One of life's little ironies is how cutting back often makes for a richer abundance. Our former corporate warlord whose annual compensation is 120 times what midrange middle-aged grunters get, decided his coffers would look better if he found younger hungrier grunters to do the job. Thus we are freed to chase our private unsubsidized rainbows. Which is a blessing but a hard one.
It looks like we have a couple of years of lean living and fast & furious graduate studies before we can sure-foot our way back onto track. Meanwhile, I am grateful everyday that we've stocked a storage pantry with wheat and oil, honey, salt and yeast (aka BREAD once you add water and stir) plus shelves of pickles and canned goods, buckets of beans and oats and a freezer with most of a half beef and the last of a whole pork.
It makes my new budget so much more livable.
According to USA Today in 2013, $145 a week was thrifty for food expenses. That seemed squeaking through on bare beans when I first saw it, but apparently vast numbers of householders claim to live on $200 a MONTH. (It's even possible some of them are living on that in 2015, rather than 2001). I'm setting my new budget to squeeze between those two posts.
Since my gardening is still in the developmental stage (we have parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme! and green beans! and 4 cucumbers so far!) and since our chickens (those who have survived the depredations of an as of yet unidentified beast with teeth) have not begun to lay, that budget will go for milk, cheese, eggs, fresh or frozen greens and fruit. as well as cleaning supplies, birthday presents, bandaids, toothpaste and other nonperishables of that ilk. Can we do this? Two weeks in, I have to say --
I think WE CAN.
But I am aware always how much harder this would be if we didn't have so much to be grateful for.
- I'm so grateful we have many staples and meat in storage.
- I'm glad I've spent the last many years learning how to make bread, stock, beans, and all-veg meals and that my family has been learning to enjoy pretty much everything that shows up on the table.
- I'm really glad I've already learned to shop the perimeter and to forgo most packaged glops and mixes.
- I'm grateful for the motivation to avoid bakery items -- better than membership at a fitness club!
- I'm glad I recently realized that frozen is better and cheaper than canned, as well as less spendy and nearly as good as fresh.
- I'm glad I've got a kitchen garden started where I can step things up and grow more of my salads and herbs.
- I'm glad we started keeping chickens this summer and hopeful we'll have our own eggs soon.
- I'm grateful for my shelf of excellent cookbooks that focus on nutrient-dense, delicious meals without lots of expensive ingredients with Cook's The Science of Good Cooking; Andrea Chesman's 366 Delicious Ways to Cook Rice, Beans, and Grains; Recipes from the Root Cellar; All About Braising leading the pack.
- I'm grateful for a stocked spice shelf.
- I'm grateful I've already scouted out less-expensive sources for great fruit for canning, bags of onions and garlic, boxes of potatoes and squash to replenish the root cellar I don't have a garden yet to supply. Living in the rural Pacific Northwest has many benefits and this is just one of them.