If you look in my refrigerator, you may see some things that seem redundant. You will see butter, the real stuff, next to margarine. There are several gallons of milk, but also a pitcher that contains something white and milky. It is in fact, mixed up dry milk. There are also two packs of bacon. One is in a red box, while the other in just plastic.
Why the duplication? Aren't those products interchangeable? Why do I buy both? The dry milk, the margarine and red box bacon are far less expensive than their counterparts that are also found in my refrigerator. To maximize the grocery budget I should only buy the less expensive options, but I don't.
At my local Aldi, butter is $1.99 a pound, and margarine $0.45. Big difference, but there is nothing like real butter on my toast in the morning, especially if that toast is homemade bread. Margarine just doesn't do it. The butter goes on the butter dish to be used for toast and the like. The margarine stays in the refrigerator, and is used for baking and cooking.
Dry milk is drastically cheaper than the fresh version. Some frugal types use only dry milk, but I just can't (won't) get used to the taste. In baking and cooking though, I don't notice the difference. Keeping some dry milk mixed up and in the refrigerator, makes it easy to use this cheaper version while I'm cooking.
The red box bacon is $1.99 a pound. The quality is inconsistent. Sometimes it is good and meaty, sometimes it is almost all fat. When using bacon to flavor beans or other type dishes, fatty is fine. When I sit down for breakfast, I want meat, not fat. That is why I also buy the Aldi premium bacon for $2.49 a pound.
In this house, real butter, milk and good bacon are important at meal time. I'm willing to spend a little extra there. They aren't as important for cooking purposes. I balance our desire for the good stuff with our desire to be frugal, by purchasing both.
Being frugal is about saving money, but it is also about prioritizing how you spend your money. You don't have to give up everything you enjoy. You don't always have to buy the cheapest option. Of course, butter, milk and bacon are examples on a small scale, but finding a frugal balance, with in your budget, applies to all levels of our time and finances.