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Thursday, July 14, 2016

Days 12/13/14: July Food Challenge $1/1/1

Trips and Food
We made a quick trip down South to see Sailor and Sugar before they moved over a thousand miles away. It required a hotel stay and meals.
We have a separate budget for vacation and entertainment, but still. I wanted to try to at least do better than I've done on past trips.
So, we did a bit of food prep beforehand. All my meals were packed in advance, since, you know, I used to weigh nearly 300# and have a very boundaried food plan. So, I packed lunch, and the pieces I'd need for dinner, and breakfast, and lunch the next day. We planned to be home early evening, so I didn't pack that. Turned out, I should have. We didn't get home till nearly 10 p.m. and by that point, I was hungry and quite irritable.

For good measure, we packed the rest of the family's lunch as well And lots of snacks and a few drinks. Then we gave our drinks away to the trash men, who happened to collect our trash as we were loading up the car. It was brutally hot, and they looked so thirsty. I couldn't help it. So, I filled some reusable water bottles for us and we hit the road, full of energy and good intentions.

Things I learned: 
1. Unplanned expenses. You can't take a road stop without potty breaks. If you stop at a gas station or restaurant, you are expected to buy something in exchange for using the facilities. With three kids and a six-hour drive, we made multiple stops. A $2 purchase here, a $2 purchase there. I had saved about $10 in grocery money, but at this rate, it was going really quickly. We filled up with gas, so no additional purchase there. Hotel paid for already. Pizza for dinner out of the entertainment budget, which would also serve as lunch. Free breakfast from the hotel. So that left dinner for all of them on the return trip back...and all those potty breaks.

Lesson: Short fill ups. I'm going to suggest not filling the tank completely at a stop. $10 at a time, perhaps. That would make additional purchases not required. We had a lot of leftover snacks that came back home.

2. What's forgotten, gets bought at premium prices. We ended up forgetting to bring sun screen and so purchased additional sunscreen, which we then forgot to use at the beach. We also bought more drinks and batteries. So, we spent money on something we'll eventually use, but apparently didn't need at the time. Cost: $26

Lesson: double check your packing list. We brought towels, but what was missing. Consider writing down those "extras" that you don't normally take on a trip. Check things like batteries, so you aren't left having to make a purchase for something you might have at the house.

3. Dinner is a meal, too. There were several long stretches of road that have nothing but scrubland or forest or pasture. We stayed later than expected and ended up getting on the road much later than anticipated and therefore dinner was now definitely going to be "on the road" for the majority of us. Mr. Money Mustache talks about "eating out of your backpack" and that is where this would have really come in handy. We had some granola bars, some nuts, some apples and some cheese. It could have worked, but because I hadn't figured out to present it as a "proper meal," I was intimidated about serving it to my family. Cost of my pride: $14 for fast food take out.

Lesson: don't be intimated by the unexpected. Roll with it. Be adaptable and teach your family to be adaptable as well.

Today is Day 14.
No money spent. $18 balance which due to the above overage, we'll roll into the next two weeks
All the food that we purchased on Saturday has kept us going and there is still food available for the next several days. There are plenty of frozen veggies, a day's worth of milk, half a dozen potatoes, the same amount of small apples. Plenty of canned veggies. A shockingly large amount of "staples"...all that rice, beans, dried potato, peanut butter. Just crazy.

So, another trip is planned soon. 
Just a little quick visit.
However, for this one, I'll try to take the lessons learned these several days.
Things like pack:
- silverware
- napkins: extra, and more extras
- dinner "just in case"
- adaptable spirit that doesn't require "hot meal"
- peanut butter, apples, cheese, nuts, some form of cracker or bread (if needed)...all work just fine for a meal

As our 11 year old put it, "We're on an adventure, and sometimes adventures have more difficult parts." 
I don't like the thought that eating perfectly good food that is simple is considered a "hardship", yet that is our "go to" reaction. At least, that's been our family's former habit.

And we're unlearning those habits, thankfully.

Today, as a bonus, we were invited to pick fresh figs at one of our neighbor's yards. The children and I went over to the home of folks we had never met, except via our neighborhood Facebook the day before. It took all of 15 minutes to harvest, and we gathered about six pounds worth of delicious fruit. The kids had never picked figs before. Never eaten a fig picked straight off the tree. It was a joy to listen to them chirp and exclaim about finding a ripe fig in between the leaves. Sweet of these new neighbors, now friends, pull down the branches and point out ripe ones that eager eyes had missed. Dozens upon dozens of figs were gathered. Hundreds were left to ripen. It was a good experience. We shared a few small bowls with our next door neighbors, for you never no if folks like or eat figs, so just a couple handfuls to be kind, without overwhelming someone with something they may not like. Happy times all around!

We're learning good things over here, and for that, this gal is very, very grateful.

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Drat! I forgot to post the six-year-old "complaint report": Said at lunch, that he doesn't like ice cream with stuff added to it. "Why did it have to have all those moose tracks in there?"