We survived the challenge without much difficulty in terms of the quantities of food that we purchased. Having a large family probably actually made it a bit easier as long as we made good choices and stretched our dollar. With a total budget of $189 we ate fairly well. The kids were fine with apples and peanut butter sandwiches for lunch, they didn’t really miss the extra snacks that they often have to round out the lunch. However, they came home hungry and we didn’t have much to snack on. They finished off the breakfast cereal on day 3 as it became the after school snack. We also discovered quickly that portion control, which they are not used to, was an issue. We never had leftovers and once or twice there were little grumbles from the boys. We had an additional $60 to spend during the week, but it was used up quickly for after school slurpes (the boys used their own money initially, I paid them back out of the food budget), extra cereal mid-week and a few extra things for Shabbat. There was a beautiful Kiddush lunch at Traditional so that took care of one meal.
We learned that $31.50 per person each week doesn’t go very far. We also talked a great deal about how much easier it is to shop with a Costco membership (several family members suggested that Costco shopping might be cheating), and will a nice Walmart near buy for us to do most of our shopping. We wondered want it would have been like to shop only at a discount food store in the city. We also wondered what it would have been like if I was not someone that liked to cook.
For example, one night we have spaghetti squash, tilapia, mixed kales in a salad with roasted beets, and melon for dinner. It was great and we actually had 2 guests that night for dinner. If I didn’t like to cook or if I was a working mother holding down more than 1 job, I imagine that a home cooked meal would have been much harder to pull off.
The Levy family will go into this season more thankful for all that we do have and a bit more sensitive about the challenges that others face. We are planning to make a donation of one week’s family budget to the food pantry…it seems like a great deal of money, but we know it is only a start.