Sunday, May 12, 2013
The World is Looking Better
School has almost finished up for the year. I have just one student taking an incomplete, and I was given no summer school assignment this year (yeah!) so I'm pretty much free to do whatever the heck I want right now. I'll be leaving for the summer home in a couple of weeks. I'm staying in town in order to get in some hours working at Red Butte and to take part in a couple of taiko performances.
I am back to planning for the future. The next myth of retirement to consider is the one that says "your money will last as long as you need it."
I had my annual appointment with my financial advisor at TIAA-CREF where most my retirement money is to be found. He assured me again this year that unless I take up something like gambling or heroin, my money WILL hold out, and I should even have some left over to give to my heirs. He says that it will not be hard to maintain my lifestyle into retirement, and that I can even afford to be a bit generous with myself .... for example, to buy a car with bells and whistles if I want, not just to get the least expensive model.
I guess I have been better about saving for retirement over the years compared to many others. I have also had a series of good jobs that allowed savings and no big setbacks like extended unemployment or serious health problems. I am blessed that way, and I do not take this for granted because I know how things are for so many others. I have a lot of gratitude for my good fortune.
But, that said, I also don't need to waste my money, and it would be good to remain on the simplicity road. There's always room for improvement. I decided to work at the moment on food spending with the goal being to spend what I need without waste. One big problem I have is that I commonly throw out food that has been in the frig too long or for some other reason. I need to plan meals and shop better.
So I'm trying to really plan out each week and to figure out exactly how many meals I will eat at home, how many of those I will cook, how many will be leftovers. I'm trying to plan in leftovers from restaurants and well as cooking. I am trying to select out just one recipe at a time that will need specific fresh ingredients. That has been one of my downfalls .... going to the store with an ingredient list for three dishes and then only making one out of three because I end up not feeling like doing the other two later that week.
I am rejecting recipes that contain ingredients that I know I am not crazy about. I'm not buying food that I know is "good", as in nutritious, but that I don't honestly like to eat that much An example here are lentils. I'm willing to eat a bowl of lentil soup every once in awhile in a restaurant or at someone else's home, but I decided that I'm no longer going to cook lentil dishes because I end up with too many leftovers and, truth be told, I don't actually like the taste of lentils that much. The same with non-green beans in general. Because I'm not a vegetarian, I don't need to rely on them for protein sources. I like Olive Garden's "pasta fugoli" soup, but one dish every so often is all I need. I won't bother with home cooking things with dried beans anymore.
I am rejecting recipes that require condiments or other staples that I don't normally have or use frequently. So plain soy sauce, OK, fish sauce, no. That kind of means I will not be doing that much "ethnic" cooking. I've decided that's OK. That's what all those good restaurants are for.
I am making a few more things myself. Salad dressing is the top here. I discovered this delicious stuff at Trader Joe's "orange muscat champagne vinegar." How did I ever live without this before? So now 1 Tbsp good flavored olive oil, 1 tsp of this miracle vinegar and a few grains of high quality salt ... perfect! I found out that Whole Foods gives away for free beef marrow bones, so now I am making my own beef stock in the crock pot. (cover bones with water, add a Tbsp or two of apple cider vinegar and a dash of salt, cook on low for about 24 hours.) I'm making my own either red or yellow soup again. Red soup has red vegetables in it, any kind or combo, and yellow soup has yellow & orange ones in it. I suppose I could also invent green soup too. I plan to use my ice cream maker this summer. I already make pudding. One of these days I'll try out this recipe for microwave potato chips which are supposed to be really good.
Overall I am efforts into having a simple kitchen. Not that much in the pantry or frig, everything that I genuinely use. Not that many tools, everything that I also genuinely use.