Wednesday, May 30, 2018

June Menu Plan

With our CSA share coming in now, we've got a ton of veggies to go through.  We've also been getting quite a bit from gleaning at the food pantry (just this week we got a huge bag of sugar snap peas, broccoli, and about 10 portabello mushroom caps), so we're looking to make the most of it this month.  We'll try to keep our expenses low, mostly spending on fruit, dairy, and a few frozen items.  And we're also trying to clean out the freezers since the house is on the market and we're not sure when we'll get an offer.

Baby and I seem to have healed our gut issues, so we're slowly reintroducing some higher sugar fruits, occasional gluten (neither of our tests came back with a sensitivity), and a tiny bit of sweetener.  We're grateful for good health, and want to keep it that way, so we won't overdo it on these items too much.

So, here's the plan:

Breakfasts:


Lunches:

  • Leftovers
  • Grilled cheeses or quesadillas and soup
  • Smoothies
  • Healthy snacky lunch in the car (lots of summer activities with the boys) such as apples and peanut butter or almond butter, dried apricots, crackers and cheese, popcorn, nuts, etc.
  • Occasional meals at the restaurant (it's a nice perk of Benny working there)
Dinners:

  • Quiche with greens, mushrooms, onion, and dried tomato served with salad
  • Dinner salad with tuna, salmon, or hard boiled eggs
  • Tuna salad lettuce wraps
  • Grilled sausage, cooked greens, and crock pot German potato salad
  • Grilled chicken and veggies
  • portabello burgers with lettuce and grilled onions, served with oven fries
  • sweet potato and quinoa salad served with salmon
  • Asian crock pot chicken with rice
  • Breakfast for dinner:  French toast, eggs, roasted veggies or fruit
  • Cheddar and spinach waffles with sausage
  • turkey salad sandwiches with lettuce and veggies and dip
  • loaded beans and rice with salad and almond flour cheddar muffins or scallion corn bread
  • black bean crock pot chili with salad
  • loaded crock pot baked potatoes with chili, cheese, and Greek yogurt
  • homemade pizza 
  • picnic dinner at the park:  hard boiled eggs, crackers, cheese, fruit, veggies and dip, maybe pasta salad
Snacks:
  • cheese and crackers
  • homemade foccacia
  • pineapple jello (from scratch with good quality gelatin)
  • popcorn
  • carrot sticks and homemade ranch dip
  • fruit
  • banana bars
So, our shopping list for this month looks like this:
  • Avocados
  • Cheddar cheese
  • "Pizza" cheese (as it's known in our house... aka mozzarella)
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Frozen pie shells (I could make my own, but it's just too tough when I'm home full time with the boys)
  • Onions
  • Baking potatoes
  • Plain Greek yogurt
What do your meal plans look like for this month?  I'd love to hear from you!

Monday, May 28, 2018

Frugal Accomplishments for Last Week of May

This past week we worked really hard to keep extra expenditures down.  We enjoyed some shared meals with friends, which was great in terms of social time and also lightening the load on the grocery budget and the cooking prep.

We also worked hard to keep the house clean and tidy for showings, weeded the herb beds, and split a few plants to share with friends.  Once the house is under contract, I'll begin splitting things from the garden that I want to take to the new house for the new gardens there.  We're really looking forward to having neighbors there who enjoy gardening and can help us with some ideas for plantings there.

Here's what we did last week to live and save green:


  • Cooked most meals at home including:  double batch of quiche (swiss chard, onion, dried tomato, and bacon) and salad, grilled chicken sausages with grilled veggies and portabellos, banana nut muffins, turkey tacos with refried beans, greens, onions, and radishes, scrambled eggs with greens and sausage, and smoothies with greens and frozen fruit.
  • It was the first week of our CSA share, so we loved all the wonderful fresh produce.  Loads of greens, green onions, radishes, and a dozen eggs.
  • Collected about 20 eggs from our friends' chickens.  Well worth the short drive over there, and the chickens love our kitchen scraps.
  • Benny picked up items from the food pantry including two large cartons of organic plain yogurt, a gallon of milk, loaf of bread, some veggies, and some good quality gluten free snacks.
  • Enjoyed a pot luck meeting in the new neighborhood.  We took a lemon chess pie that I had in the freezer, and most of it was eaten.  This was a gift from a student, and I was glad to share it.  It also helped clear out our freezer space a bit.
  • Gladly accepted a turkey carcass and extra turkey meat from a new neighbor.  They took turkey to the meeting and gave us what was left.  I'll use the meat in turkey taco bowls this week, and we'll make stock from the carcass.
  • Grateful for pretty weather and the boys getting to play on the playground.  We spent a few afternoons this way, and it was time well spent.  The sunshine was great for us all, and I think they slept better for the hard play.
  • Continued with hanging laundry, but mostly inside this week due to scattered showers.  We're still using cloth diapers, but will hit potty training hard this summer.
  • The boys shared a bath a few nights, saving on water.  I should have saved some of the bath water to use for potted plants, but forgot.
  • Enjoyed getting the grill out this weekend.  It was a great time with friends, and was nice to not have to heat up the kitchen.
  • Received a stipend check for student teaching mentoring.  It's a small amount, compared to the work involved, but it's nice to have the little extra income.
  • I renewed my teaching liscense.  It was $35, which kind of stinks because it used to be free, but at least I was able to do it with professional development that was free and I didn't have to pay for.
  • Enjoyed a date night on Friday night while Mom kept the boys.  We made quiche and salad for dinner at home, and enjoyed watching an episode of Downton Abbey after we got the baby down.  It was a good date night, and minimal cost, aside from the "splurge" of ice cream I got and the bacon for the quiche.  (I did have a coupon for the ice cream.)
  • Made some herbal tea at home with herbs from the garden (lemon balm, orange mint, and pineapple mint) and some lavender I had in the pantry.  It was very good, and a combination I think I'll make in a pitcher to have cold this summer.  
  • Started another bag for Goodwill, and have another box of books to take to the library for donation.  It would be nice if the tax receipts worked for next year, but even if they don't, it will be good to have the clutter gone.
  • Used some citrus vinegar for cleaning, and olive oil to polish the stainless steel appliances.  It's nice to be able to use things we have for cleaning, and puts fewer toxins into our home, keeping us healthier.
  • Even amidst rain showers, we managed to get the yard mowed.  It's nice when Benny can do it because it entertains the boys while I can get some stuff done in the kitchen.
  • Enjoyed free yoga class and dinner.  I also worked out using free YouTube videos.
  • Benny and I began looking at kitchen design ideas for the new house.  We've chosen most of our paint colors, are pretty sure of cabinet design, and are working on choosing flooring.  We're trying to make as many decisions as possible ahead of time so that once we can begin building, decisions are made and things can move as quickly as possible.
What did you do to live and save green this past week?  I'd love to hear from you!

Monday, May 21, 2018

Frugal Accomplishments Third Week of May

This past week was pretty good for us.  We got the house listed for sale and had four showings last week and another scheduled for early this week.  We're hopeful that it will sell quickly so that we can begin the process of building our new house.  We had a few doctor's appointments, and they were great.  Our health seems to be continually improving with our dietary changes, for which I'm grateful. 

Here's the list of our accomplishments for this past week:


  • Made all meals from scratch including:  spaghetti and meatballs with gluten free pasta (which was a disappointment... I won't be purchasing that brand again), pancakes and sausage for dinner with fruit, homemade pizza with salad, "nibble" dinner of gluten free crackers, hard boiled eggs, sliced apples, and veggies.  We also did eggs, smoothies, and crock pot steel cut oats for breakfasts.
  • Enjoyed shared meals twice this week with Mom and through the Children's Council with yoga.  I'm so enjoying the yoga class and the parent support group.  It's such an amazing resource.
  • Grateful for items gleaned from the food pantry.  Fresh produce is in abundance now that they're gleaning from the farmer's market again:
    • kale
    • swiss chard
    • leaf lettuce
    • radishes
    • eggplant
    • coconut milk
    • gluten free red pepper crackers
  • Won a gift card to Harris Teeter for participating in the school fitness challenge.  I never win anything, and this is something we'll definitely use!
  • Took all meals to work, saving on the cost of lunches.  I keep snacks at work too, so that I'm not tempted by things in the vending machine.
  • Worked hard to use things from the pantry and freezer in meals, including meatballs, marinara sauce, turkey carcass and veggies (for stock), and mint for tea.
  • I worked out for free using YouTube videos and the yoga class at the Children's Council.  We also took a walk a few evenings when the weather allowed, which was nice.
  • The boys helped me with weeding in the garden, which was nice.  It's nice to begin seeing flowers pop up in the garden.
  • Enjoyed lots of fresh eggs from our friends' chickens.  It's such a nice arrangement to have us collect from them a few days a week, and it makes their life easier to have a regular chicken sitter when they're on vacation.
  • Worked really hard to keep the house clean for showings, and I think it's paying off.  It's also nice to begin getting in some habits that will hopefully keep things cleaner in the new house, like taking shoes off at the door and having the boys clean up before bed.
  • Enjoyed our membership to the Children's Playhouse a few times, and even got to see some baby goats one day!  So fun with the boys!
  • Began looking at the new house plans more diligently, thinking about how we can use our existing furniture to make that new space most efficient.
  • Explored tae kwon do classes for little man.  I think we'll sign him up for next month as a trial.  He really needs the discipline and structure, and I think it will help with some things at home too.  My mom has offered to pay for these classes for him, which would be a huge help.  He's really excited about the opportunity.
  • Making plans to use some of our existing supplies for the boys to make something special for Father's Day.  I hope it will be special, and something we'll enjoy in the new house.
  • Reposted Craigslist ads, and working to week out a few more things to send to Goodwill and other donations.  I ordered another bag for ThreadUp to consign some items through them.  It's an easy way to get rid of some items I don't want, but are still in good shape. and earn a little extra money in the process.
What did you do to live and save green this past week?  I'd love to hear from you!

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Frugal Accomplishments for Last Week of April

This past week we did pretty well frugally.  I tried to purchase produce that was on sale, and we tried to use up some more things from the pantry and freezer.  We also enjoyed some time with friends, which we all found fulfilling.  I had a few friends come over this weekend to help pack boxes and help clean the house for staging photographs, and that was a huge help!

Here are all of our accomplishments in detail:

  • Cooked all meals at home including Thai coconut chicken soup, salad, roasted veggies, eggs, smoothies, meatballs over rice with peppers and onions, and homemade pizza (gluten free and regular).
  • We also made a batch of spiced nuts, popcorn, and fermented sauerkraut.  These will be used for snacking and the sauerkraut will be a great addition to salads.
  • Hung some laundry on the clothes line outside, which was nice because we've had so much rain lately.
  • Enjoyed shared meals with family and friends twice.  This saved on cooking, as we only had to prep one dish instead of several.
  • Grateful for friends who came to help clean the house.  We got the china hutch packed, the whole house vacuumed and mopped, counters cleared, bathrooms cleaned, clutter stashed, etc. 
  • Used natural cleaners for cleaning including citrus vinegar, baking soda, and olive oil for polishing stainless appliances. 
  • Rented a storage unit to begin moving larger items like appliances into, and once the house sells, our furniture will go there as well.
  • Sent three more bags of items to Goodwill and the library for donation.
  • Packed all lunches for school and work, saving on that cost.
  • Used YouTube for working out.  
  • Enjoyed free yoga and dinner at the Children's Council.  The parent support group that meets afterward is great too.
  • Used my rice and lavender bag for a heating pad when my back was sore so I didn't have to use an electric heating pad.
  • Enjoyed making homemade herbal tea with lavender, mint, and lemon balm from the garden.  (The lavender was ordered from an herb company, as it doesn't grow well here.) This has improved my mood greatly, and I believe has helped my kidney health some too.
What did you do to live and save this past week?  I'd love to hear from you!

Monday, April 23, 2018

Frugal Accomplishments for Third Week of April

This past week we managed to get quite a bit accomplished, and we had a wonderful visit with a great friend who stayed with us for several days.

Here's how we saved this past week:


  • Made all meals from scratch at home including:  double batch of broccoli and ham quiche (using broccoli and ham from the freezer), salad, roasted veggies (using zucchini and eggplant from the food pantry), smoothies with veggies and berries, homemade pizza and sauteed greens (we were out of salad greens), fish tacos, carrot coconut curry soup, and coconut custard.
  • We gleaned several items from the food pantry, for which we're really grateful:
    • zucchini and yellow squash
    • 2 eggplant
    • brussel sprouts
    • green beans
    • 4 pears
    • 4 kiwi
    • 4 plums
    • gluten free crackers
  • Hung all laundry to dry except sheets and washed in cold water.
  • Continued with cloth diaper use.
  • Baby and I continue to be on a gluten-free, sugar-free, no high sugar fruit diet.  This really seems to be healing baby.  I think simply because I'm older, it's going to take me longer to get over this stuff, but there has been improvement.
  • Made homemade turkey stock with a turkey carcass and veggie scraps from the freezer.  Used this for soup, and will use more for rice and soup this week.
  • Packed several boxes (12, I think) and stored at Mom's house in her basement.  Very grateful that she also came over on Saturday to help me clean and pack some.
  • Staged our bedroom and guest bedroom for pictures using things we had around the house.
  • Tossed a few more items in the trash and Goodwill bags.  Also weeded out more books and magazines for library donation.
  • Benny cleaned out the bathroom sink drains in all three baths.  This has needed to happen for a while, and I'm grateful that he did it in preparation for the sale of the house.
  • Benny also finished caulking most trim that needed it, and will continue with the painting this week.  
  • We got the appraisal back for our HEL to finalize the purchase of the land, and it came back for what we were hoping.  This means that we should be able to make what we need to from the sale of the house, which is great.
  • The permit process has begun, and we're glad to have all those forms submitted.
  • Enjoyed a wonderful visit with a great family friend who is from out of state.  He's preparing for a move to California, so we're especially thankful for the visit time we had with him.  He gifted the boys some wonderful books (he's always so thoughtful), and we gave him some homemade roasted nuts for his return trip.  We're in the initial stages of planning a trip to see him for next summer.
  • I began planning which plants I want to put in pots to take to the new house for the garden. I'm sure I want to take herbs, some forsythia, and several perennial flowers.
What did you do to live and save green this week?  I'd love to hear from you!

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Frugal Accomplishments for April Weeks 1-2

We've been working really hard the past few weeks to clean out more at home in preparation for selling the house.  We've taken a lot to Goodwill and the library for donation, sold a few more things online, and packed up quite a few boxes for my mom's basement.  It feels really good to have this much cleaned out, but we've got a ways to go too.

Eating more healthfully has been challenging with my kidney issues, but I'm slowly learning what seems to trigger things and what's ok.  I've been doing a pretty good job of eating my nine cups of veggies a day (a smoothie helps a lot with at least 2-3), but eating this much produce is certainly expanding our grocery budget.  Especially since I'm trying to do more organic to lessen the toxin load on my kidneys.  But, it's good for our health, so we'll continue on this route.  The dietary changes also really seem to be helping baby with his gut issues, so I think much of this will become our new normal.  I kind of miss baking, but it does simplify our life a bit to not do it as much.

Here's what we've done to save a bit over the past week:

  • Used boxes from the paint store for packing, saving on cost there.  Used tape we had around instead of purchasing.
  • Cooked all meals at home, trying to make use of what we had in the freezer, including:  veggie stir fry, black beans and rice, roasted veggies with salmon and brown rice, paleo pancakes and berries, eggs with sauteed greens, homemade pizza, and split pea soup and salad.
  • Repaired a shelf on our own with a part from Lowe's.
  • Exercised at home by walking or working out with YouTube videos.  Enjoyed free yoga class again, which included dinner and child care.
  • Washed clothes in cold water with ecofriendly detergent and essential oils.  Hung clothes to dry.
  • Trying to lessen our toxin load, so I switched deodorants to a natural one (Benny was already using one) made with baking soda and coconut oil, began washing my face with an organic soap, began oil pulling with coconut oil in the mornings, and continued cleaning with our baking soda, borax, and citrus powder mix.  All these are fairly inexpensive and should have a positive impact on our health.  I've also researched some detox baths and compresses that should help too.
  • Used a few herbs from the garden in smoothies, for tea, and cooking:  mint, lemon balm, chives.
  • Enjoyed fresh eggs from our friends' chickens we care for a few days a week.  These make wonderful breakfasts, lunch additions, or salad toppings, and are much more nutritious than grocery store eggs.
  • Made fermented carrot sticks, which the boys really enjoyed.  I will make these again, since it was such a hit and a good way to get some probiotics in them besides yogurt cultures.
  • Began journaling again, which I've needed to do for a while.  I found an old journal that I hadn't used many pages in, so I'll use that for now.  Once I finish that, I'll see if I can find another one inexpensively, or maybe with Barnes and Noble gift card money.  This is a great stress relief, and a wonderful way to be able to look back and reflect on things.
  • Went to a community wide event, Buildfest, which is put on by the local children's museum.  It was free and a great time for the boys.  A local dentist was there, so we also came away with some free toothbrushes, toothpaste, and dental floss.
  • Benny and I began researching and discussing windows for the new house.  We've found that fiberglass is more environmentally friendly than vinyl, and will be more stable.  By carefully choosing where we want single-hung vs. double hung windows, we should be able to make up some of the increased expense.
  • The realtor came to check out the improvements we've made.  She said things look good, so we should be able to list the house within the next week or two.  We really have some packing and cleaning to do between now and then, but it is looking great!  Kind of wonder why we didn't tackle some of these improvements before now.
What did you do to live and save green this past week?  I'd love to hear from you!

Friday, April 6, 2018

April Menu Plan

Our April menu will be largely based on eating from our pantry and freezer, since we're trying to clean out things for selling the house.  We will take our large freezer to my mom's for storage while we build the new house, so we'll still have access to that if we need it.  We will take advantage of some things from the food pantry, and we'll pick up what fresh items we need in the way of fermented dairy (kefir, yogurt) or produce.

We're also trying to convert to a gluten free, low sugar diet to help alleviate some yeast overgrowth issues that some of us have had (and prevent it in the rest of us).  This means we'll be incorporating more coconut items, garlic, oregano, and ginger, all of which are natural antifungals.  We'll be experimenting with some more fermented veggie recipes, and be eating more veggies as a family to add good bacteria to our guts.  We're doing well with our goal of more veggies at each meal, and slowly are getting there with a healthier diet (not that it was too bad compared to the standard American diet to begin with).  I'm using The Wahl's Protocol, Body Ecology, and The Microbiome Diet as resources for recipes, etc. to help us with this transition.

Breakfasts:

  • overnight crockpot oatmeal with unsweetened coconut, chia seeds, and flax meal served with blueberries or dried fruit (dried fruit for those not dealing with yeast)
  • eggs and sauteed/steamed veggies
  • smoothies with yogurt, almond milk, flax seed meal, and fruit
  • almond flour muffins with blueberries or chocolate and orange flavor (chocolate made with cocoa powder, so not added sugar)
  • yogurt with grain free granola
  • paleo zucchini pancakes with homemade blueberry syrup (super simple:  1 cup berries, 2 T water, 1/2 t cinnamon cooked at a simmer for 5-10 minutes), chicken sausage, sweet potato hash, and fried eggs
Lunches:
  • leftovers
  • veggie sticks and garlic hummus
  • salads with homemade dressing and fermented veggies
Dinner:
  • crock pot black beans and brown rice with fixin's (avocado, salsa, plain yogurt, cheese) and paleo cornbread (I might add in some tumeric into the cornbread for added color and nutrition)
  • black bean and smoked turkey chili with leftover cornbread
  • coconut chicken curry soup in the crockpot with salad with fermented veggies
  • veggie stirfry over coconut rice or quinoa with Asian cabbage slaw and frozen egg rolls
  • lentil and sweet potato soup with kale salad or veggies and dip (incorporate fermented veggies)
  • Friday night pizza night with gluten free pizza crust and salad (x4)
  • egg sandwiches on gluten free bread (love the first one with garlic and feta) and salad w/ fermented veggies
  • meatball subs (using gluten free bread or rice) with peppers and onions and salad w/ fermented veggies
  • lentil sloppy joes over coconut quinoa and salad
  • black bean tacos with corn tortillas and fixin's (avocado, salsa, plain yogurt, cheese, jalapenos, and spoon of fermented veggies) or taco bowls over quinoa/rice
Snacks:
  • nuts
  • gluten free crackers and cheese
  • fresh fruit (mostly low sugar varieties like berries or grapefruit) or veggies
  • air popped popcorn with garlic and oregano (both are natural antifungals for yeast)
  • almond flour muffins
  • grain free granola with plain yogurt
  • coconut chia seed pudding
  • homemade jello with blueberries and coconut milk
  • hard boiled eggs seasoned with oregano and garlic