Monthly Archives: September 2008

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

What is the Healthiest Diet?

I honestly don’t know. I’ve been wracking my brain, trying to figure it out and I come up with more confusion than anything else. Last night, while the boys were in Karate, I went to the library and checked out some books. As I skimmed though them, I realized many had the same theme–they described what the author considered to be the healthiest type of diet for everyone. If everyone would just switch to that Author’s diet, then we could all miraculously be healthy and well. Most of the authors promise weight loss, improved vitality, youthful energy, clearer thinking, better skin and host of other benefits.

Over the years I’ve tried lots of different dietary regimens and read about many more. I’m trying, in my own little way, as a frugal mom and a wife with my own set of health challenges, to make sense of all of the conflicting advice and expensive suggestions.

And it’s tough! I’m not even close to understanding half of it. It’s like “The Perfect Diet” is the Holy Grail of our culture. Everyone is on a quest to find it, but no one ever does. I have jumped on that band wagon and searched along with everyone else and to me it’s been just as elusive as everyone else. The one thing I think is obvious, is that the Standard American Diet, is making us sick. It doesn’t give us health, it gives us disease. 

So anyway, last night I asked myself–What do I think makes up a healthy diet? What do I think would nourish my family the best? Then I started the following list. To be sure, it’s a work in progress. I have not refined it, only come up with a handful of goals, or ideas that seem reasonable to me.

  1. Whole Grains are far better than processed grains. I believe that eliminating as many processed grains as possible can only add to my family’s health. Our main flour is brown rice flour, ground in our own electric grain mill. It’s the cheapest flour we can make (that’s gluten free) and I suspect, the highest quality. I also like oats, millet, and buckwheat. I think that serving whole grains every day, and maybe even at every meal, is a good way to go.
  2. Beans are good. My family likes beans, they’re blissfully cheap, high in fiber, protein and (I believe) are more versatile than any other protein source. I currently serve them at least 3 times a week, but would like to serve them more often. Out of 21 meals a week, I think at least 5 and maybe 7 meals should be based on beans.
  3. Fruits and Vegetables–Fresh & plain Frozen & Canned-no-added-salt-or-sugar need to take a higher priority in our meals. In a perfect world, I would grow all of our fruits and vegetables myself. That’s not likely to happen to anytime soon, so I make-do with what I can afford. I do not believe that any vegetables are bad–like potatoes and corn. I think vegetables are good, no matter what kind they are.
  4. I believe that organics are superior to conventional fare. I can’t even come close to affording them, so the only way we’ll get them is if we grow them ourselves.
  5. Honey and other “natural” sweeteners are probably better than sugar. We eat way too much sugar anyway, whether it’s natural or not.
  6. I suspect that conventional meat, eggs and dairy products are swimming in all sorts of icky things because of the terrible way animals are fed and treated in giant feed lots. I know for a fact they do not taste as good as so called “Natural” and “Organic” animal products. I still don’t know what to do about this one. Eliminate all animal products because we can’t afford the “Good Stuff” or make regular animal products a progressively smaller part of our diet. Or splurge on teh good stuff every now and then. I do know that we can’t afford the good stuff as often as we’d like to eat it, which kind of makes me sad.
  7. Eat more fish. This is a personal bias of mine. I would like to eat fish at least twice a week, and 4 times a week would be fine with me. The only thing is I can’t afford as much fish as I’d like. I do use canned salmon and canned tuna and while I worry about mercury in the tuna, I don’t worry about the salmon at all. And it’s high in Omega-3 fatty acids which is a very good thing.
  8. Everything processed is bad (except plain fruits and veggies, see number 3). Varying degrees of bad, to be sure, but still bad. Processed semi-fruit, kid-friendly, sticky sweet things–ugh! Processed meats, processed cheese, white cotton bread. All bad, very, very bad.
  9. Additives and preservatives are bad. Sodium Nitrite & Nitrate. BHT and BHA, MSG, poly sorbate something or other. And artificial colorings too, all very very bad. They trigger my kids bad behavior and make me feel sick to my stomach. I am avoiding these things like the plague. Only I’m sad because it means we don’t get to eat some things we really love, like ham and bacon.

That’s all I’ve come up with so far. Trying to make sense of this stuff is hard. It makes my brain hurt. But I’m going to figure it out for me and my family as best I can. Anyone else doing something similar? What kind of conclusions have you come up with?

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Filed under Grocery Shopping, Health, Homemaking, Low Cost Foods

GFCF & my Hair

My hair has always been one of my best features. Long, thick, curly, brown with red highlights. My sister-in-law says I have African American hair, and she’s not far off base. Well, when I got PCOS (or rather, when it “bloomed”), my hair started thinning. Everyone said to me “Well, you’re older now, your hair is bound to fall out more than it used to.” Hearing folks say that to me always made me feel resentful–with a vain, self-righteous anger, because how dare they lump me in with all the other women my age with thinning hair! My hair’s not supposed to thin because I don’t dye it. I don’t blow dry it. I only wash it a couple of times a week, because there’s so much of it, it doesn’t get dirty very fast. I’ve done all the right things to preserve my hair, but it was still falling out. I developed a receding hairline up near my temples and the top thinned significantly. Unless you’ve known me forever you wouldn’t notice the thinning, because there was still an abundance of hair, just not as much as there used to be.

Anyway, my point is that my hair was falling out and it was making me especially sad. Then something happened. I gave up gluten and casein. And now my hair is growing back. I’m serious. The hair I’ve lost over the past 8 to 10 years, is growing back. I have scores of little baby hairs growing back on the top of my head and in my receding hairline, which is now pro-ceding, not re-ceding. Praise the Lord.

If I had known my hair would grow back, I would have done this years ago.

Thank-you God, for my new Hair. Amen.

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Filed under GFCF, Rants

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

OFE Questions & Comments

I’ve made this thread (which I will check as often as possible) for questions and comments regarding my Old Fashioned Education site. I will answer as best I can. Hope I’m able to help.

🙂 Maggie

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