Hold the Mayo

I don’t use a ton of coupons because I buy a lot of generic food items. If the coupon makes the brand name item a better deal I’ll use it, but more often than not I wind up leaving the coupon on the shelf for someone else to use.

I try lots of generic brands. I’ve got nothing to lose, as most grocery stores want you to buy their more profitable store brands so badly they offer a money back guarantee. If we try something and don’t like it we can return it for a refund. Much to Husband’s chagrin (“You can’t return that! We ate some!”) I do indeed return generics that don’t taste good, like WalMart’s Crystal Light Iced Tea knockoff (which, according to Husband “tastes like ass!”).

Many times, though, the generic tastes as good or better than the name brand. One such example of this is raisins. WalMart’s Great Value raisins are, in my opinion, better than the more expensive SunMaid. And lots cheaper.

There are exceptions to this, of course. There are certain foods where only the name brand will do. Diet Coke and Hellman’s Light Mayonnaise are two exceptions. No generic I’ve tried has ever come close to tasting as good. So my plan is to buy them on sale, and use coupons whenever I can.

Diet Coke is easy to find on sale. In any given week it’s either Pepsi or Coke are featured in the circulars, so I can stock up easily, though coupons are rare.

Hellman’s isn’t quite so easy. Publix runs Buy 1 Get 1 mayonnaise sales occasionally, and I always buy 4 jars to make sure we never run out. Coupons usually appear somewhere along the way between stock-ups, so I can often use 1-2 to get an even better deal. I refuse to pay $4.46 for a jar of mayonnaise!

Well, at least I refused until today. We have (gasp!) run out of mayonnaise. An unthinkable sin in my house. Publix did the BOGO sale a few weeks ago, but I was dealing with everything at my Dad’s house and never made it to the store that week.

I was in Publix yesterday and just could not spend the $4.46. I thought they’d have it at Costco (my next stop), where I hoped to at least get the bulk discount. Much to my chagrin Costco doesn’t carry Hellman’s Light. Which left us mayonnaise-less.

So today I went to a grocery store near son’s school I don’t normally patronize. I hoped their price would be better. It wasn’t. But they did have a great sale on Crystal Light Iced Tea and the shampoo I use. As I was sitting in line waiting to check out I decided it was time to try to make my own mayonnaise. After all, it’s only eggs, oil and lemon juice, right? I can make it for under $1!!! So I paid the $4.46 today, weeping all the while (okay, not really, but in my soul), and vowed to learn how to make my own.

Turns out it’s a little more complicated than that – or a lot more, depending on the recipe. So, here are a few links to homemade mayonnaise and mayonnaise substitutes. Click on one and join me, or post your favorite recipe in comments!

Homemade Mayonnaise

Fat Free Mayonnaise

Another Mayonnaise Recipe

$4.46 for a jar of mayonnaise? Not again.


Where Did I Learn THAT?

PaidTwice over at I’ve Paid For This Twice Already has a very interesting post today about how her attitudes about money have shifted as she travels her road towards getting rid of debt. She asks of her readers, “What change in your financial behavior happened so gradually you didn’t realize it was happening, but you wouldn’t do without now?”

That started me thinking about my own attitudes about money, and how they came to be. I realize that most of them developed as I grew up, living with and watching my parents and how they interacted with money – just as I’m sure most of you did.

My parents divorced when I was six, and my Dad re-married a short time later. Dad, a Certified Public Accountant, has always been very good with money. My mother… not so much. I was given a unique opportunity to see what works and what doesn’t work regarding money, and make my own choices about how to be.

In my Dad’s house frugality was a second religion. With five kids (his two and her three) there wasn’t much choice. Our clothes came from K-Mart, and hand-me-downs were the norm. We often wore all our clothes at once because the heat was set at 68 degrees. Generic products were used wherever possible, even if they sucked. Light tuna was cheaper than white, so that’s what we had. Orange juice was only available to drink in the mornings. No midday glass of the orange stuff allowed (though I think that was so there would always be OJ when my Dad wanted some). There was even the dreaded powdered milk phase, which my Dad to this day insists was about nutrition. Yeah, right. I’m still having nightmares. He gave us allowances and taught us to save up for the things we wanted. Dad’s frugality is done with an eye to the future, providing for his family’s health, well-being and education, and where he wants our family to be.

In my Mom’s house we went to The Middlesex Diner and McDonald’s quite often, and Carvel even oftener. Three degrees outside and we’d be shivering as we ate our cones. I’m pretty sure we were the reason that guy stayed in business through the frigid New Jersey winters. When we arrived home, though, we could wear our tank tops and shorts, as our heat was kept at 80 degrees. My mother never buys anything on sale, unless it’s an accident, and then she’d want to give the salesperson a twenty for their trouble. We had yummy white tuna and real, non-powdered milk. Moooooo. And we could drink the OJ anytime we wanted. Money was like water running through her hands, but we sure had fun spending it. How can she be out of money? She still has some checks left. Mom lives for the moment, the here and now, not thinking much about the future and what we’ll need when we get there.

Both homes loving, both homes providing everything necessary to grow happy, healthy children. Just differently.

So, I took what I saw in both homes, and here’s some of what I learned.

  • Generic products are to be used, but only where they are an acceptable substitute. Walmart’s generic Great Value Crystal Light-like Tea tastes like ass (according to my husband, and you’d have to ask him how he knows what ass tastes like), but their generic Great Value raisins taste better than SunMaid. Don’t be afraid to try them – just about everywhere will give you a refund if you try and don’t like their store brand. On the other hand, all mayonnaise must be Hellman’s. There is no acceptable substitute. Same with Diet Coke.
  • Heat/AC should be set at the lowest level for which you are comfortable. If you’re wearing so many clothes you can’t bend your arms, it’s not worth the savings.
  • Ice cream is yummy in the winter, but not every day.
  • Save money for your future, as it’s going to get here sooner than you think. Dad is doing pretty well financially. Mom struggles every day, but with some help she’s okay, too.
  • Acquire as little debt as possible, but have some fun with your money, too.
  • Don’t ever, ever give your children powdered milk.

There’s a ton more that I’ll explore in future posts, but really, this is long enough.

%d bloggers like this: