cheap, but lots of calories.

3) Chia pudding!  I'd forgotten how much I like this.

4) Freezer soup is good and worth the effort.

5) Onions are crucial (the next few days will be less tasty without fresh onions).

6) Sprouts make good fresh food in the winter (and are cheap).

7) Lentils with cracked wheat is an excellent dish!

8) Lentils!  In general these are cheap and quick and when dry have an essentially infinite shelf life.  I may make "sloppy lentils" (like sloppy joes) if today's 100% rye bread works out.

9) Keeping things visible is a good option for me.  I had forgotten things in the cupboards, but knew what was on the open shelves.  Since I keep almost everything in a glass jar or metal tin (take that mice and bugs!) I may just go with open shelves in my imaginary future cabin.

10) Condiments, sauces, spices, herbs, and the like alleviate boredom.  A bit of lemon juice or nice vinegar added to the bowl will cure almost any bland soup.  A bit of kim chi really helps the scrambled eggs and in a pinch makes a salad dressing.

There are many more lessons but we'll stop there for now.

Clothing Experiment Update:  I'm still doing it and STILL no one at work has noticed.