day 2 of my experiment not to do any shopping: we need 2 gallons of milk.

hahahahaha- let me explain:

i am, by nature, an organized person. when i have down time, or if i am under stress, organizing is my go-to activity of choice. i have been known to randomly plop down in front of a  closet or chest of drawers and just start sorting things. freecycle and the salvation army are my close friends. when my mother or grandmother gives me something, they will almost always say, “and if you don’t need it anymore, give it back. don’t donate it!” my kids know that they can keep and collect any treasures they want, as long as the “collection” can be maintained in a certain defined amount of space. (LOL- this is a gardener talking- someone whose plants are spilling over the planter boxes in every direction. isn’t it funny how life teaches you what you need to know?). when my family asks me what the plans are for any given sunday, i will tell them the truth- i’m going to putter around the house and pull stuff together… luckily i am blessed with a fairly large family, so there are always things to clean up and sort. yay!

a year or two ago, i started making monthly menus for suppers. since i try to stock up on things when they are a good price,  i could look around at what we had lots of in the freezer or pantry, and then plan meals around that. there have been months where the kids are virtually pleading, “no more chicken breasts!”. we do lots of pasta, and that seems to be pretty universally liked, so that’s always a great standby. i try to have as much on hand as i can, and i do a “big” shop as INfrequently as possible. i still buy produce throughout the month, and replace staples like milk that have a limited shelf life.

but on friday, as i was trying to put things away, i realized that i have waaaaay too much stuff! (i periodically realize this, and it always results in copious freecycling and lots of rearranging. my family humors me…) so, i told my kids that this week we are going to do an experiment. we are going to try to ‘eat down’ our excess. i want them to think creatively about how to use what’s on hand. i told them i will buy as much produce as they want, and i will get milk as needed.

this is not an original idea. i have read articles in lots of places, and i have a friend in baltimore who is so good at this that she feeds a family of 11 ( 9 kids, 2 adults) on $600/month. no joke. if they run out of something and they are over budget, they will just do without it until the next month. they have found ingenious ways to make egg substitutes, created incredible baking recipes, and made some of the coolest sounding meals, all without breaking the budget.

we are not as disciplined as that. we are very used to the convenience of running out to the store for whatever we need. it’s always easy to ask a neighbor to pick up some odds and ends for me when they go shopping. we are spoiled in that we don’t usually do without important items.

sure, we will make a salad with no tomatoes. we will make a soup with no celery. but when it comes right down to it, we mostly don’t feel acute deprivation. so, it’s time for a new worldview.

i am not going to make my kids feel resentful. there’s a fine line between educating them and pushing them to the point where they hate it. we want to just try, just for one week, and see how things go. either it will be a tremendous week and we will all be proud of ourselves, or it will fail and we will try again in a different way to reinvent our shopping habits.

my friend asked me yesterday if i stocked up on things before this experiment. nope. that may have been foolish in hindsight, but if i have everything in stock, it wouldn’t be much of a stretch, would it?

so, on day 2, we already need milk. not a great way to start out, but i am having someone pick it up for me so i don’t have to go to a store and be tempted by everything on sale that we could probably use some day…

i don’t know how we will do, but i will definitely keep you posted, and maybe even put up some recipes, if we come up with anything good…

oh, and i kind of resolved to try to use capital letters in my posts- you can see how that little resolution has played out so far ;)  and i realized that i never told you about ryan and the rain barrels.

so, maybe today will be a multi-post day…