Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Frugality in the Dominican Republic

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?


Jes said...

Hey, can you guys get packages to the address I sent the envelope? How does that work? Let me know! Some friend's of ours have family members over in Central Asia and they like things like gravy packets and ranch dressing packs. They said the meat over there is really weird, is it weird in the DR too?

Joanna said...

- I'm trying to learn to make homemade bread we like. I'm having mixed results. Tortillas have been on my "list to try" for a long time.

- I agree with the not-buying-prepackaged-things. That's a frugal tip for here or there. The more pre-processing that goes into a food, the more the company will charge.

- You should try making the Southern delicacy boiled peanuts. When I talk about them in the Midwest, people think I'm crazy (and moreso when I tell them you can only buy them at roadside stands!)

- Here, I've discovered that ground turkey is cheaper than ground beef, and can be substituted for it in most recipes (and is healthier!)

- Just the other day I was reading about how easy it is to make baby food, and wondered why more people didn't do it.

Beth @ The Natural Mommy said...

Joanna - do you have a breadmaker? We have a honey oat bread that we all simply adore! I"m sure you could adopt it to a non-bread machine recipe if needed. And I've found the same to be true about ground turkey - but Josh knows the difference and he makes a face - along with some audible complaints!

Tree- I love this list! Only $7,000/yr? Is that just Daniel's salary then? What would be a comparable pay here in the states? Do you know what the cost of living is there? I'm not sure what it is here, but I could look it up.

I'm glad you're blogging more! Looking forward to some more pictures!

ashley @ twentysixcats said...

This was a great list! So glad you're blogging. :-)

We couldn't get sour cream in Peru, either, so we used plain yogurt. There was a lot of stuff we couldn't get, but we learned to explore the Peruvian food culture to take advantage of what was local!

Have you ever made baked oatmeal? We had that a lot for breakfast. I can send you the recipe if you'd like. Can you get oatmeal there?

We always washed & reused our ziploc bags too. :-)

Daniel and Teresa said...

Jes- yup, we can get packages too. Did the card get to you? I sent it with my mom to mail. :) Meat is actually pretty good here. Their specialty is goat (I've had it but not attempted to make it).

Joanna- I love boiled peanuts! We can't buy them in the shell here, but I bet they would still be good (I had them when I worked at the camp in North Carolina).

Beth- we use our bread machine a lot. It was so worth it to bring down here! I'd love the recipe. The salary is Daniel's and my half-salary combined (rounding upish).

Ashley- yes, we can get oatmeal very easily, and sometimes make home-made granola. I think I've had baked oatmeal before and would like to have your recipe. :)

Leah said...

Whole chicken - so cheap and so many meals.

Make and freeze meals on the weekends so you can just pull them out and warm them up. I freeze lasagna, homemade chicken and noodles, shredded beef (leftover from making roast, potatoes and carrots), diced chicken cooked and seasoned (for casseroles, pasta salad, chicken fajita pizza, chicken tacos, etc.)

I make a loaf of bread in the bread machine and then cut it in half. I use half for sandwiches for the week and freeze the other half.

Powdered milk - a must here! Milk is way too expensive...especially when you use for cooking.

Making and freezing quickbreads and muffins for quick breakfast foods.

Great Blog! Great ideas!

Jes said...

Yes I did get your card! I was so excited to look at the pictures of you and your family. you guys are so cute.
You'll have to let me know if you need anything sometime and maybe we can send a small package down. We actually wanted to send one before but we didn't know what you guys need or like. :)
Thanks for posting, I enjoy reading your blog.

Sara said...

Sheesh. Forget living in the DR. I'm going to try some of this stuff here (living in Connecticut is expensive!)