Military mama: Memories keep me full

My mind has been wandering lately, revisiting my past. It’s not that I don’t enjoy where I’m at in life at the moment, though I would be lying if I didn’t admit that times were simpler when there weren’t three mini-me humans depending on me for their every need.

When my tummy starts grumbling these flashbacks flicker up. My daily menu has altered quite a bit recently. It’s been six months since I opted to stay at home with my four-year-old and newborn babies. We are still adjusting to having essentially one income for our family once again. Many dual income families are struggling, too, so I know we are far from being alone on the bargain diet. With few other areas where we can cut corners we are doing our best to trim the fat wherever possible and lately that has been on our grocery expenditures. Maybe this will have an effect on both our budget and my waistline! (Of course that’s wishful thinking of a postpartum mommy.)

I’ve been eating a lot of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches lately.

Naturally, this fact brings me back to simpler, leaner times. I think about the starving student days, when peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and ramen noodles made up over half of my personal food pyramid.

And then there was the newlywed era, where every penny that could possibly be construed as ‘extra’ had been spent on a wedding reception and then airfare to get the bride and groom back to his duty station. We scraped by on instant mashed potatoes and macaroni and cheese.

Back then we lived in base housing, because it truly was our only option. Our first major purchase was a used mattress that sat on the floor because we could not afford a bed frame. Our couch and entertainment center were freebies that were otherwise going to be tossed by NCO families that had moved on to finer things. Piece by piece we accumulated the furnishings that made our house a home, eating hot dogs and cereal along the way to scrimp and save.

Now, we are homeowners and have much nicer things than we did years ago. But we are far from big spenders. Many of the habits from the old days have stuck, and truly come in handy now that we are using creativity to make ends meet again. I know that many families in the area are feeling the same urge to tighten the belt and reign in any excess spending. My non-domestic self still gets the urge for a little drive-thru every now and again, but it’s the dollar menu calling my name now. Keeping the two little ones in diapers, and my oldest boy’s ever-hungry tummy full are not optional expenses. Kids cost money, and a lot of it. I do spend more money to ensure that my kiddos are getting actual nutrition. But for me and the hubby bring on the PB&J’s.