With Sleeping On the Sidewalk

A friend of Miss Sasha’s takes one giant step to a much better life:

Ask yourself this question: What would you do if you found $3,500? Would you save it? Buy yourself something shiny? Would you take your family on a vacation to Disney World? What would you do?

I found myself asking this very same question this morning … After I added up how much money my family has spent on fast food, take out, coffee and restaurants in the year 2010. That’s right … my family of 6, with a modest military income, spent over 13% of our net base pay on burgers, pizza and coffee. And sadly, that’s only what we spent using our bank cards and credit card – it doesn’t include the times we have used cash or when we moved back to the U.S. from our tour in Okinawa (military paid for that), all the times we used Yen (Japanese currency) to pay for Okinawan food from January until May or the 3-week long fast food fest my husband went on when he went TDY to California in November (since the military paid for his 3-times-a-day In- N-Out habit). I’d be willing to bet that our actual number is closer to $5,000 spent on junk food for 2010.

She’s given it some thought and she’s ready to test her limits:

[W]hat is this whole 365-day challenge thing all about? It’s something I’ve been thinking about doing since early November, when my husband was TDY to California, and was continually eating fast food for 3 weeks straight and kept complaining of how crappy he felt (anyone remember “SuperSize Me” by Morgan Spurlock?). I thought to myself … What if we went an entire YEAR without fast food? No quick bites at McDonald’s, no afternoon pick-me-up’s from Starbucks, not giving in to the insatiable lure of Dominos … Could we do it? Is it really possible to prepare 1,095 meals and countless snacks without relying on a drive-thru? Can we use the time spent preparing meals together as a family, teaching our children not only the value of hard work, but the inherent lesson that a family that spends time together, loves each other?

My answer: YES. We can. It is our 2011 365-Day Challenge. (Is it okay to say that I miss Starbucks already?)

I’m on a similar path, so I know how hard it is to wring the grease out of your system. Grease and high fructose corn syrup have got your number and will keep calling well after your voicemail’s full. Grease is a jealous lover and corn syrup fucks the football team. Baby, grab your wallet and RUN.

Perhaps it was cheating that I quit eating McDonald’s and Burger King eons ago, that I only stop by Wendy’s for salads, the smell of Dunkin’ Donuts makes me queasy and the founders of Domino’s hold political views I find morally repugnant. I’m not completely certain I’ve been to a Starbuck’s. These things aren’t important. I can’t agree not to go out for sushi, Jamaican, Thai, Vietnamese, deli or anything I can’t make myself. But I’m signing on, on my own terms.

1. No McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, Taco Bell, no mass produced doughnuts. No lapses, no how.

2. No stupid, expensive coffee unless I’m on a road trip away from my own kitchen, in which case: just coffee, maybe milk, no stupid froth.

3. Dude, I’m working toward all organic, free range/grass fed, whole grain, but most weekday mornings, I eat frozen vegetable dumplings from the Asian market for breakfast. I don’t eat like other people and perfection is impossible. I am prepared to fail at the challenge and learn from failure.

Bonus: Oh. My. God. I am so excited to see people cutting themselves off from poisonous, disgusting corporate fake food and keeping their cash. I love this idea and love the idea of young mommies feeding their children real food. One note of caution: drastic change is sometimes too much and people change back. It might have been easier to buy a good coffee machine and travel mugs last August and get used to both making one’s own and the extra pocket change. Going all in like this takes guts and I admire our reasonably anonymous ringleader for taking the leap.

So whaddya say? What are you ready to try?

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