Saturday, March 19, 2011

Another one of Those Whining Blogs

If I won the lottery I'd pay back every penny I owe and then I'd buy food, tons and tons of food. Unfortunately I'd have to play the lottery in order for that dream to be realized.

Have you ever walked the aisles of a supermarket and wondered at the reality of the absurd blessing of abundance that sits at our finger tips? There are at least 50 different granola bars at the store, hundreds of cereals, and enough candy to fill its own candy store. The frozen food for our convenience and tasting pleasure fills 5 rows of coolers at my store. Practically every meat imaginable is available and fresh so that we might be able to whip up one of Emril or Rachel Ray's amazing dishes. Juice, and fruit, and dairy galore. I dare say we hardly ever stop to think about the immense amount of food available for our choosing.

I've two reasons for this reflection. One: I've been to truly impoverished places and I've seen the reality of dirty water and sparse food as a way of life for generations. The people in those places marvel at the tiny selection of food in the one room shacks/ tiendas that dot the roads up the mountains. The people in those places dream of acquiring enough money to purchase a delicacy from those dirty little buildings housing tiny bits of food that we'd probably just pass by if offered any. We are overly blessed and I generally forget that fact myself. I dare say most people hardly ever think about it or even realize it at all.

Reason two for this posting: My fridge is empty. My cupboards are bare. My husband has a slightly rounded belly but I truly believe he thinks I'm starving him. When I see the frown on his face because I'm feeding him ground chicken meatloaf and peas (once again) I feel so impoverished (that dinner costs about $1.65 per person). I spent $6 (over the budget) on pork last nite because I'm sick of feeling poor. I'm sick of having that "I'm hungry feeling" even though it's not actually hunger but just snacking mode and opening every cupboard and nothing being in them. I WANT TO BUY FOOD!!! I want to open the fridge and see fruit and cheese and I'm having a hard time remembering what even goes in a fridge anymore... JUICE! I'm sick of just seeing the milk and eggs and ketchup sitting in there all alone.

Ok, whining done. The point is that I'm not starving and I'm not poor and I'm ridiculously spoiled. I have this ingrained belief that I should be able to have anything I want. The reason I go out to eat so often isn't because I don't want to cook it's because I'm feeding that belief that I have the right to be spoiled. For goodness sakes I remember shopping with my mom when I was a kid. We'd check out with two overflowing carts filled with everything; toaster strudels, mac n cheese, little debbies, fruit, and juice, hot dogs (oh man I want a hot dog... but they've too much sodium for my husband), I mean you name it, it was in one of those carts. If we wanted a toy she'd get it for us. If we wanted a treat, "put it in the cart." My mom was awesome and we ate yummy food. But she lost her house. She lives with my brother. I followed in her footsteps for like 7 years spending tons of money that I didn't have but eating everything I wanted. My husband and I spent SEVEN YEARS getting everything we wanted and now I want my fridge to be full but my fridge doesn't need to be full.

The truth: I'm not starving. I'm not poor. I don't need to have everything I want. I have debt to pay back (ALOT of debt). I NEED to be responsible. I can do this $12 a day thing. I've already proven it. I just need to break this spoiled little brat mentality that I live with. I can break it. I am ready to grow up!

1 comment:

  1. I see this a different way. It sounds like you are experiencing a real consequence, safely, once more. You do have credit. You do have the ability to budget. And you are choosing to do the big girl thing and live with this consequence and figure out a solution. Good for you!

    I think what you want is a "stocked pantry" - you want to come home, and instead of seeing bare cupboards, see full cupboards where you can come up with a variety of meals that you can quickly and easily throw together without too much thought. That is very attainable...I've never actually said this because it sounds kind of harsh given you situation, but my whole family of four (and I'm 7 mos pregnant, and we buy catfood, tp, paper towels, on this money), eats on $15 more per month than you spend on you, your husband and pets. I have been hellaciously sick for three days, it is the end of the month, and yet my husband is still managing to feed our family without any assistance from me from our stocked pantry.

    I think you are moving in the right direction by not limiting yourself to $1+ a day - that encourages you to focus on convenience foods that don't fill you up and leave your cupboards empty. With a little more to spend, there are some great bargains to be had. Lots of families happily eat a varied, colorful, healthy diet on the budget you have set for yourself. When they shop, their buggies overflow just like your mom's did...they just don't have toaster strudels in the cart. I want to encourage you that the choice is not between full fridge or empty fridge - the choice is between healthful, economical calories and throw-away, overpriced, ramen and juice calories.

    Here are some places where you can save big and fill the pantry fast:

    -family packs or clearanced meat that you portion into meal sizes and freeze. Organics go as low as $2 a pound, regular sometimes gets down to 99 cents!

    -clearanced bread (especially buns) - these often clearance out for 20 cents at our local grocery and we freeze them. But bread freezes well, so if your favorite wheat goes on sale, bulk up and throw a new one in the fridge to thaw the night before you need it.

    -pantry staples like tomatoes or chicken broth for 10 cents a can form the base of many meals - everything from boring spaghetti with tomato sauce to chicken vindaloo (which with the addition of bulk spices is only a few cents more than the boring spaghetti)

    -cheap, bulky, freezer friendly veggies and fruits. Grapes, melon, celery, carrots, onion, peppers, the list goes on and on. When these are on sale, you slice and dice and freeze what you know you won't eat.

    -Solving the dilemma of "if we eat this one more time" - soup is a great example, so is your chicken meatloaf. You get a great deal. You cook. You keep cooking and eating and cooking and eating the same thing over and over. Stop it. Cook a big batch, then freeze the leftovers. Bring them out as part of your meals two weeks from now - or three weeks from now. Meatloaf for two people - holy cow - that is gonna be some leftovers - but cooking it in a muffin pan gives you single serves that are easy to freeze and reheat. Meatloaf also crumbles beautifully for a rice stirfry or as part of a stew. Don't be afraid to "repurpose" your leftovers. This leaves more money later on to be spent on better food - kind of like Dave Ramsey snowball effect. In two weeks, you are only cooking 2-3 meals instead of 4-6 because of what you already have frozen and ready to go. Therefore you can afford to buy more pantry items, more variety, more whatever is going to make your diet exciting and fun!