I’ve been neglecting my blog for awhile now. It’s been a difficult, stressful, and amazing year for my family. Something I saw this week on our local news started me thinking about it all, sort of made me sit up and take stock of where we are and where we’ve been. The TV news segment was about the United Way of King County Hunger Action Week’s Hunger Challenge.
The challenge was to spend only $7 per day on food, which is the food stamp assistance provided to needy families in the state of Washington. Hard as this would be for someone who could eat anything, I began thinking about the special challenges faced by those with dietary restrictions. And I started thinking about this past year.
In January of 2009, my husband’s employer eliminated over 100 positions. Fred’s was one of the jobs eliminated. To say we were devastated doesn’t begin to describe what it feels like to live through this kind of situation. Suddenly, we were among the many Americans trying to figure out how to survive without enough money for basic living expenses.
We began our new life by looking at our resources, which included a recently renovated house that was now worth less than the mortgage, a savings account that previously had seemed adequate, a full freezer and pantry, a lot of stuff (how did we end up with so much stuff?), and a loving extended family willing and able to help. We were really very fortunate and began to look at all we had in our lives with new eyes.
As there were no jobs to be had in Medford, we quickly expanded our search to other areas. Within a few months, Fred had accepted an offer from a good company for a job in Bellingham, Washington. I’ll admit we weren’t too happy to be relocating further north when our families live further south, but a job’s a job. As it turns out, we like living in Bellingham. After living in Medford for 19 years, we’re still kind of homesick and miss our friends there, but we’re enjoying Bellingham.
We did not participate in this year’s hunger challenge, but I was reminded of living the challenge a year ago for several weeks. I remember it being especially challenging to eat gluten free while limiting the purchase of some expensive gluten free foods that I enjoy. With my daughter and I both avoiding wheat now, a significant part of our food expenditure comes from gluten free flours, gf baking mixes, gf pasta, and other prepared foods.
So, over the next several months, I would like to work on developing meal plans that rely less on the special (and expensive) gluten free foods and more on less expensive alternatives. Gluten free pasta at nearly $4/pound will be replaced more often with potatoes or rice. We’ll rely more on seasonal fresh fruits and vegetables, locally grown when possible. Meal plans will be based on what’s on sale instead of on what sounds good at the time.
I suspect that keeping track of the cost of meals will probable be my biggest challenge. I’m really terrible at record keeping in general and accounting in particular. We’ll see how this goes.