9:42 am , by
Category: setting up a budget
Making your own jam does not save money – well, not if you live in a New York City suburb, like we do – but it is still a good thing to do. Last weekend the little boys, the wife and I went to pick blueberries (the wife’s fav), and donut peaches (wife’s other fav) at a farm about 1½ hours away. We picked lots of fruits putting some into our baskets and some into our bellies. While the wife was mostly concerned about getting enough fruits to make jam, the boys of the household were mostly concerned about getting as much fruit as possible into the digestive system. Well, honestly, the boy that writes this blog ate the most. When done, we had full bellies and $36 worth of fruits. I think everybody was satisfied when we left the farm.
The next day – having never made jam before – the wife and I searched the internet for recipes. We have watched our mothers make jam, but there is only so much you could learn by watching.
Making jam was a lot less involved than we had expected. These are the steps in a nutshell.
1. Prepare the fruit (peel, pit and slice the peaches, simply rinse the blueberries).
2. Cook the fruit with sugar and pectin (knowing that some say pectin isn’t necessary).
3. Fill the cooked fruit into clean jars, and screw on top fingertip tight.
4. Boil the jars (10 minutes in water that covers the tops 2-to-3”).
5. Let the jars cool and store them for up to a year.
We got 18 pint-sized jars roughly costing just over $5.00 to make each jar (including the costs of fruit and the gas in the car to go get it, plus sugar, pectin, jars, and the gas for the stove, and 6 tablespoons of brandy for the brandied peaches.) You can obviously get jam and marmalade at your supermarket for a lot less – don’t ask me where you can buy brandied peaches! But it’s not a good bet to guess that making jam from scratch is a way to save money.
Anyway, we got many benefits out of jam making that we could not get in a supermarket, certainly not at that price.
1. We got flavorful jams with pure ingredients.
2. We got jams that have less sugar than commercially prepared jams.
3. We did not have to pay too much for these exquisite treats.
4. We fulfilled a fantasy we both had. (Yes, we fantasized about this!)
5. We had a new experience and learned a new skill.
6. We all had a great bonding experience – first, kids and parents at the orchards and then husband and wife working together in the kitchen.
I earned a gazillion points! (See the footnote for an explanation!)
At times like this you want to throw your frugal genes overboard and give yourself and the family a great treat. Life experiences like that make life worth living.
Footnotes about relationships:
In my mind the way relationships work is quite simple: the wife gives the husband points when he does something “right”. Husbands have a tendency to get in trouble all the time, which is when they spend the points. The idea for a guy is to always keep a positive account balance just like you would do with a household budget. Spend less than you make. Get in trouble a lot? Then earn more points!
I think I earned points for all of the following:
1. Initiating a trip I knew the wife would like.
2. Spending quality time with the family.
3. Making jam with the wife without any argument at all while we were both in the kitchen.
4. Having dinner ready as soon as jam making was over – and yes, I cooked it!
You tell me, how many points do you think I racked up on this weekend? Best of all, none of these things felt like an effort to me. I enjoyed every one of these activities. Pretty cool, eh?
I think I just moved into millionaire points status….How should I spend my points?
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