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Giving Up Groceries for Lent

giving up groceries

A few weeks ago, shortly after Lent began, I made a spur of the moment decision to feed my family on $25 a week for each week of Lent, and then donate the money that we saved to someone in need.
I have to admit, it feels a little crazy to me because:
a) I’ve never given up anything for Lent.  Never.
b) $25 is a very, very small amount of money.
c) since I made the decision so quickly, the pantry was not stocked beyond it’s “normal” state, so there was no preparatory hoarding of dried goods or anything like that.

How it started
I read the introduction to 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker.  It is so. incredibly. powerful.  Please go read it.  Read the whole book.
I was already leaning towards the idea of reducing excess with my Love Your Little House series and posts on purging.  And last year, I joined my friend Amy from All Things Home in a Pantry Challenge where we spent only $100 for a month, and instead tried to use up the things in our pantry. It was actually pretty easy. Bart doesn’t even remember that we did it, so I must have done okay!
So when I read that intro, the $25 Idea popped into my head immediately.  I thought about it for about 3 minutes and decided to do it.

The Rules:
Isaac’s special “baby” foods don’t count. I make most of his baby food, and he eats a lot of table foods anyway, but there are certain things we buy JUST for him, and they don’t count. As the weeks have gone by, I’ve had to buy a few things JUST for Adam, too. A bad virus had us all down and out for a few days and I struggled to get him to drink enough liquids, so I had to make a few exceptions to the rules.
Paper products do not count. Cleaning supplies do not count.
We will not eat out, unless someone invites us and they’re paying. That’s a hard one for us – we like to go to Pizza Ranch and/or Subway at least once a week.
Bart can have Subway when he wants. I didn’t exactly get his permission before embarking on this crazy train, so I decided to give him that.
But beyond that, it’s $25, which is probably 1/8th of our normal weekly food budget.
My goal is to feel a bit uncomfortable in order to make others feel more comfortable.
I want to experience the feeling of not being able to buy what I want at the grocery store, eat what I want for dinner, or buy my children the “extras” that they want.
I am pretending to be poor in order to have more empathy for those who really are.
Beyond the spiritual goals:
  • It’s teaching me to take a closer look at the nutritional value of the groceries I buy.
  • I’m being more creative and branching out with our meals, in order to use up pantry supplies.
  • We are wasting much, MUCH less food.  I refuse to throw anything away – we have to figure out a way to use it!

What do you think?  Could your family eat nutritiously on that amount?  Could you “give up groceries” for Lent? 

I’ve got a couple more posts started with some of my reflections from the past few weeks, inexpensive meals and snacks, and money saving tips.  Be sure to follow Squaw Creek using one of the methods on my sidebar so you don’t miss a post.

Shared at Serenity Now.

Would you like to comment?

  1. You are awesome! I can't wait to read your follow up posts to learn how you did it! :)

  2. Good for you! I try to only go to the store every two weeks. I went yesterday and spent over $300. Sigh. I was out of a lot of stuff I keep on hand.

  3. Neat idea Katie!

    I can do $25.00 a week once in a while. At our local store I mostly buy fresh fruit and veggies. The also make great homemade sausage. I also buy off the weekly sales flier.

    It is when we go to the big city that we stalk up on pantry items. Over the years I have started keeping less canned items on hand (and we have not missed it much). I prefer to bake and cook from scratch.

  4. Wow, $25 is low but I think it's totally do-able For us, with three little kids, the milk and eggs alone are close to that, but we could probably pull off $50 easily especially once I get my fantasy-her-and-veggie garden going! I am so proud of you (is that weird?) for doing this. It's very inspirational.


  5. I have to say - I'm scared to read that book! My sis-in-law read it and said it just ruined her!

    As it is, our family budget is $75/week for needs and food. That is tough to do, I'm not sure I could cut it down to $25, though some weeks I do only spend $40 on food.

    We're beginning a garden this week and hope to grow/can/freeze/store as much of our own produce as possible to 1) save money at the store 2) live a bit more healthy and 3) well, I just want to say - 'yeah, that salsa? I MADE that.

    Good luck with the challenge - it is always good to stretch and grow!

  6. Wow!!! That has got to be so tough! We spend about $100 a week on groceries, not counting eating out, which we do at least twice a week. My husband is working hard to gain weight, and eats a ridiculous amount of food every day. If it weren't for that, it would definitely be something I'd try. I am really hoping to at least have some tomato plants this year, but I've never gardened before and my yard isn't the best for a garden (it's sloped drastically), so I think I'm going to try the hanging method! I have also been wanting to switch to organic fruits, vegetables, and meats because of all the antibiotics and pesticides used.... hmmm! I would love to see a follow-up with some of your ideas, esp. reusing your leftovers! I am always looking for new ideas, esp. if they save money!!!! Good luck! :)

  7. I so need to think hard about doing this or at least cutting back. Probably like you, I live pretty darned far away from all the big stores, so when I go, I go big and then don't go for a while except for the staples of eggs, milk, bread..... You have given me a good challenge to think about. Lord knows I have enough in my freezers, yes I have more than one, to live on for a while, and it would make my husband sooooo happy. Great post!

  8. Katie, you've inspired me. My grocery bills have been through the roof lately, partially due to being a food blogger. However, I am going to do my best to use up what I have in my pantry this week. I don't know if I can do $25 a week, but I know I can do better than what I currently am. Thanks for the inspiration! :)

  9. We do $50 a week, which is honestly all we can afford. I have never had any real problems but it means I can't really buy any easy foods, just raw fruits and veggies, ground beef, eggs, milk and such. Sometimes I think it is more stressful because it means cooking from scratch every night, but it also feels good to not spend more than we can afford. We always joke that we will feel like we have made it in life when we can put a package of Oreos in the cart and not feel guilty. :)