Category Archives: Budget

Frugal Fat Loss

I’ve uploaded and updated my Exchange Plan Diet and the 15 Challenges of Successful Christian Weight Loss. Along with many other goodies, they can both be found on the new page

Frugal Fat Loss.

You’ll also see PDF files of all the informtion and some new menu planner helps for planning a healthy diet. There are dietary exchange lists, similar to the ones used by Diabetics, food plans including a variety of calorie, protien and carbohydrate combinations and bonus plans for petite frame women and those who are metabolically challenged.

As always, this information is provided for free with Christian love and kindness. Enjoy!


Filed under Budget, Frugal Fat Loss

Making the Best of It!

This is my healthy-eating-manifesto. It doesn’t cover gluten-free or casein-free, it’s just the standard American diet, made as economical and as healthy as I know how. Eventually I’ll write more about GFCF stuff, but for now I’m updating all my regular recipes for regular cooking because most of my readers are looking for ways to make their regular diet more nutritious without costing an arm and a leg. The article is linked below. It’s in PDF format. I believe I’ve edited out most of the kinks but if you find some typos please let me know.

Making the Best of It!

Moving from a fat-filled, sugar-laden stupor to a leaner, healthy lifestyle. 

For epub and mobi versions go here.

Please comment on this article here. Any tips along these lines you’d like to share are also welcome. I really wanted to get this article finished and published before I worked on the rest of my site. Making the Best of It! is like the premise that I want to base my site on. With it published it’s easier for me to maintain my focus on the goals I’m trying to accomplish. Hope you enjoy it, and even if you don’t, please let me know.


Filed under Budget, Family, Food, Grocery Shopping, Low Cost Foods

Menus for approximately 2 weeks

Just for the record, I am superstitious about writing menus. I suspect that the moment I write them they will turn into a ball and chain and transform me into an evil victorian school marm forcing children to eat mush and powdered milk for every meal. I try to avoid that scenario, but it’s still haunting me around the edges.

The next point I’d like to make is that I am making these menus because we are so hard hit by the current economy that my choices are either make the menus or eat every meal at my mom’s house. And the gas it would take to get there every day would actually cost more than groceries for the week. This fortnight I have $130 or $65 per week. I have been steadily emptying my freezer the past few months and also using up the stuff in my pantry. I have some dried veggies and beans that I haven’t opened yet, but I expect that I’ll be opening them soon as most veggies go out of season and get more expensive.

2008 has been a difficult year for us financially. We have a “New Normal” that is less prosperous than our “Old Normal” and we are still adapting to it. At least we’re out of the denial stage that was making us spend more than we could afford, because for a few months we didn’t realize that a new normal was upon us. So we kept up our old habits only to quickly realize that our old habits were too expensive and that we needed to economize IMMEDIATELY! Which we’ve done. Praise the Lord for the ability to that, and to still have such a luxurious life. Everytime I feel poor I look at my stove and refrigerator and the bags of beans and rice stocking my pantry and I thank God for His abundance. A frugal abundance to be sure, but abundance none the less.

DINNER MENUS–leftovers for lunch the next day

  1. Bowl of Beans (Spicy pinto beans, cooked in crockpot overnight); Ketchup; Chopped Onions; Chopped Jalapenos; Fried Corn Tortillas; Fruit Cocktail (this is one of our favorite meals and very easy on the cook)
  2. Roast chicken; Mashed Sweet Potatoes; HM stuffing (leftover bread); Peas; Cranberries from freezer made into relish.
  3. Chicken Gumbo with Onion, Green Pepper, Okra, Frozen Italian Veggies, Hot Sauce & Tomatoes; Hoecakes; Gumbo broth is made from leftover chicken bones and any leftover chicken.
  4. Lentil Stew with GFCF Dumplings (lentil stew from my old site, new recipe for dumplings made from rice flour and cornstarch to try out) Pineapple & Carrot gelatinized in orange & Pineapple juice.
  5. Turkey Sloppy Joes with Chipotle for zing; HM rolls; HM Coleslaw; Potato Chips (naughty, I know), carrots & celery as alternative (or in addition) to Potato Chips.
  6. Meat Loaf; Green Beans; Mashed Potatoes (instant cause I’m lazy); Broccoli & Cauliflower Salad (thawed broccoli & caulifower marinated in Italian dressing).
  7. Snake Bites (chicken nuggets coated with seasoned, spicy cornflake crumbs); Carrot Raisin Salad; Oven Fried Potatoes; Boiled Squash & Onions.
  8. Black Bean & Veggie Soup; Corn Tortillas fried in margarine; Fried Eggs to go in soup (one for each person)
  9. Mock Lasagna made with layers of cooked really yummy and cheap oriental rice noodles; spaghetti sauce (from a can) with added sausage flavored TVP; HM Cottage Cheese made from Tofu and egg and a little mayonnaise; HM Fake Parmesan; Garlic Bread; Broccoli & Cauliflower Salad
  10. Beef Stew made with Potatoes, Carrots, Onions, Celery, Tomatoes & some frozen peas; Muffins; HM Lime Juice Gelatin with some fruit, probably canned pears.
  11. Dirty Rice made with Ground Turkey, Mixed Vegetables, Onions, a handful of added sausage flavored TVP and lots of red pepper; Mixed Greens; butter bread
  12. Turkey Chili–1 lb of meat & 1 pound of dry beans, cooked in crock pot overnight; Tomatoes, peppers, celery; Cornbread; Celery Sticks (and peanut butter)
  13. Chicken Rice Casserole (made from canned chicken from my pantry) with peas & mushrooms and white sauce made from HM Soymilk; Pickled Beets;
  14. Choice of Butter Beans or Split Pea Soup–some hot bread–toast if necessary–oatmeal cookies if possible. Yum.
  15. Fried Rice; Hot & Sour Soup with many Veggies & Tofu; Fried Spam coated in brown sugar before frying (I know, it’s horrible, but we love it) and then caramelized to a golden brown. Pineapple on the side.


  1. Rice Cakes spread with peanut butter and sprinkled with raisins
  2. Rice Cakes spread with peanut butter and topped with bananas slices
  3. Rice Cakes with Marshmallow Fluff & Chocolate Chips
  4. Apples (from our tree)
  5. Bananas
  6. Celery with Peanut Butter and Raisins
  7. Monster Cookies
  8. Brownies
  9. Cake (looking for recipe) with thawed frozen strawberries and Tofu whipped Topping to make Strawberry Short Cake of sorts.
  10. Pizza Bread
  11. Refried Beans & Chips
  12. Sandwiches: Ham, Turkey, PB&J, Fried Egg, Tuna
  13. Vegetarian Tacos made from TVP & Refried Beans, fast and easy–topped with shredded cabbage and well drained canned no-salt-added tomatoes. Also HM tofu sour cream if desired
  14. Tater Tots as desired (kids make for themselves in big oven or toaster oven)

I have no idea how I’ll do about sticking to these things. I’m just going to give it a try and see how things go. The boys are now doing dishes, after school (at every day, it’s only the lunch dishes (mostly easy dishes from reheating leftovers in the microwave). This is the way I cook most of the time, only I’m not always so organized about it. Since I’m using up stuff already in the house, as much as possible, it was a necessity to make the menus to keep myself on track.

BTW, for breakfast we have both hot and cold cereal (with soymilk), Also fried eggs, fried turkey sausage; sausage gravy & biscuits; french toast, pancakes, fruit smoothies with added flax seed & soymilk, and that’s about it for our every day stuff.


Filed under Budget, Frugal GFCF Menus, GFCF

The woman I want to be . . .

I have been reading a book called Calorie Queens and have found it especially encouraging. It’s about a Mother/Daughter team who looked at the problem of weight loss and figured out what it would take to finally be successful at it, which they were. Their before and after pictures are amazing.

The basic premise is to decide who or what you want to be, and then behave in the way that a person of that size (or demeanor) would have to behave. For instance, a woman who is lightly active, middle aged and weighs 125-pounds, eats about 1500 calories a day and probably walks a few times a week. Thus to become a 125-pound woman who is lightly active I would have to eat 1500 calories a day, and walk a few times a week. If I’m not willing to do the behavior, then I will never have the results. If I want to be sort of woman who always has a clean kitchen or bathroom, then I have to be the sort of woman who spends time–daily–cleaning her kitchen or bathroom. For the kitchen it would probably be more like several times daily, not just once a day. Without doing the behavior, the results won’t come.

So I’m thinking up what kind of woman, what kinds of character traits, I want, and then considering if I’m willing to the do the work to acheive those goals. I don’t know for sure yet. But here is my list of brain-stormed goals.

I want to be the type of woman who . . .

  1. Sees her doctor regularly for all the tedious maintenance details that come with aging.
  2. Takes her pills on time, every day, twice a day.
  3. Almost never eats processed sugar.
  4. Isn’t tempted by chocolate, maybe even the kind of woman who never eats chocolate, maybe I want to be allergic to chocolate.
  5. Weighs 125-pounds, or 150-pounds would be nice too.
  6. Plans meals every week and sticks to the meal plans.
  7. Wakes up at 6am and walks for 1 hour, 5 days a week, and then comes home and bathes and starts breakfast and then school.
  8. Goes to bed by 10pm.
  9. Bakes bread every week.
  10. Makes cookies and muffins for my kids.

There are probably more I’ll come up with. I’m not honestly sure if I’m willing to the work to acheive these goals. I already am the type of woman who makes her bed every morning and seldom watches TV, and homeschools her kids inspite of the difficulty. So I know some things that I once considered impossible (like the homeschooling and bed making) are simply a part of my daily routine. Maybe some of the other goals can become like that too. I’m not sure . . . much to think about.


Filed under Budget, Family, Health

Back in the Saddle

We’ve got school going well now. The boys needed extra help getting adjusted to their new schedules this year, which is why I had to take so much time off. I miss writing here on the blog, and building on my site too. Family has to come first though, because otherwise my priorities get messed up and everything crashes until I rebuild it the right way.

  1. God
  2. Fred/Marriage
  3. Kids/Family
  4. Home/Hospitality/Cleaning etc.
  5. Website/Blog/Email

When I keep things in this order my life runs so much more smoothly. I get out of whack sometimes and have to remind myself of how to do it.

We’re on a super tight budget right now. I have $75 to $100 per week for groceries, including cleaning supplies, food, pet food, hygiene, and over the counter meds. It’s stretching my skills in a way I haven’t experienced in a few years. At the same time we’re maintaining our gluten-free, dairy-free diet. It’s taken a lot of adjustments, but we’re doing better than I thought we would.

We’re doing some of the things everyone else is doing–eating less meat, using more beans (a lot more beans) when we do buy meat we use the cheapest stuff like regular ground beef, ground turkey, chicken leg quarters etc. I’ve learned that most preservatives trigger my kids into bad behavior. That means anything with added sodium nitrates, BHA or BHT is out of the question. I’ve bought some of the new “natural” products like bacon, hot dogs and sliced ham lunch meat, and they taste very good. They don’t trigger my kids either, but I can’t afford them much because they aren’t exactly cheap.

At the same time, I’m carefully watching what I eat, trying to stick to an exchange plan diet and so far I’m enjoying it. I find it easier to do this type of plan while maintaining my itty-bitty budget than any other plan I’ve tried. I also think calorie counting is a good method for people on a budget. I’ve got about 80 pounds to lose and am not going to give up until one day, they are gone.

Any questions you have can go here on my blog, but I am also accepting email again, after several months off. I can be reached at frugalabundance(at)


Filed under Budget, Health

Keeping Down The Rising Cost of Meat

Every now and then I survey the stores I usually shop at to determine what the best buys among meat are. Over the past couple of years, and even more specifically the past 6 months, prices have risen but many bargains remain. What follows is my list of the cheapest meats, their price per pound and price per serving. People often tell me the prices I find are much lower than the prices they can find. While the cost of living in my area isn’t especially high, it’s not the lowest in the nation either. I think that if you look hard enough, and really pay attention to your market, that you’ll be surprised at how many out-right bargains you can find among the regularly priced goods.

EGGS (not exactly a meat, but close enough)

  • Medium Eggs–about $1.50 per dozen–25¢ per 2-egg serving–Medium eggs weigh about 21 ounces per dozen. Large eggs weigh about 25 ounces per dozen. Each medium sized egg weighs about 1-3/4 ounces instead of 2 ounces. I’m willing to give up 1/4 of an ounce of egg for the significant savings that medium eggs can bring.


  • Ground Beef–5lb bullets–$1.75 per lb–44¢ per 1/4lb raw or about 2.5 ounces cooked lean meat–Most cuts of beef are at least twice this price. A single pound of regular ground beef (27 to 30% fat) gives you about 10 ounces of cooked, lean meat. The fat content of ground beef can be drastically reduced through the common tightwad practices of rinsing it in warm water after frying. This gives the cooked meat a nutritional profile similar to cooked 10% fat ground beef, and for a much better price.


  • Chicken Leg-Quarters–10lb bags–58¢ per lb–29¢ per 1/2lb raw or about 3 ounces cooked lean meat–Half a pound of chicken is necessary per serving because of all the waste going to bones, skin and fat.
  • Whole Chickens–88¢ per pound–44¢ per 1/2lb raw or about 3.5 ounces cooked lean meat–whole chickens provide slightly more cooked chicken per pound than leg-quarters, but usually cost about twice as much per pound. When on sale for the same price as leg-quarters, whole chickens are the better buy. They make a fancy meal for company too.
  • Ground Turkey–1lb bullets, frozen–$1.58 per lb–40¢ per 1/4lb raw or about 3 ounces cooked lean meat
  • Ground Turkey Sausage–1lb bullets, frozen–$1.58 per lb–40¢ per 1/4lb raw or about 3 ounces cooked lean meat–20¢ per 2oz raw patty, for breakfast (home-shaped patties, not store-bought preformed patties)
  • Whole & Half Turkey Hams–Usually 2 to 3 lbs per ham–$2.28 per lb–38¢ per 2-2/3 ounce cooked lean meat–6 sevings per pound. Since these are already fully cooked, they don’t lose much weight when cooked again at home.–23¢ per 1-1/2 ounce breakfast-sized serving (10 servings per pound)


  • Bacon Ends & Pieces–3lb box–$1.68 per lb–21¢ per 2oz raw or about 2 to 3 good sized slices, at least 1-ounce cooked (compare to cost of turkey sausage and turkey ham above, which have a similar price per portion)
  • Assorted Pork Chops with bones, usually Shoulder cuts (on sale)–$1.99 per pound–at least 5-pounds per package for lowest price–67¢ per 1/3-pound raw or about 3 ounces cooked meat–note this is more than twice the cost of chicken leg-quarters which can be cooked like pork chops in many recipes
  • Pork Picnics, smoked & fresh–Not sure of current prices, will begin to go on sale in early fall


  • Canned Tuna–6oz can–55¢ per can–28¢ per 2-ounce serving of cooked lean meat–2 servings per can
  • Canned Salmon–14oz can–$1.58 per can–31¢ per 2-ounce serving of cooked lean meat–5 servings per can
  • Frozen Fish Fillets–Whiting, Pollock, & Flounder–2 lb bags–$4.50 to $5 per bag–56¢  to 63¢ per 1/4 pound raw or about 3 ounces cooked lean meat. Note that this is over the twice the cost of a servings of chicken leg-quarters. We love fish, and try to serve it at least twice a week. Canned fish for one meal and frozen for the other. When we’re especially poor we stick to canned fish because frozen fish fillets are one of the most expensive foods in our budget.
  • Refrigerated Imitation Crab–1-1/2 pound packages–$2.25 per pound–42¢ per 3 ounce portion of cooked lean meat


  • Specialty eggs costing over $4 per dozen, or 70¢ per 2-egg serving. This is over twice the cost of simple medium-sized eggs @ 25¢/2-eggs
  • It’s easy to pay $4 to $5 per pound of beef, costing $1 to $1.25 per serving. Compare to 44¢ per serving for regular fat ground beef.
  • Boneless Chicken Breasts, especially all-natural brands, often charge $6 per pound or $1.50 per serving of 3 ounces cooked lean meat. Compare to 29¢ per serving for chicken-leg quarters.
  • Pre-cooked, packaged bacon costs $1.50 for a 1-ounce serving of cooked bacon. Compare that to 21¢ for a larger serving of homecooked bacon ends & pieces. Plus with homecooked bacon you have the extra kitchen byproduct–bacon grease; for FREE.
  • Most fish, frozen or fresh, costs upwards of $4 to $12 per pound, or $1 to $3 per serving. Compare this to 56¢  to 63¢ per serving of frozen fillets.
  • Home cooked dry beans are the best bargain. Bulk beans at 50¢ per pound provide 6 hearty servings for only 8-1/3¢ per serving. Beans or lentils that cost as much as $1 per pound are still only 17¢ per large serving.

It’s easy to see how combing beans with meat is an excellent way to make it stretch farther and reduce your costs. If you’re trying to keep costs down as low as possible, then Eggs, Chicken Leg-Quarters & Canned Tuna are the best meat buys and dry beans are the best protein bargain by far.


Filed under Budget, Grocery Shopping, Low Cost Foods

The Cost of a GFCF Diet

We’ve been on our diet for 2 months now and we’re getting more of a comfort zone about it. We don’t go out to eat anymore, ever. Because it’s just too hard to make sure things are gluten-free and because we’re trying to limit our expenditures. All of our bills have gone up, but our income is the same. We have been able to save money in times past. But these days we’re using every dollar just to make ends meet. I know we’re not doing everything we can to reduce our costs, so I’m trying to do more every day, or every week, to use less cash.

The first month of giving up gluten and casein I spent too much on groceries. It’s easy to do when making the transition from one way of eating to another. We’re finding new favorites and adapting some old favorites to the new diet. I made a list of shopping techniques that are helping me keep the food budget under control. One day I hope to write an entire article (or several of them) on these things. For now though, writing these out reminded me of each of them and it’s helping me follow them more faithfully. Every little bit helps.

  1. Analyze the market. Compare prices. Shop the ads.
  2. Shop carefully. Always carry a list. Resist supermarket tricks and impulse buys.
  3. Compile a record of the least expensive staples. Build meals around these staples. 
  4. Avoid convenience foods. Cook from scratch. 
  5. Give up food prejudices and status foods. Adjust our comfort-zones. 
  6. Substitute cheap ingredients for expensive ones. 
  7. Buy in bulk when it saves money but avoid waste like the plague. 
  8. Communicate with the family about what they want to eat.
  9. Develop new favorites; keep them in a recipe binder.
  10. Plan menus and shopping lists ahead of time.

I’ve written extensively on similar ideas in the past, but I feel like the GFCF diet has really propelled me to a level of carefulness that I haven’t always had in the past.

Numbers 5 and 6 above have been major players in my weekly planning. There are several status foods I used to buy every now and then–Frozen Chicken Nuggets for the Kids, Brie Cheese for me–and all of these are out of the picture now. This is probably for the best, but giving up old favorites is hard because at first there’s just an empty vacuum that sits like a gaping hole. Eventually new favorites rise to fill the hole, but new stuff can’t fill it, until the old stuff is chucked out. Then the transition time of waiting and being empty is uncomfortable.

I’ve been substituting cheap things for expensive ones too. This is especially true with gluten-free starches and baking. I’ve learned that Rice can be used instead of spaghetti under Tomato Sauce. Cooked rice can replace cooked pasta in casseroles. Brown Rice is 60 Cents a pound (at it’s cheapest, bulk price) and GF pasta is $3 to $4 a pound. Holy Buckets! For that much savings I gladly take 45 minutes to cook brown rice. ACtually I’ve found that if I cook up 3-cups of dry brown rice, in 6-cups of water (making 9-cups of cooked rice), at the beginning of the week, then we have rice to use as a base for quicky meals all week long. I’ve only done that one week, but it worked so good I will try to do it every week.

I’ve worked really hard on developing some gluten-free bread recipes that the family likes and that don’t cost too much either. I’ve tried to avoid using Xanthan in as many of our homemade breads as I can, and so far the results are good. Xanthan costs $10 to $12 for 8-ounces. Usually recipes just use 1 or 2 teaspoons and it really does make GF breads mimic wheat breads more closely, especially yeast breads. For many quick breads though, Xanthan isn’t necessary in the least.

I’m particularly proud of my Xanthan-Free Bread Collection [Click here]. I hope to develop some more of them in the future. Some Garlic Bread Sticks would be especially yummy. I’m working on a recipe for Xanthan-Free Pizza Crust that uses Rice Flour and Cornstarch as the only flours. The recipe still needs a little tweaking and I don’t want to share it until I get it perfect.



Filed under Budget, GFCF, GFCF Recipes, Grocery Shopping, Low Cost Foods, Recession

Update on Status of My Family’s Diet & GFCF Bread, again

First the bread, I am trying a new recipe, will share results later today or tomorrow. The recipe is from Gluten Free [Cooking School].  It uses a flour mixture made with masa harina (a type of cornmeal) plus soy flour, cornstarch and brown rice flour, all relatively cheap in my neck of the woods. Once again, I have high hopes for it. It’s rising right now, and I’m anxious to try it.

Next, we have been on our Gluten-Free, Casein-Free (GFCF) diet for almost a week now. These are our results.

Maggie (Mom)

  • Fewer headaches, down to once a week instead of daily. Haven’t had a migraine since starting GFCF.
  • Much, MUCH more energy. I think I had chronic fatigue, but never bothered to get it diagnosed because, well, my schedule allows for daily naps when necessary. Since starting diet I am sleeping 5 to 6 hours a night, waking naturally, and taking a nap in the afternoons. I feel more energetic, more vital, than I have in a while. This extra energy alone is worth the dietary change.
  • Haven’t gained any weight. I’ve been eating sugar and starches, and haven’t gained a single pound. Not sure why. I hope it means that weight-loss will be easier in the long run.
  • No tummy troubles. Zero indigestion, zero heartburn, zero bloating, zero gas.
  • A very painful rash I used to get on my hands, made up of tiny blisters that both itched and ached, has cleared up. When it used to bother me really bad, I noticed that Benadryl (an allergy medicine) would give me some relief. Doctors have told me it’s eczema, due to stress. I never agreed with that diagnosis, but did pray often for the Lord to reduce my stress level (What stress level? I have to ask) so the bumps would go away. Certain dishwashing liquids helped, but nothing alleviated it completely. Today, it is almost all gone. Amazing!
  • I feel happy. It’s a simple thing, but very satisfying.

Tommy (Asperger’s Syndrome).

 Describes himself as . . .

  • Feeling more energetic
  • Focusing energy is easier
  • Having higher self-esteem
  • Being more self-confident in public
  • It’s easier to concentrate

 Mom notices . . .

  • Much more patience
  • Kinder
  • Much more talkative
  • Friendlier
  • More social with family members and at church
  • Thinking more clearly and quickly too
  • Lighter spirit, not so heavy and serious, more open
  • Less repetitive behavior
  • Happier. Definitely happier

Jamie (ADHD)

  • No changes what so ever. None. Zippo, finito, nada.

So, I have talked with Fred (who admits to seeing some changes, but not as many as I do) and to my Mom (who sees the same changes I do and others besides) and the boys. We have decided to be a GFCF family. Outside of the house if Jamie wants to eat “regular” food then that’s fine. In the house though I’m keeping everything and everyone on the same diet. Tom is very happy about the changes he feels and wants to continue the diet. He explains it like this “I’m autistic, so I have to eat a special diet. No gluten. No dairy.” This is the very first time he has actually said the words “I’m autisitc.” So that in and of itself is HUGE progress. It’s sort of like he’s blooming. Slow and steady, a little more every day.

In all honesty I really thought that the GFCF diet for autism was probably a bunch of wishful thinking on the part of the parents. It seemed like “New Age Mumbo Jumbo” to me. Before “resorting” to the diet we tried several different meds, none of them worked and some made things worse. We tried psychiatrists, psychologists, and a handful of doctors. I took him out of public school, in part because I could see that it was nearly killing him to go there everday. I saw how much he was hurting. We also have religious beliefs that made us take the boys from public school and teach them at home, but a big part was that the school could not treat Asperger’s Syndrome with any effectiveness. If anything their so called “treatment” made it worse.

I’d heard about a GFCF diet helping kids with autism for a few years. I read things online, but never really researched it in any depth. In fact I think I ignored and even avoided any information on it because I thought it was pointless. I was also terribly reluctant to even think about changing our diet. It would be too expensive, it would be too hard, too limiting, too different.

Finally I reasoned that if there was anything to the diet, that my kids at least deserved a shot at it. Praise God I finally did it. I think He had a lot to do with guiding me in this direction. So we tried it and I am now a True Believer. I’m willing to admit when I’m wrong, and I was wrong about this diet. It really does make a difference, and I’m seeing that for us (a family who cooks most things from scratch) the changes in our diet are pretty minor. I have to switch some of my formulas for baking. I have to use cornstarch for thickening instead of flour. I have to use non-dairy products instead of dairy. For the most part though, I’m still cooking normal food. Our grocery bill will go up. I can see that. But I will simply do what I do best, and that is learn cheaper ways to create the stuff we want to eat. I mean, God gave me that skill for a reason, so I might as well use it.

So, I will be making a few changes to my website (Frugal Abundance) as I sort out this GFCF thing. I will update recipes. Add more recipes. Maybe even write new articles.

We are now a GFCF family, and we will be here on out.


Filed under Budget, GFCF, PCOS

My Initial List of GFCF Menus

I’ve been reading with a voracious appetite this past week. My libraries seem to be well stocked with gluten-free information, but only a few books on gluten-free, casein-free. They have a couple of others on the topic but they’re currently checked out. I am not ashamed to say that I have brought home 20+ books on Celiac and GF and have devoured them for information. I have a pretty good handle on how to do my first shopping trip. I’ve learned to read all labels. Also, there is a law that started (or starts) this year, requiring manufacturers to clearly list any ingredients from the 8 main causes of allergies-wheat, milk, soy, shellfish, tree nuts, eggs, peanuts & fish. Apparently these 8 account for 90% of America’s food allergies.

I’ve chosen familiar, well-liked menu items for our first 2 weeks. The menus are incomplete. I’ll add meats, fruits & veggies as available, to fill the menus out. I wanted to know what Tom would be eating specifically, so these are mostly geared towards his taste choices. I’ve read that after implementing the diet, children who self-limit their food choices, like Tom does, become more willing to exand their horizons. I would really enjoy that, cause it would make him much eaiser to cook for.


  • Grits

  • Chocolate Soymilk & Protein Drink Mix Smoothie

  • GFCF Pancakes & Syrup

  • GFCF Toast with Vegan Margarine & Bacon

  • Rice Chex with Soymilk


  • Refried Beans & Corn Chips

  • Pasta with Spaghetti Sauce

  • Mashed Potatoes & Vegan Cheese

  • Bean Burritos (corn tortillas)

  • Caesar Salad with Bacon Bits (no cheese & no croutons)

  • GF Macaroni & Vegan Cheese

  • TVP Sloppy Joes

  • CF Cheese Sandwiches & GFCF Tomato Soup


  • Pinto Beans & GF Cornbread or Muffins

  • Lentils & Rice—Mexican

  • Lentils & Rice—Italian

  • TVP Tacos

  • Taco Salad

  • GFCF Lasagna—Add veggies & tofu

  • GFCF Pizza—Add pepperoni

  • Fried Rice

  • Stir Fried Veggies, Rice & Shrimp (maybe)


  • Preacher Cookies (Quinoa or Kamut or Rice flakes instead of Oats or GF Oats if available)

  • Brownies (Rice flour)

  • Muffins—Blueberry

  • Fruit Juice Gigglers

  • Fruit—Lots

  • Veggies—Carrots, Celery, Cucumbers etc.

  • Vegan Ranch Style Dip for Veggies

  • Celery Stuffed with Peanut Butter

  • Soy Yogurt

  • Cookies as I experiment

  • Vegan Gourmet Cheese & Other Vegan Cheeses as available

  • Marshmallow Rice Chex Bars (like Rice Crispy Bars)

  • Maybe Carrot Juice (from juicer)

When shopping I’ll get lots of fresh fruit, because that’s a family favorite. I’ll also look at the GFCF pre-packaged snacks to see just how expensive they are. I’m almost afraid to find out. Meanwhile I’m looking though my library books to get some simple baking recipes like for pizza crust, muffins, yeast bread, cornbread, brownies & pancakes. I’m also looking for GFCF cookie recipes, which seem to be in abundant supply online.


I have a few fears about Vegan Cheese. last time I tried them they were rubbery and tasted more like ill-prepared tofu than cheese. I have a couple of cookbooks in my collection with some Vegan Cheese recipes, and I plan on experimenting with them too, until I can find a cheese substitute that works for macaroni & cheese. I’ve read good things about Vegan Gourmet cheese and hope it turns out as good as described. If not, I’ll just keep looking.


For shopping I’m looking at 3 sources–My local Natural Foods Co-Op. They have a lot of really interesting foods there. Also GNC which has a moderate selection of gluten-free items. And finally Kroger, we have 3 of them within 3 miles, and they all have well-stocked natural and dietetic food sections. I’ll also do my regular shopping on Tuesday at Wal-Mart, but probably won’t be buying too much there. Luckily the GNC and Krogers are all very close together so it won’t take much gasoline. The Co-Op is about 15 minutes away, which will eat into my gas some, but they have the best prices and are likely to have the best selection, so it’s worth the trip.


The reason I’m willing to shop 3 stores (and maybe 5) is because this excursion is for educating myself just as much as for purchasing actual products. I’m intend to limit the number of items I buy to those needed for our 2 week experiment. Then, if the experiment is working, I’ll consider making other purchases.


Oh, I just remembered, we have a UKrops (local to VA) and they have massive variety of hard to find items. I may go there and the Co-op on one day. Then Kroger(s) and GNC on the second day. I’m afraid of the sticker shock waiting for me, but am moving forward with faith. I have prayed that the Lord stop me if any of this is’t His will. I’ve also prayed for a clear understanding of His desire for me to keep heading in this direction.


I’ve explained to the kids that they may get headaches the first few days of the experiment, and that they may feel anxious or unhappy, but that these are symptoms of letting go of the gluten and casein. My oldest is still cooperative. My youngest is a little leary, but since everyone in the family is doing it, he’s not going to complain yet.


This afternoon I visit with my Mom and Granny and will explain the situation to them and my Dad. I’ll need their cooperation and I’m not sure how I’ll handle the meal that the Boys eat with them on Wednesday Nights. Maybe pre-make a couple of pizzas and take them with me, with instructions on how to bake them for Mom. I’ll also bring some snacks like candy-cookie things. Mom already buys soymilk, so that’s a plus.


Tomorrow Mom and Granny are coming over to help with the boy’s room some more. We’re about half-way into it, and hope to start painting tomorrow.


Filed under Budget, GFCF, Grocery Shopping, Health

Med’s & Cleaning Supplies. Another Post for our Wendy Bird.

Wendy had asked me some questions that I wanted to answer about med’s cleaning supplies and how we manage those sorts of things in our home.

For cleaning supplies I like 7th Generation. I use their dishwashing liquid because it’s one of the few that doesn’t make my hands break out in tiny blisters and patches of itchy skin.

I don’t make my own cleaning supplies, except for using vinegar & newspaper to clean windows and mirrors. Also I make my own spray starch for ironing. The instructions are on the bottle of Liquid Starch, found in larger supermarkets and sometimes K-Mart.  But right now I have a can of store-bought spray starch that my Mom bought me a while back.

For cleaning we use this really powerful stuff called “Spray 9″. It’s available at hardware stores. Fred buys it in gallon jugs. Then we dillute it. A jug lasts a couple of years and it cleans better than anything I’ve ever used in my entire life. It gets rid of dirt and grease that normally only steel wool will remove. Saves a lot of elbow grease on my part.

I use bleach in my dishwater and sometimes in my laundry. I buy the cheapest liquid laundry soap I can find. I used to use the powder because it was cheaper, but it didn’t dissolve all the way in our water, so now I just use liquid. We don’t have sensitive skin in our family, except for my hands, so any type of laundry soap works fine for us. We have a washer on it’s last legs and a dryer that’s still going pretty strong. When the washer konks out on us, we’ll have to buy a new one. I’ve had to wash clothes by hand in the past, and hang them up to dry. This was before the kids were born, and we didn’t have a washer or dryer. It was a lot of hard work. I think when there are only a couple of people to wash for, or if you have help, then washing by hand is definitely do-able and can save a lot of money when necessary. I admit to enjoying the convenience of my automatic washer and dryer. For anyone who finds they must wash their clothes by hand here’s a tip.  Using a (clean, preferably well scrubbed and bleached or new) plunger can make the work faster. It works especially well on heavy jeans that are hard to wash otherwise.

The main chemicals I keep in the house are Spray-9, Ammonia, Cheap Generic Pine Cleaner, Bleach, Vinegar, Comet, Baking Soda, Liquid Starch, Dish Soap, Laundry Soap & Bars of Bath Soap. Since Fred stays at lots of hotels when he’s out of town we get free bath soap all day long. I keep it in a decorative bucket under the sink and it’s currently overflowing.

I usually use Ammonia to wash my floors. It seems to get our tile especially clean. I use baking soda to scrub all the sinks except when I’ve let them go too long and they are really scuzzy, then I use Comet. Same with the bath-tubs.  Actually I use a store-brand equivalent. I get most of my cleaning supplies, except the dish soap and Spray-9 from Dollar General. They’re cheap, cheap, cheap and the quality is good.

Fred’s in charge of scrubbing the toilets, I think he uses Spray-9 to do it. When I wash the outsides and floor around the toilet I use whatever’s handy. Usually a little ammonia in a bucket of water. I like ammonia because it works well, it’s easy to use and it’s cheap. The only drawback is the smell, but Lemon Scented Sudsing Ammonia, the kind I use, doesn’t smell as strong as regular. I like the Sudsing kind because it makes soap bubbles, which makes me feel like I’m really cleaning.

My mom prefers Pine Cleaners, which is why I have it in the house. She buys it and uses it when she cleans things. Oh, I just remembered, I have Murphy’s oil soap too. I use it on all the wood and for dusting. I don’t dust often enough, but when I do I have found that Murphy’s Oil Soap works wonders on wood. I’ve tried Orange Oil cleansers for wood too and they sure smell good. In my area the Murphy’s is cheaper so it’s what I prefer to use.

For shampoo and conditioner I use whatever’s cheapest at the dollar store usually. Tom uses Ultrabrite plus whitening for his toothpaste. Jamie uses whatever is available, as do I. Fred only uses Listerine Toothpaste. I’m not particular about toothpaste, so I just buy whatever’s cheapest and that’s what Jamie and I use.

As for Medications. I always use store-brands and house-brands. Name brands are a waste of money to me. I keep the following meds on-hand most of the time . . .

  • Asprin
  • Chewable Zoo Animal Shaped Vitamins
  • Tylenol
  • Motrin (Ibuprofen)
  • Migraine/Headache Pills (plus caffeine)
  • Chewable antacids
  • Benadryl
  • Sudafed (I once overheard a lady say that it was easier to score cocain in the parking lot that it was to buy sudafed at the pharmacy.)
  • Niquil
  • Hydrocordizone Cream
  • Acne Cream
  • Acne Cleansing Pads
  • Bactroban (prescription ointment similar to neosporin, our doctor keeps us in stock)
  • Can of cloves (for toothaches)
  • Doggie and Kitty earmite medicine
  • Doggie and Kitty worm medicine

In addition all of us but Tom take prescription meds. Fred takes 4 or 5 of them plus insulin. I take 4 now, but sometimes 5. Jamie takes 1. We have little weekly pill cases that I found at the Dollar Store for $1 each. They have really simplified the daily routine. There are 14 little lidded compartments, 2 for each day of the week, AM and PM. Fred and I are both happy with these little contraptions as they make taking daily meds much, much easier. Besides prescriptions and a daily vitamin, we don’t take over the counter pills very often. A large bottle lasts well over a year. We have a bottle of Niquil that is 2 years old that is just now getting to the bottom of the bottle. There’s about 1 dose left.

For colds my favorite remedy is 2-tablespoons each lemon juice, whiskey, and honey. Then stir in 1/2-teaspoon ground red pepper and take by the spoonful as needed. It cleans out the sinuses, soothes a sore throat and makes you a little bit sleepy so you can sleep off the cold. I also administer chammomile tea to everyone when they get sick. The boys don’t especially like it, but I give it to them anyway. Mint tea is excellent for mild indigestion and nausea. Fred sometimes battles insomnia because of his work schedule. I recently bought him a homeopahtic remedy from our local Health Food Store, I wish I could remember the name of it. It’s made up of valerian root, passion flower, california poppies (the kind without ‘milk’) tryptophan, 5htp & something else I can’t remember. It works pretty well. I took valerian root when I was nursing a colicky baby (tom) and it helped him tremendously.

We also use chapstick and Carmex. I can’t think of anything else though. Oh, doggie shampoo. We buy special shampoo for Fred’s dog because he has itchy skin. It has oatmeal in it and it helps the poor dear. Also we have hand cream and “wrinkle fighting face cream” which I use on my feet. It makes my feet very soft and keeps them from cracking, which hurts (a lot). The hand cream is “Lubricating Hand Lotion”. It’s a big square bottle, I think from Dollar General. The face cream is from Dollar General $1 for a 12-ounce jar. And it works really well on tootsies.

I’ve been as thorough as I can. If there are any questions, please let me know. I think we’re pretty average as far as med’s and cleaning supplies. I don’t make my own because of laziness and since most of the ones I do buy are very inexpensive. Also, we like modern medicines and we feel like using them doesn’t make us “sell-outs” or drug abusers. Modern med’s are one of the great advantages of our time, along with running water, indoor plumbing, the vacuum, automatic washer & dryer. I use these things and they add to the quailty of our lives.


Filed under Budget, Grocery Shopping