Last week's tasks were fairly simple: to spend no extra money on groceries since I was purchasing from the bulk foods delivery, and to eat more foods from the freezer and pantry for daytime meals as well as dinners. All of these goals were met this week, and I was surprised that we could go for so long without buying any food at all!
Thoughts & Reflections:
This week I watched an episode of Extreme Couponers (we don't have cable, so this is the first time I've even heard of this show). I could relate to the feelings that the show's participants expressed about why they've come to keep so much food in the house. I want to be clear that while I have used the word "hoarding" to describe my tendencies with food, my food stockpiling is not at ALL to the level featured on that show (perhaps in part because I don't have those kind of money-saving skills). I understand completely how those people ended up with food lining every wall of their home, because like them, I've been in a place in the past where I worried whether I would be able to afford food. It's not a good feeling, and I know it's one that many people all over the world feel every single day.
Which brings me to the second thing that's come up this week: restricting food intake. As I checked in with Jaymz this week about how the challenge was going for him, he admitted that he's feeling a lot of pressure from this experimental budget to not eat as much as he normally would, so he's been restricting his intake. I too, have been feeling the pressure to consume less and save more from this (for us) very restrictive budget. I didn't expect this kind of result from simply trying to eat more of the food we already have, and I'm rather disturbed by how quickly we both have reverted to this kind of "survival" type thinking when it comes to conserving food. I'm definitely finding it more difficult to follow my body's lead and eat intuitively when I'm constantly thinking about how much each food item costs.
Going into this, Jaymz and I chose the $200 figure basically out of thin air, since we haven't ever kept to a food budget before, and it seemed like we had plenty of food.
Here's the math on our budget:
30 days in November x 3 meals/day = 90 meals
That translates to $2.22 per meal (for all three of us), or $2.22 per person per day. That's 74 cents per person, per meal. If I include the snacks that we all have throughout the day, the figure gets even more difficult to wrap my mind around.
In practice, this limit we set is simply not manageable for our family if we eat as much as we want. While we do have a fair amount of food stored up, the majority of it is uncooked grains (such as rice, oats, and flour) which require other ingredients to make them tasty, filling, and more nutritionally dense. As I've bought groceries this month, I'm mostly purchasing produce, eggs, milk & cheese, and a little bit of meat—and much less of all of these than we're used to.
I know that far too many people (perhaps including you, dear reader) live on spending this much or less for food, and that's just not right. In light of the fact that these are self-imposed budgetary limits and Jaymz and I are finding ourselves feeling fairly desperate about food lately, I'm going to be more flexible with the budget for the last week. We will also come up with a more realistic budget for future months.
The bottom line is: I'm not willing to give up on well-rounded nutrition or to start feeling like I have to eat less so that we'll have enough for Daniel to eat, just for the sake of sticking to a budget and using up food we already have. And, I want us to be able to stick to the second of the rules I outlined for the challenge: Eat as much as we want. Right now we're not doing that, and it feels bad.
This Week's Tasks:
- Stop restricting food intake! This is the main task for the week and it's essential that we focus on it to change this frame of mind we've slipped into.
- Thanksgiving on a budget: Make as many of the dishes I had planned ahead of time as I possibly can while attempting to stay within my budget. This includes a roasted turkey breast, yams, gluten-free stuffing, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, and egg casserole for breakfast.
- Make enough food to last through the early part of the week (but not too much) so the Thanksgiving food leftovers will be able to carry us through the rest of the challenge.
I was inspired to create this food challenge (in part) by Momma Jorje's Monday Minimalist series. I'll be participating in Monday Minimalist for the Mondays in November, writing updates on our progress.
Head on over and grab Momma Jorje's brand new MM button!