small steps backwards


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Simple Gluten Free Meals

We’ve recently had an opportunity to serve a family in our church who follow a gluten free diet. It can be intimidating to prepare a meal for someone with a dietary restriction but there is no need to stock your cupboards with unusual flours or buy expensive prepared foods. Here are ten ideas I came up with, all around 30 minutes and $10 to prepare.

Rotisserie chicken, fresh orange slices, bagged salad mix
With this one you could just pick it up on your way, no prep required.

Chili or taco soup, tortilla chips, sliced pineapple
As easy as cans of corn, beans and tomatoes, ground beef and season.

Meatloaf, mashed potatoes, green salad
Substitute rice chex for the bread crumbs or leave them out altogether.

Chicken curry, rice, steamed broccoli
Chicken thighs, cooked with veggies in coconut milk and curry paste…yum.

Rice pasta or spaghetti squash with marinara sauce, green salad, apple slices
Trader Joe’s sells a very good brown rice pasta for about $2/bag.

Crockpot pork roast, rice, green salad
Here is a great rub recipe.

Pulled pork, baked potatoes, grapes
I’ve heard the Lloyd’s brand is gluten free and already prepared

Baked salmon, green salad, carrot sticks
Any fish could be great, whatever is on sale.

Crustless quiche, fruit salad
We really like this quiche recipe, just don’t make the crust. 

Hummus with chopped raw veggies
I think most brands are gluten free but check the ingredients.

If you enjoy bringing a sweet treat, here are a few ideas. Again, no special ingredients required!

Cocoa Powder Brownies
So good! You can leave out the flour altogether or sub in a little almond flour.

Peanut Butter Cookies
Made with items already in your cupboards.

Ice cream or pudding
Most brands are gluten free or make your own.

Thanks for your desire to serve one another.  May others see Jesus’  goodness in our love for one another.

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Epiphanies*

Charlie’s Soap: This soap is awesome! I’m really in awe of the revolution it brings to my diaper washing routine. Previously, using a brand name free and clear detergent I felt like I had to wash at least three cycles to get stink out. With Charlie’s, one hot cycle followed by a cold rinse and my diapers are stink free! The detergent is still expensive but I was able to purchase through our coop, making it more affordable. If, in the future, I have to pay full price, I will definitely buy it.

Azure Standard: We order from Azure about once a month and I thought I understood what to buy (and not buy) for the best prices. I was wrong. I should’ve been buying my flour and several other grains from them! In an effort to simplify our shopping process, I’ve decided to spend a larger chunk of our grocery money with Azure, and skip some of the stores or coop orders.

Menu planning: I’ve not been too committed to this in the past. It is not an easy fit for my personality and preferred way of doing things. I’ve realized this month that it works, it saves us money, and it makes dinner time so much less stressful.

*I know these aren’t true ‘epiphanies’ but ‘gradual realization’ doesn’t have the same zing.


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Help for Haiti: $200

We gave $200, from our emergency/savings fund, to Compassion’s efforts in Haiti. We think this wise financial stewardship, in the eternal sense. We hope to worship with those Haitians in heaven. Now, I’m off to link to this on other blogs, so others will give more of their own money.

Here are a few thoughts on giving while I’m at it:

Giving to the poor is an essential part of Christian morality. I do not believe one can settle how much we ought to give. I’m afraid the only safe rule is to give more than we can spare. In other words, if our expenditure on comforts, luxuries, and amusement, is up to the standard common of those with the same income as our own, we are probably giving away too little.

If our charities do not at all pinch or hamper us, I should say they are too small. There ought to be things that we’d like to do but cannot do because our charitable expenditure excludes them. (C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity)

 


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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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Can I do it?

It is April 14th and I have just over $20 left in the monthly grocery budget*. In an effort to save money on organic, whole foods, I bought several items in bulk this month. This is great in that I won’t need to purchase coconut oil, olive oil, black beans, rolled oats, brown rice or whole wheat flour for several months. But not so great in that I spent about half of our budget on these items.

So can I do it? Can I stay in budget for the next two weeks? I think with a little extra effort in planning and preparing our meals I can.

*We budget $200 a month for groceries and toiletries. We eat organic, whole foods as much as possible. This is a tight budget (especially since our one year old is eating almost as much as mom and dad!) but manageable.