Project July: One Week In

This is hard for me. Much harder than I anticipated.

I thought it would be a walk in the park, given my previous pantry challenge experiences. I expected to sail through the month without any issues. The results so far strike me as a bit shocking and surprising.

First, as I’m writing this, the coyotes and the wind are both howling outside. Have I ever mentioned how much I do not like coyotes?

On to the update.

Hubs did a Costco haul and we did a (big) Azure Standard order in June. Our regular staples were stocked up. We were ready to roll for our July project of not spending a single cent on groceries for the entire month. Not even dairy products, which I generally continue to purchase during our pantry challenges.

The Origin

This wasn’t something I just came up with and decided on one day. I genuinely felt led to do this. Like we were supposed to forego spending money on groceries for the month. Like I was supposed to lean in and trust the Lord.

And sometimes that’s harder than it sounds.

The Obstacle

Almost every day, we hear reports about inflation, supply chain disruptions, or shortages. Whether it’s food or affects the shipment of food, it’s in the headlines or YouTube videos, or links in text messages from friends. I’m hearing about it incessantly.

And here I sit, not going out and doing what I would in any other situation.

We are not going to the store to “top off” various pantry items. I am not going to the store to grab those sale items that have a long shelf life. Instead of having a shopping list, or errands to run in town, I have a menu to plan and meals to prepare.

The only “preparing” I’m doing, is for each day, as it is about to happen.

The Onus

It seems fairly harmless and not at all exciting. However… This is relatively new for me, and I’m feeling a little anxious.

Homesteading is my jam. I love it, and my family participates in it because they love me, not because they share my passion for raising or growing our food.

As a homesteader, however, I feel a large responsibility to preserve and provide this lifestyle and our food for my family.

Working super part time (to the point I call myself semi-retired) and bringing in only a supplemental income increases the pressure I feel to grow, raise, preserve, and stretch every morsel of food.

As our family priorities took the foremost position in our lives, my work took a back (way back) seat. I love it, and prefer it this way in this stage of our lives, so I’m not at all complaining. Simply illustrating the point.

My homesteading and homemaking role has built itself on shopping, stocking, and preparing for all of our meals, seven days a week, 365 days a year. In that role, I’m continually shopping, restocking, and further preparing. Not only for the meals that week, but for the meals, company, and plans in our future.

The Ongoing Struggle

We recently had several members of our extended family here to visit. The meals we had here were easy peasy. I had the ingredients on hand, and built the meals around those.

That’s the easy part. I can handle building a menu around available ingredients.

What gets me, I’m learning, is not going back to the store to replenish what I’ve used up, or to get something different entirely for the next round of company or the next opportunity I have to show hospitality.

Project July seems insignificant in the big picture, but being led to do this and being obedient and trusting the Lord in this is really challenging me. To a point I’m embarrassed to admit what a mental toll this is taking.

As I cook one meal, I think, “If I could just pop to the store, I’d buy this and this to restock and I’d pick up some of that to make it different for next time…”

Putting plates on the table to serve my family, I think, “I hope when I go back to the store in August, the price on this hasn’t skyrocketed and I’m able to get more of it.”

The Purpose

Sharing Project July with people who ask about it, I get replies like, “What if you still bought stuff, but just didn’t use it until later?” or “Are you sure that’s a good idea, to not buy anything at the store right now?”

And I suppose, one week into it, I’ve learned this so far: Project July is not at all what I thought it was going to be.

I thought it was going to be my pantry preparedness skills being put to use, end of story.

Rather, it’s a bigger project with a bigger purpose.

I need to let go of my faith in myself and my pantry abilities. Perhaps I’ve gotten a bit overconfident in my homesteading and homemaking skills. If I’m honest, I put myself in the “savior” position of my household.

When I felt led to do this, I believe it had nothing to do with inflation or supply/demand, or even with the food I’ve preserved and put by. It had everything to do with once again reminding me where my trust needs to be. If I can’t listen to, or even seek the Lord in a little project for a month, how can I pursue bigger or better results in life?

Project July made me anxious this week. Anxiety made me humble. Humility made me remember who I live for, and who I serve.

It’s not at all the project I thought it was going to be. And today, I’m grateful for that.

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