Friday, April 20, 2012

Family Gatherings that Save Money

Getting together with friends or family almost always costs quite a lot for a day's entertainment. When I want to spend time with Trucker, my parents and three sisters, if we are going a traditional entertainment route, it is going to cost $100 or more for a single day. We avoid the traditional and found some great alternatives. We have just as much fun, sometimes much more, save money on the costs of entertainment and often find ways to save money as well.

Fishing is a great way to spend the day. It's relaxing and quite pleasurable. A family friend allows us to fish in his two ponds for free. If we are ever unable to fish there, we will buy fishing licenses. They cost around $15 apiece for a year. Spread out over the warm months, it is a very cheap method of entertainment. An added bonus is that we take our meager catch home, where my dad and I clean the fish. We usually only have enough for a fish fry. Perhaps eventually we will bring home enough to freeze some for later.

Mushroom hunting is great exercise and great fun. Several friends throughout the state allow us to wander through their woods searching desperately for morels and puffballs. Sometimes we find none, other times we bring home enough for a few meals  and some extras to dry.

Wild-crafting is a favorite pastime for my sister and I. We go for walks , talking and picking wild berries, acorns, wild onions, chickweed, chicory, red clover blossoms and digging up dandelion roots. Then we'll sit in the kitchen to clean it all up and preserve it, often by drying.

My mother has a few apple trees on her property. During the harvest season, I go over to her house for processing day. My grandparents come over, my sisters stop by after or before work and the seven of us preserve it all. Mum is known for her apple pie, so most of the apples are chopped and frozen in batch-sized portions. Seconds are peeled and chopped for applesauce. The peels and cores are made into cider (see here for instructions on making cider without special equipment). The seven of us can get through more than two wheelbarrows full in a day. We split the cost of cinnamon, sugar and freezer bags and share all of the proceeds.

 Preserving food is a great way to spend time with a couple friends. Split up the costs between everyone for produce, ingredients, equipment and supplies. You can plan to can tomato sauce or jam/jelly. You can chop up vegetable blends to freeze for stir-fries or casseroles. You can dig up dandelions to dry and roast for dandelion "coffee".

Pick-Your-Own-Farms are great fun for an afternoon. Go to a strawberry field or a cherry or apple orchard. Split the cost and the harvest. If you'd like, you can then go home and make jam.

Other ideas are quilting bees, knit-ins, chopping firewood, planting a garden, and cooking dinner together.

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