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).