I've had a light heart these past few days as I realized that we made it through January without running out of food or money in the grocery fund. I'm not sure this has ever happened before!
This amazing feat can be attributed to two things:
1) The Lord is graciously gifting us. Now that we have been using a strict budget for two years and have been faithfully tithing, He is calling us to be (more) generous. So, we tried it out in January- giving more than we thought we had to give (because you can't outgive the Giver!). In turn, I see His generosity toward us (of course!).
2) I've surrendered to simple, frugal eating. If I buy lots of beans and rice and potatoes at the beginning of the month (when there seems to be plenty of money) then we'll still have something to eat at the end of the month.
Here are a few more things I've learned:
1) It's good for me to just stay away from the grocery store. If I don't go, I don't spend any money. It's kind of strange, but I do love seeing how many days I can "make it" with only the food in the house/freezer. Usually I impress myself- and the meals are actually quite good, considering.
2) When I plan the week's menu it is good to leave at least one (or two) slots blank. Then, I'm not purchasing food for those meals and I can put my scrounging skills to good use on those nights and whip up a surprise. Maybe the Lord will bless us with surprise fellowship or a gift on one of those nights, too.
3) The Lawyer was right (even though I don't like it). Buying nuts and dried fruit doesn't feed bellies when they are hungry for dinner. Even those these are good, healthy grow foods that I want for my family, I can only buy them once our pantry is full (of beans and rice!). I'm still buying (lots of) them, but not as much as I'd like.
4) I can survive without daily chocolate.
One simple, frugal meal this week that was a hit: Broccoli Cheese Rice. I served this with a head of cabbage which I cooked with garlic and Braggs. We had salad, too. Yum for everyone!
Another (inexpensive) winner has been grits with eggs in the morning. Our kids also love bean and cheese quesadillas (and I can add all kinds of nutritious things in there!).