Tag Archives: healthy

Sticking to a Budget…6 Months and Counting…

July 31, 2013

I’m sticking to doing a BIG grocery trip right when my husband gets paid and then one or two little ones until the next paycheck. One pay period this month, I used ALL of the money budgeted for groceries…we had to get a lot of non-edibles (toilet paper, trash bags, etc.).

The other pay period, I had some leftover money (because we’re eating out of the garden). When I have extra money, I put it back into our ‘Garden’ fund to pay for chicken feed and more seeds to plant.

Next on the ‘Garden’ list was to buy paint for the coop but my neighbor offered some old paint he had – we mixed it up and it looks just fine πŸ™‚ (I would say ‘great’ but we painted it…and it’s just for the chickens…so it’s fine)

Our chickens are 21 weeks old so we are expecting eggs any day now. I expect to see a LARGE difference in our grocery bill after that! After buying seeds for the garden, I am planning on saving up for a riding lawn mower. It is not easy mowing this many acres with a push πŸ˜› Then again, we are covering it little by little with cardboard, newspaper, and mulch so maybe we won’t need a riding one afterall…we’ll see πŸ™‚

We’re trying to eat out of the garden, as always, to save on groceries. Right now, we’re eating corn, tomatoes, bell peppers, snaps, cucumbers, potatoes, and kale. Unfortunately, we ate through all of our carrot plantings (I’m continually planting more but they take quite a while to size up) and it is too hot for lettuce and a lot of kale so we are buying some of that from the store.

We are trying to keep it to a minimum and JUST eating out of the garden. It is not easy eating only what is in season when you always have the option of buying whatever you want at the store, but I think it is a wonderful practice in self control and a wonderful nature lesson as well πŸ™‚

Here are a couple of samples of what we eat. We eat simply – mainly raw, roasted, or steamed…saves on time and ingredients πŸ™‚

supper(Clockwise from the top: kale (from the garden) salad with apples and raisins, bean burger on homemade bread (WAY cheaper than store-bought AND much healthier), steamed snaps (garden), roasted potatoes (garden), oven fried squash (neighbor’s garden) – egg & breadcrumbs))

supper(clockwise from top: kale salad (garden – we’re in a lettuce loll, what can I say?), coleslaw (cabbage & carrots w/some mayo), baked beans made in crockpot w/maple syrup to sweeten), boiled corn (garden), steamed pole beans (garden))

In general, we don’t eat meat and limit our dairy intake so other than beans for a good protein kick, I try to load up their plates with lots of veggies! These are both my 5yo’s plate.

For the first dinner, I had to buy apples & raisins, which are already on the list as we eat a lot of fruit as well, and beans (I buy dried b/c it’s cheaper and healthier if I cook it at home).

For the second dinner, I had to buy apples, beans (dry), and cabbage. However, one cabbage goes a LONG way, since I make many batches and freeze them for future suppers. Hopefully, this will help some of you see how we can eat healthy AND not spend very much money on groceries.

Some meals, of course, are more expensive. For example, when we have stuffed shells or lasagna, I make a ricotta mix with tofu, which is not cheap…but still for that meal, I buy tofu, marinara sauce, and spaghetti squash (lasts us two meals). Not crazy expensive and hopefully, in the years to come, the marinara sauce and spaghetti squash will come out of my garden!

I always hate when people are really vague about how they save money, saying, ‘I cook everything at home’ or ‘I use coupons’ or ‘I eat from my garden’. I like specific examples. I hope this helps some of you to be able to visualize how your family can eat simply and healthily on the CHEAP. Please let me know if you would like more examples.

I’m sure I’ll hear about how your kids won’t eat anything other than nuggets or pizza or whatever. Kids aren’t going to go from eating fried, processed food to eating raw/steamed veggies overnight.

Many years ago, we began introducing our children to salads as a snack WITH Ranch dressing AND croutons! Next, we dropped the croutons. Then, a year ago, we dropped the dressing. We used to eat snaps by steaming and then putting butter in them. Now, we just steam them (no seasoning or anything). It is a process. Don’t expect things to change overnight. Work with your kids little-by-little. Get rid of all the bad food in the house. ALL.OF.IT. Be a good role-model.

By the way, we don’t eat healthy, healthy all the time. We eat pizza about twice a month. However, our pizza is with homemade, whole-wheat dough and they are veggie (kale, artichokes, cream cheese) or pineapple pizzas so again, not going crazy with money or health even when we splurge.

Another non-healthy meal we eat about twice a month is quesadillas…we eat these with guacamole (avocado, salsa, lime juice), rice (brown), salad, and refried beans (I make them from dry beans and only use a little coconut oil so they are VERY healthy but VERY tasty). We love the taste on our tongues of a splurge but their little bodies are so used to eating healthy that within 12 hours, their bodies have expelled all of the cheese they have eaten. It seems like a waste of $$ to me but, again, we enjoy it as it goes down!

Non-Food Savings

Another way we are saving on groceries each month is by not buying diapers (woo whoo!) or laundry detergent. Cloth diapering is really working out πŸ™‚

For new readers, I bought 13 cloth diapers off of craigslist back in April with the idea that if I could use them until July, I will have broken even (cost the same as buying diapers from April until July). If I could use them past July, I would be ‘making money’! Well, it’s July and I am definitely continuing! πŸ™‚

I bought 13 because that is how many the lady had for sale but I decided to look for more later. After 4 months of using cloth diapers, I don’t think I really need any more. We use all of them in about 2-3 days and after 2-3 days, it starts to smell so I have to wash anyway. If I had more, I would just want to wait longer and that’s just stinky πŸ˜›

I know cloth diapering is different with a newborn because the baby is changed a lot more and is different w/a toddler b/c poops are so much worse, but right now, with a one year old who still gets most of his nutrition breastfeeding, what we have is perfect πŸ™‚

Another thing I bought back in April was Soap Nuts. It is a sustainable product and VERY economical. All of the reviews I read on them were wonderful so I ordered a large bag. If you like your clothes to come out smelling lavendery or citrusy, I suggest using essential oils because using Soap Nuts, your clothes come out smelling…like nothing…which I’m fine with. πŸ™‚ They are incredibly easy to use and clean just as well as other laundry soaps (even on poop stains!).

I know this was a SUPER DUPER long post! If you made it to the end, Congratulations! πŸ™‚ If you missed out on planting a garden this year, all is not lost! Go buy kale, lettuce, broccoli, spinach, and carrot seeds! Depending on where you live, gardening year-round is VERY doable! You can save on your grocery bills even when it is cold and snowy πŸ™‚


Innocence Lost?

March 3, 2013

As I took the kids grocery shopping last week, my daughter saw some kind of ‘yogurt’ in a tube…or milk in a tube? It had a cow on it and was pink.

She got all excited and asked if we could have some because it said it was HEALTHY! I didn’t know what to say…so I just told her the truth. β€œThey’re lying to you, honey. That is not healthy.” We talk a lot at home about what is and is not healthy so she knows the word well.

I felt like such a bad mother saying that but it’s true. That tube of…whatever it was…was not healthy in the least bit. I think the reason I felt badly is that in her innocence, she could not fathom a world in which a pink cow would lie to her.

On to grocery store #2 – the one that has produce that does not look like it has been in a tanning bed for a week. I had a coupon for Valentine’s M&Ms that I was going to get b/c we’re potty training STILL and at this point, I would give my child up to half my kingdom if he would just be done w/diapers, yes, even something unhealthy (gasp)!

So my eldest daughter said she will try to find it while I get the veggies we need. She is 6. I said no. I don’t want my 6yo wandering a store by herself. She did not understand why so I explained that I wanted her where I could see her so no one would take her.

Sidebar: I let them play outside by themselves (but we do have a quarter-of-a-mile-long driveway) but I have seen too many Law & Order SVUs to let them out of my sight in public – go ahead, call be overprotective. I can take it.

Back to the story: Daughter #2 said, β€œNo one would take us. They know that is wrong.” This coming from the child who has earned herself the nickname ‘Spanky‘. I asked her if she always does the right thing since she knows what is right. (obvious answer) Then I said I am not going to trust that others are going to do the right thing and not take one of you. I would rather just keep you with me. Too much? Idk.

So within the course of an hour, we had two life lessons…and perhaps lost a bit of our wondrous childlike innocence :\

I’m sure you have similar stories. How have you dealt with telling your children ‘harsh’ truths?

Where do you get your…?

February 25, 2013

We don’t eat meat (98% of the time), have cut way down on dairy (1 grilled cheese sandwich a week and milk in our cereal 2x/week), and try not to eat processed food at all. We try to stick to what grows out of the ground – vegetables, fruit, nuts, beans, seeds, grains…

Go ahead and ask it…you know you want to…
How do you get your protein?” I asked my vegetarian cousin this only four months before we went plant-based.

Do you know what the term is for protein deficiency? Yeah, me either.Β  Yes, you can Google it but the point is, the reason you don’t know off hand is because we’ve never heard anyone with this problem.

The FDA recommends about 50g of protein/day. A chicken leg (and who only eats one of those?) has 18g of protein. One cup of milk has 8g of protein. One ounce of cheese provids 5g of protein. Who eats one ounce of cheese? Can you see how we are overloaded with protein?

On the other hand, romaine lettuce has 7.7g/head; spinach, asparagus, and broccoli have around 5g/cup; and, of course, beans and nuts are very high in protein. So even eating only a plant-based diet (no meat products), one can easily reach the FDA protein recommendations.
Next? “How do you get your calcium, after all, it is very important for you as a nursing mother to get plenty of calcium!”

Did you know that animal products, including dairy (among other things), actually prevent the body from absorbing calcium? Surprise, surprise – the many advertisements asking if we ‘Got Milk?’ did not really have our health at heart. [I’ll wait for the stunned silence to pass]

A diet high in animal products make your blood acidic. The body always wants to be alkaline; so it pulls calcium from the bones to achieve that alkaline state.

Countries in which people eat/drink more dairy are those countries that also have higher rates of osteoporosis.

On the other hand, beans, nuts, and vegetables are actually great sources of calcium and are more easily absorbable than animal products. Tofu (1/2c) has 227mg of calcium and bok choy is a WONDERFUL source of calcium as it is very low in oxalate (prevents calcium from being absorbed).

Want to know more? Read The China Study. It is fascinating stuff!
I realize eating without animal products seems crazy, impossible, out in left field, etc…but I encourage you to read up on it. It makes a lot of sense and certainly saves a lot on our grocery bills! AND medical bills (imagine – eating vegetables and fruit actually makes one healthy!)

As a side note, I went to the grocery store and the lady checking out asked me, “What do you do with all that kale?!” When I told her some of the ways we eat it (juice, smoothie, creamed), she said, “My niece was a vegetarian…but she was too vegetarian. She got really sick! She wasn’t getting enough protein and vitamins!”

There are two things to note from this conversation:

1. It is possible to be a vegetarian and not eat any fruits and vegetables! My OBGYN told me he is a wine, bread, and cheese vegetarian – certainly not healthy (as the bread he was referring to was refined flour, processed bread). Doing this is NOT healthy.

2. There are some vitamins you need to take if you are going to be on the vegan spectrum of a plant-based diet (not animal products at all). One is B12, which is needed for brain function, I think, but is only found in animal products. There are one or two more I think. We are not completely vegan so I do not worry about it as much (we eat eggs and some dairy every once in a while) Do your research! Make wise choices!

I love what Kris Carr says about food. (paraphrasing here) If it comes from nature/the garden, I’ll eat it. If it comes from a lab, it takes a lab to digest it. If it has a shelf life longer than me, it’s not for me. She was talking about processed food here, not meat, but I am against processed food WAY more than I am against meat or dairy products!!!

Where are you on your food journey? Here are some documentaries I have loved and have helped me see meat, dairy, SUGAR, etc. in the correct light: Forks Over Knives, Food Matters, Vegucated, Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead.