Well, it’s been a while since I last posted; some of you may remember a posting from Beccy back in June when she shared I’d been diagnosed with breast cancer. Since then, I’ve had a couple of surgeries, some chemo, and radiation, which is now ongoing, and except for the cancer, I’m in really good health! During much of the recovery from surgeries and from the treatment itself, I’ve been feeling like I’m draggin’ my wagon, both physically and mentally. But things are much improved, and I’m happy to be finally sharing another post with you all.
This won’t include a recipe, but I did want to share some thoughts about feeling the pinch. Financially, that is. While we have excellent insurance, the deductibles and copays for all our visits to the medical world have taken a substantial bite from our budget, and that along with the fact that I’ve had to give up my part time job with the local library means a little less coming in. Fortunately, I’ve been able to find some ways of stretching the food budget, and I thought I’d share these with you.
First, I’m finally using up things from my pantry. I told Beccy that I seem to still have the impulse for stocking the shelves the way I used to when we were feeding the kids before we entered the empty nest stage. I have enough rice, flour, brown sugar, dried beans of various sorts to last us through much of this year, but I find myself still picking up some extras when they are on sale. (Valerie, Just Say No!) I’ve been making myself stop when tempted to do that, reminding myself of the sagging shelves at home. (By the way kids, birthday presents this year will probably be jars of jams, jellies and preserves…I’m sure they are still good!)
Another thing I’m doing is trying to cook for two instead of 8 or 10. Leftovers are all right with some things, but not so attractive with others, and it’s nice to end a meal without having to add more dishes to the refrigerator with a bit of this and a dollop of that. Too many of those already in the refrigerator (okay, today’s the day I get rid of those…no comment from the husband, please.) Let me emphasize that I am NOT anti-leftovers—certain kinds make wonderful soups, casseroles, etc., but there are certain things that just are not better after a day or two in the refrigerator.
Eating from the freezer—much like using pantry items up, freezer items don’t stay nice forever, so it’s better to use these up rather than keeping them for ‘someday.’ I think part of my problem is I get a degree of security from seeing loaded shelves, and I want to get over that. There is enough food, and I can get more if I need it.
Another problem—false sense of deprivation. This kicks into play when you are gifted with or able to buy some special item that you don’t normally get, and you put it on the shelf, waiting for that special moment when you will get the maximum enjoyment from that item. What happens? The months, nay, the years(!) pass, that item gets pushed to the back of the shelf, and by the time it sees the light of day, you don’t even have the courage to open it, much less taste it. Special foods? Carpe diem! Seize the day! Enjoy it now, for tomorrow may not come! (Sorry for the drama, but it works for me.)
One other very good and helpful thing is the S.H.A.R.E program. Beccy has mentioned Angel Food Ministries in the past, and S.H.A.R.E is much the same. It provides basic foods on a monthly basis for less than most of us would pay at the store. The picture I’ve included in this post shows the foods that we picked up today, for a total cost of 43.90. This included their main box of food (25.00) which includes meats, fish, poultry, usually pasta of some kind and a few canned goods and/or mixes for quick breads, as well as 9 to 10 pounds of fresh produce. You are able to select separate items as well, and I ordered two more portions of the fresh produce ($14.00). There is a 10% shipping charge ($3.90) and a $1.00 handling fee. This month’s box included the following items:
5 lb. chicken leg quarters
1 lb. ground beef patties
1 lb. pork tenderloin
1 lb. tilapia fillets
12 oz. brown and serve sausages
12 oz. precooked cut up chicken
1 8-oz. shrimp, vegetable and pasta meal (For Jim, I’m not that into Shrimp)
12 oz. egg noodles
1 qt. wild mushroom marinara sauce
1 can cling peaches
1 can peas (erk, it’s been a long time since I’ve looked one of these in the eye)
4 oz. jar chopped garlic
15 red delicious apples
15 kiwi fruits
3 lbs carrots
3 3-lb. bags potatoes
3 2 lb. bags onions
They also offer a couple of organic items, usually some kind of meat or poultry, and a box of produce is always offered, 10 or more pounds of mixed fruits and veggies for $15.00. I order these when the budget is a little more healthy, and the variety and quality is always excellent.
Where we live, here in the Northern U.P. of Michigan, it’s not that easy to find good fresh produce at these prices. Summer and fall offer better options, but we still can’t get the variety of meats and produce for this price. And it’s definitely enough for the two of us. And with my attempts to eat out of the pantry and freezer, there is very little we have to purchase at the store. Milk, eggs, cheese, a few more fruits and veggies (usually the ones on sale) and the odd baking supplies now and then seems to take care of what we need.
My goal for the next 3 months is to come in at under $100 for each month; in January, we spent just under $90.00. In February we might go over a bit due to a larger order I’ll be making from our co-op that includes almond milk. But we should be at least close. I’ll be writing more about this later.
All that being said, I hope all our readers are enjoying these winter months. I thought it would be nice to include a picture of our own status today–sunshine is abundant, sky is clear, and it is COLD.