Budget Crisis, Change, and a Challenge

I haven’t posted in a while for a number of very good reasons. I have been consumed with the transition to being a stay-at-home mom, I have been trying to get a routine in place that actually ALLOWS me to use the computer, and I have been being ruled by a demanding toddler. Those are just the daily frustrations and challenges. I have also been dealing with personal issues including my mother-in-law’s mini stroke and my grandmother’s hospitalization for a blood clot in her jugular vein (both are recovering well, but the immediate stress was excruciating).

To add to the fun and excitement of the aforementioned issues, my husband came home from his job (the one that was so stable that I was able to quite mine just a few weeks ago…) to announce that they were being cut back to a MAXIMUM of 40 hours per week for the forseeable future, and probably at least through the end of the year. His normal shift is a minimum of 48 hours, but he often works upwards of 55 hours per week.

After doing the calculations, and redoing the calculations, I realized that we would have about $400/month for gas and groceries after paying our current bills. We don’t have a ton of “extras” that can be cut, but if we go on “vacation” with DirecTV, cut off the house phone line, and cut off the pest control service, we should have an additional $155/month to cover any needed medical copays and unavoidable incidentals that come up.

Michael’s truck is a diesel, which is even higher than the sky-high prices of regular gas, so our fuel costs are pretty high right now. I really need to be able to hold on to almost all of our “extra” money for gas, so the problem of feeding our family was beginning to look daunting.

I have never tried the cash payment system with our budget because, quite honestly, I lack the discipline. I liked the idea in theory, but when it came time to actually withdraw the money from the bank to put into an envelope, I balked every time. This time, the setup was reversed.

Michael sold his old toolbox (mechanic box for work) to someone that works with him, and he brought home cash. I decided not to deposit it. Instead, I am issuing myself a challenge.


  • For the next two months (through November 30), I will ONLY use cash for groceries AND household supplies (toilet paper, cleaners, etc.).
  • I will limit my spending to the cash currently set aside for that purpose ($420).
  • I will take advantage of the foods I have stocked in my pantry and freezer, but I will NOT deplete them to the point that I have to restock at full price. When I see a good price on meat and staples, I will still stock up with an eye toward the uncertain end of this “lean” time.
  • I will blog about and track my grocery spending to increase accountability (and the likelyhood of sticking to my budget!).
  • I will post my weekly menu plans to show how all of this works out to feed a family of five on roughly $200/month.

Soooo…here we go! I hope you will follow my journey, encourage me with comments, and hold me accountable for my progress. Unlike a lot of challenges that I have seen, this one is for keeps. If I succeed, we survive. If I fail, we flounder. Of course, it’s no fun if there’s no incentive…right?? 🙂


45 Minute Rolls

Ok…so this recipe was originally called “30 Minute Rolls” when I first tried it, but it bugged me that it actually takes 45 minutes to make them. 🙂 Regardless, these rolls are super fast to put together and absolutely delicious. We like to use the leftover rolls for sandwiches or hamburger buns.

45 Minute Rolls

1cup plus 2 Tbsp warm water (1 1/8 cups)
1/3 cup oil
2 Tbsp yeast
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 egg
3 1/2 cups bread flour (all-purpose will work if you don’t have any bread flour)

Heat oven to 400°.

Combine water, oil, yeast, and sugar in the mixer bowl and allow to rest for 15 minutes. Using a dough hook, mix in the salt, egg, and flour. Knead with the hook for a few minutes–until flour is well incorporated and dough is soft and smooth.

Grease a 9″x13″ pan. Grease your hands and pinch the dough into 12 balls. Place the dough balls into the pan and allow to rest for 10 minutes.

Bake for 10-12 minutes at 400° or until golden brown.


These rolls are Michael’s new favorite recipe. I make them at least once a week unless I want to risk a cranky crew at home! Please let me know if you try them.