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I am wife to Stewart, mama of five, homeschooler, messy cook, and avid fermenter. This is where I tell our story... of building a sustainable off-grid homestead in a Christian agrarian community... of raising this growing family of ours... of the beauty and the hard and the joy in all of it.
922 articles written by Shannon

I have been seriously considering this for months now. As you know, life got busy with a new baby, but is now slowing down. I have recently been inspired by a couple of other bloggers who have done something similar. Now that I have the time to devote to preparing more nourishing foods for our family, I believe the time is right.

Our family will be embarking on a two month spending hiatus. Between the months of November and December we will not be spending money on anything beyond the ‘necessities’. I put necessities in quotation marks because certainly not all of them are necessities. We are currently renting, but surely we could live in a tent. We currently have electricity, showers, a phone and the internet, but surely we don’t need them. We also own a vehicle that, while we don’t make payments because we purchased it outright, requires gas.

So, what can we spend money on?

  • rent
  • electric bill
  • phone/internet bill
  • gas
  • student loans
  • giving to ministry
  • emergencies
  • milk & eggs from our farmer
  • anything Mr. S deems necessary

What can’t we spend money on?

  • food, other than the above
  • anything else

I realize the “can’t” list seems silly because it only contains two things, however that first one is a biggie for me. I will not be entering a grocery store, barring an emergency, between November 1st and January 1st.

Because I am in charge of procuring and preparing our food, this is the biggest challenge for me. Much of the reason I wanted to do this was because of our food budget. I don’t feel that our food budget is necessarily out of hand, but I feel this challenge will give me more insight into what I buy and what we eat. We look at food as an investment – you get what you pay for. Every time I enter a conventional grocery store (which isn’t all that often these days) I am saddened. I see that we could eat for much less, and that always gives me angst. What saddens me, though, is how everything in that store has one objective: to make someone money, not necessarily to nourish a body. In the past both Mr. S and I have subsisted on the standard American diet (SAD). We both know what that does to our bodies and we will not go back. Especially not with children. (This isn’t to say, however, that you can’t feed your family healthy foods from the grocery store. Stephanie, at Keeper of the Home, has done an excellent series about making the most of the regular grocery store.)

I am not going into this without preparing, however. I have been and will continue over the next two weeks to stock up on pantry items and local, seasonal vegetables that will keep (winter squash, potatoes, cabbage, carrots, celery, onions, garlic, apples, pears). Before refrigeration and mega grocery stores our great grandparents stored up food from spring to fall and purchased NOTHING throughout the winter. It seems only fitting that as it is cooling down here in the Midwest, I would embark on this challenge.

You will notice that we are also receiving milk and eggs weekly. The raw milk we feed both our toddler and our baby (through a supplemental raw milk formula) we feel are too vital to their nutrition to leave out. Eggs are also a highly nutritional component of our diet, especially for young children and nursing mothers, so we will continue to receive two dozen per week. Besides, we like supporting our local farmer in the process :). We also hope to one day have our own laying hens and milk producing animal, so perhaps this will be a foreshadow of things to come.

For the next two weeks I will be sharing the preparations I will be making for the challenge. Once November 1st hits, I will be sharing what we are eating and how we are doing. I don’t expect life to feel any different, as we don’t generally purchase many things. I do, however, see a lot of room for creativity in the kitchen with this experiment.

So follow along, or better yet join in the fun, as we embark on our no spend months.

Sunday: Roast Chicken, broccoli salad, homemade applesauce (recipe forthcoming), butternut squash & millet (recipe forthcoming).

To do: Soak beans, make applesauce, make broccoli salad, start chicken stock.

Monday: Navy Bean & Bacon Soup, leftover butternut squash & millet.

To do: Strain chicken stock, chop veggies and start soup.

Tuesday: Easy Cabbage Casserole, Baked Potatoes

To do: Chop cabbage and onions and extras for Thursday.

Wednesday: Dashi Broth (recipe forthcoming) with chicken, noodles, broccoli, bean sprouts and scallions.

To do: Soak pinto beans.

Thursday: Tacos & Refried Beans with cheese (using this recipe).

To do: Grate cheese, cook taco meat, start beans in morning, make homemade salsa.

Friday: Crock Pot Mac & Cheese (recipe forthcoming), Steamed & Buttered Broccoli, Apple Crisp.

To do: Start mac & cheese in morning, make apple crisp, steam broccoli.

Saturday: Leftovers. Rest.