small steps backwards


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Raw milk! And other blessings.

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We’ve been without a raw milk source for quite a while but today I picked up my first gallon from a local farmer. This milk was in the cow yesterday and today is in my fridge! The best part of this source is how affordable it is. The other options I found in the area were $7-10/gallon; this farmer charges only $5/gallon. That is less than pasturized organic milk. I’m so thankful for this delicious food at a price our family can afford.

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The other blessing this week was finding excellent deals on some items we needed. Because of a great sale at Fred Meyer last week I purchased multiple Seventh Generation products. I bought four bottles of dish soap at $1/each, two rolls paper towels (which we need for our birth kit) at $0.55/each, two boxes of tissue at $0.31/each and a box of trash bags for $0.79. I had some coupons printed from their website and found more at Fred Meyer near the product end cap. Also, today I was able to “purchase” four boxes of Hefty zip freezer bags for nothing! I’ve been wanting to stock up on these in order to preserve produce this summer and the Albertson’s nearest us had a coupon that paired with the store’s double coupon made them free! I was also able to get two big bags of organic overripe bananas (about 15lbs total) for $0.99. I am so thankful for these blessings as I had used much of our grocery budget on stocking purchases this month and wasn’t sure how I’d afford some necessities to finish out the month. I’m not sure how intricate a part God plays in my finding the right coupons or bruised bananas but I’m thankful that He has been so faithful to provide for our family, whether it be a $3200 medical bill or free freezer bags.

(These little shopping trips were not in line with our ideal of two to three shopping trips a month but I’m happy to make the exception for such deals.)


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How does our garden grow?

Our garden is growing! Finally, after a few months of worrying over our ‘babies’, we are seeing some progress! We tried to start everything from seed this year but unfortunately not everything took. This last week we purchased lettuce and celery starts at the farmers’ market near us to supplement our tomatoes, snap peas, pole beans, cucumbers, carrots and other vegetables.  Here are a few pics of the progress; forgive the poor photography skills!

snap peas

snap peas...along with all the volunteer tomato starts from last year's fallen comrades.

carrots, some celery

carrots, some celery

our little cilantro starts

our little cilantro starts

our strawberries finally giving a good harvest (we hope!)

our strawberries finally giving a good harvest (we hope!)

There are more but many, like the lettuce and pole beans, are not ready for their photo op yet.

On to the beautiful things that come up without any effort on our part!

Ready to erupt Callas with lots of volunteer violas

Ready to erupt Callas with lots of volunteer violas

Peony

Peony

our beautiful pink dogwood blossoms

our beautiful pink dogwood blossoms

The rosemary bush could use a trim!

The rosemary bush could use a trim!

And lastly, my frugal porch decor. I spent $14 on annuals this week at Fred Meyer and still have half a flat of petunias to use up. I made three hanging baskets (using baskets and soil I already had) and filled four or five pots as well as a planter in the front flower bed.

a little color for the porch!

a little color for the porch!

a friendly basket near our front door

a friendly basket near our front door


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Resources for healthy eating: Ask!

Some of my best deals on groceries have come by just asking. By becoming curious about merchant practices I’ve been able to find nourishing, affordable foods.

If you are slowly working more whole organic foods into your budget while shopping at a conventional grocery store, one easy thing that you can do is become curious about your store’s policies. Specifically, ask about when they mark down their meat and dairy products (how many days before expiration and what time of day). If you notice something near expiration, ask if they are ready to mark it down. I recently was able to purchase a few organic, free range whole chickens for $1.79/lb (a great deal on these) because they were two days away from the use by/freeze by date and I asked the butcher if he could give me a better price.

Some produce is also marked down as it ripens. I often find organic greens, potatoes, tomatoes or bananas marked down at our supermarket. If I notice some very ripe or bruised bananas I will ask the produce manager to mark them down for me and they are often willing. At my local Fred Meyer, they mark down to .29/lb on bananas and at the Albertsons near us a full bag of overripe bananas is only $0.99! I use these for smoothies and baking.

As you become more knowledgeable about purchasing healthy foods for your family, you may be using coops or other sources that don’t mark down their prices. However, the practice of being curious can continue to serve you well. You can ask around about additional resources, ask about sharing bulk orders, ask about taking turns with your farmer’s other customers to pick up your raw milk. We’ve been able to share bulk orders of organic olive and coconut oil at terrific prices (around $20/gallon each) and we recently found a raw milk source that only charges $5/gallon. Both of these came through asking questions of the people around us who I know eat similarly.

Asking questions, being curious, becoming knowledgeable about resources are great ways to save your family money as you feed them the most nourishing foods.


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Coconut rice and beans

This is a very favorite of ours for a simple, nourishing meal. I tasted something like this at a friend’s house, then created my own recipe based on what I thought was in it and what we had at home. This makes enough for two meals for our family.

I tend to cook food to taste, rather than use exact measurements. These are the measurements I used last time but it probably changes a little every time. I usually use leftover black beans and I try to soak the rice for optimal nutrition.

Coconut rice and beans
1 cup brown rice, uncooked
1 can full fat coconut milk
1/4 medium onion, chopped finely
1-2 cups cooked black turtle beans
sea salt to taste
  1. Combine rice, coconut milk, and onion in medium pot.
  2. Bring to boil then let simmer on low for about 45 minutes, until rice is cooked.
  3. Stir in cooked beans and sea salt to taste. Let sit in covered pot for about 3-5 minutes. Enjoy!

I’ll add a picture next time I prepare this! Find more delicious ideas over here.


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This week’s dinner menu

Here is our dinner menu for the next week. I’m experimenting with monthly menu planning and once to twice a month grocery shopping this month so it will be interesting to see how this all works out for us. I made my big grocery trip to Costco, Trader Joe’s and Fred Meyer on Friday, had a produce coop pickup on Saturday and so far have spent about $160. With the careful planning of an entire month’s menu, I was able to buy about 90% of our groceries organic!

Sunday – Taco Salad, apples
Monday – Oven roasted chicken, bread, green salad
Tuesday – Shrimp fried rice, green salad
Wednesday – Saucy broccoli chicken bake, rice, fruit salad
Thursday – Nachos, fruit smoothies
Friday – Spaghetti with brown rice pasta, green salad
Sunday – Leftovers/Eat out

Our simple oven roasted chicken ‘recipe’? Rub olive oil all over the outside of the chicken, then liberally sprinkle salt and pepper over top. Bake uncovered at 375°F degrees for about an hour (depending on size of chicken), until internal temp of chicken is at least 160°F. This always yields me a delicious and simple meal. Don’t forget to save the carcass to make broth!

Find more great ideas over here.