Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Do Something!

We've been so encouraged by others who have decided to take the Food Pak Challenge, that have volunteered their time, who have donated Food Paks through CHF and the Oak Hills Food Pak Campaign, and also people who have decided to just do something, anything bigger than themselves.

There are so many different ways to give and different resources to give from. Find something in your budget that you don't need. Evaluate it against the needs of others.

  • Frankie has had internet service on his phone for the past year. It's handy, but the monthly fee is enough to sponsor a child through World Vision. Internet bill or help a child and their family be healthy, sucessful, and learn about Jesus?? He's letting go of the internet.
We learned about another program through CHF called Skip1, a simple concept of skipping just one thing to give of your time or resources. Check out the site for ideas of what to skip and to see how their Top Skippers have contributed!

  • Mom figured last night that if they (2 adults, 1 teenager, and 2 children) skip eating out after church on Sundays, just Sundays, they could fill a Food Pak every week! Or, take that money to buy groceries and donate them to the Agape collection baskets at church! The simplicity of eating out could easily be replaced by a crock pot the night before for much less!

Even if your budget is already tight and you're skipping a lot of things just to get by, there are ways to give of yourself for free! Give of your time- volunteering is amazing! I can think of a few ways people would be blessed by your time: volunteer in children's and youth programs at your church, visit the elderly, spend time at a homeless shelter or a street ministry.

  • Not only can you give of your time, you can give from what you already have. I love Agent J's blog about "making love an action verb". She posts about her experiences of showing love to others without spending money. Do you have some extra clothes or shoes in your closet? Take them to someone who really needs them!

There are so many ways to be a part of something bigger than you. That is why we started this blog. We wanted to share our experience as we journeyed through a Food Pak to help others who rely on them. Keep reading along as we find fun ways to give and continue with our adventures!!

Friday, September 25, 2009

We have a winner!!

Well, we put the name into the hat, and when we drew it back out it was the same... Congratulations to Trevor from Thoughts B4 Conviction N2 Action! He is the winner of the our box. A good friend from Journey and a great man of God, he joyfully accepted the Food Pak Challenge!

Thanks to everyone who left a comment, we were so glad to hear from you, even if you didn't qualify for the contest!

Good luck Trevor! Stay tuned to read about his week.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Mission Accomplished!*

All 10 boxes loaded up and ready to drop off at Journey Fellowship! It is so hard to believe that we came to where we are. Thinking back to the launch of the Food Pak campaign at the Bigger then You service at the AT&T center we remember saying to our selves "Yeah, maybe we can give a box." We weren't even going to pick up a box on the way out, but somehow we ended up with three... and then that little voice that God puts in your head started with "what if...". Then "what if" turned into "I think we can do that." Then doing it turned into doing it again. And then maybe giving a box turned into buying 10 boxes and volunteering time and meeting people and going so much further then either of us would have imagined. Thanks to God for the simple "what if" and his opening of doors and clearing paths, and many blessings along the way. And thanks to Mom and Dad who gladly offered to pay the processing fee for the boxes, you guys are so great!!! And of course thanks to all the readers who supported us on our journey- we couldn't have done it with out you.

*Although our Food Pak experience is complete for now, our mission isn't over. We will pick a winner later in the week and post updates about CHF and other people who try the challenge. We will also continue to blog about our adventures as we continue to find new ways to give, so stay tuned!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Going Shopping!!!

Today was shopping day, and it could not have been more fun. After buying just enough for the past few weeks we went out and bought 10 times as much!

Filled up the cart!


Our cashier clocked out after us, I think she was a little overwhelmed.

It covered the table!

10 boxes!


Wait! Eleven!!!

So, here is the deal. This isn't a box for us- it's for you! Well, one of you at least. We would like to post a challenge, and at the same time our first giveaway! We will send this box to one randomly selected reader willing to take the Food Pak challenge. Leave a comment and we'll reveal the winner next week! Eat from this box, then buy another or even two, to give back to CHF. And we'll feature you on here! (Umm...some rules apply: you kinda have to be in the Houston, San Antonio, or Buc-ee's area. Unfortunately, shipping the box would cost more than what's in it.)

Large Families - just pick a few people to eat from the box, keep track of the savings and see what you come up with at the end of the well. Couples - this will be great for you, we laughed so much during the process, and had a ton of fun trying to come up with things to make. Singles- you will have it made! Just make sure you have strong will because this challenge can be testing...

However, if you are not our contest winner, we would still love to hear from anyone who decides to try the Food Pak experience! Let us know how it goes and we would love to share your story on our blog!

So start commenting and check back soon to see who the winner is!!!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Day FIVE! In the Field!

So, this morning was GREAT!! We went down to the Children's Hunger Fund warehouse in San Antonio and we helped out with "repacking" the boxes. (Checking for variety, adding extras/fillers, and checking expiration dates, etc). It made us just that much more aware of what the whole process and experience is like.

Plus, volunteering is a great way to really get into something and be a part of something bigger. The people there were great! The staff was amazing and the other volunteers were so happy to be there, too! The 25 of us together processed 7 palletes of 75 boxes for a total of 525 Food Paks that are now ready to serve!

Being around the staff also gave us a deeper understanding of why Children's Hunger Fund operates. The Food Paks are a vital key to nourish these families but to also open the door to share Jesus! His love is so much more nourishing than beans!! Here are some of the pictures from this morning:

To finish up our second Food Pak we had the rest of our fruit for breakfast, pineapples for me and pears for Frankie.

For lunch we had tuna crackers and peanut butter crackers with some dried apples.
It was all good and tasty until dinner...dinner was a different story tonight- the rice and refried beans did taste good, but I craved something different, really craved something more. Not peanuts. Not noodles. Not pintos. My mom was making scrambled eggs with ham and cheese for the kids. I love my mom's scrambled eggs. I wanted them. I thought about just eating them and scrappping the last meal of our box, it was so plain and we've been doing this all week... Duh! That's the point self! When people get to the end of their groceries they don't just give up get something better, that's what's left, and they eat it. This is what they are living off of, and they've been eating it for much longer than a week. So suck it up, self. This was probably the hardest moment for me out of both weeks, but also the most real and revealing.

So tomorrow we get to take all of the money we saved from the two Food Pak weeks and go shopping!!! The amount we did not spend going out to eat and living from our box is equal to about 10 boxes!!! 10 families!!! 10 oppurtunites to share God's love!!! We are so excited!!!

[Awesome side story! Not only did we save a ton of money, but God greatly blessed us in a very specific way. Last week, we were at a benefit dinner for Frankie's aunt Chita who has ALS. This event was complete with bake sale (including our cupcakes! post delayed, but coming soon!), silent auction, raffle, dinner and dance! It was a great night and they raised a good deal of money, but what was interesting were the silent auction items we won... we bought only $15 worth of tickets (15 tickets) to bid on some of the over 70 items that had been donated by kind companies and friends and family from all over town. Tons of items, we bid on all kinds of stuff. Guess what we won... a $25 gift certificate to Joey's Surf 'n' Turf, a $25 gift certificate to Rocky's Diner, and a $50 gift card to Pappasito's! $100 worth of FOOD!!! God is just too cool! (We also won back our very own Buc-ee's basket- a blessing all it's own, since it wasn't generating enough interest to make it worth our donation.)]

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Day IV - To Go Box!

We have very exciting news! We are taking our box to go... We are hitting the road and driving to San Antonio, as a matter of fact we are posting from a rest stop! We felt like we really needed to take this a step farther so Frankie e-mailed CHF in San Antonio for information about volunteering. We received an email back the same day, and after a few emails back and forth, we found out that they were having people come in and help assemble boxes on September the 18th, as in TOMORROW!!! So Frankie took the day off and we said that we would be there!!! So that is where we are heading... Isn’t it perfect how God's timing works? So we will be able to share a new aspect of our project tomorrow, we are so excited!!!

Also exciting is the dinner we packed for tonight! I made refried beans (Mexican Style), with rice and chicken, and a side of mixed veggies! The beans were already flavored in the can and they tasted so good! The total cost was about $2.22! Cheap, filling, and delicious!!

For breakfast, I finished off the trail mix! (I also, thoughtfully laid out Frankie’s breakfast this morning and he got it to work, but forgot to eat it! Oh well…more snack for tomorrow!)

For lunch, Frankie had leftover mush (always better the second time around) and I snacked on some peanuts, some peanut butter, and dried apples. (I’m over the tuna mush.)

So, the rest of our box is packed up and in the backseat, to faithfully feed us tomorrow! :D
Stay tuned, tomorrow is going to be a BIG day!!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

3rd Day

Today was a better day, but food seemed to be a focus point... They took the fence down between the restaurant and my office window today so I had a great view of people eating delicious Mexican food all day. Ugh! And our Wednesday night TV tradition- Wipeout, was food themed!! Little things like this remind us of what we are missing, but it was a really nice feeling to know that we were strong enough to overcome the temptations of eating outside our box and remember what we are doing this for.

Breakfast for Taylor was Granola Bars...I keep forgetting mine.

For lunch it was hot broccoli/tuna/rice mush- not the best but it did it's purpose.

And for dinner we had Spaghetti with carrots (yes, there is sauce under there)! Something we have been looking forward to since grocery shopping Sunday night! Definitely a good dish to keep us strong in the middle of the week.

And after dinner snack! My new favorite - granola bar with peanut butter spread over it and fruit on top, this time it was dried apples. YUM!!!


We wanted to share this video with you to give a better understanding of the big picture. It's from Children's Hunger Fund, but specifically features Oak Hills Church. It really shows why we are doing this and for whom we are being strong. It puts a face to hunger. Check it out.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Second Day

Today was challenging, but we had an amazing dinner! (Thanks self! Your welcome, Tay!or.) I made Grilled Pineapple Chicken with Peanut Rice! I know- yum!! It really was delicious. I added some pineapple juice to the canned chicken, grilled it on the George Foreman, and topped it with a grilled slice of pineapple. I also added some pineapple juice to the rice along with peanuts! [Don't you wish you were eating out of a box?!]

Ok, so we mentioned this week's blog would be a little different than the last and we want to mention some of the specific costs of the food. Check this out:
Tonight's meal cost a total of $2.36!! Last night's dinner cost only $1.56!! That's it, for both of us. I hate to admit this, but when we eat out we sometimes spend $10-$15 per person. A meal like this can purchase an entire Food Pak!

It's just plain crazy to look at these costs and not cut back, at least sometimes, somehow.

Look at some of these other (approximate) prices per serving:
canned tuna - .40
noodles - .15
tomato sauce - .09
canned carrots - .23
canned pears - .33
pinto beans - .06
peanut butter - .08 (This was dessert tonight! "Delicious, nutritious!" as Brogie and I like to say!)

It's hard to comprehend. Even harder to live out.

On a different note to end today...
It's only the second day and we are quickly reminded of the difficulties we experienced last time around. We easily erased those parts of the project from our mind after experiencing an exciting, successful week followed by lots of encouraging words and satisfaction of completing our project. We entered this week thinking of all the fun we had before and forgetting the hunger that went along with it. One of the main reasons for doing this project was to feel the hunger that others experience when living on a tight grocery budget...and we're feeling it. It's nothing to complain about, just part of the learning process.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Day 1

Well here we are again, back at day one.

The Grocery List:

2 canned meats – Tuna and Chicken
1 bag of rice
1 bag of pinto beans
1 bag of pasta
2 small cans of tomato paste or sauce
2 cans of vegetables – Mixed Veggies and Carrots
2 cans of fruit – Pineapple and Pears
1 can of salted peanuts
1 box of crackers
1 box of granola bars

Peanut butter
Soup – cream of broccoli
Trail mix
Refried beans
Dried Fruit - Apples

The Rules:
The rules are the same but a few things have changed. Last time we prepared three dishes using our Food Pak and relied on leftovers to feed us for a week. This time around we are only cooking what we need. Each meal will be enough for that meal with maybe an extra serving for later. It becomes more of a challenge trying to come up with 10 meals out of the box instead of 3. We are sure that some of them will be similar but this helps us set our portions.

Today's Menu:

Trail Mix

Broccoli Tuna Casserole
Two servings of Pasta
Half a can of cream of broccoli
Two servings of Tuna

Chicken and Rice
Two servings of Rice
One and a half servings of mix veggies
Two servings of Chicken

Not too bad for the first day. :)

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Food Pak Project: Part 2

Ok, so our original plan was to eat from a Food Pak for one week in order to save enough money to purchase another Food Pak through Children's Hunger Fund. The experience was great, and with the money we usually spend on groceries we provided food for two families- ours and another. We thought that was simple enough.

But God had a bigger plan. Our blog seemed to inspire and encourage many. We received enormous amounts of support from readers everywhere and so many had begun to follow our adventure. But all of this seemed to happen at the end of the project. So what do we do with a bunch of readers who have nothing to read? We start over!

So in the words of Mom, we need to “keep thinking inside the box”! Round two is going to have the same basic ideas with new recipes and new strategies. This will allow a new group of followers to journey with us through this experience and possibly some of you not-so-new readers a chance to join in!

For us, round two gives us the opportunity to help feed more families, and to once again reap the physical benefits that we discovered the first time around. Yes we were hungry, but our appetites changed and we were eating healthier. The Food Pak doesn’t allow for sugary junk food and over indulgences.

Thank you so much to all who left comments here and on Facebook and in person, and to all those who followed along! You're support means a lot to us and we are so thankful that God has used this project to teach us and reach others! Make sure to keep visiting- the journey continues tomorrow!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

5th and Final Day

Well, the last day itself wasn't that
interesting. We snacked on the odds and ends that we had left and worked our way through some more leftovers. We packed a dinner of rice and beans with tortillas as we hit the road for SA. And for dessert we had peanut butter spread in tortillas with dried apples! That was a treat and a great way to finish of our project! (It was really tough, though driving past every McDonald's between here and home, smelling the greasy french fries, and not being able to stop!)

The cool part was getting to church on Sunday and seeing all the boxes being delivered! This was JF's 2nd Sunday collecting and the Food Paks were stacked high, inside and out! Way to go team! I'm glad we could sacrifice a little, to give to someone who needs it just a little more.

These are our leftovers: the oatmeal shouldn't have really been included but we thought we were being smart by adding it in- we hardly ate any and really didn't need it, the peanuts tasted funny so we didn't eat much of those, we ate well over half the jar of peanut butter (mostly just by the spoonful! Yum!), there was about a serving of each dried fruit left, and half the box of crackers (which was supposed to be a small box, anyhow), and some leftover, uncooked rice. We also still have plenty of rice and beans in the fridge which we are gonna work through this week (with a little seasoning added!) to accompany our tacos! [A small edit about the first post- the box actually feeds a family of four for 1 week. So mathematically it could have fed us for 2. I think we could have made it with a little stretching.]

In the end, I can honestly tell you that my food purchasing ideology has changed. We had been spending about twice as much per week on groceries plus eating out multiple times a week. Here we were eating for about $5 a day!! Knowing that you can live on less than half of what you are used to spending, makes you feel comfortable cutting back a bit. And guess what?! Today I went grocery shopping for this week and spent about $25! Sweet, huh?!

Thanks for your prayers and for following along as we ate from a box! It was an experience I won't forget and we may try it again sometime! Stay tuned to this blog for more exiciting adventures in the lives of Taylor and Frankie! :D
[*Coming soon: awesome cupcakes for a great cause!]

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Cuatro Dia

I did it! I am officially a Rodriguez! I made rice! Tonight we had rice and beans (beans by Taylor). Rice and Beans is nothing special but it was what I was raised on, and boy do I love it.
This week seems to have flown by for me. And the best part now is that we have one more day to go. That means eating all the left overs! YAY! Tomorrow is our last day and I can't wait! Goodnight until then.

Third Day

Well, it's mostly just leftovers from here on out. Other than the beans that are finishing cooking as I type! (I need to mention these so I don't forget about them before I go to sleep!!) There is plenty of tuna melt left and some chicken and rice casserole, plus odds and ends of other things...

The hunger keeps building as our project continues. The food we have is less and less satifying with each meal. I can't begin to imagine what it would be like to live in a sitution where you are truly dependent on these food paks.

The interesting thing about this project though, is that I was comparing it to fasting in my head (thinking that it would be much easier), but it is very different. There is such careful planning of when to eat and what and how much. When you fast, you don't have options, it's just understood that you will not eat. This box is like a mind game, where you think you can rely on your food but you still never really get full. I'm not saying that I'd rather go without any food for a week, but this box thing is tricky.

Some things that I am missing the most are: cheese, milk, yogurt (I love dairy!!), juice, and fresh fruit! Now, I'm thinking that most people who receive these actual Food Paks may have WIC or Food Stamps or some small income that helps purchase the types of things that can't be put in a box. But for the sake of the simplicity and the project we decided to just eat from the Food Pak. Certainly there are people who eat less than this and even nothing at all.

Well, enough rambling for tonight. I'm going to take the beans off the stove and finally fall asleep, tonight... with a grumbling stomach... Again, I can't imagine living like this and going to bed hungry every night. Especially as a growing child. Or the parent who struggles to provide for that child. God, help us to realize the injustice of hunger, and help those of us who have so much to reach out to those who have so little.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Day 2

For dinner tonight we had a favorite of our's prepared with only minor alterations to use Food Pak ingredients. It's Frankie's Chicken and Rice Casserole with Veggies. Yum! :) Just thinking about it is making us hungry again!

It's pretty simple really:

  1. Lay a foundation of uncooked rice.
  2. Add a can of Cream of ____ (fill in the blank, we used Broccoli) + a can of water.
  3. Add vegetables (We used our can of mixed.)
  4. And add chicken. (We usually use whole chicken breasts, uncooked, but replaced it with our canned meat product. ;)
  5. Bake. Eat. Yum.

Bon Appetit!