National $21 Challenge - Day Five

Posted June 6th, 2008 by Penny Wise

My $21 Challenge week has been deeply affected by saboteurs! How's this for gross. Noel is the only one of us who eats 'normal' bread and he still had two thirds of a loaf to himself. I got up this morning and discovered to my disgust that a mouse - a MOUSE - had somehow got into the pantry, hopped into the bread bin and chewed it's way through almost every slice. Ewww! The chickens were very happy with their huge breakfast but for me it meant just one more thing to do. Buying more bread was out of the question so I was just going to have to make some. At least I kind of felt like I had one-up on the mouse - haha you squeaky fiend, you can't beat me! I can make plenty more where that came from. It also chewed through a brand new packet of choc drops and knocked them off the shelf so they all spilled out over the pantry floor. 'Hmph, bloody mouse gets fed better than I do!' remarked Noel. I have nicknamed it Supermouse. Five cats and two mousetraps and we still haven't caught the pesky blighter yet.

To top it off, Liam left our one existing bottle of milk out overnight and it's gone off, but again I was undeterred. 'Right then, it's milk powder from now on until the end of the week!' I told the three of them. I was pretty miffed that so much had gone to waste though; there was still more than half a bottle left. Then Ali informed me on the way to school this morning that he was supposed to bring two hard boiled eggs and a jar of mayonnaise to school for a cooking project. We argued briefly - I told him there wasn't time to go back and get them, he said I had to buy some, I said no way, you couldn't buy eggs already hard-boiled and besides, it was $21 Challenge week. Which reminded me - we needed those eggs ourselves, and the mayonnaise to get through the week! So I told him he was just going to have to explain that Mum was very sorry but we couldn't spare the eggs or mayonnaise this week or we would go over our $21 food budget. I wonder what his teachers thought of that!

The worst saboteur of all however, was yet to come and I am disappointed to say that it is my own husband. He asked me if I needed anything from the shop as he was going to get an extra mousetrap. I decided that yes, we did have enough left to buy the sour cream I wanted to make the French Shepherds Pie so asked him to get me some. He came home some time later with TWO WHOLE SHOPPING BAGS FULL. As well as the sour cream he had decided to buy himself a new loaf of bread (when I already said I was going to make him some and was very proud about it too), a packet of coffee, fruit juice, a family size bar of chocolate, a bag of potato chips, a packet of cashew nuts, two litres of milk, a CASK of wine and a litre tub of ice cream. The grand total came to $51.12.

You can imagine how I felt. Worst of all, it was all on crap! We didn't need any of it. I had the bread and milk under control, we had tea and hot chocolate to get through the next couple of days without coffee and we already had potato chips. We also had vanilla ice cream in the freezer. Why, oh why after all the effort he knew I had gone to would he just go and blow it like that? I had managed to get through the whole week so far and keep everyone well fed for just $15 and we still had everything else we needed to get us through to the end of the week. I felt totally sabotaged - forced into failure.

But I didn't feel like that for long. Noel might have blown the $21 Challenge but I haven't. As far as I am concerned I am still in control. I am in control of my kitchen and of my family's meals. His splurge is NOT going to affect my achievement. I knew exactly how I was going to get through the week on $21 and I still will. I am not going to spend a single cent over my $21; in fact I reckon I can do it in quite a lot less. He can eat all that junk if he likes; the whole experience has made me realise how little we need it and how little it means to me. He's just gone and brought me a freshly picked head of broccoli from the garden for tonight's dinner. Crawler...

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