Musings on Frugal Living and Giving More

Pulses and Grains, Thomas Del Grase,

First, allow me to apologize for not sharing many recipes these last few weeks. I actually have a back load of ones to share with you all now. I have been experimenting a lot with bean dishes, making soaked, whole grain scones, bread puddings, and of course, I do still need to share my scrumptious “Mounds” candy bar recipes (oh so healthy, and oh so good). So next week I will be sharing many of these recipes.

I have been distracted with many different research projects for this blog that I am starting, so I have been in “research” mode. In the near future, I should be sharing some of that research with you.

The other thing that has been “distracting” me is frugal, nourishing living. As many of you will remember, three weeks ago, my husband started going to college. This means that I have to make sure I stay within my food budget. At the same time of striving to be more “frugal”, I have also become more and more convicted that I needed to be serving the less fortunate. These two aspects of my life, the need to be frugal and the desire to serve others and give generously need to find the right balance in my life.
Photos from Life Magazine,

I find that some people very into being frugal are very focused on themselves in a sort of “self-preserving” sort of way. I see that it could also be tempting for me to fall into that tendency because Joel and I really need to have more money to even “make it” through four years of college. So while we are trying to figure out how to make this financially work, it is going to be tempting at times to pour all of our resources into ourselves. And what about savings, a retirement fund, or college fund for Elena? Good grief, we won’t even have any savings for a house now! There is always something more that you need money for. To top it off, some of the financial news of this week was not encouraging. My mother instinct kicks in, and I begin to want to save everything I can for my family. While something I want to be very wise in, fear of our economy’s health is not conducive to giving either.

Yet, that is not the attitude we wish to cultivate in our hearts. We want generous hearts, willing to share what we do have. It’s true that my budget is feeling the cost rises of some of our food items. It’s also true that we have plenty to eat. In contrast, so many people are starving because of lack of food. Parents are seeing their already undernourished children perish.

We recently went to a conference about the huge human sex trade that is going on, not only worldwide, but also in our own country, and in our own state. How can I sit back and not offer at least some little help towards hundreds of thousands of little girls forced into sexual slavery, many practically in my back yard?

There are so many needs, and I have such limited resources. But yet I know that my responsibility is to just do the best I can with the resources I have. I might not have a lot to give, but I can share the little time and money that I do have. I just need to make sure that I am being active in the ways that I can be. Hopefully next month I will be hosting a carnival, a more important carnival, which I hope will be used to encourage us all in living and eating in a way that enables us to give more.

Meanwhile, I have been largely successful in staying within my budget this month despite having to fit in several large online orders and spending some of it on one of Elena’s birthday present. I am happy with the progress that I am making in being wise with my resources, and am eager to be even more wise, so that I can give more.

Please stay tuned for that upcoming carnival, and meanwhile, I would love to hear more of your stories, and how you make it possible to be generous with others, while being frugal with self.

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I love beautiful and simple food that is nourishing to the body and the soul. I wrote Fresh: Nourishing Salads for All Seasons and Ladled: Nourishing Soups for All Seasons as another outlet of sharing this love of mine. I also love sharing practical tips on how to make a real food diet work on a real life budget. Find me online elsewhere by clicking on the icons below!

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  1. lizzykristine @ Uplifted Eyes says

    This is such a difficult balance to live out, isn’t it?

    We are in much the same boat, with my husband getting paid a little less lately, yet with our food costs, rent, and utilities rising, and through it all a desire to give to the Lord’s work more than we are currently able.

    Sometimes I wish I could inherit a chunk of money to buy a house, plant a garden, and then have that major section of our income to also give away. But I have to remind myself that the Lord doesn’t *need* my money. He’s using as much to teach me as to bless others. So I highly doubt He’s planning to remove the financial stretch and accompanying lessons in trust. 😉

  2. Karen says


    I was just wondering if the picture on the side of your webpage in sepia is you?
    You do a great job posting interesting of topics. Thanks for a job well done.

  3. Kimi Harris says

    So true. Thank you for sharing. 🙂

    Thanks, Karen and yes, that is a picture of me. Not a very clear one, is it!

  4. Lori says

    I grew up tithing 10% of my income to give whether it be a cause or someone close to me in need. I carried this practice into adulthood, but since leaving my job to move abroad this has gotten all out of wack. We definitely need to focus on the financial aspect of giving again. Thanks for your post.

  5. Kathy says

    In my family growing up my parents (and grandparents) never thought it was wise to give to someone without them being able to give something in return (it would take away their self respect), so they would hire a person to work on the farm or whatever they were able to do and in return would help in whatever way they could (a room at the house, fix a car…etc)
    Recently my husband and I have had some drastic changes to our lives (new city/state, new budget, new ministry) along with all of those changes we finally have a yard for the first time and we are also working a considerable amount with the homeless community in Portland. This week we decided to equip ourselves with yard/gardening tools and be willing and able to offer someone a job (and work along side them) along with whatever provisions we might be able to make for them. We also now have a spare room in our house for the first time in many years. It should be an adventure, but I think it is very important to remember when we are trying to give of our resources that time and relationship are two things that can’t be underestimated! Sometimes we are more protective of that budget than we are with the monetary one.
    God bless you in the struggle…and thank you for sharing it with the rest of us!

  6. Purpleflowerpatch says

    I am blessed to have a husband who is willing to support us alone while I stay home and teach our kids, but we do find financial constraints difficult more months than not, and you can find yourself very self-focussed…but I agree with you, giving is so important too. We give every pay to our church, and also to other things at certain times, but giving is also the extra loaf of bread to the single mother, or just offering a ride to an elderly neighbour…giving can be disguised in so many ways can’t it?
    Thanks for this post – I hadn’t really thought before about how being frugal can have us focussed on ourselves. I shall be praying about this! Bless you Kimi!!

  7. Anonymous says

    We have been thinking the same lately. I have just discovered the “More with Less” cookbook. It has many frugal recipies in it and the author talks quite a bit about what you just spoke of. I have yet to make any of the recipies but they look good. It is worth checking out. Good Luck.:)

  8. Watercolor says

    My little church has a sandwich ministry. Every other sunday afternoon, a small group of us make PBJ sandwiches and head out to the city parks to hand them out to the homeless. We also bring bananas and gatoraid. Bananas work best as homeless often have teeth issues and can’t bit hard fruit. So for the cost of a loaf of bread and half a jar of peanut butter and jelly and some fruit and a few bottles of drink a week each, we feed a lot of people.

    It is a small thing but the surprise on their faces and thankfulness is overwhelming to me sometimes.

    I like that it helps people right here in my city.

  9. My Year Without says

    What a great topic of conversation: living frugally while helping the less fortunate. It seems like more and more people are finding great joy in helping others, even if it means less for themselves. There are so many ways (monetarily and time) to contribute. When it comes to helping others, I always ask first: Am I helping meet someone’s basic needs? By that I mean: food, clean water, clothing, and shelter. (I’m aware that a lot of the children in the sex trade are NOT given adequate food…among other things.) This helps narrow down my search when I look at volunteer organizations.

    Most recently I contacted Meals-On-Wheels, an organization that sends volunteers out to senior’s homes and delivers a healthy, warm meal. It may be the only warm and healthy meal they get all week.

    Anyway, I think it’s exciting that you are thinking in that direction and wanting to help others even though you are having to cut back yourself. That is truly inspiring.

  10. Anonymous says

    I have started a quarterly food drive in the neighborhood and then take the food to the local food bank. Helps me get to know the neighbors as a bonus.
    This is great to organize in churches if they are not already doing so.

  11. cirelo says

    Well, I know I’m a little late for the discussion but I loved this post and thread and I’m so new to the blog I feel I have to catch up.

    Here’s something I struggle with at my church is there is a homeless service group that makes sandwiches for the poor once a month or so. This is great, however I cringe at the food choices they make– always wonder bread with either bologna or some hydrogenated sugary pb– I always feel enraged when I see them doing this because I wouldn’t feed my dog what they are feeding human beings. I feel conflicted because I don’t think in our serving the poor we should be giving them our worst, we should be giving them our Christmas best, like in Little Women. I also feel conflicted though because these people seriously are trying to perform a service and that is good, and I suppose that if somebody is starving they are happy to get any sandwich. But couldn’t we do better?

    Anyway, how do you affect change in a situation like this without coming across as self righteous and indignant as I feel about it. 🙂

    Another thing, this is a story I love from Mother Teresa–
    “I will tell you a story. One night a man came to our house and told me, “There is a family with eight children. They have not eaten for days.”
    I took some food with me and went. When I came to that family, I saw the faces of those little children disfigured by hunger. There was no sorrow or sadness in their faces, just the deep pain of hunger. I gave rice to the mother. She divided the rice in two, and went out, carrying half the rice. When she came back, I asked her, “Where did you go?” She gave me this simple answer, “To my neighbors; they are hungry also!” I was not surprised that she gave-poor people are really very generous. I was surprised that she knew they were hungry. As a rule, when we are suffering, we are so focused on ourselves, we have no time for others. ”
    from “In Her Own Words”

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