“Sally, I’ve been seeing more stories about more and more families going on food stamps to get by.” Diane juggled the phone receiver on her shoulder while putting dishes in the dishwasher. “One lady says she’s buying hot dogs for her kids because better meat is too expensive. I’m just wondering. What would you do if you were in that situation and still had little kids at home?”
“Well, honey,” said Survival Sally, “I can sure tell you I wouldn’t buy hot dogs. They’re the junk food of meat. The first thing I’d do is cut out candy and twinkies and stop drinking soda pop. Sam and I haven’t had pop for years. That stuff is bad for your health, and the money spent on it really adds up. Then I’d declare we’re going vegetarian, or at least we’d only eat meat on certain days. And if the family didn’t like it, that would just be too bad. Lots of folks think a vegetarian diet is better for you anyway.””
“Really? Don’t you think that’s asking a bit much?”
“Not at all. Think of how the Chinese have gotten by for so long on dishes with very little meat. A little rice and vegetables goes a long way. And what about in our own country during the Great Depression? People made do without all the convenience food items we have today. We think we’ve got to have so much with our meals. Why, when I was growing up, one of my favorite meals included bread and gravy.”
“Bread and gravy?” Diane asked.
“Sometimes we’d splurge and have toast and gravy.”
“Oh, come on.”
“I’m not kidding. Look, how many people who use food stamps come out of the grocery store with canned food and prepared meals? Have you ever seen food banks hand out boxes of corn meal with recipes on how to use it? Cornbread and bean soup is mighty good. Have you ever had fried corn mush?”
“No,” Diane said. “But you’re talking about the old times.”
“Sure, and our families had to do what they had to do. Today, we’ll need to change the way we think and plan for our meals. Have more soups. Make more casseroles that last for several meals. Have plain oatmeal for breakfast instead of eating out of an $8 box of cold cereal.”
“We’ll all have to do something different if prices keep going up the way they are.” Diane closed the dishwasher.
“Listen, don’t just take my word for it. Anybody who’s in a tight spot has to admit first that they need to make some changes. Then I’d recommend taking a look at Living On A Dime. They’ve got lots of great e-books for saving money on groceries as well as better ways to manage money. Times are getting tough, and there’s no shame in making some adjustments. There’s no reason a family has to starve. They will just have to eat differently for survival.”