Eating Well on a Tight Budget

Inflation has soared to an annual rate of 8.6%–a rate that has not been experienced in America since 1981.  Steve and I were newlyweds in 1981.  We were in graduate school, and money was tight.  We had to live on a strict budget and had only $20 a week to spend on food.  Even though $20 bought a lot more in 1981 than it does today, we had to shop carefully to make ends meet and dining out was not an option.

Mom and daughter checking grocery list while shopping; daughter is in the grocery cart
Photo by Gustavo Fring on Pexels.com

$20 in 1981 had an equivalent purchasing power of $64.31 today.  We were shopping for just the two of us and, with careful planning, we were able to eat pretty well.  There is much concern today over rising food prices and food shortages. So, I decided to share some habits that helped us through our graduate school years.

  1. We created a list of affordable meals that we enjoy.  I have shared that list below.
  2. We checked the grocery ads to see what was on sale before planning our meals for the week.
  3. We made a grocery list and stuck to it.
  4. We clipped coupons and used them, if the product was the best deal.
  5. We shopped at the same store every week and bought many of their store brands.
  6. We purchased 1/2 gallon of milk and one bottle of juice each week.  We brewed tea and made lemonade from a powdered mix.  And, we drank a lot of water out of the tap.
  7. We purchased one snack item each week.  Usually, it was a box of crackers.  Occasionally, we bought a bag of cookies or chips.
  8. We grew fresh vegetables in a community garden for university students.
  9. If we could not be home for lunch, we packed a lunch.
  10. We were diligent about eating leftovers and not letting food spoil.

I should also mention that we tithed regularly throughout these lean years, and we trusted God to meet our needs. 

The economic health of our country has significant impact on our financial wellness and bank balances.  Our economy will go through periods of inflation and periods of recession.  Interest rates fluctuate, and the stock market can increase and decrease dramatically.  All of this is out of our control. 

Yet, the Bible tells us not to fret or worry about what tomorrow brings.  God is in control, and God loves us. We have a responsibility to manage our finances as best we can and to seek God’s guidance on financial decisions.  We must follow the Biblical principals of money management set forth in the Bible, and we must trust God that our lives are in His hands.

Then He said to His disciples, “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; nor about the body, what you will put on.  Life is more than food, and the body is more than clothing. Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap, which have neither storehouse nor barn; and God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds? And which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? If you then are not able to do the least, why are you anxious for the rest? Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. If then God so clothes the grass, which today is in the field and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will He clothe you, O you of little faith? And do not seek what you should eat or what you should drink, nor have an anxious mind. For all these things the nations of the world seek after, and your Father knows that you need these things. But seek the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you.” Luke 12: 22 – 31

If you are looking for affordable main dishes, this is our list from our graduate school days:

  1. Hamburgers in mushroom gravy.  We used golden mushroom soup.
  2. Tuna casserole made with canned tuna, peas, cream of celery soup, and egg noodles.
  3. Pot roast simmered in the crock pot.
  4. Spaghetti with homemade sauce, sometimes without meat.
  5. Baked chicken and stuffing.
  6. Hot dogs.
  7. Salmon patties, made with canned salmon.
  8. Whole chicken cooked in crock pot with vegetables.
  9. Grilled hamburgers.
  10. Tacos.
  11. One pot chicken and rice medley, with onion, carrots, celery, and bell peppers
  12. Grilled chicken leg quarters.
Plate of spaghetti with loaf of bread in the background
Photo by Klaus Nielsen on Pexels.com

What are some of your favorite affordable main dishes?

To learn more about how to honor God with your money and build treasure in Heaven, please click the Finances categories tab to find many blogs on money management, budgeting, and stewardship. My book Honoring God with Your Money is a great tool for financial money management.

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