The Crumbs family is on a challenge to go 30 days without spending money. Today’s post is an update as of day 10 (yesterday). You can read the rules of the challenge, and what inspired us to take such extreme action, here.
Since this is a frugal food blog, it only seems fitting to start with what we’ve been eating. First though, a brief history lesson…
Normally, we plan our meals 4 weeks at a time. That kinda went by the wayside when my step-mom gave me a subscription to a local CSA for my birthday in June. After 2-3 weeks of flying by the seat of my pants, I finally settled on planning meals 2-4 days in advance, based largely on what was in the box (which was a surprise until we picked it up) and loosely on what was already in the kitchen.
This challenge has made meal planning a requirement. With nearly everything needing to be prepared from scratch, it’s imperative that I know what we’re having for dinner today AND tomorrow. And the longer I can plan ahead, the better off the whole family is.
With that said, here’s what we’ve been eating for the first 10 days of the 30 day no-spending challenge:
What We’ve Eaten
(L) potato salad, mixed fresh berries and grilled chicken [church BBQ]
(D) homemade pizza
(B) smoothies; zucchini bread
(L) spaghetti rice (homemade sauce on rice instead of noodles)
(D) taco night w/leftovers from family dinner; added cilantro, corn on the cob, coconut rice and corn tortillas (used up the last 6 from a package in the fridge)
(B) pancakes (used up 3 different packages) with strawberries and chocolate chips
(L) real food lunchables
(D) sauteed pork chops, steamed broccolini and risotto (with just squash and ends of broccoli)
Dessert – homemade blueberry pie
(B) creamy buckwheat & oats w/bananas and strawberries
(L) leftover enchiladas and corn on the cob
(D) grilled cheese, green salad, sweet potato fries
(B) peanut butter & jelly on leftover tortillas w/fresh honeydew
(L) peanut butter & jelly on leftover tortillas w/fresh honeydew (no, not a typo, the kids wanted the same thing for lunch!); caprese salad
(D) snacky dinner (cheese, meats, crackers, hummus, fresh fruit)
(B) donuts; bacon and biscuits
(D) homemade pizza
(B) smoothies; leftover donuts w/fresh honeydew & plums
(L) leftover pizza; wrap with lettuce, strawberry, hummus & cheese)
(D) family dinner at parents
(B) creamy buckwheat & oats w/blueberries
(L) peanut butter & jelly on leftover tortillas w/plums
(D) spicy peanut chicken stir-fry over rice
n/a: for one reason or another, there wasn’t an actual “meal” at this time
Did We Cheat?
You might have noticed donuts on the breakfast menu a couple times this week. Our kids have a small spending fund where they collect money given to them from family and special occasions. When the kids have gone above and beyond their normal call of duty at home, we like to reward them. Sometimes it’s making a dessert, sometimes it’s an outing, and this time it was donuts. Each kid paid for their own donuts (80¢ each) and they each bought two. They ate one on Saturday, the other on Sunday.
We got $10 in the mail from Kohl’s last week and I struggled with not letting it go to waste. Mr. Crumbs and I agreed that it would be fun to walk to Kohl’s as a family, since we’re conserving gas and didn’t have other plans for the day. I found a dress for $10 exactly, and used a 15% off coupon to help cover the tax.
Since our little walk turned into more of a two-hour run session trying to keep up with the kids riding their bikes, I ended up buying a 99¢ bottle of water too. An old Visa gift card in my wallet had a balance of $3.96, so I used it to cover the 90¢ total.
I mentioned it in this post, but we sold an old coffee grinder for $5 on Craiglist. That money went towards a 1/2 gallon of whole milk and a dozen eggs for a total of $4.33. That leaves us with 64¢ to spend on groceries.
My Current Thoughts
Overall, this challenge has been more mental than anything. Knowing you can’t just run out to the store to pick up more bananas or pasta is challenging, but at the same time, it’s teaching me the lesson I sought to learn in contentment.
I will say that the CSA box have been HUGE in helping us make it through with fresh produce. We would have been out days ago if it weren’t for the free subscription. Having dinner with my parents is a big treat too, since it allows us to stretch what we have for another day.
Gas has been on the forefront of our minds too, and I’m incredibly surprised we’ve only used 2-3 ticks worth in these past 10 days. We’ve missed a family outing to Big Sur and really wanted to have lunch with friends after church on Sunday, but we kept our head down and mind focused on the task at hand. As a side effect, less driving means more time at home, which should mean a cleaner house… but since I’m making nearly everything from scratch, it really means more dirty dishes.
Meals haven’t been too crazy so far, but I can see difficultly looming ahead. We’re down to just 2 bananas and 1 cup of yogurt – both staples in our daily smoothies. I found a jug of aloe vera juice (gifted to us) that I’m using now to add liquid to smoothies, other than water.
I thought we would run out of sugar, which would dampen the ability to make quick breads, but found more gifted to us in another cabinet. It’ll definitely be a mix/match of various types later this month, but I don’t think it will really matter much.
We’ve learned – again – that hard white wheat is best in pastries and not breads, evidenced by a loaf of bread that didn’t rise. At all. We made do and sliced the bread horizontally, like you would Focaccia, for grilled cheese. I was bummed though that the 4-hour effort of making bread was demolished in one meal.
As I chatted with Mr. Crumbs on the phone today, I suggested that we extend the challenge by another 5 or 10 days, depending on how the kitchen looks come day 30. While both the CSA box and family dinners are blessing, and I’m INCREDIBLY thankful for them both, they lessen the “suffering” part of the challenge that I was really seeking to find. I don’t want this challenge to be easy. I want it to be hard!
The kids have asked us why we can’t go to Chipotle or why we can’t get more bananas… and our response is because we’re learning to be content with what God has already given us, instead of seeking to get more. They’re young (6 and 5), but they get it and don’t argue.
At the same time, we’re all still eating fresh black plums and sweet honeydew. Evidence that we’re far from hurting in terms of food.
We’ll see what happens as we go forward, but I can tell you this: I’ve grown to REALLY appreciate fresh fruits and vegetables, especially since I know the day is coming soon when we will no longer have a weekly box to pick up!