The Shoestring Philosophy: What constitutes being cheap?

Jeff Smith, aka The Frugal Gourmet (photo via MSNBC)

Jeff Smith, aka The Frugal Gourmet (photo via MSNBC)

In my quest to live well on a shoestring budget, I must admit that I’ve always been a bit of a cheapskate. While I’m certainly inspired by chefs like Jeff Smith (aka The Frugal Gourmet) in terms of cooking with quality ingredients, I don’t like to pay extra for items that I perceive to offer dubious value, particularly when it comes to favouring one brand over another. My attitude is that I’m not a brand whore, and unless a specific brand has really made me think it’s better than another, I am perfectly willing to go generic or to pick the one that’s on sale.

Sometimes, though, you have to spend a bit more to get something that’s quality. Think about chocolate chips when baking chocolate chip cookies: If you go with the inferior, generic brand of chips, chances are your cookies won’t turn out so great. After all, the chips are the star of the show, so skimping there doesn’t make sense. My opinion is that you should pay the extra ten or twenty cents and get some Hershey’s Chipits or Nestlé Toll House morsels; it makes a difference.

Thinking about this, and knowing that my general inclination is to spend less money wherever possible, it occurred to me that sometimes I’m just being cheap—even (or especially) when I’m trying to convince myself that my goals are more noble. For example: lots of decisions I make could be considered green or eco-friendly, if that were my actual intent (i.e. riding the metro), whereas if I’m being honest, most of those things are really done out of frugality (or straight-up cheapness).

Thus I’ve started an eco blog called Green or Cheap?, where I aim to dissect these matters in a public forum. You can play along at home with one of my first pieces, which asks the question Recycling Coffee: Green or Cheap? Do feel free to give me your honest opinions on the matter. I really want to know!


4 responses to “The Shoestring Philosophy: What constitutes being cheap?

  1. Pingback: Laura Roberts, Button Tapper » Blog Archive » Wednesday blog round-up

  2. I recycle my old coffee, why the heck not? It isn’t like it went bad over night! Unlike tea, the coffee is no longer “steeping” in the coffee grounds (well, at least not in my case as it generally was in my mug over night).

    Plus there are other great uses for leftover coffee, even the coffee that HAS been in coffee grinds overnight, my favorites being and Tiramisu

  3. Ooh, Tiramisu, that’s definitely a green and cheap use for leftover coffee. Good one!

  4. Cool site, love the info.