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!

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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.

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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.

DESSERTS & SNACKS

  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 3.pm) 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.

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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.

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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)cox.net.

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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.

BEEF

  • 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.

POULTRY

  • 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)

PORK

  • 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

FISH

  • 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

FOR COMPARISON

  • 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.

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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.

 

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