Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Remember your Layers

Over the long weekend we went for a walk when the temp was about 50 degrees (F), and there was a slight breeze.  I had forgotten about the wonders of layering, but had automatically dressed that way -- a long-sleeved silk and wool blend knit top, a down vest and some alpaca shooter's mittens (all purchased over the years at major discounts from Sierra Trading Post --STP) along with my jeans and boots.

Before long, the vest was snapped around my waist but off my shoulders and torso. Ten more minutes and the mittens were rolled back, then taken off and stuffed in a pocket.  10 more minutes and the vest was tied to the hanging paracord string on my walking stick.  By the time we finished, the temp was still around 50, but even my sleeves were pulled up to my elbows.  What a great reminder!

For cold weather preparedness supplies, you don't need a bunch of fancy coats and gear, just some carefully selected layers.

Two important things to remember are (1) have a layer next to your skin that is not cotton. Experts will disagree with what that one should be, but they tend to agree that cotton is not a good choice.  It holds moisture, which will then drain your heat and make you cold.  Cotton can significantly contribute to hypothermia, hence the rule of thumb: cotton kills. 

The other thing (2) is that your outer layer should be one that reduces wind and repels water (especially if you are in a wet climate or have enough humidity for dew to form).  Wind will suck the heat from your body and insulating layers, but the outer layer also need to 'breathe' enough to let your perspired water vapor escape. I've been trapped in a rubber-lined jacket in cold weather before -- these tend not to breathe. It's a nightmare. It rains or freezes your water vapor inside the jacket.  You find yourself trying to manage the build-up of moisture before it makes you wet and cold, rather than managing the activity that brought you out in the cold. You don't need the distraction, plus it can also lead to hypothermia.

Items between the inner and outer layers can be selected according to what you have, what's easy to get and your thermal environment. Here in he southwest high desert, coldest temps are usually well above zero (F) but can get below freezing.  Even with the windchill, planning for 20 degrees is normally enough.  If you are in Idaho or Montana, you'll need more.

Got an old wool shirt with worn elbows? Instant layer item, even if you cut off the sleeves to make it into a vest.  Cheap fleece jacket or vest? Throw it into consideration. Down jacket with chewed-up sleeves at the thrift store? Could be your new down vest!  The better the quality the more likely it is to help you keep warm, but you can probably find a bunch of this stuff around the house already.

Don't forget the end of season and after inventory sales.  My down vest isn't my first choice of colors or style, but it's warm and I got it new for $13 in a close out sale. Pride doesn't need to be an attribute in frugal preparedness planning.

Below the waist the rules are different. I hate nylon skivvies, but I keep a couple pair in my GO bag. Not only do they keep cotton away from my body, but they also dry faster than cotton in the summer. You'll need something other than cotton under your trousers.  I wore LL Bean chamois-lined chinos while living in Michigan's UP, but wasn't living in them in an emergency situation. I did not experience a major moisture build-up even though the lining was cotton - possibly because I did not have another layer over them or because my legs perspire less than my torso and feet. Need some help from readers on their favorite wick-away long-john or trouser warmth solutions.

As for socks, I stick with wool, but in several weights. I had a pair of fancy polypro liner socks years ago when I was X-country skiing in the UP.  These days I'm happy with a pair of thin Smartwool under a pair of thicker Smartwool for really cold days. Usually just a single good pair of wool socks works for me. Don't overlook exotic wools if you can get them on eBay or clearance.  I have 2 pairs of exceptionally warm baby alpaca socks I got cheap several years ago on clearance from STP.  They are amazingly warm and have worn like iron -- mostly with Teva sandals for winter day hikes or around town.

Fellow readers, help us out: what's your temperature environment and layering formula?

UPDATE: PLEASE  read the very informative info in the comment from  K!  Thanks so much for the great addition.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Apologies and a Honeyville Promotion

Got the local bug so not up to posting today.  Will return shortly. 

PS: This Honeyville promotion starts on Thursday:

 For a limited time SAVE 15% ON YOUR ENTIRE ONLINE ORDER*. Sale runs from Thursday 11/29/2012 through Tuesday 12/4/2012. Simply enter coupon code STUFFED during checkout. Coupon code will not become active until 12:00AM, Thursday the 29th.
Shop Now:

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Product Review: Provident Pantry Freeze-dried Cooked Sausage Crumbles

I wasn't going to post this until tomorrow, but looks like the Emergency Essentials Black Friday sale will offer this product at $22.99 per #10 can, which is 59% of the usual price. If I read their e-mail correctly, shipping in the continental US will also be free.

Not sure why I decided to take advantage of the Emergency Essentials September Group Special on freeze-dried sausage crumbles, but the price being almost half the usual was involved in the decision.

We opened a can and gave the product a major workout, and whole-heartedly recommend it.  First, it provides a lot of fat and protein -- VERY calorie and nutrition dense.  It also has nice flavor and texture, but I'm getting ahead of myself.

First, each #10 can holds LOTS of sausage, much more than I expected.  If I measured correctly, there are about 12 cups of product in the can.  Each cup, once rehydrated, will enhance a meal of soup or stew for 4 people by adding around 5 grams of protein and 6 grams of fat PER PERSON. When I compared the finished product weight to Jimmy Dean from the store, the cost was comparable, even at full price for the canned sausage.

My husband and I tried the crumbles dry from the can. They are actually more like nuggets that hold together well. They taste pretty good and the texture is palatable, though they are much better when hydrated. When dry from the can there is a slightly greasy mouthfeel (not present when rehydrated), but I'd overlook it in an emergency and be glad to have them. The dry nuggets would be OK in a hearty trail mix with dried fruit and nuts or M&M's.  I tried a few dry nuggets with raisins and it's actually pretty good -- instant pemmican! 

Next, I followed the directions and reconstituted 3/4 cup to put in a recipe of jambalaya.  They rehydrate well with a nice flavor and texture -- they held together perfectly in my jambalaya and were not tough or too chewy. The spice component is very good  -- not so spicy that they are HOT, but enough to perk them up and bring an extra flavor to the jambalaya. You knew you when you had a piece of sausage in your mouth, but in a good way. I did not tell my husband what the sausage was until after he had eaten the meal.  He liked it!

We tried them (rehydrated) on pizza.  They would pass for Italian sausage at any pizza joint in town!
 When rehydrated, they have enough shape and texture to be used in spaghetti sauce (we did!) and soups (yep, tried this too).  The rehydration water had a mild sausage flavor that could be add to the broth in a soup recipe. Or you could be lazy like me and just throw some dry nugget in the soup pot and let them fend for themselves! These crumbles would also be great with eggs or mixed with some tomato sauce for a sloppy joe filling (haven't tried these yet).

One can has a lot of sausage in it, so I froze some of the dry nuggets. I've used some of them a couple times since and they are faring well quality-wise, thus far.

Overall, this product exceeded my expectations both in taste and versatility. I am glad to have it in my emergency food storage.  On a 1 to 10 scale, these are at least a 7, possibly an 8 or more.  In an emergency, I bet they'd taste like a 10 compared to nutrition bars and ramen!

Giving Thanks

Heavenly Father,

Thank you for the opportunity to succeed or fail.

Thank you for the ability to start again after success or failure.

Thank you for the abundance we forget we have.

Thank you for the freedoms we take for granted.

Thank you for the blessings we so often overlook as the minimum standards for our lives.

Thank you for giving us minds and hands to do your work.

Thank you for this peaceful day.


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Was it a Successful Hunt?

I just love this blog.  Her recent post on canning elk meat is fabulous.  If you're having a great hunting season and have access to a pressure canner, this may be for you. How wonderful to have your fresh game cooked and ready at a moment's notice! Major positives include no worries about freezer burn or the impact of losing electricity (and your season's meat) in an emergency.

If you're city or suburban folk, same goes for other meat.  You may not be able to afford or handle a side or quarter of a beef alone, but going in with the neighbrhood and combining some freezing and canning may be a way to cut your meat bill for the year. The process will also increase your preparedness supplies in case of emergency, like those coming winter storm power outages!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Product Review: Mountain House Blueberry Cheesecake

For years I've seen this product advertised. It's not cheap in the #10 can, but the idea of having some real dessert in the face of a prolonged emergency seemed comforting. Recently, we bought the 4 serving pack on sale from Emergency Essentials to sample the product. Last night we tried it, following the directions verbatim.
It was fairly easy to make and required only water as an added ingredient. It has 3 components: pudding/cheesecake mix, blueberry topping and graham cracker crumbs. after making the pudding and the sauce separately, you add the crumbs and sauce as topping on your 'cheesecake.'

You need both hot and cold water for the sauce and pudding respectively, which could be a challenge in an emergency or on the move. Room temp water might be OK, but it probably won't make the intended product. 

The blueberry sauce took a lot longer to thicken that I expected. We let it thicken and cool for about 15 minutes before our first serving, but it was still somewhat watery. It was much thicker when I went back to put the leftovers in the fridge. 

Despite the fast jelling, acceptable texture and good dose of protein in the pudding, it was sickly sweet by my taste.  The sauce and the graham cracker topping were also fairly sweet. More graham cracker may have helped moderate the sweet pudding, but there was less than 1 tablespoon of the crumbs per serving in the packet.  I'd prefer a simple sugar-free jello cheesecake flavored pudding (one of my favorites, by the way --especially with fresh berries!). The only difference is that you'd need to supply the container and some dry milk.

As you may have deduced, I'm not a fan. For about half the price of the #10 can, I think I'll add a little brown sugar and some hot water to dehydrated apple slices and call it dessert.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Bountiful Basket Thanksgiving

I sure hope you've found your nearby Bountiful Baskets coop location by now.  If not, review this older post for details. If you can your own, they often have cases of fruit or vegies at a low cost, in case your garden doesn't support a favorite item.
I picked up my $16.50 basket yesterday, and it was just amazing. There are tomatoes, lettuce and celery for the green salad; lots of celery for the stuffing, lots of fruit (oranges, apples, bananas, melon, pineapple and 2 pomelo -- look that one up!) for the fruit salad and 5 of the largest russet mashing potatoes I've ever seen.  If I were not going to make a pumpkin pie, I'd only need the turkey and a few onions and we could call it a meal!

Just imagine how nice the Christmas basket will be!! Being frugal doesn't mean a life of deprivation.  It just means embracing and living a process that allows you to have a bountiful life without having to sell your soul to get it!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

More Frugal Tips

I goofed again. Not sure how this old post was moved up here, but scroll down for today's post  below, titled THE BUTTON BOX.

Every cent you reduce from normal expenses can potentially be put toward your preparedness. Even if your choice is to save, buy food or get out of debt, all are positive steps. Added benefits may include reducing your stress levels and coming together as a family.  So here are a few more tips for those of us who have not reached self-sufficiency or who live a more urban life, at least for now.

Laundry: do less, use less detergent. When I find a coupon for Shout color catchers, I buy them. For me, this allows segregating laundry less.  I now am able to mix the mid-intensity colors and the darks using a color catcher sheet. I occasionally have enough of very light colors to do a load of white and pastels. This allows me to do fewer, full loads.  I also cut the laundry soap by about half. Everything still looks and smells fine.

Bath: We use a bath and shower soap that comes in gallon jugs. It has only a few ingredients and is mild.  I can water it down by at least a third and it works fine. If we want scent, we add a squirt of Dr Bronner's scented castile soap.

The Button Box

My parents grew up during the depression. They were frugal, but of course to me that just seemed like normal. Mother had a large tin box, a little bigger than a classic Whitman's sampler candy box. Not sure what had been in it originally, but the description was written in Italian.  I'm guessing it was a souvenir from an overseas tour in the late 1940's.  It was jammed with a wild assortment of buttons. Mother or pearl, leather, enamel, red, purple, green, black, and white -- later, even plastic buttons.

If I lost or broke a button, my first chore was to find a matching, or close-enough button.  I could then ask her to sew it on. That lasted until I was about 12, when I was pronounced mature enough to sew my own replacement buttons under Mother's watchful eye. She majored in home economics and there was definitely a right way to sew on a button!

My button box isn't as large and doesn't get used as often.  It's still a great resource when one of us needs a button. I'm not sure where Mom's buttons came from, but I can tell you about mine. When I get a new item that comes with a replacement button in a little bag under the label, it goes in the button box. When I get a cheesy sewing kit at a hotel and there's a little white cuff button, it goes in the box. If I need a 'special' button and buy a card of them, the leftovers go in the box.

I suspect that if I were better at this, I'd take buttons off worn shirts, put the buttons in the box and make a potholder or a quilt square with the less worn part of the shirt. I'm not there yet, but maybe soon! Now, I just chuck the entire shirt in the Goodwill Box and march on. I had a friend who collected the neighborhood worn jeans and made cute throw quilts from them, complete with lots of pockets, but that's a different discussion!

Speaking of jeans, when the grommet button wears out or gets pulled off your favorite jeans, there's an answer in the button box! On the buttonhole side of the jean, select a button that fits the buttonhole. On the 'skin' side, pick a nice old smooth used button that is bigger than the residual grommet hole. Sew them together loosely on their respective sides through the hole (but anchor also in the fabric), then wrap a little extra thread between them to make a little 'stem' of thread so the outside button has some wiggle room for fastening. The inner button will serve as an anchor for the outer button, much like the back of the grommet did.  This solution is much more comfortable than having a safety pin pop open in the old fastener's place!

When assembling your emergency sewing kit, don't forget to put a few buttons from YOUR button box in the kit, just in case!

Friday, November 16, 2012

What's your system?

First, many thanks to you who follow this blog.  I am honored and humbled. I strive to share simple but useful information to help us all prepare for those pesky unplanned events that can alter life as we know it. Having been through a few minor ones myself, I certainly want to be prepared for the next one, at least to the extent feasible for me and mine. Please know that I read your blogs in return to learn from you, to better understand what may be useful to you, to avoid duplication (unless your current message is one that I believe needs widest sharing), and to possibly build upon what you offer.

Back to the title. Sometimes I just plain goof. Thursday was one of those days. I spent Monday reviewing my winter preparedness supplies and discovered that some of the canned goods needed to go. Other items had been 'borrowed' by DH and he forgot to mention it to me. OK, true confessions: maybe I borrowed some, too (meaning to rotate them of course) and forgot to replace them. Bad dog!!

I wrote a comprehensive list of items to replenish. This was not a high cost, maybe someday wish-list, but one that featured about a dozen items like items like 4 cans of soup, 2 bottles of ketchup, etc.. I even wrote it on my bright pink index card and put it in my purse so I could find it easily on my next trip to town, which was Thursday. This is my 'system' and it normally works just fine.

I got to the first store and looked for the card. I found my stash of blank index cards (always carry a few) but didn't find the list. Please understand I carry a very small purse, so this should not have happened. It was MY SYSTEM, after all. I thought I had thoroughly searched the little stinker but the card was not to be found. I bought what I could remember at the stores I visited. The pressure was on. Of course, I found the card when I got home -- it WAS in my purse. It was caught under a small flap of leather so I did not see it despite the bright color.  I batted about 50% -- not an impressive memory there.

What if there were a known impending emergency (especially a 'new category' that was not one already planned for) with no potential for a do-over? 50% success could have been catastrophic.  So far I have several corrective measures in place, including using other less eye-catching card colors for 'regular' stuff and reserving the bright pink only for the urgent item list. Also, I now put the pink card in one of the flat compartments under my checkbook, rather than just in the purse with the other stuff. There must be a better system. 

How do you manage your 'need it now' shopping list?

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Oh, Darn!

Do you have a favorite pair of socks or a favorite sweater? I do. I have one pair of rag wool socks that I bought in the late 1970's.  I now wear them only on special occasions, but they remain comfortable and wonderful on my feet. I have darned both of them in several places -- heels, toes, you name it. So what is darning, how do you do it and why would you bother?

Darning is the process of mending wear or holes in knit things. Socks are the usual suspects in darning, but sweaters can also be darned, if the holes are small. The truly creative can make a darn into a thing of beauty. Most people darn for functionality, and I fall into that category. At its simplest, darning is extending the life of a garment by creating a web or mesh of new threads across a hole in the garment. This web is anchored in stronger parts of the item..

Despite the purely functional nature of this craft,  I have learned a few tips along the way. First is to darn early and often. If you have a pair of socks that you like --you know, the ones you reach for first in the sock drawer -- check them for spots of excessive wear. Darn them before a hole starts.

Use the best thread you can find. Years ago I was in a store that was closing out silk button hole thread. The last spools were cheap because they were bizarre colors -- mustard, mushroom, royal blue, gross green. Despite the colors, it is beautiful, strong, soft silk that I still use because it works well and I can't feel a darn done with this nice thread. If you can't find silk, save an old wool sock and unravel some of the wool to use for darning. Worst case, use polyester or cotton thread or even fine dental floss.
If you have or can find a darning egg, use one on socks. A darning egg looks like a wooden Easter egg on a stick. Insert it into a sock, maneuver it so the curve of the egg is similar to the curve of the garment and hold the sock and stick with your non-dominant hand. It will provide a stable platform to shape your web of thread and prevent stabbing yourself with the needle in the process. Against the light color of the egg, you can watch your web take shape and make sure you have threads across the hole in several places. This one from Lehman's will give you a visual idea of what you're looking for, but is more of a ball than an egg. It will probably still work. I've also found them in antique malls and second-hand stores.

I try to use a needle that balances the weight of the repair thread and the knit of the sock. Most often I use a tapestry needle -- normally used for needlepoint. Sometimes for a fine knit, I'll use a Glover's needle which is also useful for other repairs, like canvas or heavy denim. Using too fine a needle will make the process less effective and more frustrating. I also tie a knot around a knit at my start point that leaves about 2 inches of thread hanging. I will end the darn at the same spot and use that 'tail' of the starting thread to tie off a secure final knot.

Back to the garment: Find the places at the margin outside the target hole or weak spot (place requiring repair) that are at least as strong as your thread. You anchor the darn there. Starting or anchoring your darn in a weak place on the garment is futile. The darn will not hold and may rip the hole even larger.

Try to get to your holes while they are small, preferably smaller than a nickel but not larger than a quarter.  If they are too large, the can't be darned and must be patched or rewoven by someone who knows how to do this. I have a beautiful sweater that I had worn exactly once. I left it where my puppy was able to tug and pull it down. The hole is about 3 inches in diameter. Not a candidate for darning. Some day I will patch it and wear it again with jeans.

Don't forget to add a few darning supplies to your preparedness kit(s) just in case you develop a weak spot in a sock along the way. A timely darn may prevent s painful blister!

So what does darning have to do with being frugal? You have to ask? Oh, darn!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Take a look at this great post about Holiday specials over at Planning and Foresight. Many bargains on traditional holiday-related food can be used throughout the year. Even if you don't can, hams and turkey can be made into jerky.

Don't overlook canned pumpkin. It's not just a pie ingredient, but a fully-cooked food.  Half a cup of the humble canned pumpkin contains 300% of the RDA for vitamin A with 5 grams of fiber and 2 grams of protein. In an emergency situation, a pinch of brown sugar added to a serving or two of canned pumpkin can keep you going in more ways than one!

Many thanks to K for his great post on these aisle blocking specials.  Maybe this year we should all stop and rethink the bounty in those otherwise annoying holiday loss-leader displays and how they may add to our preparedness. I sure have.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Learn a Lesson

The northeast has taken a one-two punch, and generic government response has been as expected. Agencies are mobilized and doing what they can. Problems include the magnitude of the damage and the relative inaccessibility of those affected by the storms.

From my humble perspective,  the role of government is not to save ME. It is to assist in the restoration of shared infrastructure and to reduce dangers/increase safety to an acceptable societal norm.  Huh? To me, it means if you had sewer and electric service and the crime rate was X, then government's role is to reduce the obstacles for private business to restore the electric and sewer and assist local governance in their roles related to utilities and law enforcement so locals can restore the crime rate more toward X to support individual restoration efforts. Those individual efforts include rebuilding the homes and businesses that were damaged or destroyed.

Government's job is not to be clairvoyant. Government is not structured to hunt for each and every Jane and John Doe and bring daily deliveries of what Jane and John want, much less what they need. That's why I write about personal preparedness. 

Sometimes government gets it wrong. Occasionally evacuation is recommended but not needed. As we've learned recently, it may be better to accept the inconvenience of timely evacuation than to die from drowning, electrocution or falling debris. Staying with Granny, or even camping in another state may be a better alternative than hanging on to a flooded house in the freezing weather. Yes, it's your stuff, but it is meaningless without your family. I'd rather have my husband alive and safe than have  him die trying to save a wedding picture.

If you are not affected by the current events, you may want to soul search and decide ahead of time what you want to do. ADD A PAGE to your preparedness plan with a matrix so you don't need to decide under stress.  It could be divided by season and event and should include your identified potential emergencies. 

Using a matrix, you can follow your column and row for a recommendation that you made to yourself during more sane moments.  If winter and major storm, what's in the box where they intersect? Does it say GO TO GRANNY'S? SANDBAG DOORS AND MOVE FURNITURE UPSTAIRS?  BRING MORE WOOD INSIDE?

Another consideration is from lessons learned from Sandy. If you follow the 72-hour guideline, is that enough? Somewhere between filling your car trunk and filling your entire home with supplies is your personal answer. Something is better than nothing. Storing your supplies in a location that is accessible but less likely to be damaged or lost by events on your emergency list (see my page on Prep 101).

If you haven't started, this site and several others cover how to start. Even if you can only scrape an extra $1 together each week, it's enough to start. Having a few candles, cans of food and source of heat is better than having nothing when nothing is truly the alternative.

Search for 'Sandy lessons learned' or posts from those affected. Some with no preparedness supplies were begging for government help or dumpster diving within 2 to 3 days.  Some who were prepared lost their preps, others flourished. Learn and revamp your plans as these lessons may apply to your situation.

What will you do differently based on lessons learned this month?

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

A Case for Walking Sticks

Also called hiking sticks, these can be a useful item in your emergency preparedness planning when leaving your home may be an option. I first started using a walking stick about five years ago for walking on uneven and gravel-covered ground. The additional stability was comforting. My first stick was a light yucca stem with a rubber tip on the bottom and the top had a plastic-dipped hand grip. It was made by a local senior citizen and was cheap (under $10).  It worked well beyond my initial expectation.

A couple of years ago I discovered that one of my work acquaintances made preparedness walking sticks. Huh? How's that? I won't give away all his secrets, but my favorite characteristic is that he wraps supplies in para cord to make the non-slip hand grip.  Useful items like waterproof matches, a Mylar blanket, foil, scalpel blade are securely covered and taped (reusable duct tape) and wrapped tightly in para cord. He manages to balance the stick with the center of gravity at the base of the hand grip.  As a result, the working end swings effortlessly as I walk.

A walking stick not only helps balance you, but can extend your daily walking range by allowing you to momentarily transfer some of your weight (you and your backpack) from your legs to your arms and down the stick. It's kind of like having another leg to walk with.

Using a walking stick regularly can also help to build muscle in your arm, especially for people who are out of shape.  If you use a stick, don't forget to learn how to use it with both hands -- not as easy as it sounds. Holding it in your dominant hand will come easy. Don't try to force the strike of the stick with your footfalls. Your body will find a rhythm that works for you. Start to notice how your arm feels.  Walk with the stick and then without. Notice how much lighter your feet feel when using the hiking or walking stick. Soon, you too may become a fan.

Walking or hiking sticks are best adjusted to the user's height.  I'm about 65 inches tall and like a stick that's about shoulder height.  My hand rests on the top of the hand grip, about 4 inches below the top of the stick, which allows me a comfortable swing of arm and stick as I walk.  There may be a better formula, but that works for me.

Walking sticks have other uses, such as prodding wildlife from your path or breaking pinatas, but other bloggers have more expertise in those side benefits. I just know that I move a bit faster and can go a little farther using a hiking stick than going without one.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

My basic frugality concept

Frugality is not just about reasonable economic return on investment. For me, the philosophy runs much deeper. It is about the societal bargain in which many of us participate. Some people give me the 'crazy person' stare when I share my philosophy, but here goes.

We working people have some skill needed by someone else. The 'someone else' is willing to trade their stuff for your time and energy. Your time and energy make up a slice of your life that you will never get back. The 'stuff' most of us receive for that slice of our life is called 'money,' so in a very real sense we working people legally sell slices of our life for money.  I don't take that literal interpretation lightly. My money represents the hours I toiled and won't get back, so I try to use them thoughtfully, or frugally. 

For me, this is a guiding concept when I spend money.  If you make $20 an hour, is it worth 6 or 8 hours of YOUR LIFE to buy the cool sneakers for your 9 year-old? Certainly your choice, but for me the answer is an immediate NO.  Is it worth 6 or 8 hours of my life to buy a small portable solar electric system with LED light that I can use for multiple purposes including emergency preparedness when it's on sale for half price? That one I'll certainly consider.

When I spend 20 minutes to find the least price for an item that will save me $10 per item and I need 3 of them, I've paid for my time by being frugal. If I decide on an item, I may even wait several months (or years) for a clearance or special sale to buy it. It's all in how much value I place on the trade. If quick research shows that shopping around may save me $5 on the total of 3 items, I'll save my time and money (as a 'bank' of my time and energy) for higher purposes.

If you are currently blessed with more time than money, then consider low cost ways of converting your time into what you need. See if there are ways locally to bypass the 'converting to and from money' phase. Neighbor with a huge garden? Do you have real skills to trade for veggies? What are your unique skills? I have a neighbor who is the world's most fabulous housekeeper and stay-at-home Mom. This time of year she wants to buy her husband a Christmas present without him paying for it.  She trades a few hours of her skill to help me spruce up for the holidays. We are both thrilled. We trade each other pieces of our lives for a fair exchange of high-quality requirements. She thinks I trade her more than her skill is worth.  I have someone I truly trust come into my home to help me, which is worth more than gold to me. To me, that's the essence of being frugal.