Day 10: Besides nearly setting the house on fire mentioned here, the day was rather uneventful. We took a rest from canning– hooray. Got through school. Slowly. Watched a movie this afternoon. And got all the way to church before realizing I literally hadn’t gotten outside the entire day. I want to get in the habit of an afternoon walk now that the weather is cooling down. But this afternoon between school running long, the kids watching a movie, and eating dinner early because of church, the day just slipped by.

Breakfast: Fried eggs, grapes and toast
Lunch: Leftover mac and cheese from yesterday, as well as cabbage slaw and apples.
Dinner: Chicken pot pie (tried a new recipe that I didn’t love- next time I’ll add more seasonings– this recipe was a little too Norwegian for us). We also had cabbage slaw and apples.

I’ve come to realize that a fair bit of extra cost in cooking comes from feeling that you can’t serve an item more than once or twice a week. The beautiful book Hungry Planet shows a week’s worth of food for different families all over the world. It demonstrates rather dramatically that the people with the lowest food budgets tend to eat the same foods over and over. All over the world people eat corn cereal, rice, beans, and bread for multiple meals every week.

We all know that a varied diet tends to be more healthful. Fruits and vegetables are essential, and I certainly won’t sacrifice my family’s nutrition just to save money. But there is a point beyond which the quest for endless variety just wastes money. It sends people scurrying to buy kiwifruit out of season because they’re bored with bananas. To discard perfectly good leftovers. And to feel guilty if they serve the same dinner twice in a week. Meanwhile, studies show that the more variety people see, the more they tend to eat. But how much do we really need?


  1. Because of your inspiration to spend less and the economic reality of needing to spend less, open faced sandwiches have appeared on our menu. It is amazing how you can stretch leftovers with a little gravy and a piece of bread.

    That book is incredible. I’m not sure that I would buy it, but I have had a chance to look at it in a bookstore and what it says in pictures is astounding.

  2. That’s one of the things I most appreciated about your 30 Days two years ago – that you add some perspective to the project (like repeating meals). It’s not just about saving some money – there’s a bigger picture out there… Will your family be trying anything like washing clothes in the creek or making pottery with backyard clay this time?

  3. Thanks for this. I do feel bad when we eat the same thing twice in a week, but have never figured out why. Also I feel bad when 5 or 6 of our meals in a given week have ground beef in them, which I can get VERY cheaply at a local discount meat and produce store. Why??? I’ve never really thought about it, or even dwelt on the fact that I put so much thought and effort into NOT repeating the same meat or meal. I just know in the back of my head, I purposely plan to NOT do those things, and when I do, I apologize to my family. I love one-dish/casserole/crock-pot meals to take us through the winter, and one year I made up over 30 on them when we had a baby coming. Add a salad or veggie platter and some bread, great meal! It saved time AND money, and even though we were eating the same thing (I had about 5 different kinds of casseroles, so there was still variety), no one complained. This is something I’m going to have to change my thinking on.

  4. Chinamama-Well, we’ve been washing dished by hand the whole month so far, due to our broken dishwasher, and we’ve been hanging clothes on the clothesline instead of using the dryer….does that count? 🙂

  5. testing….

  6. YAY! It worked ; )

  7. I have long since given up apologizing to my family for duplication…I grew up with thrifty parents who did crock pot meals and leftovers were often for lunch or for a buffet dinner later in the week. After 8 years I’m starting to get the hubby to my way of thinking and the girls will be raised to not have issues with the leftover concept. I don’t have my own garden to supplment but when we have sales at the store for Hamber for .75 a lb for a 5 lb chub…yeah I stock up and know that we will be having hamberger based meals for the majority of the month…It all counts…

  8. I think you make a really good point. I’ve recently been eating the same things over and over in order to make sure to use them up, and honestly, it’s not that big a deal. After three days in a row of enchiladas, though, I did throw the rest in the freezer and move on…:)

  9. Owl Haven,

    New to your blog. I love it. I have 3 children. The two oldest are homeschooling with me and the youngest just turned 3. I appreciate this post as I am trying to get organized about planning meals and this helps me keep proper perspective!

  10. That’s something I ponder when I read the Little House books. They ate beans and bean broth and salt pork incessantly, and they seemed to be fine with it. I think we could do with a bit more of that attitude.

  11. I wanted to just email, but didn’t see how. I hesitate to give advice, but have you heard of a Victorio Strainer? I bought one to do applesauce and tomatoes. I am sure it can be used for many things, the grapes and the pumpkin, I don’t know. I’ve enjoyed reading about your 30 day challange and all your canning and maybe sometime in the future, this little kitchen tool would be very helpful for you and your wonderful family!
    Just google Victorio Strainer and you will find it.
    Blessings on you and your family!

  12. We are having *mexican* for dinner the third time this week. We had tacos, tostadas and tonight we are having wet burritos (there is a pic and description of them on my blog a couple of weeks ago if you are interested). No apologies, just this is what we have on hand this is what is for dinner.

    I go days lately without leaving the house. Usually I would go nuts but I have been so busy with school for five kids I don’t even notice till days go by. After years of running around, I like being home!

  13. It is true that a certain amount of variety is necessary–we do need fruits, vegetables, starches, and protiens all on a regular basis, but….American ideas of “necessary variety” are just insane. We don’t need a different fruit for every day of the week, and it really won’t kill us to eat spaghetti and green beans once a week instead of once a month. 🙂 I still feel guilt for repeating meals, but I refuse to let guilt take over my budget. 😀

    I also think convenience foods give the *illusion* of varity, and are generally no more healthful than eating nothing but rice all the time.