This post is from contributor Sherry Hayes.
Challenging circumstances do happen to good, God-fearing people. They occur to those folks whose hearts are pure before Him. These difficult seasons can be a time of training and blessing, so that God can feed us from His precious promises and clothe us in His abundant grace.
But there is also a place for careful management of what we have. In our family, after reviewing our monthly budget, we set aside a specific amount to be expended for groceries. I understand that, if I do not manage these funds well, there are no extra dollars for me to spend; I must live within these boundaries.
Without a plan or a budget there is a tendency for a family manager to drag her whole family through a “feast or famine” routine. See if you recognize it:
Since the family has been living on ramen noodle soup and bologna at the end of the month, everyone by this time is craving wholesome food. Before the money is placed into Mom’s hands, everyone is begging for the meat, fresh fruits, vegetables, and special treats which have been absent from their diet over the past week or so. Even Mom’s eyes are big as she salivates over the steaks that are “on sale” in the local grocery store ads. “Wouldn’t it be fun to have some friends over for grilled salmon? After all, it is at a rock-bottom price this week!” she muses.
So she goes to the store, with a purse full of coupons, and almost spends the entire budget, filling the cart with all sorts of special items that she knows will make everyone at home very happy.
In just a few weeks, after all of the pre-made, expensive foods have been consumed, she’s back in the store again.
This time she is filling her basket up with oatmeal, potatoes, peanut butter, and baloney. The children come to the table and groan with discontent. Her hungry husband breaks the budget by charging lunch at work—which plunges the family’s finances further into the red.
Then, the next month, the whole process begins all over again.
There is a better way!
This is what the wisest home managers do: Instead of having all of the best foods at the beginning of the month, and the cheap foods at the end of the month, why not plan to have a bit of both every week? If we have two meatless meals with beans, and at least one meal of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches every week, this allows for a few nights with dishes like Asian chicken and homemade pizza, and weekends with hamburgers and delicious beef tacos, etc.
If we eat steel-cut oats one morning, and regular oats another (making sure they are well-flavored and served with love and thankfulness), then I can offer my children Rice Krispies treats (with dried fruit and nuts) on another morning.
Cottage-fried potatoes also keep people satisfied and happy. These can even be done with a coating of olive oil and baked in the oven. I like to add some Parmesan and a bit of smoked sausage to mine. My children don’t like onions, so a bit of onion powder suffices. Green beans are a great compliment to this simple meal.
I know that I must be rather odd, but there is something in a bowl of black-eyed peas that my body craves. In combination with a pan of freshly baked cornbread and some healthy “real” butter, the meal (and the protein) is complete. Jell-O with bananas nicely rounds out the mealtime.
Of course, soup is just about the best wholesome meal for your money. On a chilly fall day, even the aroma can’t be beat for soul-satisfaction. My kids love to put in green beans and a number of different canned legumes with smoked sausage, a can of diced tomatoes, along with some chicken bouillon cubes.
And, yes, we eat peanut butter and jelly at least once a week. We enjoy it with ramen noodle soup—just simple enough for the kids to love. To balance out the nutrition, we eat raisin bran cereal for breakfast, snack on carrots and celery during the day, and have a more substantial meal for dinner.
What I really love to do from time-to-time is buy a huge roast at the beginning of the month, an inexpensive cut that is on sale, and save it in the freezer. Then, at the end of the month, while planning for next month’s meals, I have this wonderful meat with potatoes simmering in the crock pot, and as I serve it up, the reactions of my loved ones are priceless!
You can find more recipes and ideas here on my blog, Large Family Mothering: Everything About Christian Homeschool Family Life From a Mom of 15.
Living this way teaches my children to be thankful for what they have, to be content. It also keeps them from feeling “poor.” The “feast or famine” approach gives children the idea that there is never enough; it keeps them thinking that the only way to live well is to have more and more money. The largest paycheck in the world will not last long if it is not managed well.
This is not all that organic or trendy, but it has fed generations of American families. It has kept food on the table through all sorts of economic downturns and other stressful periods.
For more inspiration, try reading the book, We Had Everything But Money about life during the Great Depression.
Latest posts by Sherry Hayes (see all)
- Gain More Hours in Your Homeschool Day by Using Lunchboxes - October 5, 2018
- Notebooking Homeschool High School Science - June 2, 2017
- 3 Dirt-Cheap Nutrition Boosters Children Can Love - November 4, 2015
- The One Textbook Your Kids Will Never Put Down - January 12, 2015
- How to Save Your Food Budget from the Feast or Famine Cycle - November 10, 2014