Saturday, February 20, 2010

A Lesson in Frugality: Day 7

Tonight is pizza.
Leftover italian sausage, mozzarella from WIC check, onions from pantry, homemade sun dried tomatoes from this past summer, on-hand seasonings, and homemade dough (ingredients on-hand).

We've decided to see how long we can keep going on this. While the husband & kids are making pizza I'm attempting to plan a cost-free or low-cost menu for next week.

Friday, February 19, 2010

A Lesson in Frugality: Day 6

I'm sick.
I have strep for the 3rd time this winter.
It is so very frustrating.

My sweet, and so very awesome husband made my favorite "get better" food--Ham & Bean soup. We had a ham hock in the freezer, and beans in the pantry. I had made chicken stock from our chicken bones last night. We have leftover cornbread, but I might bake some more. Total cost $0, nada, nothing, zilch. Everything was on-hand.

My kids love beans. E especially loves black beans. I love when she eats them, b/c she gets this black goo on her face that dries & makes her look like she has a 5 o'clock shadow. Like a little bean eating hobo.

Oh my, that was random. Yes, I'm very sick.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

A Lesson in Frugality: Day 5

Tonight we had a roasted chicken, rice, corn and green beans. So far, we haven't spent more than $32 this week on groceries. I have plenty of chicken left for salads, sandwiches, and maybe a pot pie.
Two more days left. I'm quite impressed with our experiment.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

A Lesson in Frugality: Day 4

Tonight's meal:
Hawaiian burgers on hot dog buns (b/c that's what we have)**
Rosemary oven-fried potatoes sprinkled with parmesan**
Green beans

I still have a whole chicken and leftover italian sausage. Plus, beans, beans, and more beans. I'm wondering how long we could continue doing this experiment.

**Hamburger from the clearance bin ($2.95) and bag of potatoes were purchased. Everything else was on-hand.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

A Lesson in Frugality: Days 1-3

On Sunday morning we woke up to my precious daughter's cries.
"I so cold, mommy."
Indeed. It was 51 degrees in the house.
The ignitor on the furnace had broke, and we called a repair man. Over $200 later we were thankful for the extra money we had put in savings over the last month. Though, disappointed that it wouldn't be going towards getting us ahead--still thankful we weren't going backwards.
However, it still meant that our budget would be extra tight, and we were in dire need of groceries.

If you've kept up with the blog, you know that our family has determined to reach some goals in 2010. Finding a new way to manage our money is one of the goals. So, we decided to get creative with the menu this week.

I sent my husband and son on a "hunt." Their task was to search the pantry, freezer and refrigerator, and write down all possible meal-making items. They made a great list. I had even forgotten about the butternut squash dumplings.

**The challenge this week would be to stick to 1/3 of our normal grocery bill--about $50, and still make nutritious, delicious meals.

Sunday, Day 1: Leftovers. We ate everything we could find. The kids had beans, noodles, rice, and peas. My husband and I had leftover chili.

Monday, Day 2: Dinner with friends. Our contribution to the meal: A salad made of romaine, napa cabbage, carrots, toasted almonds, dried cranberries, and apples. All found in the house.

Tuesday, Day 3: Spaghetti with italian sausage and caesar salad. This was a menu item from last week. My folks surprised us with a visit & dinner out, which bumped this menu to today.

**So far we've spent just over $30 on staple items like bread. We also took advantage of our WIC checks to purchase milk, cheese, peanut butter, eggs, and a few other items.

We were also blessed by some good samaritans. On Monday morning I found cash in an envelope on our windshield. It's enough to ensure that we have a complete and balanced menu this week. God is good.

Four more days to go. I have no idea what we'll eat tomorrow. I'm thinking it's going to involve potatoes.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

My Opinions On Raising Kids::Food

From my CF posts, you know that food is a big deal at our house. O requires lots of calories, but I want to make sure that every calorie counts for his overall health--not just what affects his CF. E doesn't need as many calories, and she's more prone to eat little meals all day, rather than O's 3 huge meals plus a snack each day. Then there is my husband who disappears when he turns sideways no matter how much he eats, and me who will balloon up no matter what I eat (or don't eat, for that matter). Sounds complicated, especially when you add in each person's tastes in food, but it's not. My husband and I are foodies, and that has made this more of a fun experiment than chore. I don't want to kid you though, there are some days that I actually want to just go to a fast food joint. Hopefully, though, this post will help you avoid those days.

From other posts you know I'm a HUGE advocate for breastfeeding. What you might have also picked up on is that I'm pretty adamant that kids DO NOT have cow's milk until AFTER they're 2 years of age. (If you want details on why, send me a message--or, pick up a copy of The Maker's Diet--it's a great read.) Back to breastfeeding. It's truly the best way to get your kid eating right from the get go. Yes, I know there are many circumstances and situations that make breastfeeding difficult or impossible. However, if you CHOOSE not to breastfeed--you are really limiting your child's health and well being. It's researched & documented. Just google it.

Essential to breastfeeding is what YOU put in your mouth. The same holds true later, after breastfeeding. Like everything with kids, this is the start to a long time habit of your kids imitating you. Your kids are watching you, even when you eat. Your choices directly impact their choices. I don't like broccoli, or peas, or green beans, or cooked spinach, or pretty much most any vegetable (especially the green ones). Sorry to disappoint you. Do I eat them? Yep, and especially when the kids are watching.

We strive for balance. Protein, vegetables, fruit, whole grains, and good fats at every meal. We're not perfect. Yesterday the kids ate cereal for breakfast, followed by eggs and pancakes for lunch, and rice and chicken for dinner. I did manage to get them to eat a few bites of my Chicken Asian Salad (with cabbage, carrots, lettuce, and bell peppers). Those days happen, and it's okay. (My kids are currently eating cereal even though it will ruin their dinner.)

I'm also a very mean mom. My kids must eat what I give them. Even if it means they sit at the table for hours. I'll work with them to find a way to choke down those veggies, but it's going to happen. This has been consistent since the beginning. I think they believe at sometime we'll cave. However, when we give them something new we only require one bite. You have to try it, and if you don't like it--okay. We'll try again some other day. That's key--trying something once doesn't work. Giving them ample opportunity to try different foods helps develop a palate for healthy foods.

One exception that we've made for our kids on trying food: potatoes. My kids do not like mashed potatoes. Or baked, or smothered in cheese, or made into a casserole, or anything except fried and roasted. It's something I'll never understand, and I sincerely hope they change their minds. We rarely have potatoes because of this, which is very sad. I miss potatoes. We've had some success with yukon golds and reds, but Russets are out. I think it's a texture thing.

We love treats and sweets just like everybody. Just like most families it's healthy first, then the sweets. We don't have dessert available every day either. This is something to start from the beginning. We didn't allow sweets until each child reached the age of 2. Yes, even on their 1st birthdays they didn't have cake! (Remember, I'm a mean mom.) O was thrilled with a bowl of oatmeal (though I made him a sugar free muffin), and E loved her sweet potato.

I could keep going on about food, but I'll try to keep it to 10 main points:
  1. Start 'em young.
  2. Be a good example to them.
  3. Don't keep junk food in the house. Make it a special occasion.
  4. Include them in the gardening and the cooking. You'll be shocked how this perks their interest in foods. (Don't give up. O could care less at age 2 about the peas in the garden, but at almost 5 he eats carrots if HE gets to chop them.) When they get older, they'll be part of the menu planning & grocery shopping.
  5. Make good choices when eating out.
  6. Avoid fried and processed at all costs.
  7. When you travel, have them try the local food. (Unless you're in the deep-fried south.) ;)
  8. Be honest. If it's spicy, tell them. If it's sweet, tell them. Talk about what you're eating--where it came from, how it got to their plates, etc. Make food interesting. Tell them about the vitamins and good things in their food, and how it effects their body. (I also like to tell them how hard candy gets stuck in their teeth and causes tooth decay. This back fires when I get caught eating sweets or junk food.)
  9. Create a monthly meal plan, seasonally based. Once you have a couple months down, you can just rotate various meals throughout the weeks in the season. Batch cooking & freezing will save you from last minute take out.
  10. Don't beat yourself up for not being "perfect." No one is perfect. Do your best, and try to have fun with your food. If it's your only focus, you're going to get stressed. I'm betting even the "experts" have ice cream for dinner from time to time. At least that's what I told myself when I had cookies for breakfast this morning.
I think you should check out A friend of mine started this site to help his wife, and it has been a life saver (& money saver) for us. The burden of planning meals, making our grocery list, and searching recipes has been simplified with one easy online tool. The best is that you can share recipes for friends. So, if you sign up--find my name & take advantage of all the recipes that I've already uploaded.

Simple Mom

I am a huge fan of making things simpler. Life is already complicated enough. I've mentioned her site before, but if you haven't check out you are missing out! She has valuable tools and resources that truly do make things simpler.
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