Revisiting the Food Budget
A while back, on instagram, I asked what questions you guys had that I could answer. In other words, I was desperate for help with topics for my writing.
This first question is from my friend Becky: "I would like to ask how you budget for food since your door is often open for neighborhood kids. “
The short answer to this question is that we just-flat-don’t.
There are a few problems when it comes to budgeting for us:
1 - Quite simply, we are terrible, awful, no-good at it. Someone please help.
2 - But also, our lives have a tendency towards super-unpredictability.
We rarely know how many kids/mouths we will be feeding on a daily basis, let alone a weekly or monthly basis. Let alone when we will get phone calls that need immediate attention, meaning that dinner plans fly straight out the window.
Adam and I have many, many, many (so many) weaknesses. Flexibility, however, cannot be counted among them.
Scheduling, meal-planning, and budgeting = weakness.
Flexibility = strength.
The good news is that for us, and our lives and ministry, flexibility turns out to be really important.
All of that to say, mostly our budget/plan amounts to not having one. We spend time in prayer to discern when there is a knock on the door, whether we should it wide and pull up a mismatched chair, or to admit that we simply don’t have the capacity. We DO make plans (held loosely) each week for our dinners, based on any extra mouths or friends that we know we will be feeding. For example, Monday nights before or after basketball, we end up feeding at least a few extra hungry teenagers. We stock our pantry with granola bars and a bowl-full of bananas and oranges for early-morning knocks on the door from kids who missed the bus. And easy snacks and bottled waters for the ones who stop by after school. Ramen noodles are a staple, for the one currently bunked in our back room. We make as many cheap, healthy meals as possible, while still ending up ordering pizza every now and again.
On paper, ends don’t always meet. And most of the time, budgeting for dinner means stretching the pot of spaghetti to include one more, or cutting all the chicken breasts in half. Or perhaps it means our church grills a million hot dogs for all the football boys, or friends stop by with jugs of syrup and extra pancake mix for Sunday mornings. Sometimes, we find an unexpected grocery gift card in the mailbox. People and food always seem to show up just when we need it, and I’ve become a firm believer in this gospel that is somehow always more than enough.