Matt and I are currently living on a strict budget, so that we can save up to purchase our next house. We have a certain amount set aside in our budget every month for our general expenses: groceries, stamps, stuff for Henry, etc. I use an app called Spend Free. I put our total number in the app at the beginning of the month and subtract from it every time we make a purchase.
Every day I have to ask Matt, "What did you spend today?" It helps keep us accountable for what we spend (such as wasting money on eating lunch out!). Last week, he came home with random grocery items and said he had spent $92. Ouch! We try to only spent about $125-$150 on groceries each week (we allocate that much because we try to buy as much organic as possible). Even at our top range, we only had $58 left for an entire week of food.
After my mini-flip out (which was not necessary or helpful), Matt and I decided to go through our pantry and build our weekly meal plan based on what we already had in the pantry and refrigerator. For example, a half-used jar of pasta sauce became the inspiration for homemade pizza. We usually buy ready-made crust (it's cheap and delicious), but since we were trying to stay within $58 we decided to make it from ingredients we already had on hand. This recipe doesn't even require yeast. How amazing is that? It's a think and delicious crust that uses wheat flour. Yum! Here's a link to the recipe:
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
- In a bowl, mix together the flour (1.5 cups whole wheat), baking powder (1 tsp.), pepper (1/2 tsp.), water (1/2 cup), and olive oil (1/3 cup) with your hands until a dough forms.
- Then place the dough on a floured work surface. Roll the dough out to 1/4 inch thickness.
- Place the dough on a baking mat or on parchment paper on a baking sheet.
- Bake for about 5-7 minutes just until the dough just slightly starts to crisp up.
- Remove from the oven.
- Brush the top of the flatbread with extra olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper.
- Add toppings of your choice.
- Bake for another couple minutes until the cheese melts.
Even though trying to live within a budget is constricting and can feel frustrating, I love when it leads to inspiration and glimpses of something even better.
I also enjoyed reading another family's reflection about money and the choices we face.