photo credit: http://www.gardenguides.com/vegetables/
As you probably know, over the past few months God has been tuning my heart to hear what He has to say about excess and waste and greed and my role in all of it. I typically never thought of myself as greedy, but after analyzing my life, I realize that my actions have a tendency to show more self indulgence than they do generosity, more carelessness than intentionality. This stuff is counter-cultural to Jesus. He came and did everything with intention. He gave freely. He moved people. He changed lives. So we wanted to see if we could remove some of the dependence we have on food, on things that are unhealthy, and on cooking well (aka: spending money), and replace it with self-control and gratefulness for what we’ve been given. This is a huge lesson in stewardship and it was hard, but guess what??
WE DID IT!!!
We intentionally spent only $100 dollars on groceries for our home (actually it was $97, but who’s counting??), and it really, really worked. We didn’t go hungry, we didn’t lose weight, we just limited and cut back and had self control at the grocery store. It’s really amazing what can happen when we plan ahead, only go to the store for certain things, and cook creatively.
One caveat would be to say that we did eat out the same amount as we normally do (in April, this will be our target item to cut back on) and if we were in a hurry (meaning not if we ran out of food) we sometimes bought food/coffee at work. Mostly though, we tried to pack as much as we could, which meant that packing lunches was a part of the $100 goal.
This was an incredible month. We both stopped snacking, and we ate smaller portions, and we thought about and prayed for those who are hungry way more. We were grateful for every meal and it was amazing to find things to make for dinner even though we had “nothing to eat”… God wrecked me once again and I am so grateful that He did. This fast was incredibly successful and it’s my hope that He was glorified.
We would encourage as many people as we can to take a look at their lives and find one area where cutting back could be more helpful than harmful and challenge yourself and your family. Whatever your motivation: financial, awareness, simplicity– you will change through it for the better. I promise.
Some of our friends/family asked specifically how we made this work. Remember that we chose to only live off of 30% of our typical food budget, so creativity did occur, which made it a very fun project for me. So here are some tips on cutting back that really helped our success in this endeavor:
1) Pick 7 guideline foods. For us, we’ve used more than 7 in the end, but starting there gave us a foundation that was very helpful when shopping. None of these food were processed and many had “superfood” qualities. We got most of these foods from the book “7” which was the inspiration to the whole month. Our 7 foods were: chicken, avocado, apples, wheat bread, spinach, rice, and sweet potatoes. We added foods like cereal/oatmeal, grapefruit, and peanut butter/jelly, tuna, eggs, and yogurt, in order to accent the other items and to have more variety when it came to packing lunches/eating breakfast.
2) Eat smaller portions. We started using our salad plates as dinner plates and we filled them to create the illusion that we were eating more. This part is a mind game and it works. We ate the first plate of food as slowly as we could and had a rule that we could only go up for seconds (and the portions the second time around had to be smaller than the first– this worked most times because the portions I cooked were less too) and not thirds. We realized that sometimes going for seconds is about hunger and sometimes its about desire (and we still wanted to enjoy the food we cooked).
3) Eat less meat. We chose to make our food go further by cutting up chicken instead of eating it in whole breasts. Therefore 3 fresh chicken (skinless, boneless) tenders was enough to feed both of us when mixed with veggies and rice. This made the meat last longer in our freezer/refrigerator and we didn’t have to buy it each week which is a huge money saver.
4) Shop local. As much as we could, we used Central Market as our fruit and vegetable go-to place. Dan and I really like fruits and veggies, and we tend to spend a lot of our budget on this stuff at the grocery store. At market, we spent a total of 25$ there for the whole month and ate veggies every night and fruit daily. This called for extra planning since market is only open 3 days a week from morning to early afternoon, and my work schedule didn’t always comply.
5) Be on the same team. For most of this we were completely in unity. Dan was really on board with saving money and I was excited about living simply. This helped, because I can’t imagine trying to do this without him being into it. It also helped when one of us was really craving our favorite snack, or just really wanted to spend money and cook a nice meal, and we could remind each other what our goal was. For the most part, we had a lot of fun doing it together too!
Thank you to all of you who supported us through this. While we will not be holding strict to the $100 budget anymore, we do know that our goal is to maintain self control and learn from what we’ve been taught. This month we are going to be working on stewardship, and I will tell you a little more tomorrow about what that entails for us! We are excited to see what God will continually be doing in our lives!