The Frugal Catholic: “Cutting Back on Your Food Costs– Part 1–How to Start” by Martha Wild King–July 2011

Budgeting your food money affects what your family consumes, their health, how much you spend on medical care, how often you eat out, and how well you save.  By lowering our food budget to the United Stated Department of Agriculture’s Cost of Food at Home’s lowest cost food plan–“The Thrifty Plan,” –our family has been able to eat well and save over the past 30 years, and you can too.

My quest for lowering the food budget began when planning to travel to England to meet my Navy submariner husband.  Funds were unavailable.  The only place to slash was food.  This is when I began to employ my SOS Principles (SOS: SAVE OUR SHIP) so that I could SOS:SEE OUR SAILOR !!!!

English countryside is breathtaking.

I found the USDA figures for Cost of Food at Home at Four Levels found at  and these levels helped us begin, and resulted in my first article “Feeding 4 on $49 a Week,” (Daily Press, July 24, 1986, Newport News VA).  With my WHY at hand (saving money), the HOW (getting to England) became achievable.

London Bridge at night

If you want to reduce your food monies or if you have never “had” a food budget, here’s how.

THE FIRST–SOS: SET OUR SPENDING.  This is based on the USDA recommendations.  For example, if I take each of the weekly Costs of Food at Home and calculate for my NOW family of three, four significant figures develop.  The Thrifty Plan for my husband, myself, and our 14 year old daughter is $108.80; the Low-Cost Plan is $138.30; the Moderate Plan is $169.10; and the Liberal Plan is $205.40.  Thus a $100 savings exists between the Thrifty and Liberal Weekly Plans.

THE SECOND–SOS: SALVAGE OLD STUFF.   Take stock of what you have.  Yes, delve into your pantry, your cupboards, and your food shelves in the basement or garage.  Look at the expiration date, ask yourself if you are ever! going to use that can of pickled pig’s feet, and if in doubt–throw it out.  Also look into your refrigerator and see what you can combine to create anew.  Can that dying carrot be thrown into a stew with the wilted celery and sprouting potatoes?  Get creative.  SOS: Salvaging Old Stuff can actually pocket money up front, for you can probably live on what’s in your pantry for several weeks if you are like most Americans.

Traveling in England is like finding unexpected surprises in your own langauage.

Next week–Part 2 HOW TO SHOP




The Frugal Catholic: “The Be-Attitudes of Christian Life” by Martha Wild King—June 5, 2011

The simplicity of the nine Beatitudes in Matthew 5:3-11 (RSV)  has always been a dangling carrot to reach for to receive blessings in my marriage, home, and life.

                          These Beatitudes tell me what I must BE.

  1. 3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
  2. 4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
  3. 5.”Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
  4. 6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
  5. 7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.
  6. 8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
  7. 9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
  8. 10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
  9. 11 “Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.  12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so men persecuted the prophets who were before you.

                                            So how can I apply them?

  1. To be poor in spirit is to recognize my hourly dependence on God.
  2. To mourn is to find my comfort in the Lord, first.
  3. To be meek is to recognize the Kingdom of God within my dwelling; to see Christ within all whom I encounter.
  4. To hunger and thirst for righteousness is to focus on the things of the Lord–the reading and hearing of God’s word daily–not on the possessions of the world.
  5. To be merciful is to do unto others–my husband, my children, my neighbors– as I want to be done unto.  Would I say to myself what I say them?
  6. To be clean of heart is to seek His kingdom in my daily life, not the kingdom of the evil one.  Regular monthly Confession truly helps here.
  7. To be a peacemaker means allowing my husband to lead and not striving to always get my own way within my family.
  8. And to be persecuted for the sake of righteousness means to conduct my life with conformity to God’s will.
  9.  For Matthew considered all Christian disciples as prophets, and prophets are persecuted.  Asking myself, “What would Jesus do?” has an application here.

I cannot control my environment, but I can only control whom I am in it.  And as a Catholic Christian, I can influence the world, my world, for good.  If I fail in these BE-attitudes, I lose my salt and light.

Our lives are are all "under construction." Following the 9 Beatitudes will give us that finished look!




The Frugal Catholic: “Offers a Post-Lenten Challenge” by Martha Wild King–May 1, 2011

“The 30- Day Mental Fast” means changing how we view our lives.

Some time ago during the Tuesday Bible study class at Saint Cecilia Catholic Church, our leader, Sue, opened with a prayer expressing that we all begin focusing more on God’s Word and less on the disturbing events around us. After we all said our “Amen,” I sheepishly raised by hand and shared a challenge I undertook beginning in June 2001 called “The 30-Day Mental Fast.”  The program was started by Jerry Clark and details can be found on his website   Clark said that by following a few rules, we can change our mental outlook.  No longer will we be slaves to the media’s grip of fear and doom.  What started out as a thirty-day challenge has become a ten year continuous endeavor, and this included the infamous events of September 11, 2001.  During that dreadful period, I barely looked at the news.  I knew what I needed to know, and I knew I could not change anything.  Instead, I was free to focus on what I could change: my life, attitude, and outlook.

Sue and her husband, Bob, have done likewise for several weeks now.  Bob finds listening to the classical TV stations is enjoyable–symphonies and opera–without any news or advertisements.  He states that, “When you hear the news  so much you get frustrated.  As a news junkie, the first few days were difficult because it had become a bad habit, for the news is repeated all day long.  Now I can think, and I am not being managed by the media.  I can get a lot more done.  I am being transformed by the renewal of my mind.”

Romans 12:2 expounds, “Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (RSV)

Yes, Lent is over, but if you are interested in challenging yourself, here are the rules to follow for the next thirty days:

  1. Turn off the television set and the radio in the house and in the car.
  2. Avoid reading newspapers, magazines, or Internet media reports.
  3. In place of the above, listen to books on tape, motivational CD’s, or Catholic CD’s from
  4. Read good books and magazines that will make you grow rather than make you feel powerless.
  5. Give yourself time every day in God’s word and in prayer.
  6. Exercise daily to help the brain.
  7. Drink plenty of purified water to flush the brain.
  8. Journal what you are learning.

                                             Eternal Father,                                                                         May the hope that springs forth from your Son’s death and                        resurrection shine forth through the Church in every age and                                                                              in every circumstance.                                                                                                                                                        Magnificat, Lent 2011