There have been some times over the past few years when I have been able to throw myself whole-heartedly into being frugal, especially in the DIY department - making all our bread from scratch, keeping our freezer stocked with frozen meals for busy evenings, etc. Other times . . . not so much.
It's easy to get discouraged when I'm overwhelmed with life and when I can't keep up with all my frugal resolutions. Maybe it's a crazy night and nothing is planned for dinner or I forgot that I need a dessert for my child's school function or someone needs an outfit or shoes or a coat at the last minute. At these times, I can choose to just throw in the towel and do what is easiest, whatever the expense, or I can remember the concept of the "next best thing."
For example, if I have nothing planned for dinner, instead of stopping for takeout or going out to a restaurant, I could stop by the grocery store and pick up a frozen meal or a rotesserie chicken. This is not as cheap as preparing dinner from scratch, but it is cheaper than restaurant food. If I need a dessert at the last minute, I could buy something pricey from the grocery store bakery, or I could pick up a brownie mix. Again, the mix is not as cheap as homemade cookies made with discounted ingredients from my stockpile, but it is cheaper than the bakery dessert. If there's suddenly a cold snap and I need a coat for my daughter, I may not be able to wait for a consignment sale or an ebay deal, but I can at least take a few minutes to browse online for the best sales or look on Craigslist.
This concept is also great for people who are just starting to try to be more frugal. Instead of trying to change their lifestyle overnight, they could try to move one step towards being more frugal. So a family used to getting takeout a few nights a week could buy some frozen meals to keep on hand instead. A family who eats frozen meals a few times a week could try to start preparing them from scratch and then freezing. A family who already prepares their food from scratch could try working on getting better deals on the ingredients.
Few of us are able to be as frugal as we would like to be all the time, but that is no reason to be discouraged. Every little bit helps!
Check out more frugal ideas at Frugal Fridays.