Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Groceries, Round 3

Over, again.

This week we headed back to Aldi...I feel like we can get more bang for our buck there. (as a side note, we will be adding a trip to Aldi to our "normal" grocery visits because the savings are fantastic). We thought we had landed right on the money with our $21 this week until we reached the check out. It appears we forgot to add in the 4% sales tax that the state of Alabama places on groceries. AL is one of only 2 states in the US (MS being the other) that doesn't have any kind of break or rebate on grocery sales tax (read more here).

At first I was disappointed that we still didn't stay within our budget but then realized this is a poignant lesson in why we need to work for reform on the grocery tax in Alabama. The amount of money a person can spend on actual food is greatly diminished by the amount of tax placed on those items. It's hard to notice the difference when your grocery bill is $100 but when you are looking at only $21, the tax adds up quickly. And that is just plain ridiculous.

(On a more positive note, we hit the jackpot this week as strawberries were only 99 cents at Aldi. Hooray for a tasty might still have time to go out and grab a carton for yourself!)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Groceries, Round 2

We stayed true to our word & shopped at Publix for this round of groceries. As you can see we bought a lot of canned goods and tried to squeeze in a bit of produce/frozen veggies. This round was more difficult because we needed a few staple items like eggs, bread, & peanut butter that we didn't need last week. Here are a couple of things we learned/realized this round:

1. Coupons don't do much for you if you can't buy in bulk or if you can't buy name brand. And you can't really buy in bulk or name brand if you are rocking a $21 budget (something that's even just $3 can really mess up your numbers).
2. Also, in order to actually use coupons you need to have access to the internet and know what you are doing--most people living on food stamps don't have this access.
3. Publix store brand products are cheaper than most coupons on name brand products. And when they have a BOGO you can still get only 1 of the product at the BOGO price. Way to go Publix!
4. It is nearly impossible to buy good, fresh produce on a food stamp budget. (this is where Aldi really comes in handy if you ask me)

We still went over by a dollar or two...I blame the salsa. However, we also tried to buy ingredients for at least 1 recipe this week instead of just buying randomly. Perhaps next week we will check out Food Smart.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Mags

Last Thursday, we woke up to no heat and no hot water. With the torrential down pour from the day before, our crawl space flooded. The old sump-pump burned out. Since the house was pretty chilly and Matt and I both needed to run some errands and go to work, I took the Mags with me. She had a grand old time meeting the staff here at the church and running up and down the halls.

She sat in my lap and explored my office most of the time. And then, about 15 minutes before we left, I found her like this:

I guess it's all in a hard day's work. I loved having her here with me but I don't think we'll be doing that often.

Groceries, Round 1

Here is a report from our first trip to the grocery store on "food stamps." We decided to do the majority of our shopping at Aldi (a lower priced food chain) and to shop for 1 week of groceries, or about $21 worth. Here is a picture of all that we were able to buy:

The majority of what we bought is pasta. In an attempt to eat healthier, we spent some of our money on bananas, frozen vegetables, a few canned veggies (but those have so much sodium, blah), and some yogurt. We should also point out that we ended up going over by a few dollars.

This is definitely challenging and a good reminder of the luxury we have to buy whatever foods we'd like on a regular basis. On our next trip, we plan to try shopping at our usual Publix to see what we can buy with coupons and the like.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Japan Relief

I'm selling prints from my photos in Japan in order to raise funds for disaster relief there (no, I'm not a professional). $20 a print, all proceeds will go through United Methodist Committee on Relief. Email or facebook message me or Katie with the title of the print you want, your email and mailing address, and I'll handle the rest.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Lent 2011

Happy Ash Wednesday!

I can't believe we are already beginning the season of Lent again. Matt and I have been thinking hard about what our Lenten discipline will be this year. After going through a number of different options, we settled on one that will challenge us to recognize our own privilege and encourage us to increase our giving. So here is the plan:

For the next 40 days, we will live on the amount of food stamps that an average family of 2 qualifies for in the US (note: we cannot ourselves qualify for food stamps b/c we have money in savings...that makes you ineligible). This comes out to be somewhere around $42 every two weeks or $21 per week.

The tricky thing about food stamps (and where we will not follow exactly) is that they cannot be used on non-food items...things like personal care products, Diet Coke, Coffee, dog food, etc. The point is not to give up those things so we will actually just be practicing the $21 a week on food purchases. At the end of 40 days we will give the money that we would have normally spent on groceries to a local charity that works to feed low-income and homeless people in our area.

May we use these 40 days to recognize the ways in which we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves and have hoarded a lot of things for our own good.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Happy Shrove Tuesday!

I woke up this morning with pancakes on my mind.
It's a tradition instilled in me while in seminary as a way to celebrate Mardi Gras and the coming of Ash Wednesday and Lent (back in the day folks had to get rid of things in their pantry like flour and eggs before why not have pancakes?)
In keeping with tradition I whipped up a few of my own pancakes (with chocolate chips nonetheless!) this morning.

A very Happy Shrove/Pancake/Fat Tuesday to you and yours!