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When Frugal is Out of Your Price Range

2012 - 2014 were especially hard years for us. Here's why . . .

Breath caught in my throat.

For two weeks I had told myself  "if we can just make it through this two weeks". And the end of two weeks came and we had even less money to buy groceries.

When we finally committed to paying all of our bills consistently, our life didn't change all that much. We still had to juggle our bills. We had to choose which bills to pay. We rotated them.

But the juggling act didn't always leave room for groceries. More than once I had $40 to buy groceries for our family of 7 that needed to last two weeks. I did the best I could, and "just make it through these two weeks" became my mantra. Except, sometimes when we got paid again, there was NOTHING left for groceries. So, I had to figure out how to make the $40 worth of groceries I had bought two week before, stretch for two more.

And you know what?! We survived.

We did not eat three meals a day and our meals did not look like traditional meals. But nobody starved.

I would scour the internet looking for ways to get more for my money. But I couldn't even afford the frugal dinner ideas/recipes.

So, here's what I did. Here's how we survived.

1.  When we got our tax return we went to Costco and bought meat and other things that would "keep". I would usually buy a big bag of whole wheat flour and a bag of bread flour, corn meal, baking soda, butter, spices, etc. This is pretty much the only time I ever bought meat. When this meat ran out, BEANS BEANS BEANS!

All of this saved me money on my monthly grocery bill.

2.  I baked all of our snacks, except oranges off of our tree and apples from my apple guy (more on that later). When I have staples, anything is possible. I baked graham crackers, saltines, cheez-Its, muffins, donuts...you name it, I've probably baked it.

Frequently, we would skip breakfast and lunches for our kids would just be cornbread. Yes, probably not the best thing in the world but it was baked from scratch and THEY DIDN'T DIE. And, it's literally all we had.

3.  I bought "staples" first. Things that I knew I could create a ton of different things from by just have those ingredients. So flour, sugar, butter, eggs, potatoes, rice, yeast, corn meal.

4.  I didn't buy a ton of fruits and veggies. I know, it's awful. But during the summer my Papa would have zucchini, onions and tomatoes coming out of his ears and we ate it up!!! During the fall, I had an apple guy that would sell me 90lbs of apples for $20.

I did buy celery and carrots because they are always super cheap. But I couldn't afford a lot of other fruits and veggies.

5.  I learned to make beans really well. They are cheap and we ate them A LOT.

6.  My kids were not allowed to just go in the kitchen and get something to eat.

Mean, I know. But most of our foods were staples, and I couldn't go in there and not have any milk because they had drank it all.

7. Also, I served them. And a lot of times there wasn't enough for seconds. But none of my kids have ever been under weight...so I think they were okay.

8.  I didn't always contribute to potlucks, because we didn't have anything to contribute. Or we wouldn't have had anything to eat for the week if I had. And we even stayed anyway.

Here's the thing, I feel like people don't talk about things like this. I'm not complaining or trying to make anyone feel sorry for me. I am thankful for those years, I learned to find joy and contentment in being creative and making things stretch.

I felt very isolated. I felt like we couldn't let people know that we didn't know if we would be able to feed our kids that week. I trusted that God would provide, but it was hard to talk about it. I felt that people either judged or tried to fix. So I didn't talk about it when things got really dire.

All I'm saying is . . .

To the Mom who's just trying to feed her babies. I see you. And it's going to be okay. There are worse things in the world than having cornbread and only cornbread for dinner. It will be okay. God will provide. You will be okay. Your babies will be okay.




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