My budget has been tightened down to frightening levels for a few years now. We have been so careful, sometimes we forget to make time for fun. We have worked so hard, always gone in when the job called, and for a long time (over a year) my husband was working six days a week. I long for free time and travel.
The reason for the tight budget now is a better financial future. We aren't nearly in as bad of debt as many Americans are. I guess that is one good thing about having a low paying job, you can't get as far into unnecessary consumer debt as others with better take home pay. We have been careful for years however we did make a few bad decisions in the past. I've been keeping track of our debt on my bill paying calendar, watching it shrink very slowly. I'm proud to say my student loan from way too long ago is finally paid off, along with a few smaller bills, and in five months I will be debt free.
We keep all of our household bills as low as possible. Showers are short, lights are off when not in use, and when the cable company raises their rates we call and complain and they reinstate the introductory pricing. A few months ago I discovered a program that helps with the grocery bill. My daughter told me about it and a few weeks later I read about it on blogsmonroe.com/budget/, and then I read a clip in my local paper about it. They do the purchasing for you in bulk at a discount, you pick the packages you want and order online or at a host site. There are no income restrictions so everyone can participate regardless of salary. They accept cash or food stamps in person or debit or credit online at angelfoodministries.com. Since I started this I don't spend as much time looking for sales. Each box has a variety of healthy foods and none of it has gone to waste. The products are fresh and in date and there is even a fruits and vegetables box. You have to be available one Saturday each month to pick up the food from your host site.
All of this meandering brings me to my latest confession. I hate peas. I have never been able to eat a pea in any dish. My husband laughs at me when he catches me scooping them out of my soup and dumping them in a little pile on my plate. I had two bags of peas and carrots in my freezer from the Angel Food box. My son said he could use one and that left me with one bag. It would be really silly of me to pick through the entire bag. I had to figure a way to use them without making my husband eat the entire bag himself. I got to thinking, was it the taste or the texture that grossed me out? I wasn't sure so I decided to experiment. I cooked the bag of peas and carrots with three cans of diced tomatoes that I had in the pantry. When everything was soft I mashed it with my potato masher. I skimmed the watery liquid from the top and continued mashing. It was an interesting experiment so far, smelled delicious, but when you stirred it the spoon stood straight up in it. I had a marinara style sauce in mind but it was turning into a brick. I went back to the pantry and found a can of spaghetti sauce that also came from Angel Food. I added this stirred and mashed and cooked some more. My weird kitchen experiment peas and all made the best spaghetti sauce. I will definitely make it again.