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Category Archives: Lenten Project 2009

Lent: a sober reflection on sacrifice

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dsc014781Then we were led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the Oreos…

Now that a week has passed since Easter, I look back upon our experience with our social assistance food budget and have a compelling need to share frugal wisdom!

 I will never look at grocery shopping the same way again.  The planning and organizing that went into feeding a family of five on $14.66 every day was painful yet enlightening.  I was dangerously close to obsession during Lent in making sure my family was well fed, but have learned a lot about waste, frugality and generosity.  Yet in completing such an exercise, I also firmly believe there is no need to feel guilty about having worked hard to reach a certain pinnacle in your life and enjoying the benefits of your pot of gold at the end of your rainbow (aka strawberries with your breakfast!). 

 The comments we’ve all received about the article and the conversations it has generated have been truly gratifying to say the least.  Thank you all.

What leftovers do I have for you now?  How will this change my life?  I pledge the following:

  • I will create a weekly menu on Thursday evenings after the food flyers are out (you can actually get some delivered to your email Inbox!).
  • Though I will invite my family’s suggestions for dinners and try something new once in a while, I will give them only choices from what is on sale that week rather than a free-for-all smorgasbord of options.
  • I will shop only for what is on my shopping list for my menu – creating a stockpile of snacks for the pantry leads to unnecessary spending and over-eating.
  • Something “On Sale!” is still a waste of money if it will never be eaten.
  • Canned foods are not as repulsive as my kids would suggest – I will try to buy in season and expose my kids to some canned or frozen fruit and vegetables.
  • I will watch what gets scanned at the cash:  many cashiers are part-timers and don’t always know the right code (and don’t often care) – I never realized how often I was being over charged.
  • I will plan my shopping trips around my work schedule or errands – it is not against the law to shop at more than one grocery store (but it is a waste of gas and not so green to travel 40k to save a dollar on ground beef).
  • I will try to buy in bulk and cook in batches – see my note on communal cooking below (are you interested?)!
  • I will no longer buy salad or lettuce kits – a head of leaf and a head of romaine do not take that long to wash and stay fresh a lot longer.
  • I will make more of my own salad dressings (but not my own ketchup)!
  • I will buy tubs of yoghurt for at home consumption and save the individual yoghurts for school or picnics.
  • We will not buy store bought cookies any more – homemade cookies are way better (my kids suggested this one themselves!) (check back with me on this one).
  • I will always add finely chopped carrots, celery, onion, zucchini to my spaghetti sauce and chili (no one knew and gobbled up the extra vegetables without complaint – and it stretched my kilo of ground beef a little further).
  • One good-sized whole chicken feeds my family twice – once for dinner and again with soup made from the chicken stock and leftover chicken.
  • We will have homemade soup and homemade bread for dinner more often.
  • I will give money to the Food Bank – canned food drives are awesome but what I found most challenging was providing perishables to my family (fresh fruit and vegetables, milk and bread).  The Food Bank need regular donations to accomplish this:

and, last but not least …
  • It won’t kill me to pick up a broom and dust cloth once in a while (but then I would have to rename my blog…so forget that!)

 ….please stay logged to my blog!

I am about to embark on some new challenging projects so come back soon and read about them:

  •  The astonishing benefits and amazing side effects of having regular family meals
  •  The economic, social and nutritional benefits of communal cooking
  •  . ..and more!

Where is all the junk food?

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These are my 8 year-old daughter’s thoughts on our project:

I thought the project was kind of bad and kind of good.  It was actually horrible.  There were no barbeque chips and no Smart food (popcorn).  I didn’t like it at all.  I’m grateful that I don’t have to live on this kind of thing my whole life.  I will try to save more money though….



Boo Hoo! No Baconator :(

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Here are my 11 year-old’s thoughts on this project: 

I thought the project was good and bad. Good because it was cool being in the paper and to be recognized at school. Bad because I did not get my liter of milk a day and no Baconaters. I learned that if you lose your job it’s a hard life and to be grateful of what you have. If you think it’s hard with a job, think of the life without one!

It’s Friday!

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My idea of an Easter bunny
My idea of an Easter bunny

Things didn’t go so well for Jesus on Holy Friday, I know.  However, aside from its solemn implications, Good Friday also marks the last day to which my budget has to be stretched.  By tomorrow afternoon, the five of us will all be safely installed at the bountiful table of my in-laws for the Easter weekend.  I’m confident my remaining $18.40 shall see us through the 6-hour drive.


Be sure to check back next week each of my family members will post their own reflections on this project to commemorate their sacrifice this Lent.


The Ottawa Citizen printed an article I wrote today.  Here is the link:


May you all be blessed this Easter!



Sanity and pizza dough are slipping through my fingers…

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When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie…


No amore here.  Our Lent project very nearly reduced me to tears on Friday night.  Pizza night is somewhat habitual in our family on Fridays but during Lent we had to be content with homemade pizzas versus take-out/delivery or a dinner out at Boston Pizza.  Just before heading off to various music lessons, teen social obligations and errands, I set the bread machine to churn its beautiful messy contents into delectable dough, as I’d been doing almost every Friday night during Lent.

Upon our return, I set to putting the pizzas together for a hungry crowd of 4 kids (one extra for Friday night sleepover).  Something was terribly wrong.  This dough was a gooey mess.  Looked like a new prototype for the new movie “Monsters vs Aliens”.  I must have mis-measured or something but it was awful!  Already 7:30pm with a hungry pack at my heels, I knew starting from scratch was not an option (dough in the bread machine is awesome but it takes 1:40h). I was totally stressed but one of my kids calmly quipped, “Guess we’ll just have to order in.”   Normally I would have agreed and happily acquiesced, but Easter is next weekend -we are so close to our goal.  I could not cheat!  I haul myself out of my pit of misery and gooey dough, and rushed to the grocery store to buy some pizza kits.  Sadly, waste is not a good companion to a food budget such as ours.  Found an old Bacardi cooler in the basement to console me though.

Dinner was recreated and we alll settled into watching PeeWee’s Great Adventure (yes, the gem from 1985) to which the kids laughed hysterically.  I suddenly had a hankering for Tequila.  That scene just added insult to injury.


…just a few more days.

Oh me Olive Oyl, says I

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olive-oylWith a new week started and another $102.66 to spend, I am off to the grocery store for my last FULL week of shopping on our Lent Project budget.  I am faced with yet another quandary.  I have a guest coming for dinner Saturday evening.  The menu is rather simple, spaghetti, bread and salad.  My guest has graciously offered to bring the wine (“YES!” says I) and dessert (“YES!” say my kids).  I am, however, completely out of all manners of salad dressing.  Make my own is easy enough, but I am also out of olive oil.  Have you seen the price of olive oil?  I need olive oil.  I have two choices:

  1. Buy the olive oil.  I simply cannot make her bring the olive oil too.  Yet buying olive oil would diminish my budget for the remainder of the week to about $15 (for 4 days).  Dicey but doable (Behold!  The tuna casserole!).
  2. Buy an extra bottle of wine for the same price or cheaper and use vegetable oil…. After this and the bottle she brings, neither of us will be the wiser.  The wobblier, perhaps. 

Option 2 it is.  I’m so glad I thought this one out.

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