"I'd like to propose a grocery budget of $200 a month." His tone is faith and resolve. After all, our oldest spent the last year traveling with a team of 21. They made the best of meager resources. They sacrificed, he says. And they learned to be creative.
He's confident our team of six has seriously underestimated what we're capable of in the areas of meals, nutrition and budgets. No worries, he assures us, trust him and he'll show us what can be achieved.
"I second that." Our third born, all logic and data, says he's in. His frugality has paid him huge dividends. So he's backing the idea in wholehearted agreement. And he agrees with his oldest brother, that we've probably been overspending on groceries.
Our second oldest listens from the sidelines. And our daughter? She looks on, both bemused and curious. Unaffected.
The proposal came about during a team meeting. "Regarding finances, I'd like to renegotiate some terms." All eyes turned toward Ezekiel. He shared a few goals and then, Eli, (inspired by Ezekiel's ambition?), pitched his idea.
How did LeRoy and I respond to this proposal? Well, I laughed as I retrieved the finance notebook.
Tracking income and expenses -- to the penny, it's a hobby. Accounting for checks and balances. Making financial strategies and predictions. Creating margin. Organizing outgo, crunching numbers, and moving us toward financial freedom is fun. Romantic, even.
I casually flipped pages, reporting each month's numbers, each one hovering significantly above the new proposed amount.
No matter. I smiled. "I'm in."
LeRoy (very) reluctantly agreed. It's for a short time and we'll chock it up to an experiment, I told him. Who knows, I shrugged, maybe we'll discover something we wouldn't have otherwise.
So here we are. I'm a little behind on the documentation of this experiment, but so far, so good. Each of us agreed to contribute $50 toward the grocery budget along with meal planning and preparation, with LeRoy and I taking the first week.
ohmygosh. I love it! There's nothing quite like boundaries and limits to spark creativity. Each day I perused the contents of our refrigerator, freezer and pantry with the question, "What can I make with what we have on hand?"
Pasta drizzled with olive oil and garlic. Cream of broccoli soup paired with garlic bread, a chicken casserole, breakfast burritos (made in an extra-large batch and frozen for quick lunches later). I regret that I didn't track the meals better, but the ratings were five out of five.
Ezekiel took the second week, slightly leaner, yet nonetheless delicious. A second round of breakfast burritos, (this time with sausage, less veggies), enchiladas, and tacos.
Heading into our third week of this experiment. Will keep you posted on the intrigue and suspense, the creativity and imagination sparked by this challenge.
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301. The way Eli passionately suggested that our family shake things up, take more risks, make sacrifices and try new things.
302. Being on a team of good sports who know how to both go for the win and still keep things lighthearted and fun.