Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Ways to nourish your family on a budget....

Since becoming a stay at home mom I have had to really tighten the budget. I would like to share some of the ways that I keep my grocery bill from getting out of hand. We have five children with one due in February of 2009 so it's not cheap to feed all the hungry troops.

Before beginning I just wanted to remind you that even though the prices of our groceries and gas are soaring right now, those of us who are lucky enough to live in the US should remember that the majority of the world pays a lot higher percentage of their income in order to feed their families. This link here shows you families and what they eat for a month, plus what it costs them to buy it.

I'm just going to list a few things that we do to keep costs down, because you can pick up any magazine and get the same money saving tips over and over. I'm going to list some great money saving links at the bottom.

1. Cooking from scratch is the single most thing that I do to cut costs. Besides the money saving aspects of it, my husband has heart trouble and one of our children is on a lot of meds due to epilepsy and cooking from scratch let's you eliminate all of the unnecessary chemicals and salt.

2. I use more of the "pantry principle" that the book "Tightwad Gazzette" suggests. If you don't own that book already it's the best investment you can make to be frugal- or get it from the library for free. In the book she talks about stocking your pantry with the items you use all the time and stocking it with the weekly sales in bulk. Rather than planning week to week solely based on what is on sale, you shop to get the cheapest prices and stock your pantry. I still try to plan a weekly menu because it keeps me on track, but it's loosely planned as things change.

3. Instead of paying for the Grocery Game or (in West MI) the Savings Angel, take advantage of all the websites out there that do the work for you for free, I'll list some later.

4.We plant a garden and I can and freeze as much as possible.

5. We buy 1/2 of a cow and 1/2 of a pig which not only tastes better, but is cheaper by the pound. You can buy what you can afford and split it.

6. A lot of the time I stick to Aldi's or Save A Lot and simply cook from what they carry- just stay away from the junk food. The selection is limited, but you can't beat the prices on their staples.

Here is a free PDF cookbook from the University of Maine Cooperative Extension which is called "Saving Money With Homemade Convenience Mixes.

This website shows you videos with step by step canning instructions plus a wealth of other info about canning.

Here is a link from the Hillbilly Housewife where she explains about the Angel Food Ministries and she even includes monthly menus based on what foods are available. You do not have to meet income guidelines to use this service.

This link from Budget 101 has a whole list of mixes to make from scratch.

Here are some of my favorite blogs and websites, some are for money saving and some are for homemaking or recipes:

Money Saving Mom

A Full Cup

Mommy Snacks

Moms Budget

The Nourishing Gourmet

Keeper Of The Home

Tammy's Recipes

Glimpse of Sonshine

The Centsible Sawyer

Heavenly Homemakers

Life as Mom

Monday, August 11, 2008

Blogging update

Sorry that I haven't been blogging lately. I have had back problems with this pregnancy and now they suspect I may have a slipped disc which is causing sciatic pain down my right leg. I have been flat on my back for a week now. I am starting to get some relief from the chiropractor and physical therapy, but I cannot stand to be in a sitting position yet. It's going to be a long recovery.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Remember these: Monster Cookies??

Monster Cookies

3 eggs

1 1/4 cups packed light brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 12-ounce jar creamy peanut butter
1 stick butter, softened
1/2 cup multi-colored chocolate candies
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/4 cup raisins, optional
2 teaspoons baking soda

4 1/2 cups quick-cooking oatmeal (not instant)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper or nonstick baking mats.

In a very large mixing bowl, combine the eggs and sugars. Mix well. Add the salt, vanilla, peanut butter, and butter. Mix well. Stir in the chocolate candies, chocolate chips, raisins, if using, baking soda, and oatmeal. Drop by tablespoons 2 inches apart onto the prepared cookie sheets.

Bake for 8 to 10 minutes. Do not overbake. Let stand for about 3 minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool. When cool, store in large resealable plastic

During the summer break I like to give my kids a special treat. I have made some suggestions at the bottom for healthy substitutions, but to me a it's a once in a while treat. I remember making these with my mom as a child and we got to stir it with our hands just like my kids do. Hopefully they will have good memories of making them too.

Two of my "Cookie helpers"

Cookie Batter

Healthy Substitutions:
~Whole wheat flour instead of white flour
~Organic cane sugar (rapadura) in place of white sugar
~Sunspire Drops in place of M & M's
~Dried fruit or more raisins in place of some of the chips
~Carob chips in place of chocolate chips
~If you want a cookie that is not so dense, cut down on the oatmeal and add more flour in place.

Be sure to check out more great kitchen tips at Tammy's Recipes.