A Simple Life’s Sample Weekly Menu

So, how does one eat simple, healthy, and cheap??? Well, I don’t claim to have all the answers or what is best for everyone, but, I can share a sample of a weekly menu here. Contact me if you would be interested in any recipes.

Breakfast:

1 day of cold cereal – low sugar like Wheaties

1 day of pancakes – whole grain + fruit and maple syrup

3 day of oatmeal, sometimes with raisins

2 days of Cream of Wheat, sometimes with fruit

Snack:

3 days fruit

1 day dried fruit and nuts

2 days bread

1 day leftover hot cereal

Lunch:

2 days beet soup

2 days corn and potato chowder

2 days of leftovers

1 day of salad

(Note: Husband eats lunch at work, provided by his work for cheap)

Dinner:

Mac and Cheese – the really unhealthy box kind, because we like it! + mixed veggies

Lamb Curry + rice (the 2 lbs of local lamb was a lovely gift)

Snack – popcorn

Fried rice (with a little chicken)

Chicken with marinara, cheese and green beans

Salmon with plum chutney + salad and flat-bread

Leftovers

We spend about $100 a week on groceries. We don’t coupon, stockpile, etc… Just look for good deals and make use of local, fresh foods!

 

Here is one mom who only spent $44 for the week! http://moneysavingmom.com/2013/10/gretchens-44-grocery-shopping-trip-and-weekly-menu-plan-2.html

 

My Testimony Part 2: How I Graduated High School With Almost No Practical Skills

2013_Spring 133 I was raised in the suburbanite, public school system. I was encouraged to excel at academics, participate in extra-curricular activities, maybe get a part-time job when I was older, and spend the rest of my time playing, which became partying when I got older.

In my earlier years, I was not encouraged, nor taught how to: cook, clean a house, manage and wash laundry, grocery shop, budget, plan, and other homemaking skills. I eventually learned a few things by watching my parents. I do remember going to the store with my mom and watching dad cook on occasion, but other than that, I have little memory of any education in this area. Oh, there was a Home Economics class in 7th grade. I got a C, one of my worst grades. When I was a teen and my parents did make some attempts at showing me some household economics. I rejected it and them.

When I graduated from High School and was on my own, I really didn’t know how to take care of myself. I had mastered french toast, and could make mac and cheese and hamburger helper, but that was about it. I learned how to run the washer and dryer, but many items of clothing went into wrong cycles or didn’t get pre-treated for stains. I honestly though that I would eventually pay for the things I purchased on credit, and thought nothing of the constant piles of clothing, garbage and junk that laid around the house.

A few years later, I was married to someone without any better skills than I. We were seriously in debt, we were fat and unhealthy from the constant stream of processed, frozen and fast foods that we ate. The house was dirty and unhealthy and we did not know how to fix it up, and we lacked any motivation to keep it really clean.

When God got through to us, we were in bad shape. There was much to be convicted of and to redeem! But, God is capable, and so started the long haul to showing us how to have a better life. Shortly after we gave our lives to Jesus, we were convicted to stop preventing pregnancy and have children. However, I knew NOTHING about being a mother.

God knew what I needed and what I could handle. He provided people, books, the internet and the library as sources to teach me everything from “What To Expect When You Are Expecting” to how to cook, how to manage laundry, how to use the attachments of a vacuum cleaner (people really go around the edge of their house with that edger attachment???), and so much more.

It has been 7 years since I had my first child. I now have a weekly menu plan and shopping list, I know how much laundry I can get done in a week, I know how long before the toilets need to be cleaned, I know how to stay within a budget, and I can cook some really great food from scratch, including grinding my own wheat and making my own bread.

I praise God for what He has done, a great work in an entitled, lazy, disconnected woman.

May you find something in here to encourage you today.

My Testimony Part 1: Overcoming Anxiety & Depression

I have been planning on adding my testimony to my blog for awhile now. The problem is, every time I sat down to write it, I felt overwhelmed. There is so much God has done and changed in my life, how could I get this into one short (or even fairly long) blog post. So, I decided to break it up over a couple of posts and focus on various subjects or areas of what God has done in my life.

My past is a sad story, but unfortunately, so is most of humanities’ stories. There is abuse, addiction, divorce, more abuse, craziness, death, the public school system, social awkwardness, and very, very little life. In fact, even though I went to church most of my life, I did not know Christ was Life. I never even knew that I needed life, as living in death was the norm. But let me get a little more specific if this isn’t making sense to you.

Through a series of life events, I was pretty close to a basket case by the time I was in my late twenties. I suffered from depression and anxiety, in continuous cycles. I used drugs, alcohol, food, parties, men, television, music and whatever else would work to feel better, not think about how I felt, numb the feelings, get going when I couldn’t, and basically exist in this totally broken world.

I could hardly sleep at night and then when I finally did sleep, I would sometimes sleep for a day or two, if I didn’t have to get up and work or something. I was wound up like a top, continuously stressed and fretting about everything. I needed help, but I didn’t really know I needed help.

My father had been baptized and born again in my late teens and started to walk with God. He and his wife (who is really my mom now) found a great group of people and they prayed for each other and their families. And (unfortunately, I think) I was one of their major prayer topics, for many years.

I stopped doing drugs and ended up back with my family for awhile and going to church. Things stabilized a bit, but I ended up walking away from God, my family, and church after about a year. I was able to go to college, get a job, get married, and live a “normal” American life. But I wasn’t satisfied and I still suffered form a lot of anxiety and depression. So, instead of illegal drugs and alcohol, I turned to the legal ones – anti-anxiety and anti-depression medications. They would help for a few weeks or months, and then I would find myself in worse shape than before. I gained weight and stopped caring about how I looked. I just kind of slumped into a funk.

Then we found out that one of my issues was that I had sleep apnea. Getting diagnosed was a good thing, and getting the help of a CPAP machine improved my sleep and made some improvement to the anxiety and depression issues, but it did not cure them. The anxiety and depression didn’t go away until I really met God one day. I spent a whole weekend in repentance and connecting to the Spirit of God. That made a major breakthrough in the healing that I needed.

My anxiety and depression, at least partially, were the result of my disconnect with God. I was empty. I did not have Life in me. I was full of wanting this world and people in this world to fill me, but alas, it and they can not.

As I learned of God, studied His Word, learned to pray, learned to spend time hearing Him, and learned to submit my will to His will, my anxiety and depression faded away. And as I continue to walk, and learn, and grow, other issues in my life are also fading away.

I never, ever want to go back to the drug taking, party girl I once was. I never, ever want to go back to the depression pill popping, American Dreamer I once was either. I am grateful for where God has me now. It is such a simple, beautiful life.

 

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!

Helping Others – Mission India

Literacy rate by country based on CIA World Fa...
Literacy rate by country based on CIA World Factbook data; SVG version of Image:Literacy_rate_world.PNG based on Image:BlankMap-World6.svg (which is public domain) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There is so much need in the world.

You have to close your eyes and keep really, really busy to not know that there are a billion people on this planet suffering from the lack of basic needs, lack of love, lack of life.

One country on my heart recently as our family did a study is India. Most of India does not know Jesus. Much of India is extremely poor and in bondage to the lie that thy have to stay that way because that is how they were born.

So, along comes an organization that says that people in India don’t have to stay illiterate, stay impoverished, stay in the dark. They provide literacy training for adults who can’t read, don’t know how to manage their money and don’t know that they don’t have to stay stuck in the position they are in.

Here is a link to their site: http://www.missionindia.org/media I have set it to the page with their videos, as they are so compelling and tell the story better than I can. My favorite story is Unnoticed: A Literacy Story. I am sure it will catch your heart as it did mine.

 

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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