This post was most recently updated on May 18th, 2015
Over the course of our 16+ year marriage, there have been many challenges of various sorts. There have been health issues, growing pains as we adjusted to sharing space, bruised feelings … and periods of financial stress. Sometimes the lack of funds came because of an unexpected repair or emergency. Sometimes, unemployment or slow periods of business made it hard to make two ends meet. And sometimes, someone simply forgot to write one (or ten) debit card purchases in the check register, leaving an unpleasant surprise of the red ink variety when it came time to reconcile the bank account. Regardless of the cause, financial pressure (for me, at least) is one of the most anxiety-inducing situations in life. And even though we’ve made a lot of headway in reducing our financial footprint, we still experience occasional periods of fiscal drought.
Most recently, my husband missed six weeks of work because of a nerve issue, which resulted in short paychecks, and his missing the prime season for expense and mileage reimbursements – to the tune of a couple thousand bucks. These expense reimbursements during the summer are what we normally count on to fund home school curriculum purchases, birthday celebrations for three of our four kids who have fall birthdays and seasonal clothing upgrades for the whole family. This loss was deeply felt in our household budget. As an added bonus, a money storm began circulating over our house about the same time – car repairs for multiple vehicles, household repairs, and additional medical expenses. The end result was that the bills got paid but we had $9.47 left in our checking account … and two weeks until the next paycheck.
While we had pantry staples, our fresh food supply had been seriously depleted during the birthday week of our oldest son. It was suggested that doing without vegetables for a few days wouldn’t kill anyone. But our garden hasn’t quite given up the ghost and we were able to harvest cucumbers and tomatoes, along with a few cantaloupe and watermelon. We were lucky to find meat in the freezer and even luckier that the *hungriest* member of the family – the aforementioned birthday boy – was still feeling full from his birthday week bonanza and wasn’t asking for seconds or thirds like usual. This made our meals stretch into leftovers, which is something we haven’t really had since he was11 … I’ll admit we ended up with some rather odd meals – omelets filled with leftover stuffed pork chop filling and canned tomatoes, for example. Or bagels with bacon gravy. We’d stocked up on the 99 cent bags of overripe bananas from the cheap rack at the grocery store so there was plenty of banana bread in the freezer for breakfast and snacks. But the baby was tired of canned sweet potatoes and green beans after 2 days so I raided the change jar to buy him some food to last until the next deposit. But all in all, we survived the crisis without going hungry and only mildly sick of pasta.
Today was payday, incidentally, and I excitedly logged on to the bank account this morning to check the balance before beginning my routine of ordering coupons, paying bills and planning grocery lists. But due to some accounting glitch only half of my husband’s pay was deposited. Beans and rice anyone??
By the way – if you’re interested, here’s one of my favorite quick recipes for a cheap, tasty and filling meal. We like it for breakfast occasionally, or as breakfast-for-supper, when we’re in the mood. It’s not the healthiest on its own, but if you add a couple of scrambled eggs and some fruit, it’s pretty well-rounded.
½ pound of bacon, diced
¼ – ½ cup all purpose flour
2 – 3 cups milk (I use whole milk but use what you’ve got)
Salt & Pepper to taste
In a skillet over medium/high heat, cook bacon until brown and crispy. Do Not Drain! Add flour and stir for a minute or two until flour is slightly browned. If your mixture still looks very oily, add a little more flour until it resembles course, dry crumbs – (this is what will keep your gravy from being greasy) and cook until slightly brown. Carefully add milk, stirring constantly. Continue adding all of the milk, stirring until mixture is smooth. Depending on how thick or thin you like your gravy, you will adjust the amount of milk you add, but remember, gravy thickens as it sits. Cook until bubbly and desired consistency. Salt and pepper to taste. We serve this over homemade biscuits, drop biscuits, canned biscuits, toast, bagels – even English muffins.