Queen of free: Saving money in the kitchen

By Cherie Lowe

The room in our home where I log the most routine waking hours is definitely the kitchen. I think it might be a little scary to contemplate how many hours I spend standing in front of the sink.

I enjoy cooking and I can even get beyond the drudgery of routine household tasks, but sometimes the mere thought of being in the physical space where I spend so much time wears me out. Load the dishwasher, unload the dishwasher, chop the carrots, boil the water, rinse, repeat.

It’s no wonder that so many of us give up on the ideal of fixing hot family dinners every night of the week and give into the drive-thru. After a long day of working, few long to come home and work some more.

But there are some ways to ease your way into the kitchen, a few little tricks I like to play on myself and a few investments I’ve made that have paid dividends when it comes to getting more done in a much more relaxing fashion. I’m no chef or even that great of a cook but if I can get a sub-par meal on the table five of seven nights, I’m a happy girl. Here’s how the magic happens.

Oh my aching feet

A few years ago, I landed myself in the podiatrist’s office. He pointed to the x-ray screen and explained that over time, your arches fall. “You mean, I have old lady foot?” I asked half joking. “I didn’t say that,” the very smart specialist replied. He must have picked up a thing or two in medical school, methinks.

I discovered part of my problem stemmed from rarely wearing shoes in the house. I need as much support in my regular activities as I do my athletic ventures. That means if I want to go the distance in my kitchen, I need to gear up.

To me, it feels a little funny to have shoes on in the house. I grew up wild, free and without proper foot attire most of the time, but wearing shoes makes a big difference. I also invested in a memory foam rug to place in front of the sink and it provides a little more relief and support, too.

Begin by relaxing

Before you dive into the work that makes your house hum, you need to unwind a bit. Pour yourself a cold drink (for me it’s the biggest glass of unsweetened tea that I can find). Turn on some music. Listen to a podcast or an audio book. Light a candle.

Fill the space around you with the sounds, smells and tastes that give you joy. You may find that you actually begin to look forward to the time you spend immersed in mindless housework.

Rethink your space

Hold your horses. I didn’t say you needed shiplap every corner of your kitchen. Don’t start a crowdfunding campaign to become Chip and Joanna Gaines’ next Fixer Upper. You don’t need to spend a lot of money to knock out a wall or install a hanging pot rack.

But if there are small changes you can make to open up space in your kitchen, you should pursue them. Clear counter clutter and put away small appliances that are used infrequently. Consider painting the walls. Move furniture or simply reorganize the pictures on your refrigerator. Keep your costs low, but do what you can to create a more inviting environment.

Count the cost

In the end, your sacrifice is worth it. Few of us are able to channel our inner Mary Poppins 24/7 and see the bright side of every menial task. After all, housework is just that — work. But the time you spend in the kitchen can save your family thousands of dollars. It’s OK not to love every single second, but it’s good to remember that your efforts are for a greater cause and a part of a much bigger picture.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to do some dinner prep for the week and get lunches packed for tomorrow. It may never end but I do see the purpose in the midst of madness, even it means lacing up my orthotic tennis shoes.

Greenwood resident Cherie Lowe and her husband paid off $127,000 in debt in four years and now live debt-free every day with their two kids. She is the author of “Slaying the Debt Dragon: How One Family Conquered Their Money Monster and Found an Inspired Happily Ever After.” Send questions, column ideas and comments to newstips@dailyjournal.net