Something that we have quickly discovered is that our children eat more in between meals than they do at actual meal times! In an effort to control the expense of this, we have put together a meal plan, and snacks for the week are:
- sticks of celery, cucumber, capsicum and carrots
- rice crackers
We found rice crackers for $1 per packet (without the MSG or palm oil) though they are usually $2.50 per packet, so we bought up big, and plan to stock the cupboard whenever we find them for $1! Pre-cutting the vegetables and putting them in to bags went some way towards portion control (or rather, prevents certain teens grabbing whole packets of carrots to eat them - did I mention that teen boys could be mistaken for locusts?). And rather than buying hummus, we can make a full container that will last 3 days, with 2 x $1 cans of chickpeas.
Buying in-season is also something that we have just started thinking about, as 4 children eat at least 8 pieces of fruit a day (or 56 pieces a week!). If we buy out-of-season fruit then this is equal to $56 per week just on fruit for the kids! That is definitely not economical or practical (especially since DS14 has not received the memo that 2 pieces of fruit is the recommended intake for the purposes of this challenge!). Watermelon and banana's can be bought at a great price at the moment, of $1 per kilo, and frozen raspberries are pretty inexpensive too, at $4 per 500g.
Including banana's and watermelon, cut up vegetables, home-made hummus (4 cans of chickpeas per week = $4) and rice crackers, we were able to cost it out at $25 per week for snacks for the 6 of us for 7 days. Still not close to the $25 for the total food budget (I am not sure who these people are that are able to budget $25 for a whole week - maybe they don't have children?). This week we already had a good supply of dried fruit and dehydrated organic coconut in the cupboard so we included this in our snacks as well.
Total success of our challenge so far: 6/10 - extra points for cutting and storing vegetables in advance, right?
After completing Day 1 of our grocery challenge with only a $13 spend, Day 2 of our grocery challenge started in a pretty typical fashion, for our family, with an unnamed older teenager discovering that our flour was unusable (halfway through making pancakes) and decided to attempt to substitute flour for a whole heap of oats, and sugar, eggs and organic vanilla extract. Which surprisingly did not equate to pancakes, and was then transferred to a cake tin, where it also failed to become cake, and ended up in a big oaty mess for the bin! So much for reducing food wastage!
Breakfast was oats with sultana's, malt raw syrup and soy milk. Approximately $1 per serving.
Lunch was rice paper rolls, with canned tuna, lettuce and carrots. Approximately 50c per roll, or $7.50 for the family.
We have fruit for snacks, and I am pretty sure that our children have eaten 3.5 kilograms of potatoes between them, in the few hours between breakfast and lunch... they are descendants from the locust family for sure.
Whoever thought of this challenge obviously didn't have our children living with them!
A common issue that comes up in homeschooling and unschooling forums is the challenge of living off an income that can be greatly reduced for some families that do not (or cannot) juggle work and home educating. For this reason - we will be documenting new and interesting ways to save money and hopefully make home educating a little easier!
If you have ever searched the internet for novel and challenging ways to save money and reduce waste, you would have undoubtedly come across some version of the $25 challenge. The basic premise is that you try to live on a drastically reduced budget for a week, or months at a time, through a little ingenuity, a lot of creativity and (hopefully) through implementing habits that help your family to reduce wastage and decrease expenditure. Some people start with reducing their grocery bill to $200 (for a large family) for a week, and seeing how they go from there, whereas I have seen others stick to $25 per week for 2 people for months at a time, while endeavouring to motivate themselves to grow more of their own food, cook more often at home, and implement zero wastage in their lives.
We are currently a family of 6 (with 3 teenagers! and an older dog) and my motivations for starting the challenge have been to;
The ways that we are planning to do this are to:
We have one extra goal in that of all of the $25 challenge blogs that I have read, there are provisions for buying all home-brand/ no-name brand items and trying to eat them slowly throughout the week. This is not what our challenge is about at all! We are looking to find nutritious, fresh (where possible) foods and to reduce waste, and increase self-sufficiency to live a better life. I don't want everyone getting sick from eating meat pies and fish fingers!
As we have a large family we are going to aim for $25 each for the week (i.e. $25 x 6 people = $150). Before the challenge we have spent anything from $400 - 500 per week on shopping (yes! I know how incredibly crazy that is! Our teenagers seriously eat the equivalent of 3 adults worth of food each!). We rarely buy processed food and don't eat red meat. We are often vegetarian and go through long periods of vegetarianism alternating with veganism, so foregoing meat is not a struggle for us. It is mainly the food wastage, and the our teenagers eating the equivalent food of a small village, that is the problem.
We have a small garden with mostly herbs at the moment but are aiming to grow green vegetables as often as we can in the small space that we have. Our main challenge is that our teenagers like to create huge concoctions of random foods out of a whole lot of produce, which is inedible and needs to be thrown out!
In our day #1 shopping we bought; lettuce, wholemeal bread rolls and packet chips (through peer pressure - they were $1.50) totalling $13.
Our inventory of the cupboard and fridge included;
- toilet paper and other toiletries
- coffee and sugar, tea bags
- soy milk
- rice, pasta, pasta sauce, rice paper roll wrappings, taco shells
- all kinds of condiments
- lots of types of flour (that promptly needed to be thrown out due moths...yes, moths in the flour. Very strange).
- kilo's of potato, sweet potato and pumpkin
- some cheese, a lone cashew dip
- a few cans of dog food
- apples, carrots, eggs, and a few other stray fruit and vegetable pieces
- easter eggs
Our garden includes:
- some miniature egg-plant
- enough kale and lettuce for one meal
- some very tiny strawberries
We started off on a cheat day, as we only remembered about the challenge in the afternoon (and to be fair, it was the day after Easter) so when we got home, we made up about 4kg of potato before it spoiled and stored in in the fridge for later. Dinner was salad rolls with tuna (about $3 total spent).
Her world is free from pressures and obligations
She is free from the worry that her legs are not fast enough
That her jump is not high enough
The pressure to write in a straight line
Or read as fast as others her age
Her world has no grading systems that will teach her that she is better than somebody else
More deserving than somebody else
That she will come first so that her classmates can come second...or last
She will never be told that she is not good enough
She learns to read, safe in the arms of people who love her with all of their heart
And learns to write, guided by the warm hands of her mother, father, sisters and brother
She picks up her first needle, guided by her grandmother
And paints freely, without the need to paint or colour within the lines
There is no hierarchical structure to ever set her up with the possibility of failure in her learning
There is no failure.
There is only slower learning or faster learning.
And none of that is her concern. Because she is a child free to learn completely in her own time. And that is the beauty of learning at home...