Saturday, July 31, 2010

Bare to the Bone

I am trying to be hopeful and positive but I tell you, it is very difficult for me while I struggle to put food on the table for my boys. I wouldn't really care if it was just me. I figure I can survive on pretty meager portions. I'd probably be able to make it on only $20.00 a week if it came to that. A carton of eggs, a couple cans of baked beans, milk, soup, bread, noodles, a little cheese, tuna, maybe some ground turkey for chili. I'd cook up a pot of split pea or black bean soup and have toast and eggs and parmesan noodles. But the boys need more meat and dairy than I do and fresh fruit and veggies. They also need more of a variety. I can eat peanut butter sandwiches numerous times throughout the week, but they get quickly tired of them.

Sometimes the boys guzzle down a carton of milk in just a day. They are so active in sports, I know they get hungry. The stuff we get at the food pantry is all carbs - rice, noodles, pancake mix, canned fruit - rarely any meat or fresh items. That's what the boys need right now. Sandwiches full of good ham and turkey, cheese, lettuce and tomato instead of off-brand mac & cheese accompanied by canned peaches.

We don't qualify for food stamps - we're only $300.00 above the income requirement. But I still can't afford food, and the food from the pantries I go to doesn't provide enough for us to get through the month. So I don't know what happens to people like us. Food stamps would be such a blessing because I could use that assistance to get the fresh food items not available at the pantries. Even $50.00 for that a month would be a Godsend.

We've cut our budget to the bone. I don't think there is anything left to cut. We don't eat out. The only meat I buy is what is discounted to 99 cents because it is at the end of code. Almost all the milk and dairy products I buy are also discounted because they are at their expiration. I get bread the same way for 50 cents a loaf, although usually I get a couple loaves from the pantries. I've resorted to making off-brand drink mix in place of soda. Once in a while we get a litre because we miss it - we were all heavy diet soda drinkers in the past. ALDI sells soda litres for 59 cents but only have lemon lime in diet. We're diet pepsi lovers.

This summer the boys never had a Gatorade for their many sporting events - just tap water. I felt bad about this because they played football and baseball in some mighty hot and humid weather. And even last summer we were able to afford a few sports drinks during their games. No treats unless we get lucky at the pantry and receive a bag of cookies (usually oatmeal, although we crave chocolate chip).

I have promised myself that when my situation improves I will make donations to the food pantry. But I will donate gift cards for $10-$20 dollars so the recipients can choose their own food. Or I will donate boquets of fresh flowers or bags of M & Ms. Something nice and decedant. So many times this past month I have craved something chocolate and just have that bag of oatmeal cookies to dig into. People struggling need a treat too instead of those blasted boxes of mashed potatoes and big bags of lentil beans. The thought of mac & cheese from a box makes me gag.