Category: Simple Living

Simple, Healthy, Cheap! A Healthy, Delicious Dessert for $.40 per Serving!

English: Coconut oil in solid state
English: Coconut oil in solid state (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Leave it to the Mennonites and Amish to have a repertoire of tasty, fairly healthy and very simple and inexpensive foods. Many of their cultural dishes are worth learning to make and then improving upon by substituting healthier ingredients.

This classic dessert is called: Shoo-fly Pie. It is especially good to make if you are wanting a sweet treat and are needing an iron boost. Using organic molasses in the dish provides 20 – 30% of your daily iron value, depending on how large of a piece you eat (1 Tbs of organic molasses contains approx. 15% of your daily iron value plus 730mg potassium).

Cost Per:

Family of 5 – $2.05

Serving – $.40

*prices are approximate and will vary by where one lives and other factors.

Shopping List:

Pie Shell

1 ½ cups whole wheat flour – Fresh ground flour from white wheat berries is best.

½ tsp salt – Sea salt.

¼ cup butter or coconut oil – Coconut oil is one of the healthiest oils available and if kept at less than 77 degrees, will be solid and act similar to butter in making the pie crust. Coconut oil can sometimes be found with other oils or in specialty and health food markets.

1/8 cup water

½ Tbs rice or apple cider vinegar – White vinegar is good for cleaning, but not so good for cooking. Find rice or apple cider vinegar near the white vinegar.

Filling

¾ cup organic molasses – Organic molasses can be found in specialty and health food markets or ordered online (try Vitacost ). Using regular molasses greatly reduces the nutritional content of the desert.

½ cup hot water

½ tsp baking soda – Baking soda is usually found with other baking products.

1 egg – Brown, free range eggs if you can.

¾ cup whole wheat flour – Fresh ground flour from white wheat berries is best.

½ cup cane sugar – Look for sugar in the raw, demerara, sucanat, or cane sugar. They can usually be found near white sugar. White, refined sugar is one of the least healthiest foods on the market and there are so many better options. You could also try making this pie with honey, but would need to cut back on the molasses and water by ¼ cup each.

¼ cup butter or coconut oil – Coconut oil is one of the healthiest oils available and if kept at less than 76 degrees, will be solid and act similar to butter in making the pie crust. Coconut oil can sometimes be found with other oils or in specialty and health food markets.

¼ tsp salt – Sea salt.

Instructions:

  1. Make the pie crust 1 hour before making the filling and baking the pie.
  2. Mix 1 ½ cups whole wheat flour with the ½ tsp of salt.
  3. Measure the ¼ cup butter or coconut oil into a bowl and mix it together with your hands. It should seem like crumbs when you are done, although the coconut oil variation may be a little smoother, depending on how warm the room and your hands are.
  4. Fill a liquid measuring cup with 1/8 cup water, add the ½ Tbs vinegar to it and stir. Then add this liquid combination to the flour and butter / oil mixture. Mix with a spoon or your hands and form into a ball.
  5. Refrigerate for 1 hour.
  6. After 1 hour, preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  7. Make the bottom layer of the pie: measure ¾ cup molasses and pour into a large bowl, measure ½ cup hot water into the bowl, and then stir in ½ tsp baking soda. Be sure you have a large bowl, as the baking soda will cause the whole bowl of molasses and water to foam up quite a bit. Fun to watch, not fun to clean up if using too small a bowl.
  8. Beat the egg in a small bowl, then beat or whisk it into the molasses mixture.
  9. For the top layer of the pie: measure ¾ cup flour and pour into a medium bowl, measure ½ cup cane sugar and pour into the bowl, then mix in the butter or coconut oil with hands. It should seem like crumbs when mixed.
  10. Bring out the pie crust dough ball from the refrigerator.
  11. Press or roll it out flat between two sheets of wax or parchment paper and put it into a 9 inch pie pan.
  12. Pour the molasses mixture into the pie pan on top of the crust.
  13. Gently crumble the topping layer over the molasses mixture in the pie pan. Don’t press it down / don’t press on it.
  14. Bake for 15 minutes at 400 degrees, then drop to 350 degrees and cook for another 30 to 40 minutes. Knife test the pie at 30 minutes to see if set (knife should come out clean, not wet).

Do you like what you see here? Did you try the recipe? Would you like more healthy, simple and cheap recipes for your family?

My eBook: Simple, Healthy, Cheap! A Simple Life’s Guide To Home Economics: Beginning Cooking, will be available in a few weeks. This recipe is from the Intermediate Cooking book, which will follow it up a few months later.

Want a healthy cookbook now? I have found a great eBook, Eat Good For Life that is worth a try for only $4.95!

Saving 101: Save On Food Costs

Saving 101 Food Costs

We continue our series on ways to save money by focusing on food costs this week.

Eat In More, Eat Out Less

Savings: $10’s to 100’s

It is a simple fact that it costs a lot less to make something yourself rather than eat it out. Even the bulk food purchases that a restaurant may make, does not offset the cost of running a restaurant (employees, building, overhead, etc…). It also doesn’t offset their profit. If you are used to the rich, flavorful and even exotic foods from eating out, it may be hard to make the change and eat in. If the budget still allows, you can make the change gradually vs. cutting yourself off completely. I will admit, this was a hard one for me. I have learned over the years how to make a lot of ethnic foods, but there are some I can not master. 

Example 1: A young couple with 2 incomes used to eat out 2 or 3 times a week. They were spending about $100 a week this way (about $400 per month). When one of the their schedules were reduced to ½ time, they cut back to eating out 1 day a week. This way, they were only spending about $25 to $40 a week, cutting the budget by more than half.

Example 2: A couple starting a family reduces down to the husband as the sole provider for the family. They were eating out about 1 time a week (about $120 per month) and they cut back to eating out once per month (about $30 per month). 

Compare Store Prices

Savings: $10’s to $100’s

It is pretty surprising how much prices can vary on an item between stores. Even in your favorite discount or bulk store, the price for certain items may not be the best or lowest. Keeping track of the prices of items only takes a couple of minutes after every shop. Then, every time you shop, only purchase the items from the store you are at that has the best price for the item.

Example: Here is a spreadsheet of some items, with prices tracked per store:

  Costco   WalMart   WinCo  
Alfalfa Sprouts            
Alfredo Sauce Mix            
Apples – Fuji 9.29 for 5.5 lb

$1.69

    1.28 per lb

$1.28

Apples – Gala     3.22 for 3 lb

$1.07

4.98 for 5 lb

$1.00

Apples – Pink Lady         .98 per lb

$0.98

Avacado     .78 each

$0.78

.88 each

$0.88

Baby Wipes 15.49 for 704 wipes

$0.02

7.97 for 288 wipes

$0.03

   
Baking Powder – No aluminum         2.51 for 10 oz

$0.25

Baking Soda         1.87 for 4 lb

$0.47

Bananas 1.39 per 4 lb

$0.35

.48 per lb

$0.48

.48 per lb

$0.48

Bean Sprouts         .98 for 8 oz, lb

$1.96

Better Than Bouillon         2.88 per jar

$2.88

Blueberries            
Bread – Bagels 4.49 for 12 bagels

$0.37

2.00 for 6

$0.33

3.48 for 12 bagels

$0.29

Bread – Buns     1.14 for 8 buns

$0.14

.87 for 8 buns

$0.11

Bread – Loaf – No Corn Syrup 3.89 for 2 loaves

$1.95

2.50 per loaf

$2.50

2.28 per loaf

$2.28

Bread – Puglaese 4.49 for 2 loaves

$2.25

    1.68 per loaf

$1.68

Bread – Sandwich Rolls 1.89 for 36 oz, lb

$0.84

       
Broccoli            
Butter 7.69 for 6 lb

$1.28

1.98 for 1 lb

$1.98

1.66 for 1 lb

$1.66

So, when you go to Costco, only get baby wipes, bananas, loaf bread and butter. At WinCo, get your apples, bagels, and buns. You don’t have to go to multiple store in one week if you don’t have the time, just stock up on a couple of weeks or a month supply at the one store each week. Many things can be frozen for weeks at a time.

NOTE: I originally wrote this for my old blog 4 years ago. I don’t maintain this list anymore as it is mainly in my head. Note that some of the prices aren’t available much anymore. 

What is your best way to save on food costs?


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Saving 101: Purchasing From Community Vs. Corporations

Saving 101 Purchase From Commnity

As we last read in our Saving 101 Series, many people have had success saving money by moving from large cities to smaller, rural communities. This week, we find some more benefits of living in a rural community or at least further from town and closer to land where food is raised and grown.

Rent From Individuals vs. Corporations

Savings: $100’s

If someone needs to rent vs. purchase a home, it has been noticed that one can generally save money when renting from an individual vs. renting from a corporation. There is also usually more personal attention and the ability for more flexibility with what one can do with the property, which may lead to other savings down the road.

Example 1: A family that moved from a major metro area to a small metro area found that another family was going out on the mission field for a year and needed renters. The Missionary family is renting the 4-bedroom farmhouse, on a multi-acre farm, for only $650 a month. However, one of the bedrooms has the stored belongings of the family out on mission. This is a place that should be renting for about $850 or more per month.

Example 2: The landlords of another family (we will call them family A) also own the house next door to family A. The house has been vacant for a while. When some friends of family A moved to town (we will call them family B), the landlords were willing to rent the house to them. For only a couple hundred dollars a month plus some upkeep on the house, family B have settled in and are very content with their place.

Steaks and Roasts for $2 to $5 per Pound

Savings: $10’s

You do not need to pay $5 to $10 a pound for roasts or $10 to $20 a pound for organic, grain fed, free range beef steaks. There are Internet sites that can hook you up with “local” farmers (even if “local” turns out to be a couple hours away). Some farmers post on Craigslist (Craigslist.org) or FB Groups when they have meat available for sale. Since you are purchasing in bulk, it would be worth the drive to get 6 months of meat for about half or less than what you would pay in the stores.

Example 1: A family found a cow at auction, within a reasonable drive from town. They went in with another family, purchased the cow, and sent it off to be butchered. The total cost of the meat per pound was about $3.25, including all kinds of cuts of meat.

Example 2: Purchasing $50 to $100 of meat at a time and freezing the bulk of it, a family found a local farmer about 1 hour drive from the city and purchased meat from him as follows: $2.50 per lb for ground, $3.50 per lb for roasts, $4.50 per lb for steaks.

How have you been able to save money by being plugged into your local and/or nearby rural community?


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Saving Money 101: Saving By Moving

Saving 101 Save By Moving

If you are just starting out on how to simplify your life and save money, or even if you have been living a frugal life for awhile, the tips in the Saving 101 series are foundational tips meant to help you think about how to save money, and give practical examples, in each area of life.

#1 – Move to a Less Expensive Area – Housing

Savings: $100’s to 1000’s

By moving just 30 to 60 miles / minutes from a major city, one may be able to save $100’s of dollars a month for rent or $1000’s of dollars off of the price for a house.

Example 1: A family moved from an upscale suburb of a major city to a lower scale suburb of the same city, about 30 minutes further from the city. The rent there is $300 a month less on average. The commute cost increase was $60 to $80 per month

Example 2: Another family moved from a very large metropolitan area to a smaller, but still metro area. The commute is about the same (cost wise) and the wage is about the same. However, a comparative house is about $300,000 less in the smaller metro area. This is our example from moving from Seattle to Boise. You can purchase a good house in Boise suburbs for $100,00 / $150,000. Houses in Seattle don’t come under $300,000.

#2 – Move to a Less Expensive Area – Utilities

Savings: $10’s

One lessor know way to save money in utilities is to simply move to a sub-burb from a major city or to move to a less expensive state. There are maps available (just Google or Bing) that show the average cost of utilities by major metropolitan areas.

Example 1: The family that moved from the upscale suburb to the lower-scale suburb saw about a 50% decrease in Water, Sewer, and Garbage. They also saw about a 25% decrease in Power & Heating.

#3 – Move to a Less Expensive Area – Food, Gas, Necessities

Savings: $100’s

Generally, the cost of food, gas and necessities goes down as one moves farther from the city centers and moves more into the rural parts of the country. However, savings can also be achieved, for those who want to stay in the major cities, by making planned day trips to the further out areas and stocking up at the markets in the rural areas. Also, there are many things that may also be purchased online for less than found in the stores in the cities.

Example 1: While still living in a major city on the coast, plan a day trip to do the bulk of the shopping for the month. This could include driving two hours to the local farming community to pick up meat, grains, produce, honey, etc… then driving back towards town 1 hour and stopping at a Costco, Walmart, Discount Grocery Stores, etc… for the needed non-perishable items for the month.

Have you ever moved to save money? Share your story with us!

Subscribe to: A Simple Life Too (see the bar at the top or on the right) to get the next installment in the Saving 101 series.


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A Simple Truth: Simple Pleasures

Simple Truth Simple PleasuresWhat has happened to us?

I walk around my part of the world and I see so many of the youth there… but not really there. They are like the zombies they so like to watch in the movies. Occasionally, they will wake up for a second as they look at their Iphone, Android, etc… Then they go back to sleep, standing up. I even see adults like this.

How many people spend their days looking to devices, technology, and media to fulfill them? If it does, it only does it for a minute, and then it is done and gone.

How many times have I checked my email, waiting for something special, something amazing, but nothing comes? I am guilty of looking for life in technology, but technology is not alive and it can not give life.

I know what I really need to be doing and where I really need to be going to get life – to the Life-giver, Yahweh / Yeshua. I need to be spending time with Him, not reading another email or watching another movie. I need to plug into what He has given me to get life from, His Spirit, His Word, and the good remnants of His World.

I also need to look at the simple pleasures of my time here, the simple, beautiful things that God has given me, and gain my life from them. If you are wondering what that looks like, I share some here with you :

  • Watching my girls twirl and dance to a worship song, full of music and life.

  • Seeing the first flowers of Spring bloom and bringing a few into the house to decorate our table.

  • A lovely homemade chicken curry dinner, after three days of eating beans and rice.

  • Sitting with my church group and talking honestly about where we are at in our walk and where God is taking us.

  • Sitting outside and feeling the sun sink into my body.

  • Feeling the Spirit of God speak to me, during prayer, worship, bible reading or meditation.

  • Watching my girls explore the simple backyard world full of plants and bugs.

  • The view of the mountains from my back window, snow-capped one day, brown and barren the next.

This is what a simple life is about. Getting rid of everything that distracts us. I haven’t perfected this yet, but I know it is where I want to be heading.

What are the simple pleasures in your life? What keeps you from time with God? What do you find yourself putting before God?

Super Simple Recipes: Best Meal Ever

Super Simple Recipes Best Meal Ever

I don’t use this title lightly.

I recently made one of the simplest dinners and it was one of the best meals our family has ever had. Everyone liked it, including our three small children.

We acquired a fresh caught salmon.

Foolishly, I tried to fillet it. I thought after watching a video about how to do it, that it would be a breeze. Hah. I gave up after 15 minutes

My husband, currently into the Paleo Diet / Primal Blueprint (I don’t agree with the evolutionary precept behind it), sent me a link on how to grill (or broil) a whole fish. http://www.marksdailyapple.com/how-to-grill-a-whole-fish/#axzz1zCZz0Lc4 .

I salted and oiled the salmon and broiled it about 10 minutes per side.

While waiting, I sautéed some fresh green beans in olive oil, chopped garlic, and salt for 15 – 20 minutes.

That is it.

So simple, but it was so delicious. We really enjoyed the salty, crispy fish skin.

To summarize:

1 whole salmon

olive oil

salt

fresh green beans

chopped garlic

Less than 10 minutes of work in the kitchen. There was about 5 minutes of prep time to salt and oil the salmon, one flip of the salmon halfway through the cook time, and another couple of minutes of time stirring the green beans once or twice.

Bonus: We got three meals out of the fish.

Here are some cookbooks that have helped me find and develop our simple cooking:

Where Does My Stuff Come From: Food

So you have signed up for a simpler life.

You have your chickens, your garden, your canning equipment and you are ready to go!

And then you realize that this is a LOT of work and you can’t possibly feed yourself and your family on just the food you are growing and raising, at least not yet.

Or maybe your idea of a simple life is purchasing all of your food pre-made and prepackaged.

Either way, you have to go to the market.

You Want Real Food

As you are standing in the market, you know that you want real, fresh food. Maybe you want some convenience foods too, but you want them to be natural, right?

So you start to read the labels of containers of things that say they are natural, and you realize that there are things in here that you weren’t aware grew in nature.

Or maybe you aren’t aware of what is in the food because it is cleverly labeled? I know that I fell for it…

The Article You Don’t Want To Read

My husband shared this link with me the other day. It is just a small list of “Natural Cereals That Aren’t.”

http://eatthis.menshealth.com/slideshow/9-natural-cereals-arent#sharetagsfocus

I read this and wished I hadn’t. I don’t always have time to make homeade granola (seriously) and have opted to purchased some of these cereals on this list in the past.

And then the idea came to me – why don’t I start a multi-part series on my blog about where our stuff comes from. Not just food, but everything – our clothing, our furniture, our electronics. What is in them, who made them, and are they good for us?

My next blog post on this topic will be the results of asking a couple of companies (for which I currently have a container of a food item that they produce) if their food contains any GMO ingredients or other additives that aren’t made from truly natural food.

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April Schroader is a freelance writer and blogger. She is available to guest post on your blog, write a quality article for your magazine, help with a non-fiction book project, or write quality content for your website. To contact her, visit her portfolio and click on the Hire Me link.

If Life Is So Simple, Why Am I So Exhausted

Cloth Diaper
What is simple living to you?

So you left the big city, moved to the country, bought a farm, and are growing and canning most of your own foods?

Or maybe you just downsized a bit in the suburbs and are using cloth napkins and cloth diapers?

Maybe you sold everything and are backpacking around the country?

But there is a problem.

Life is supposed to be simple, but you are exhausted and are not sure you can go on. You are not sure this life is so simple after all.

What went wrong?

The Cloth Diapers Almost Killed Me

As we followed God into a simpler life, we also followed the crowd of people that we were around us. This crowd was doing really neat things: gardening, canning, using cloth diapers for their babies, making their own laundry soap, growing their own herbs and treating their own ailments, and about one hundred other things that looked great.

But they weren’t all for me.

First off, I am not strong. Years of hard (read: indulgent) living really took a toll on me and I have a couple of physical issues.

Second, I have small children and am in my early 40s now. I was 36 when I had my first baby!

Third, I was raised in suburban yuppiedom and this was ALL new to me.

So, when I tried to use cloth diapers with baby number one, and then pregnant with number two I tried to setup a large garden, I came to the end of myself.

Backsliding or Smart

I am actually not sure how I kept even the basics going in those days. It had to be God because I was so tired, I could hardly move my body throughout the day. The extra loads of laundry and leaky diapers was just too much and I gave it all up.

The garden sat with lot of lovely plants that bloomed instead of getting harvested.

I went back to disposable diapers and purchased already made natural stuff like soap.

And I stopped being so judgmental of people who weren’t doing what I was doing.

Are You Sure?

Are you sure you are doing what you are doing for the right reasons? Or do you wonder how anyone survived back in the “old days”? Well, many did not (survive, that is). The quality of life for all but the upper classes, those that could afford servants, wasn’t very great.

I think that these are great goals to be aimed for – off grid lifestyles, simple living, getting back to the country, etc… But I also think that it is no longer simple living if one is being broken or crushed by it.

A friend of mine emailed me about an article in Above Rubies magazine. It said that women with young children should just focus on meals and laundry. Yes, that to me is A Simple Life Too!

How do you live simply where you are at? I would especially like to hear from people in large urban areas.

 

 

Is “Shop Till You Drop” a Good Thing?

Is_Shop_Drop_Good

So what are the catch phrases these days?

Shop till you drop!

Become a Fashionista!

Do it for yourself because no one else will!

Work hard, play hard!

What is the media trying to tell us and is it a good thing?

 The Reality for Most People

Some statistics say that the average family spends about $1700 a year on clothing, with women spending about $600 of that amount (Bureau of Labor Statistics).

Please understand that I don’t decry this amount. But I ask, do we really need to spend even that much per year? And does anyone really need to spend more?

Most of the families that I know now spend a lot less. Many have little or no budget, maybe $200 a year.

That might be hard for you to hear. That might even seem a bit crazy to you.

But what is even crazier is that these families still have plenty of clothing and they are, for the most part, quite content with what they have.

A Full Closet With a $200 Clothing Budget

When my husband and I committed ourselves to Jesus, we walked away from my salary to have children and gave up many things. This included a clothing budget. For three years, our clothing budget was around $200, and 90% of that went towards my husband’s clothing since he was working out of the home.

That is correct – mom, one girl and then a second girl, had a full wardrobe with $20 a year. And no, we did not make our own clothing. God, as He promised, provided us with clothing.

We did not ask anyone for clothing, we only prayed for it. And it came! Friends and family would come to us with bags and boxes over those three years, and my girls had so many dresses that we ended up passing some on to others. We also have a neat Grandma who has given myself and the girls a few new things, which is always fun and a true blessing to us.

And me? Again, God provided. People would say, hey, I got this skirt but it is too long for me, do you think you would like it? And it would not only be something that I liked, but it would match a top I already had! Clothing even came from distant family members that had no idea of our situation.

Just a Little Bit More Now

Although I was happy to make do with what I had, I did get to spend $200 this year on clothing for myself. It was like WOW, I get to spend that much!!! I used to be so ungrateful for what I had so many years ago.

Now I can’t even imagine needing that much over the next few years. I am blessed to have what I have.

 What is your clothing budget?

What if you “fasted” from purchasing clothing for a year, do you think you would appreciate what you have more?

 How do you feel about how the media portrays woman’s shopping habits?

Rebuttal to: 30 Things Every Woman Should Have or Know by the Time She is 30

Have you ever read an article or post that you just HAD to respond to? This is my rebuttle to a Huffington Post article.
Have you ever read an article or post that you just HAD to respond to? This is my rebuttal to a Huffington Post article. 


I know that I was originally going to post on another subject, and I will soon, but this just had to be written.

I was reading the Huffington Post and I came across this “big deal” about what women should know and have by the time they are 30 and I was grieved.

It was deceptive and full of empty suggestions.

So, I have written a rebuttal. Here is the original post on Huffington Post.

By 30, you should have…

  1. Either one husband or waiting for the one who should be your husband. If you date and leave behind boyfriends, you will leave behind bits of you that you can never recover and carry with you bits of them that you can not get rid of.
  2. A grateful heart that is blessed by what others have given you.
  3. Clothing that you can feel pretty, but modest in.
  4. A humility that is OK to go places with the old and battered things in your life.
  5. A youth you are not ashamed of.
  6. A past that glorifies God.
  7. Children that will take care of you in your old age, even if they are “adopted” from another family.
  8. To not have to hide anything with an individual email, voice mail or bank account.
  9. A house full of laughing, joyful children or a job that allows you to come in contact with them.
  10. Friends that know what you really need.
  11. Accepted that you are not Superwoman and it is OK to need others and their help.
  12. Given money to help others who have less.
  13. The belief that helping others is better than serving self.
  14. A healthy attitude toward care of oneself with out being a slave to ones vanity.
  15. A solid start on a family or a mission.

By 30, you should know… 

  1. How to love others more than ourselves. Or at least as much…
  2. That you should not wait any longer to have children if you want them and can have them. It gets harder to take care of little ones when you are older.
  3. How to humble ourselves and admit we are wrong.
  4. When to love more and when to walk away and pray.
  5. How to kiss our spouses with out any thought of controlling them.
  6. Where the people are in the world that still need Jesus… and food, water, clothing and an education.
  7. How to not end up alone – even if you never marry or have children.
  8. To go to Jesus when your soul needs soothing.
  9. How to love who you are as one of God’s creations.
  10. That you can be healed of the hurts of your childhood and help other children with the same issues.
  11. That you should do everything for God and let money and love follow.
  12. That there is help for your addictions and that everyone is struggling with something.
  13. How to be a trustworthy person.
  14. To apologize, even if it isn’t your fault.
  15. That we should learn as much of this as we can before we turn 30.

I will admit that I was closer to 40 before I learned a lot of these things, but at least I was willing to still learn in my “old age.”

What would you like to have or know by the time you are 30 (or 40, or 50)?