Make Do Challenge

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Do you run out for fast food when you realized it’s 5:00 and you haven’t started dinner?  Do you run to the store if you need one thing for a child’s school project or one item to finish dinner?  Maybe you have the entire deluxe cable or satellite package to get just one favorite channel.

Take a moment and consider the time it will take to make those “quick” trips out, as well as the time and monetary expense of having extra things around your house.  Unless you live 4 doors down from McDonald’s or Walmart, it’s gonna take you anywhere from 20-40 mins to make that fast food run or grocery store run.  You’ll likely pay full price for the item you forgot.  And a family of 4 will drop $8 to eat off the $1 menu or $24 if everyone gets a “value meal”.  Don’t forget to consider your mileage.  What a high price we pay for a “quick” dinner out.

I know that when I have lots of tv channels available I end up watching lots more TV shows, just because I have them.  I spend too much time juggling things at home and picking up toys that are out only because they were in the way of another.  These extra things are time robbers.  I also rob myself of so much time because I don’t choose to do things I really value. (I repeatedly play an extra computer game instead of read a recommended book)

I’m not saying you shouldn’t ever go out for fast food or have cable TV.  It’s completely normal to have a bad day and not get dinner on the table on time.  Everyone runs out of something or doesn’t realize they didn’t have enough of something for a recipe.  I am certainly not a shining example of perfection in the preparedness category (or in the cooking category either for that matter).  I used to run out to the store all the time and fast food (even off the $1 menu) was a frequent occurrence.  But now instead of running out, my response is to make do. 

When I’m behind schedule for dinner: We start with cereal.  By the time the cereal has been eaten, eggs have been scrambled and sausage has been defrosted from the freezer.  Round out the meal with orange juice from a can.  Start to finish in less than 40 minutes and at a fraction of the cost of fast food.  I also keep on hand some convenience foods that I’ve gotten inexpensively, for just such an occasion.

When I need one last ingredient for a meal: I do a swagbucks search for “substitutions for ______” because often I can make a substitution.  I also use the ‘call your neighbors’ method.  I’ve loaned licorice sticks, oatmeal, sugar, eggs, milk, and butter, just to name a few.  Your neighbors will understand when you’re in the middle of making no bake chocolate oatmeal drop cookies and need one more scoop of oatmeal, or have already whipped up the batch of brownies but your 3 year old dropped the last egg on the floor.  Chances are they’ve probably been there too.

When I need something I forgot to pick up (or didn’t get told about) for a school project: I do the best I can given the severity of the situation.  It depends on the age of the child and the importance of the project.  If we’re supposed to decorate a 1st grade turkey with 6 different colored beans and I only have 5, I’m going to make do.  (use something besides beans or do a mix of beans for the last section.  If I need to make planets for a 6th grade model, hmmm.  I’d try to create something from wadded up paper and masking tape, but it just may not work.  Obviously the sheet protectors that are required for a term paper can’t be replaced with saran wrap.  Make do if at all possible and check with your neighbors before you make a dreaded trip to the store to pay full price.  If a trip to the store is necessary try to send your spouse or at least go with a list of other items you may need in the next few days. 

That full price cable package is an easy one for me to make do without.  I’ve already written about how we made the decision to go without paid cable when we moved to Tyler.  We’d had just basic cable (around 15 channels) for a few years before that.  A digital converter and antenna supply our local channel, but we watch the majority of our TV from our computer by going to the networks of the shows we like to watch, or by using Hulu.  We’re much more mindful about what we watch and I feel like we mostly watch what we truly want to watch, instead of just watching because there’s a TV.

You may have lots of extra things around your home that you’ve bought, perhaps because you needed them or perhaps because you thought they’d make life easier (kitchen gadgets especially).  Chances are you’re spending a lot of unnecessary time and energy organizing, using, cleaning and storing lots of extra things that you could really do without.  One recent change we made was to sell our quesadilla maker- that we actually used quite frequently.  Shortly after we moved, my husband couldn’t find it (no wonder since it was in Little One’s bedroom closet) so he used the George Foreman grill instead.  We’ve never looked back and now we have one less large gadget taking up space in our kitchen.

I challenge you to find something to “make do” with this week and see your stress deteriorate.   Who knows, it may even be that one fabulous item you wanted to buy at the drugstore that would only save you $2 for your 10 minute drive to get there!  Next week I’ll continue this post with how you can make do in some bigger areas of your life by making a simple change in your thinking.

I’d love to hear what you’ve found you can do without so that we can encourage one another.

This post is part of Works For Me Wednesday at We Are That Family.


  1. Great ideas. We often will have breakfast for dinner if I forget to get it started…or don’t realize I need to get it started an hour ago. We also have a huge box of frozen preformed hamburger patties that we can grill up anytime.
    We don’t have cable, but we do have Netflix. We do get the local channels with our antennae, and between that netflix and hulu, we can watch whatever we want.

  2. Do you have a gas grill Robin? Using charcoal usually means an even later dinner for us :-) We usually have quite a few things on hand that were grilled and frozen. They don’t taste quite as good, but they’re fast. I’m glad to hear of someone else who is going without cable/dish etc. We have been so much better off without it. As yet we haven’t needed the netflix, but I’m sure it will be a good expense for us at 8.99 when the kids are older.

  3. I need to remember the breakfast for dinner thing more often. We realized that lately we’ve been hitting the dollar menu waaaaay too often. We’ve challenged ourselves to no fast food in may. So far so good. It is such an easy habit to fall into grabbing something at the drive through.

  4. I am loving the visual of a child turning in a duct-taped version of the solar system or a saran-wrapped term paper. That is hysterical! The slightly less hysterical thing is that Diva’s school would not be phased if I, the “Queen of Mayquedu” sent her with those. They would just roll their eyes, tut, and sigh, “Poor Diva. Not only does her mother use yarn balls for planets, but she hangs her laundry out to dry too!” 😉

  5. Anonymous says:

    Angela here:

    I love to make do! I live about ten miles from the nearest store so it’s really inconvenient to run to town for something. The other day I thought I was going to get to buy some much needed salsa from CVS however, the ECB deal was only on the queso so I settled for two jars of that and still needed salsa. My Mom’s work wastes quite a bit of food and condiments so I asked her to bring some Whataburger salsa packets which are too salty and processed for us but, I opened a can of diced tomatoes and drained the juice then added 26 packets of salsa and a little garlic powder. My husband absolutely loved it even though he knew how I made it. Now, that will be our new less expensive salsa than the staple Albert’s hot sauce we were buying at $6 a quart.

  6. LOL you really should write a book Angela! I hope your party went well tonight.

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