Yikes! I would have spent how much on jam???

Jam with bread

So many mundane expenses don’t even enter onto our radar until we add them up and think about them in terms of monthly or yearly expenses. Like so many who write about dropping a coffee habit and saving big bucks, I’ve come to that realization about many normal purchases. For instance, jam.


I grew up in a home where my parents (not just mom!) made preserves. Peaches, applesauce, sometimes tomato juice and pickles were staples that got canned each year. Sweet corn was gleaned, cooked and frozen. And of course freezer jam was made each year in June.

I hadn’t quite figured out how to manage preserves just yet in my life here in Guatemala. Part of it was because I was managing to survive on an itty bitty teeny weeny refrigerator that was literally a cube of about 2.5 ft squared. Don’t ask me how I survived on that for 7 years, we just made do.

Space to Freeze

Now I have a brand spanking new (HUGE) refrigerator, complete with a real freezer. The first thing my husband said was that it’s too big. Oh but I had plans for freezing. He has since been proven wrong, very wrong. I’ve frozen pureed squash, chicken and meat and made amazing refrigerator pickles. Additionally, I’ve made freezer jam.

My little peanut LOVES to eat strawberry jam. When he won’t eat anything else, he’ll say “Mama, can I have bread with jelly please?” If I would let him, I’m sure he would eat it for every meal.

It’s So Expensive!

But, I’ll be honest. The jelly and jam selection here is either disgusting or very expensive. At about $3 a jar for the good stuff, that I’d probably go through in about a week or week and a half, that’s $150 a year in jam. Yikes! However, by making it myself, I bring that number down to about $3 a month, or $36 a year. And, I have the added assurance of knowing what I put in my jam. Strawberries, jell-o and sugar. That’s it. Maybe one of these days I’ll get around to posting how I make it.

Why Is the First Instinct to Buy?

My point is, isn’t it ridiculous how we’ve been trained to buy even the simplest of products? Making jelly takes me about 15 minutes. It’s as complicated as rinsing the berries, stemming them, blending them, popping in a pot with dissolved jello, adding sugar and pouring it into a few plastic tubs. It’s easy peasy. I’m also making my own apple cider vinegar and have started making my own yogurt. Both of these are a fraction of the cost when home-made vs. store bought. And they’re better (and easy – otherwise I PROMISE I wouldn’t do it).

Each week I also usually bake bread, cookies, granola bars or muffins. The baked goods are a great treat and are healthier and tastier than other options available for purchase. I usually bake these as a side-note…I want to turn on the oven for a dinner and can’t bear the thought of all of that oven space going to waste. So, I whip up something quick and get the most out of my oven heat.

Now, we’re able to enjoy more, for less.  Sounds like the name of the cookbook in my kitchen “More with Less”.  But it’s true! I feel like I’m at the beginning of discovering so many more things to make and do on my own.

What’s your number one money-saver as a result of doing it yourself?

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