This post is inspired in large part by Ashley, Beth, and Joanna. :)
I have various friends who have posts and links on their blog dedicated to frugality. I enjoy reading these, and appreciate them as well. Although there are many tips I can use in the D.R., there are so many things that are inexpensive in the U.S., but expensive here, and vice versa. And, although some things may be comperable, a salary of about $7,000/year doesn't go very far. So, I thought I'd put together a list of helpful frugal tips in case any of you move down to the D.R. some day. Some of these things work for life in the States too.
-Food- get creative! Find creative substitutes. And don't buy many pre-packaged things. We get mac n'cheese (not American brand, corn flakes (cereal is expensive!), and sometimes dry sauce mixes for nights I don't feel like making a home-made sauce.
-Rice and pasta are great staples!
-Dried beans are much cheaper than canned- we soak ours overnight in a rice cooker (cheap at Walmart!)
-Unlike the States, produce is the way to go! Fresh veggies are very inexpensive. And we discovered that if you stick with the same vendor at the market, the prices eventually go down (loyalty is important). And we get free bananas too! So go veggie-happy!
-If you want frozen veggies (which you can't find in Jarabacoa), buy fresh veggies and blanch them.
-Homemade tortialls, bagels, and bread is a great way to go!
-Sour Cream is rare in Jarabacoa, and expensive when an option. Daniel and I often use this as a substitue: Take plain, unsweetened yogurt; line a strainer with a coffee filter; pour the yogurt in; set it in a pot in the fridge overnight. This also works well for a cream cheese substitute, but let it sit a little longer to drain out more liquid.
-A good recipe book for frugal meals not just for the States is Extending the Table. (Ashley, it sounds similar to the book you mentioned; I would love to get recipes from it!)
-If you want a blender (lots of inexpensive fresh fruit here!), bread maker, etc. bring it from the States, the price here isn't worth it
-Same with ziplock bags and tupperwares: plastics are expensive here!
-Packaged peanuts can be a little pricey, but they also have raw peanuts here. My friend bought raw peanuts and roasted them on the stove. They were good! I'm going to be trying that soon...
-Walk, bike, or buy a motorcycle. Not only is the start-up and up-keep cost cheaper than a car, but the gas is too! (We "fill up- a few gallons" about once a month or less)
-Eating Out- cheap vendors (but fried). For healthier food, find a place that offers a whole Dominican Meal (meat, rice, beans, and salad) for only a few dollars.
-Pork and Ground Beef are inexpensive meats
-Make your own salad dressing; have someone send ranch packets to mix if you want ranch dressing.
If you have a baby:
-Cloth diapers is the way to go (if you have a washer. If not, a Dominican washer is a good investment- you can sell it eventually)! Diapers are even pricier here than the States! And they will probably end up being burned or in someone's back yard.
-Make baby food. With how easy and cheap it is to get fresh fruit and veggies here, I plan on doing this!
That's all I can think of for now. Any other ideas, Leah?