Recipes and Tips for Healthier Living and Smarter Budgeting

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

The Origins of the "35"

Last month I turned 35 and have been thinking about the origins of this blog, which began in 2010. It all started (as you can read here) when, in our lean Cincinnati years, people would learn that I spent only $35 a week on groceries (which often included other household items, like toilet paper or cleaning supplies) and wondered how on earth we, as a family of four, managed to survive on that. As I realized there was a genuine interest in learning to live and cook this way and that I might have a valuable thing to share, I finally accepted the challenge to blog about it. And thus Katrina's Kitchen ( the "35") was born.

To be completely honest, it was a great relief and a joyful blessing when my husband finished graduate school, obtained a full-time job, and we no longer had to live like church mice. (It was much less stressful being able to spend even $50 a week on groceries, then, because I had so strictly adhered to the $35 for so long.) I joyed in thinking about not having to live quite so frugally anymore.

And then 2013 happened. And 2014.

So in 2013 we moved across the state to live with my parents and young siblings for almost a year and a half while we worked to get our feet under us again, and a few months ago we were finally able to buy a home of our own again. While that is a blessing for which we are very grateful, things are very lean once more. Because of our experience in Cincinnati, earning less than $1,000/month, we are hopeful we can do it again, however, even though we are now a family of six. And part of making that possible is reverting back to my $35 a week grocery budget.

So how do we do that? Once again we have WIC, which is surprisingly helpful, are able to get weekly Bountiful Baskets, and are using food storage. That's really all there is to it. I cook almost everything from scratch, buy according to what's on sale any given week (or don't buy much at all some weeks, when not much of what I use is on sale) and we eat pretty well. Nothing fancy, but nearly every recipe on this blog is made with ingredients from the above sources. So, lots of vegetables, supplemented with wheat, brown rice, whole wheat pasta, and beans. When there's a good opportunity outside of my regular grocery stores for bulk items that are being trucked in, such as frozen chicken or ground beef, I take advantage of that, too, and stock up my freezer.

We would totally qualify for food stamps, based on our income right now, except that we have too much in savings. Since that money is in savings, we don't consider it available and forget we even have it. But the government can't overlook it, so we don't qualify for assistance. While that makes it difficult for us, it also forces us to be independent, which we prefer to be anyway. It just means we have to adhere more strictly to our budget, pray more, count our blessings, and hope for a more generous future while we keep moving forward with faith.

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