Thursday, September 30, 2021

Stocking up ... in Plain Sight: Foods You Can Store as Fall Decorations

There's a radio commercial out right now.  I don't recall what the product is, but I do recall some of the content of the commercial.  The commercial starts out by saying something about what Mainers say about Maine.  One of the comments is, "Maine has two seasons: winter and preparing for winter."  

There is definitely a nugget of truth to it, although we do very much enjoy "mud season" and "black fly season" also (both are in Spring), and there is no equal to our fall colors, but really, Spring is just "end of winter" and in the fall, we're still "preparing for winter", which is right around the corner.

I think, on some level, most Mainers are probably preppers - whether that's what they call it, or not. Winters are long, and getting ready for winter is just what we do.  Our growing season is really short, and those who have a garden are also canners, because our growing season is really short, and we need to get as much out of it as we can.  Nearly everyone I know does some food preservation.  

Here in southern Maine, where I live, there are farm stands on just about every corner, and most them carry the same sorts of things: pumpkins, apples, corn, potatoes.  All the things my family loves to eat.  

But those are also some pretty stellar decorations, this time of year, especially.

It got me to thinking about the way we, my family, stocks up, and the fact is that we spend a lot, this time of year, building our winter stores.  Since I live in a small house with very limited storage, it's pretty awesome that a lot of the stuff I want to store is also very decorative, and what's also pretty cool, is that, since they are decorative, those food items might be overlooked, on first pass, by someone who is wanting to take my eats. 

One of my favorite fall "decorations" is corn.  

I like to grow popcorn, because it's pretty, first of all, and I can dry it from the overhang in my dining room.  It looks pretty - like a decoration - but it's also food.  But since it's not in the kitchen, it won't be the first thing someone sees if they are looking for food.

We've also "hidden" beans (in their husks), peppers, and herbs strung up to dry, but looking like a decoration.

I also love my garlic braids.  These are in the kitchen, but they are hanging up instead of being in some sort of storage bin or in a jar or something.  So, again, it looks more like I'm going for a "country kitchen" aesthetic with some Pottery Barn decorations than that I am actually storing something we will eat at some point.

Pumpkins are probably my favorite food decoration.  We buy a bunch of jack-o-lantern pumpkins every year.  While they are a bit stringy for eating we do save the seeds, which I roast.  And even if we don't eat them, my chickens do.

I also grow or purchase a bunch of pie pumpkins.  These are smaller and denser and are quite lovely as a centerpiece on my table (when we're not using the table as a desk).  No one is going to look at the centerpiece on the table as potential meal.

I have a few things in my garden that aren't well known as a food source.  One of my favorite "hidden" delicacies is the sunchoke.  It grows 12' tall and blooms with this lovely yellow flower in the late fall.  The good part is underground.  It's a tuber that looks a lot like ginger and can be used much as one uses potatoes.  

Sunchokes are incredibly hardy plants and also very invasive.  They are native to this part of New England, and while they aren't one of my favorite foods, I keep them in my garden, because in a worst case scenario, it's food that not many people recognize as food.  

The best part is that they don't have to be all harvested.  We can leave them in the ground and harvest them until the ground freezes.  In the Spring, we an harvest them until they start to grow.  I leave the dead stalks, all winter, which tells me where they are so that I can dig them in the spring, but also, because the pith in the stalks is food for the birds that over winter here.  

Another popular outside decoration is straw bales.  Interestingly, if done properly, those straw bales can be used as a cold storage for potatoes, at least in the early part of the season.  From this article on ways to store potatoes

  1. In a shady spot outdoors, place a tarp over the ground and cover it with an inch of loose straw. Pile on potatoes and cover with more straw, a second tarp, and a 10-inch blanket of leaves or straw.
One can also store the potatoes in a rodent proof container in a hole in the ground and place the straw bales on top of the container.  The straw will serve as insulation to keep the potatoes from freezing, and also be an easy way to find them, when it snows.  

We just placed a bulk order for potatoes, and I'm definitely going to be using some of those storage suggestions.  We have several bales of straw outside, which we used as seating for a recent gathering of friends.  Shoving the potatoes into the straw will keep them, at least for awhile, and then, any we missed in the spring, will sprout and grow.  More potatoes is not a bad thing.  And in a TEOTWAWKI situation, who's gonna think to look outside in the straw bales for food?

Since storage is a premium and there's just no chance that I'm going to spend money on a storage facility to hold my preps, finding items that can be stored in plain sight is my preference.  Stocking up on fall foods that I can store out in the open as a decoration is a huge bonus.

Thursday, September 23, 2021

The Price of a Snack Cake

When I was kid, I used to take my lunch to school every day.  It was a rare and delightful treat when my mother would purchase snack cakes to go in our lunches.  My favorite was Little Debbie's Oatmeal Cream Pies.  

Most of the time, though, my lunches were a peanut butter sandwich on sliced white bread and a little baggie full of Chex Snack mix.  I know.  Super nutritious.  Don't judge.  I was a kid.

I don't eat Little Debbie's cakes anymore, because they are not gluten-free.  Being gluten-free means that we have a much smaller selection than other folks have.  That's not necessarily a bad thing, mind you.  It's made me a pretty good cook.  And, believe it or not, it's saved us money.

Deus Ex Machina takes his lunch to work every day.  I think I've probably mentioned it.  I usually pack his lunch with leftovers, and I usually make enough at dinner to have at least one lunch during the week.  If he purchased his lunch through the cafeteria at work, it would cost between $7 and $15/day.  So, just cooking extra and packing leftovers saves us $55 a week x 48 weeks (allowing for vacations and holidays) is $2640/year in savings. 

Some days, I really enjoy something a little sweet for after dinner, which is why I like making the cakes I mentioned in my last post.  Dessert AND preserving eggs??  Win/win!!

And because I have made so many cakes over the last few weeks, there has been enough for dessert, the freezer, and Deus Ex Machina's lunch.  In fact, the pieces in the freezer will probably end up in his lunch at some point.

After I published the post, I got to thinking about how much it was costing to make those cakes each week, and what the difference in cost would be if we purchased snack cakes for Deus Ex Machina to take to lunch instead of my homemade cake with store bought frosting.

Each cake is a 9'x11' sheet cake.  Our favorite flavors are applesauce spice cake and pumpkin spice cake.  I was using the applesauce I canned last year for the applesauce cake until I ran out of applesauce.  Unfortunately, I don't have a cost for the jars I canned, and so I can't make a cost comparison.

But I do have a cost for the pumpkin cake.

I use King Arthur measure for measure gluten-free flour.  I get a 3 lb bag from for $7.99.  Each cake uses 2 cups of flour.  I can make 5 cakes with a 3 lb bag of flour.

I use Florida Crystals raw sugar.  I get a 3 lb container from for $5.39.  Each cake uses 2 cups of sugar (although I do cut it a little, because 2 cups is a lot of sugar and makes it just a little too sweet).  I can make 5+ cakes with a 3 lb container of sugar.

Each cake uses a 15 oz can of pumpkin.  I can get a can of pumpkin at the local grocery store for about $2.  

The cake also uses eggs and a bunch of spices.  I can add raisins and nuts, if I choose. 

Each cake also uses baking powder.  An 8 ounce container is $1.29.  I use 1 1/2 tsp of baking powder per can, which works out to about 32 cakes.

The flour, sugar, pumpkin, and baking powder bring the cost of the cake to about $2.70.  If I assume the cost of the eggs and spices is around $0.30, and round up, the whole cake costs me $3.

I don't make a very good frosting.  It's a skill I'm still learning, but I can get a can of pre-made frosting for $1.99 at the little Mom&Pop grocery 2 miles from my house.  I can frost two cakes with one can.

Which brings the cost of my cake to $3.99.

The cakes I make are 9'x11' sheet cakes, which I cut into 15 pieces.  The cost per piece is $0.26. 

So, I was curious, and I looked on to see if they carried Little Debbie's Oatmeal Cream Pies.  They do, in bulk.  The have a box of 24 snack cakes for $8.89.  Each of those cakes is 2.6 ounces.  The cost per cake is $0.37.

My pieces of cake weigh in at a hefty 4 oz each.  

So, my cake is $0.09 cheaper and 1.4 ounces bigger than the Little Debbie's Cakes.  

And with fewer preservatives, maybe a little healthier ... ?

If Deus Ex Machina took a snack cake to lunch every day, the cost would be $88.80 per year - just for a 2.6 ounce plastic wrapped cake.  

Making my own cake, which I send with him for lunch saves $24 per year.  

I mean, $24 doesn't sound like much, for sure, but when we figure that the cost of his lunch is free, because it's worked into the price of yesterday's dinner, saving an additional $0.09 per day for his dessert is pretty good.

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

My Favorite Four Ways to Preserve Eggs

I love my backyard chickens, as I'm sure I've mentioned a time or two.  I never got chickens as a money-saving thing.  It was really about food security and self-sufficiency.

But also, having the chickens is just fun.  Chickens are quirky and funny, and anyone who tells you that they don't have personalities hasn't been around chickens very much.  Each of my chickens has her own little personality, likes and dislikes, and habits.  

The only problem with them is that they aren't very consistent when it comes to providing a steady food source.  During the summer, they are egg-laying fiends.  We have 16 laying hens who are six months to 8 years in age.  The younger chickens lay pretty consistently every day.  The older hens, not so much.  We have one very old girl, who is blind in one eye, but still manages to find her way out of the coop regularly.  I found her stealing tomatoes from my garden last year.  She is the only one who lays white eggs.  We get a white egg once a week, or so.  

All total, we are collecting 5 to 8 eggs per day, which means there are a LOT of eggs in our refrigerator at any given time.  During the summer, we will have three dozen eggs in our refrigerator, consistently.

Sometime around October, when the days are shorter and cooler, the chickens start to slow down on the number of eggs they give us per day.  By December, we'll be lucky if the three youngest hens are laying every day, and in February, we might find 5 eggs a week.  

That's just how it is, and it's not the cold, but rather the light.  Some people will provide heat and light to their chickens.  We don't.  We like to keep things as close to their natural rhythms, as possible.

Which means we either gorge ourselves on eggs all summer long, or we find ways to preserve them to use over winter.

I've seen some suggestions for preserving eggs, like salting them, or dipping them in a lye solution.  I haven't tried those sorts of preservation methods, mostly, because I am not certain of how I would use eggs preserved in such a fashion.  

But I do have some ways that I have preserved my eggs for use during the winter.

Boiled, Chopped, and Frozen

When I was a poor college student, I worked at a quick-service to pay my bills.  One of the restaurant's menu items was a seafood salad which was made with shrimp, imitation crab, celery, chopped eggs, a special seasoning, and "Special T" sauce, which was basically mayonnaise.  The eggs were boiled and chopped up, and then frozen.  When we used them, we added them to the salad mix frozen, and they thawed before they were served to the customer. 

I don't use this preservation method as much as some other way, but this would be a good way to save the eggs to use later as egg salad on a sandwich, or something similar.

Cracked open, whisked, and frozen

I've used this method a few times.  Basically, we crack the eggs into a muffin tin - one egg per hole.  Each egg is about a quarter cup.  Then, we put the tin in the freezer. When the eggs are frozen, we take them out of the tin, and put them in a freezer storage container for longer term storage.

To use, take them out of the freezer and allow them to thaw.  The best way to use these eggs is in baked goods.

And speaking of:

Bake into breads, cakes, and muffins and freeze

One of the only reasons I want eggs during the winter - other than a quick and easy breakfast for Deus Ex Machina - is so that I can bake bread and cakes.  It's taken me a lot of years to realize that autumn is the best time to bake these confections and then freeze them for use during the winter.  

Over the past several weeks, I have been baking a cake every Monday and Wednesday, and occasionally adding some bread and muffins to the oven.  Any pieces left from Monday's cake on Wednesday, end up in the freezer.  By full winter when there is snow on the ground, we will enjoy being able to reach into the freezer for a blueberry muffin, a piece of cake, or a loaf of bread.

I have to admit that my favorite way to preserve eggs is through pickling.  I boil a dozen or so eggs, peel them, and then, add them to a half gallon sized jar with bite-sized sausage pieces (like Kielbasa, Chorizo, or Andouille).  I mix up a very simple vinegar-based pickling brine.  Basically, 1:1 vinegar and water, and 1:1 salt and sugar.  For a half gallon sized jar, I mix 2 cups each of vinegar and water, and 2 tablespoons each salt and sugar, bring it to a boil, pour it over the eggs and sausage in the jar.  Allow to cool, and put in the refrigerator.  After about three days, the eggs are pickled enough to enjoy.  The longer they stay in the brine, the more "pickled" they become.  

I also like to pickle the eggs with jalapeno slices.  I love pickled jalapenos and I LOVE eggs pickled with jalapenos, but I like it spicy. 

In a powered down situation, I could preserve my pickled eggs by pressure canning them, but at the moment, I don't do that.  

I have also, in the past, canned pumpkin bread, which seemed to do okay, but it must be made to very strict specifications, and the use of a preservative, like that found in Crisco shortening, is recommended to prevent botulism.  Since I don't use Crisco oil, freezing is the way I preserve bread, at the moment.  

How do you preserve eggs?  

As  a note, when I was in college, I was fortunate to be eligible for the WIC program, because I was both a young, poor college student and a young mother with very young children (my two oldest were born while I was still an undergraduate student).  Part of the WIC offerings included a dozen eggs per week.  I didn't use that many eggs at that time, and so I had to figure out what to do with all of those eggs.  I didn't preserve them, because I didn't know how back in those days, but I did have this fabulous cook book - 100 ways to Cook Eggs.  It's been long lost in the decades since I was a college student, and I wish I could find another copy.  Alas!

I learned about making quiche from that cookbook, and indeed, one of the prepared, cooked foods, that I still make and freeze from my excess of eggs is quiche.

I just mention it, because having a glut of eggs isn't just a result of having backyard chickens.  In fact, sometimes when eggs are on sale, for those who buy eggs, getting some extra and making a few cakes for the freezer isn't a bad idea. 

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Garden Harvest

I injured the ring finger on my left hand.  Deus Ex Machina and I were joking about how it's never a cool story - like "I was fighting the zombie hoards and tweaked my finger!!"  Mostly it's, I'm a woman of age, and things happen.  

We believe it is a mallet finger injury - i.e. a torn tendon.  I'm certain it's not broken, and I am not in any pain.  So, that's a plus.  I just can't straighten my finger.  Ugh!

But, I have a special splint (that Deus Ex Machina 3D printed for me), which makes typing hard.

So, instead of a long post, I will share today's garden harvest:  beans, broccoli, tomatoes, and grapes.  

Two weeks ago, my granddaughter came over and we planted peas.  They're about six inches tall now.  I'm looking forward to an October harvest of peas from my garden.

What's happening in your world?

Thursday, September 9, 2021

My Kitchen

A little while ago, Nancy from Little Homestead in Boise asked to see my kitchen, specifically, my food prep areas.  

I have a very small, galley-style kitchen.  When we purchased the house, it was listed as having an "eat in" kitchen, because on the right hand side of the kitchen (where we now have a pantry cabinet, an upright freezer, a pull-out storage shelf, and our refrigerator), the previous tenants had a cafe-style table with two chairs.  I mean, I guess that's technically an eat-in feature, but I don't think that's what that normally means in real estate listings.  The seller's realtor was trying to be clever, I think.

Here's my kitchen.  

Nothing about my kitchen is standard, and so we've had to be a little more creative with adding storage and functionality without spending a ton of money.  Renovating the kitchen has never been in the budget, although there has been some painting and some ripping up and replacing of linoleum.  

There are no drawers in my kitchen, probably because the counter is not a standard height.  The positive is that I don't have a "junk" drawer in my kitchen.  The bad news is that there is no utensil drawer, either.  I have a carousel for the cooking spoons and spatulas, and a cute little square storage box with canning jars for my flat ware.  Both are on top of the dishwasher.  

Having non-standard height counters also means that we can't have a regular, built-in dishwasher, even if I wanted one.  

I mean, I do want (and have) a dishwasher.  I just don't have a full-sized one.  At the front left of the picture above, on the black metal cart, is our counter-top half-sized dishwasher, which we purchased used for $100.  It is a real bargain.  

Also, it's half the size of a regular dishwasher, and it costs about a third of what running a full-sized dishwasher costs.  We don't wash pans or large dishes (like my mixing bowls) in the dishwasher.  Mostly it's for plates, jars, and flat wear.  

The dishwasher is portable, and I have to wheel the cart over the sink and attach it to my faucet.  But the bonus of having the dishwasher on the cart is more ... storage!!!  Which is a huge bonus in a small kitchen.

At the far end of the kitchen is the ...  

Pantry Room

We actually call this the "dog room", because it's where we feed the dogs.  There is a weird little angled wall with a built-in shelf that we use to store canned food and bulk spices.  I'm certain there is something behind the wall, that some previous owner was trying to hide or just didn't want to deal with - probably some sort of plumbing or pipe they couldn't remove (like for an old woodstove, perhaps).  I don't know, for certain, and I'm not going to tear up the walls to find out (yet).

Opposite the angled wall is a window.  We added another shelf for more canned goods storage, and we were gifted the bureau.  We use that bureau to store the kitchen towels and linens (like table cloths), cat food, some of my kitchen tools, like the vacuum sealer, and my soap making supplies.  

The louvered doors lead to a bedroom.   Our bottle return bin is next to the bureau.  Beside the bottle return bin is a wall that has an access door for the furnace, which is in a little room behind that red curtain in the first picture.  That room also has a water heater, our recycling bin, my mop, broom, and vacuum cleaner, and the cat litter box. 

Food Prep/counter top

This is my only counter, and I do all of my food prep, canning, etc. in that space.  Sometimes it's a little like playing Tetris, trying to can or cook big meals.   I have a cutting board that fits over half the sink, which I can use to extend the counter space.  

I added that shelf to the back of the counter, and honestly, it has made a world of difference in reducing the LOOK of the clutter on the counter, because rather than having a bunch of random jars just hanging out on the back of the counter, everything is contained under the shelf, or stored on top of it.  And it's the perfect place to keep the big jar of coffee for easy access at Oh-Dark-Thirty, when I get up to start my day.  

I keep recipes I use a lot on the fronts of the cabinets, but also taped inside the cabinet doors.  Having the recipes at eye level is easier than using a cookbook or my phone, and there's a fun story about that ... .  

The lowest cabinet over the counters has spices, mostly in jars.  Christmas 2019, I was making a gluten free, vegan cornbread for a relative, and I had the recipe on my phone, and my phone on the counter.  Glass spice jar meets glass phone face = not good.  

I hate replacing things for stupid reasons, especially electronics.


We have an upright freezer.  We actually had to purchase a larger model than we had originally, which meant that we had less space along that wall. 

Originally, we had the appliances pushed up against the cabinet, but refrigerators and freezers put off a lot of heat.  Yeah - that surprised me, too!  The result was that the inside of the cabinet ended up getting warmer than it should be.  So, we moved the refrigerator and freezer over, which meant there was this strange little gap in between the freezer and the pantry cabinet.

At first, I wanted to custom build one of those pull-out shelves that look like a cabinet, except ... see air flow issue above.  A wooden "cabinet" would impede the air flow for the freezer.  

So, I measured the gap, and to my great delight, it was the perfect size for a metal shelf, which I put on wheels, and now I have a pull out storage unit.   

I, kind of, love it.  And it's perfect for all of my really big kettles, which I mostly use for canning.

I'm reading this book - Housewifery - which was written in the early part of the 20th Century - 1904, I think.  It's fascinating.  The first chapter is about designing a house for maximum efficiency, and I'm pretty certain that the person who wrote that book would be appalled at my kitchen space.  Or, maybe, not. 

I've spent a lot of time reorganizing and adding cabinets, and deciding the best placement for my appliances, and really, making very conscious choices about the size and type of appliance.  Like, we don't have a microwave, and I have very few small appliances (like food processors or bread machines).  I just don't have the storage space for them, and so I make choices, and I do most stuff by hand, like chopping, which is done with a knife, not a food processor.  

I took a lot of inspiration from looking through thousands of pictures of tiny houses, and while it's still not perfect, it works, for now.

In the case of my kitchen, the joke "Size doesn't matter.  It's what  you do with it," is completely accurate.  I've prepped dinner for 30+ people, hosted a Pampered Chef party for 10 in my tiny kitchen, and managed to feed my five children and my husband for the past 25 years.  I've also preserved all sorts of things in all sorts of ways including: fermenting, dehydrating, and canning.

In fact, just yesterday, we canned 14 pints and 3 quarts of peaches (25 lbs), and while we were canning peaches, I also made a peach cobbler for dinner.  


I have actually come to appreciate my tiny kitchen.  Everything is right within easy reach, which makes it highly efficient.  The only thing I would change about my kitchen is the sink.  I would like a deeper sink (or a taller faucet) for when I need to fill large pots.  And there is a small, narrow cabinet under the very small counter space on the right side of the sink.  If I had my way, I would replace that cabinet with drawers.

Otherwise, it's a great space, and it is, truly, both literally and figuratively, the "center" of my home.  


Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Money in the Bank

I got to thinking today, as I was loading up my clothesline outside, about my last post on the savings from washing and ironing the clothes myself.  

In that post, I didn't add that I line dry all of our clothes and have been doing so for more than a decade.  

This site gives a pretty good formula for determining how much it costs to run the clothes dryer.  Since I don't have a clothes dryer, I will use their $0.45 per load in my calculations of what I save by line drying my clothes.

Maine has some form of precipitation on average 131 days per year with an estimated 192 days of sun.  If I estimate that I do laundry every sunny day (and I do laundry on nearly every sunny day), and also during the winter regardless of the weather, it works out to about five loads of laundry per week - which is accurate.  Sometimes, if I get the clothes in the washer early enough, I'll even have time for two loads in one day!

At an average of 257 loads of laundry per year, the savings is $115/annually, which doesn't sound like a lot, but it's $9/month and $2/week in savings.  If we're still using the $18/hour wage, it would require working a half hour per month just for the privilege of putting one's clothes in an electric clothes dryer.  

It doesn't sound like much - it's just a half hour, right?  But every hour one works takes away from other things that most people would prefer to be doing, and certainly, most folks don't *want* to do laundry, but ....

I actually find putting clothes on the line pretty meditative, and on beautiful, sunny days, like today, it's nice to be outside, in the warm sun, under that deep blue sky, hanging clothes on the line.  

And I would much rather spend 15 minutes outside, putting clothes on the line, than stuck inside an office answering phones or checking my employer's email messages.


Monday, September 6, 2021


Rumor has it that cats domesticated themselves,  and they have resisted all efforts from humans to hybridize them in the way we have hybridized dogs.  Word is that today's housecat is pretty much the same as its ancient ancestors - genetically speaking. 

This morning, after I ironed Deus Ex Machina's work clothes, my cat decided the ironing board was a good place to take a nap. 

I am brewing a post about domesticating myself.  

Mostly it's about ironing, which, to me, is one of the most housewifish chores of all, and the one that was first to fall by the wayside when the title "housewife" became a pejorative, wives left the home for the workplace, and everyone believed that two incomes were necessary for a good life.  

It's probably the least appreciated of all of our chores, but when calculating the dollars saved by having a housewife who does those chores, like ironing, there is a pretty significant savings over sending the ironing out to the laundry service.  

I've discovered, much to my surprise, that I actually like ironing.  I invested in the cheapest ironing board I could find, and I'm still using an iron I purchased more than 20 years ago when I was enlisted in the US Army (and ironed my own uniforms, because I couldn't afford a laundry service, and being "pressed and spit-shined" was an unspoken requirement of a soldier who gave a shit).   

I enjoy the simplicity of the task, and I enjoy the aesthetic of a freshly ironed pair of pants.  More, I guess, is that I enjoy seeing Deus Ex Machina wearing the clothes that I laundered for him.  It's a source of pride, for me, as his wife, to know that he's put-together when he goes to work.  

Probably no one else in the world cares, but I do.  And it makes me happy to give him that silly, little thing.

As for costs:

The average cost for a laundry service to wash, dry, and fold one load of laundry is $7 - wash, dried, and folded (although not put away - I'll get to that).  

Driving to the laundromat (at today's $3/gal) would cost him $1.50 just in gas money to deliver and pick up his laundry, and then, he would have to bring it home and put it away.  

The cost to have a pair of pants ironed is $5, on average.  I iron Deus Ex Machina's pants every week so that he has a freshly ironed pair each work day - that's five pairs of pants, ironed, every week.  

Since he only has four pairs of pants, he would need to have two loads of laundry washed per week.  It would cost him $14/week for washing.  The ironing would cost him $25 a week.  Gasoline to get back and forth to the laundry service would be $1.50 a week.  

By doing his laundry and ironing his pants for him, I save $40.50 per week.   He works 47 out of 52 weeks per year.  By having me do his laundry and ironing, for free, here at home, I save him $1905.50 per year.  

And as a bonus, I also put away his laundry, which wouldn't happen if he had a laundry service doing the dirty work.  

As a side note, I also had to hem his work pants, because they were too long.  The cost to have a seamstress hem one pair of pants is $10.  There are four pairs.  I saved $40 by hemming them myself. 

The average wage earner would have to work 2.25 hours per week, just to pay for laundry services.