03 April, 2009

Squeezing Jackson

...it's a mystery, wrapped in an enigma, wrapped in bacon...mmmmmmm....

We had an extremely nice winter holiday, wherein we scrimped not at all, and then we came home and sat around with no work for a couple of weeks, biting our nails. Hawk did eventually roll and is currently stalled in Tex-Ass, waiting (behind 12 other drivers) for a load to come his way. So our finances went, practically overnight, from not too scary to suckity-poo.

However, the kids are up for Blackout Days every so often, though I wonder if the cost of candles offsets any BGE savings we might see. We're postponing purchases. We're saving up our errands. But then! Then ! Our local news station picked up this story about $1/day eating, and I challenged Fluff and Fuzz to try to eat for $1 a day. Just for a week. Just to see if we could do it.

Rebecca Currie was trying to disprove the claims of a California couple's experiment and premise, that it was impossible to eat healthfully on a budget of $1 per day. I figured, hey, she did it; let's us try it. If we run out of things to eat, the grocery is just around the corner.

Run out of things to eat. HAH!

First off, $21 buys more groceries than I thought it would. Also, we 'cheated' by using spices, canned goods, supplies and leftovers that we had hanging around already. (Rebecca started from scratch, pretending she had nothing- no spices, no flour, no sugar, no leftovers in the fridge.) Aside from the obvious savings (where did the other $80/week GO?) it's teaching the kids (who don't hear 'no' or 'we can't afford it' often enough) what is possible with $1. $3 for 6 donuts no longer looks like a bargain- hooray! Making pudding at home isn't a big hairy deal; booyah! The boxed pasta&sauces are 'too expensive'~ wowza! Coffee at Starbucks isn't even an option- not that it was very good anyhow...!

At the end of Week #1, before we shopped for Week #2, at the kids' request, we went for lunch at Wendy's. We set a limit of $3 each, and planned to order from the Value Menu, which doesn't really seem different from the Regular Menu except for corralling all the cheap stuff together on the signboard.

That $9 meal left them unsatisfied in many ways. I pulled open my chicken sandwich and showed them the size of the pattie. "Whoa," said Fluff. "That's a big piece of meat." Yeah. At home, I'd've cut it into slivers and mixed it with some noodles and sauce and peas, and the casserole would've fed all three of us. After the burgers, fries and Frosty were consumed, the kids were still kind of hungry. They were impressed when I showed them the amount of ground chuck $9 would buy. They put back the organic milk and eggs and replaced them with grocery brand milk and eggs in order to have room in the budget for a box of mint tea. And even though a dinner of cornbread and beans is far from their favorite, they volunteered that it was a more satisfying meal than lunch had been.

Pushing cookies and soda to the bottom of the 'wish' list (below bananas, popcorn and a pizza kit) was their idea. We're just starting Week #2, and survived Week #1 better than we thought we would. We will see how long we can manage. The kids are learning budgeting, meal planning, comparison shopping, that all things bear scrutiny and precisely what is important to them, and I'm clearing out my overstock of pantry goods. When I eventually double our budget to $42, we'll all feel positively wealthy.

Tonight, with the aid of a seasoning packet I had in the cabinet, broccoli I'd purchased two weeks ago, and the tail end (sorry) of last week's rotisserie chicken, I was nominated for an award of Kitchen Heroism because I made Chicken and Broccoli with rice.

So if you miss me, it's because I'm busy polishing my Kitchen Heroism award. It's made of copper and a bitch to keep clean.


Anonymous said...

What a hoot!! I have 2 kids also and would love to hear an update. This is right up my alley!!!

Cybele said...

I will endeavour to create an update. Glad you liked it.