Feeling the need to accomplish some profound preparation activity today, I added Sandy to the insurance plan that I will retain after retiring as a federal employee. We’ll be dropping the separate coverage she has had since she retired from teaching. That change will save us about $140 per month in premiums, which I’m sure she will let me use to buy more toys…uh, for Mason, our grandson. Yeah--that’s it--for Mason...not for me. Really.
We’ve also found that we are simplifying our meals and cooking less. That isn’t the result of retirement planning, it just sort of happened, but it’ll be a good thing when we’re on the road. When we became empty nesters, the need to prepare multi-course meals diminished greatly, and we discovered that abandoning the practice freed up a lot of time and effort, not to mention avoiding making a mess in the kitchen, something for which I am notorious. (I should mention here that I generally cook the meals at our house, and Sandy generally cooks the desserts; she is very good at desserts, and I am very good at eating them.)
We’ve found that it is often cheaper to eat out, if we are careful, than it is to buy groceries and cook for two. Because most restaurants seem to go overboard on their servings, Sandy and I often split entrees. We tend to choose modestly-priced mom and pop joints where we know the food is good. One of our favorite places offers a fajita dinner with all the extras for $9.99, and the serving is ample for two. It’s hard to fix a complete fajita dinner at home for that price.
When we’re traveling in Homer, we almost always cook a hot breakfast and sometimes one other light meal or snack in the coach, but we typically eat out for at least one meal at a restaurant favored by locals that we’ve researched beforehand (the Internet is a wonderful thing). It wasn’t always that way; when we acquired our first RV and prepared for our first trip, we stocked its kitchen in much the same manner as the kitchen in the house was stocked. We loaded the same staples, canned goods, spices, meats and vegetables that we were accustomed to having on hand, spending a great deal of time and effort finding places for everything and filling up the refrigerator. Imagine our surprise when we found that almost all of it came back home with us, unused! One would think that we knew ourselves a little better than that, but I guess we didn’t. One thing we’ve learned about RVing is that after you get one, your likes, dislikes and habits don’t automatically change. If you really enjoy eating out before you get an RV, you’ll still really enjoy eating out afterward.
After traveling by RV for five years now, we think we have the food thing figured out. Homer’s kitchen is stocked with a limited supply of cookware—among which an electric skillet and Crockpot are essential--and a few basic condiments that don't require refrigeration. We use unbreakable dishes, glasses and cups, and we carry a portable icemaker. (Thanks to Gordon, again, for this idea.) Just before departing on a trip, I carry a large Igloo-style cooler into the house, empty the icemaker bins into it and then load it up with any refrigerated items that might spoil during our absence—like deli meats, eggs, bacon, milk, etc. Then I put in any refrigerated condiments that we’ll be using, along with a few soft drinks. That’s it! To save time stocking the fridge (we are notoriously late on departure day), I load the cooler into the trailer’s cargo bay, and when we reach our first stop, I turn on the refrigerator and unload into it the items from the cooler. The fridge stays on for the rest of the trip, then we unload everything when we get back home. Anything else we want to eat, we buy as we go. It’s quick, simple and, most importantly, low impact.
I mentioned toys while ago. I have learned to try to be thoughtful (to the degree possible) when buying “toys” for me, as I am sometimes suckered into purchasing something whose usefulness may not be as compelling as first thought. Well, I ran across this thing, which I think could actually be useful for those of us who spend a lot of time on wireless connections to computers. This may be my next toy.