Okay, on to the finer points of a no-spend month! Let's get to it.
One of the main things that you have to remember when you are planning a fiscal fast for a month is that you have to make time for fun things. You have to be able seek out free events to do in order to keep your sanity. Trust me, you will NEED to get out of the house. We were lucky and found several in our community, including a cool classic car show downtown and a free showing of "The Little Rascals" at our lake's sports complex. We also have a really nice park that has all kinds of things to climb on and trails within our community to bike or walk on. I feel like that's what helped keep us going through the majority of the month.
The second thing that helped keep us going was the prep work we did ahead of time. I already told you that we did buy some stuff ahead of time. Mainly, we bought toilet paper and extra shampoo, body wash, and conditioner. I also use a lot of homemade cleaners. So, when I was planning this, I already knew I had plenty of homemade laundry detergent. The type I make is called White Silk Purse Laundry Soap. I add several squirts of Dawn dish soap and half of a 24 oz. container of Oxiclean to the recipe as well and it makes enough to last about 6 months for my family. (2 adults and 2 part-time kiddos)
When I planned the 8-10 meals for the month, I tried to make sure that a lot of the ingredients weren't going to be perishable within a week and I tried to integrate a lot of them into different recipes.
The best part of the prep work was freezing some food to have on hand for when we really didn't want to make anything ourselves. That's where BIEROCKS come in...mmmmm, bierocks. I know that they are sometimes referred to Runzas in Nebraska and such, but bierocks are a staple here in the German-settled towns of northeast Kansas. They are basically like rolls filled with meat, cabbage, and cheese.
The recipe I used is fantastic! It's homemade dough and it rises beautifully and tastes delicious. I like to use Guinness to steam the cabbage and add flavor. This recipe makes about a dozen bierocks. I made up the hamburger ones first and they tasted super yummy. Then, I made the sausage ones. My husband and I just stared open-mouthed at each other when we tested the filling..it was even better than the hamburger filling! I highly, highly recommend these. They freeze very well and reheat easily. To freeze you simply want to wrap them individually in aluminum foil and freeze them individually. Once frozen, we transferred to gallon freezer Ziploc bags and stored in our deep freeze. To reheat simply unwrap, wrap in a slightly damp paper towel, and microwave for 2-4 minutes, depending on your microwave's power. The damp paper towel helps keep the dough from getting too hard. You can also slap those babies on parchment paper on a baking sheet and place in the oven at 400 degrees for 20-30 minutes.
3 1/2-4 cups flour
3 T. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 T. instant potato flakes
2 pkgs. active dry yeast
1 cup milk
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup margarine or unsalted butter
Combine 2 1/2 cups flour, sugar, salt, potato flakes, and yeast in a large bowl. In a small saucepan, combine milk, water, and margarine. Heat to 130 degrees (margarine does not need to melt). Add liquid mixture to dry ingredients and beat well. Add enough additional flour to make a soft dough. Turn out onto lightly floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. Cover with a towel and let rest 15 minutes.
1 1/2 lbs. ground beef or sausage (or a mixture of the two)
3/4 tsp. salt and pepper
1 onion, chopped
2 cups cabbage, chopped
1 bottle Guinness beer
1/2 cup jalapeno slices (optional)
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (optional)
Brown beef, salt, pepper, and jalapenos. Add the onion and cabbage; cover and steam until onion is crisp-tender and cabbage is wilted. Add beer and and let reduce down about 10 minutes or so. Stir in cheese and let melt.
Pinch off a small amount of dough, about the size of an egg. Roll into a circle and place 1 heaping tablespoon of filling on dough. Bring edges together and pinch; place on greased pan. Bake 375 degrees for 20 minutes or until lightly browned.
The second staple of our no-spend month was bread. I didn't want to buy several loaves ahead of time, because I hate the taste of frozen bread and didn't want it to go bad before I could eat it. I found a great recipe for a half wheat/half white bread. It is easy peasy and tastes delicious, especially when it is still warm.
You can find the recipe here: Whole Wheat Wonderfulness
A lot of details went into planning and prepping for this fiscal fast, but needless to say, it was worth it in the end. We saved up a lot of money quickly and learned the value of making things from scratch. I also found that because of how we planned and being able to use what was on hand, I have curbed my grocery shopping quite a bit. In fact, just yesterday for lunch I made a poorman's meal for the family. It consisted of fried potatoes and onions, mixed with hot dogs, scrambled eggs, and cheese. We used up stuff we had on hand and it was a hearty meal.
I almost forgot that I also was so determined not to spend anything that I ended up bartering with my neighbor for items I needed. I had canned several different kinds of pickles and jams this summer and traded some homemade peach jam with her in exchange for some extra all natural enzyme cleaner (I add it to my dishwasher load, along with homemade dishwasher detergent) and eggs (she has her own chicken coop).
I hope that this gives you some ideas for your own fiscal fast. Please be sure to comment below and send any questions to me. I would be glad to answer in more detail.
Thanks for reading!