herald

Tuesday 22 July 2014

Dig out Irish Mammies' survival book, it's time to start cutting back...

FOR a time when I was younger I assumed that every oven across the country worked on one setting.

The one where when you had a roast in or a stew or casserole, that a sponge cake or fairy queen cakes were lashed in too.

That was the way it was in our house. The energy was being used so let's get bang for our buck and whip up a caca milis.

Sure you wouldn't dream of wasting all that lovely 200C heat on just one dish. Are you codding me?

"How do you know you don't like it when you haven't even tasted it?" my Mammy would say. Well I did clock you getting every wilted, suspect morsel out of the fridge and making some sort of a lunch pot pourri masquerading as an actual meal.

You know you were reared in the 70s when you regularly ate foods that don't actually go together. We should have heeded the threat of no desert. Rock-hard tinned fruit that you could chip a tooth on was on the meagre menu when the oven wasn't on the dual dinner and sponge setting.

We knew too when visitors were coming because the paper towels would make an appearance.

Special occasions called for that little extra touch; disposable cloths. My youngster thinks paper towels are a toy. If a corner of a sheet hangs tantalisingly off a sideboard, he'll make the Andrex puppy look like an amateur.

Irish American comedian Des Bishop's well known gag about the immersion stems from that same stable of thrift that Irish Mammies roosted in. It wasn't just the belief that the house could explode into smithereens if left on for more than half an hour, it was the cost. Slowly clocking up.

As the American relatives showered, the punts were washing down the plug hole too.

Brenda Fricker in My Left Foot is another classic Irish mammy, doing everything and anything to make ends meet, and battling for her family.

B&Bs up and down the country. They're all testament to Irish Mammies making a few extra bob, to save up for college or a new car. A new second-hand car, that is.

It was revealed recently that we're binning up to €1,000 of food per household annually. We're also splurging close to that amount on Christmas, far more than our fellow Europeans.

I'm sorry, did we just time travel back to 2007? Aren't we meant to be in a recession? What happened to household budgeting? Some of us are living so far beyond our income that we could be said to be living apart.

We need get out the Irish Mammies' Survival Guide. How do you survive without kitchen roll? Is the use-by date on coleslaw really just a rough guide? And will you die if you reheat chicken? Seriously. Can you really drink water from the tap as opposed to bottles?

Time to start getting thrifty. Being frugal does not mean being cheap. It means being economical and avoiding waste.

We need to conduct our own austerity budget. Get tight and start pinching those pennies. As well as the blessings, start counting our cash.

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